Inbox and Environment News: Issue 294

December 18, 2016 - January 7, 2017: Issue 294

Top Day For Northern Beaches Hospital

13 December 2016
The new Northern Beaches Hospital at Frenchs Forest reached a major milestone today with a rooftop ceremony marking a new generation of healthcare for the region.
NSW Premier and Member for Manly Mike Baird and Health Minister Jillian Skinner joined Member for Wakehurst Brad Hazzard and Member for Davidson Jonathan O’Dea on the 40-metre summit for a topping out ceremony - a Scandinavian tradition where a tree is raised to the top of a structure once construction reaches its highest point.
“I have watched over the past 18 months as this building has risen from the site at an incredible pace. We said we would build it and we are,” Mr Baird said.
“By entering into a partnership we are building this hospital faster and at less expense to the taxpayer, delivering our promise of a world-class hospital on the Northern Beaches.”
Mrs Skinner said: “I am very excited about this hospital, which shows what can be achieved when the Government partners with an experienced health care provider.
“The community will soon have a choice - a choice for free public health care or private health care in a state-of-the-art hospital on the Northern Beaches.”
The NSW Government has partnered with private healthcare provider Healthscope to design, build, operate and maintain the new hospital. Under a 20-year contract with NSW Health, Healthscope will provide free public patient services funded by the NSW Government, as well as private patient services.
The nine-storey hospital is located on a 6.5 hectare site at the intersection of Warringah Road and Wakehurst Parkway. It will include 488 beds, 1,400 car spaces, a helipad, a 50-space emergency department, 14 operating theatres, advanced intensive care and critical care units and an inpatient mental health facility and will employ 1,300 staff.
The capital value of the project is more than $1 billion, which includes $500 million in road upgrades. The project has created 700 construction jobs – or almost one million worker hours – over the past 18 months.

2016 Pittwater Environment Recap

Pittwater Online will be running an 2016 Environment Recap in the first Issue for 2017 published January 8th.

In the meantime:

The Good: NSW Government's commitment to continue Saving Grevillea Caleyi at Ingleside through the Saving Our Species Program and the great volunteer members of Pittwater Natural Heritage Association, all the great work done by locals in cleaning up and establishing the potential to turn the tide on plastics pollution in our oceans - the waves that lap our shores; Av. Green TeamAvalon Boomerang Bags being launchedSarah Tait (Wander Lightly), the Living Ocean crew and everyone who bothers to pick up rubbish where they find it, the ongoing local 'green army' of bushcare volunteers who turn up to work and do so much to restore our natural bushland, week in week out

Lynn IIlingsworth - always getting rid of weeds when and where she finds them - Mona Vale Rally, 27/11/2016 - in Mona vale village Park - even when it's not a bushcare day or place

What many fear will be bad: The Biodiversity Conservation Bill and Local Land Services Amendment Bill  passed this year - although the discussion may not be all done and turned to dust yet: 

Consultation will continue
Work will continue as the enabling Regulation, tools and products to support the legislation are developed during 2017. Further consultation on more detailed components of the package will take place before the proposed legislation commences, including:
Exhibiting the supporting Regulation.
Consulting on the Native Vegetation Regulatory Map.
Exhibiting a draft State Environmental Planning Policy for urban vegetation in early 2017.
Exhibiting draft instruments such as the Biodiversity Assessment Method, wildlife management codes of practice and the land management codes of practice from early 2017.
Engaging with wildlife rehabilitation providers to design a new accreditation program for wildlife rehabilitation and rescue services to start in early 2018.

The Potentially and quite probably pretty ugly:

Adanai Mine in QLD and how much damage this will do - 

First Koala Spotted At Jenolan Caves In  48 Years

Saturday, 17 December 2016: Hon. Mark Speakman, NSW Minister for the Environment, Issued by OEH
A koala has been spotted in the Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve in the Blue Mountains for the first time in 48 years, NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman said today.

A remote-sensor camera used to monitor endangered Brush-Tailed Rock Wallabies snapped the koala twice in the last few weeks.
“The camera captured the koala in both instances in almost the same place, as he repeatedly walked through the gate to enter and leave a fenced yard,” Mr Speakman said.

The NSW Government’s five year, $100 million Saving our Species program is funding ongoing work in the area to protect endangered Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies but, as is often the case, the conservation work has also benefited other species.

“Dog attacks are a serious threat to koalas and they are extremely vulnerable when travelling on the ground between trees, so our ongoing and intensive fox and wild dog control in the area is obviously helping protect Koalas,” Mr Speakman said.

Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Senior Threatened Species Officer Michaela Jones said she was amazed to see him repeatedly walk through a gate to enter and leave a fenced yard.

“He’s obviously pretty clever and sees the gate as the easiest way in and out of where he wants to go,” Ms Jones said. 

“He also looks incredibly healthy – quite chubby – so he is obviously doing pretty well living in the area” 

The NSW Government recently announced it would embark on a whole-of-government koala strategy to secure NSW koala populations and spend $10 million to acquire vital koala habitat.

A three-month consultation program will be undertaken to help shape the strategy. The consultation will include regional community information sessions, stakeholder meetings and webinars. To comment on the strategy’s direction visit

Endangered Bird Hatches At Congo For First Time In 10 Years

Media release: 13 December 2016: NPWS
For the first time in a decade a pair of Pied Oystercatcher have hatched a chick at Congo, within Eurobodalla National Park, much to the delight of volunteers and campers.
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Shorebird Recovery Program Coordinator Amy Harris, said the endangered chick emerged from the nest following years of unsuccessful attempts to breed.
“Pied Oystercatchers have tried to nest here at Congo for many years but never seem to get to chick hatching stage,” Ms Harris said.

“There is thought to be fewer than 200 breeding pairs along the NSW coast and their conservation is supported through the NSW Government’s $100 million Saving our Species program.
“Fox predation, inundation and disturbance have affected them in the past so this year our volunteers put in extraordinary effort to protect the nest, and we’re delighted these efforts have paid off.
“Since October we have undertaken fox control work with the support of South East Local Land Services to manage a number of foxes that had been seen in the direct vicinity of the nest.  
“They have also helped strengthen the shorebird signage surrounding the nest and on adjacent beaches through much needed grant funding.
“The nest, located at the entrance to the creek, was also threatened by inundation from King Tides but thanks to our dedicated volunteers and people camping nearby we were able to successfully sandbag it just in time.
“We are not sure if the chick is male or female but they are regularly spotted learning to feed and getting used to their new surroundings in the sparse grass at the creek entrance.
“To think that a little egg in a vulnerable nest inspired volunteers and campers to pull out all stops and protect them is quite simply amazing.
“Without their protection and active conservation is likely the story would be much different and we may have been reporting 11 years with no successful breeding.
“But in fact it’s the complete opposite, we are now celebrating the birth of the chick and have our fingers crossed they return to Congo next year,” Ms Harris said.
Visit the South Coast’s Shorebird Recovery Program website for more information or to become a volunteer.

Photo: Pied Oystercatcher chicks at Congo, Eurobodalla National Park 
Photo: Toby Whitelaw 2016, courtesy OEH

Australia On Track To Find The World's Oldest Antarctic Ice

12th December 2016

Australian Antarctic Division's Dr Tas van Ommen is part of an international effort to find a million year ice core in Antarctica. (Photo: Chris Crearer)
Australian and international scientists have identified potential sites to drill for the world's oldest ice core, beyond a million years, in the Australian Antarctic Territory.

An area at Dome C, 1100 kilometres inland from Australia's Casey research station and 40 kilometres from the European Concordia station, is most likely to have ice more than a million years old.

The Australian Antarctic Division has taken a leading role in identifying the Dome C site, through survey work to map the region's ice and bedrock using airborne radar and laser measurements, and glaciological modelling.

This work, with partners including the United States, United Kingdom and France, has found a region where the ice is almost three kilometres thick and has the right conditions to preserve such very old ice.

The ice and the bubbles of air trapped within it, hold information which make it a 'holy grail' for ice core scientists to solve a major puzzle in climate science.

The data could reveal why a major change in ice age rhythms occurred around a million years ago, and whether this was connected to changes in carbon dioxide levels.

This will in turn help scientists understand and better predict the long-term future of the world's climate. 

Coastal Reforms

NSW Department of Planning & Environment
The NSW coast provides a multitude of values and uses for the community. This competition for use and enjoyment places our coast under increasing pressure. The environmental and lifestyle benefits of coastal living continue to attract new residents and tourists.
Planning for coastal communities must carefully balance the need to provide jobs, housing, community facilities and transport for a changing population whilst maintaining the coast's unique qualities and managing risks associated with developing along our coastlines.
Coastal reforms - Planning for our future on the coast
We are improving the way we plan for development and natural hazards along our coastline.
The Department of Planning and Environment, together with the Office of Environment and Heritage, is developing a new coastal management framework. The framework responds to existing and emerging coastal challenges and opportunities, with the aim of having thriving and resilient communities living and working on a healthy coast now and into the future. 
The Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) will establish a new, strategic land use planning framework for coastal management. It will support implementation of the management objectives set out in the Coastal Management Act 2016.
The Coastal Management SEPP will integrate and improve current coastal-related SEPPs and ensure that future coastal development is appropriate and sensitive to our coastal environment, and that we maintain public access to beaches and foreshore areas. Once published, the Coastal Management SEPP will be the single land use planning policy for coastal development and will bring together and modernise provisions from SEPP 14 (Coastal Wetlands), SEPP 26 (Littoral Rainforests) and SEPP 71 (Coastal Protection).
The Coastal Management SEPP will also better equip councils and coastal communities to plan for and effectively respond to coastal challenges such as major storms, coastal erosion and climate change impacts, through more strategic planning around coastal development and emergency management.

Community information session
Monday, 5 December: 5.30 – 7pm Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club, Corner of East Esplanade & Stuart Street, Manly, 2095

Please RSVP to attend one of this session by contacting We are also keen to hear any questions you may have, or specific topics of interest for your local session, so please let us know when you RSVP.
Have your say on the draft Coastal Management SEPP
Consultation is now underway on the draft Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) and draft maps of the coastal management areas that make up the coastal zone. The public consultation period for the draft SEPP and maps is from 11 November 2016 to 23 December 2016. We encourage our stakeholders and interested community groups to take a look at the reforms and have a say:
online using the submission form below; and by mail to:
Director, Planning Frameworks
NSW Department of Planning and Environment 
GPO Box 39
Sydney NSW 2001
The Department is also seeking feedback from the public on the draft Ministerial (‘section 117’) direction relating to rezoning land in the coastal zone and amending the coastal zone maps. The documents for consultation can be accessed below:

How we are progressing coastal reforms
The release of the draft Coastal Management SEPP is the next step in finalising the Government coastal reforms program.
Documents previously released for public consultation include:
Thank you to all who have taken the time to provide feedback on various aspects of the coastal reform program to date.
Taking into account public submissions, the new Coastal Management Act 2016 was passed by Parliament on 31 May 2016 and will commence following consultation on the draft Coastal Management SEPP.
The Office of Environment and Heritage is currently finalising the Coastal Management Manual and a Toolkit of technical resources and advice for coastal managers.
More information about the NSW coastal reforms, including analysis of public submissions from the previous consultation round, can be found on the Office of Environment and Heritage’s Coastal reforms webpage.
The Department of Planning and Environment has recently issued a Planning Circular (PS 16-003) on the Coastal Management SEPP. This advice clarifies that where land is partly or wholly mapped by the draft Coastal Management SEPP, a planning certificate issued for that land should record that the draft SEPP applies to that land. PS 16-003 can be accessed here (PDF 266KB).

Coastal SEPP Mapping Tool Instructional Video

Myna Action Group Flyers Need Distribution

December 15, 2016: Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA)
Indian Mynas - what a pest - like flying rats. 
Can you help distribute our new flyers about our Northern Beaches Indian Myna Action Group? 

They are for people in cafes and coffee shops, explaining why not to feed these birds and how to get involved in their control. Just take a few and hand out where ever you can. Cafe staff are usually glad of the help. Contact us on for more information and have a look at

Indian Mynas are displacing our native birds. 
They often nest in and around shops where their food source is. I took this one down this morning in Avalon (no chicks or eggs but I disturbed the female). There were literally hundreds of tiny bits of plastic in the nest which makes you think that all this plastic would be swilling down the stormwater drains into the sea.

Invitation To Nominate Significant Places To The National Heritage List

13 December 2016: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
All Australians are invited to nominate places of exceptional natural, Indigenous, or historic significance to the nation for possible inclusion in the National Heritage List.

Nominations are now open for the 2017-18 assessment period and all Australians are welcome to recommend a place that contributes to our national story.

The National Heritage List celebrates and protects places of outstanding heritage value to all Australians. It reflects the story of our development as a nation, our spirit and ingenuity, and our unique, living landscapes.

There are 107 sites in the National Heritage List, from well-known places such as Uluru and the Sydney Opera House to lesser-known but equally important sites such as the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument in Queensland or the Bonegilla Migrant Camp in Victoria.

Listed places are protected under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and approval must be obtained before taking any action to ensure there is no significant impact on the national heritage values of the place.

Nominations for the National Heritage List should set out the qualities or values of the place that make it outstanding to the nation by indicating how it meets one or more of the heritage criteria. It is also important to ensure that the nomination is supported by all owners and occupiers and Indigenous people with rights or interests.

After consideration of all the places nominated and advice from the Australian Heritage Council on them the Government will decide on a final list of places for the Council to assess.  

The Australian Heritage Council will invite public comment on the places under assessment and consult extensively with everyone interested in the place, particularly owners and occupiers and Indigenous people with rights or interests.

Everyone is encouraged to get involved in this process and nominate places of outstanding significance to our nation.

The nomination period for the National Heritage List opens today (13 December 2016) and closes on 17 February 2017. For more information visit

First Meeting Of The Commonwealth Fisheries Marine Mammal Working Group

14 December 2016: AFMA
The Commonwealth Fisheries Marine Mammal Working Group was recently established to provide advice to AFMA on interactions with marine mammals that occur in Commonwealth fisheries. This advice can include identification and assessment of marine mammal bycatch issues, the development and review of marine mammal mitigation strategies and the development of fishery and vessel specific mitigation arrangements.

The group consists of marine mammal scientists, an industry expert, a conservation member, a recreational fishing science expert, AFMA, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, the Department of the Environment and Energy and an independent chair. All members come with considerable marine mammal experience and/or expertise.

At their first meeting, on 24 November 2016, members discussed the expansion of the Dolphin Strategy in the Coorong Zone of the Gillnet Hook and Trap Fishery to the rest of the fishery, and what types of information could be used to best facilitate this.

The group also discussed methods of reducing seal bycatch in trawl fisheries, and determining what data could be used to balance the potential impacts on industry while lowering interaction rates.

A key function of the group will be to assist AFMA in developing a series of bycatch sub-strategies for protected groups such as dolphins, seals and seabirds.

The next meeting for the group will be in March 2017.

AFMA remains committed to continuous improvement in reducing and minimising protected species interactions, and looks forward to continuing to work with the marine mammal working group to improve Commonwealth fisheries management.

For more information on the various scientific and advisory committees which provide advice to AFMA, please see

Minister Stokes Statement On Drayton South

15.12.2016: Ministerial Media Release - The Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning
The proposal for the Drayton South coal project is before the independent Planning Assessment Commission for determination. 
The government has not made any decisions in response to a determination as no determination has been made. We are advised that this is likely to occur in the first quarter of 2017.
Any government intervention in an independent assessment could improperly affect that assessment. It is inappropriate to comment further before the Commission makes a determination.
There has been no change in Government policy and any suggestions to the contrary are incorrect.

$10 Million To Protect Koala Habitat 

Sunday 4 December 2016: Hon. Mark Speakman, Minister for the Environment 
The NSW Government will invest $10 million over five years to acquire vital koala habitat and will embark on a whole-of-government koala strategy to secure NSW koala populations, Environment Minister Mark Speakman announced today.

The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor Mary O’Kane AC’s Report of the Independent Review into the Decline of Koala Populations in Key Areas of NSW, released today, recommended developing an overarching strategy and investing in key areas of koala habitat.

Mr Speakman said the NSW Government commissioned the independent review in March.
“The independent review proposes 11 recommendations to help develop a strategy that can secure and eventually increase NSW koala numbers,” Mr Speakman said.

“The strategy will also complement the koala conservation work already being done under the NSW Government’s flagship $100 million Saving our Species program. This work will include projects, which improve koala habitat and trialling artificial water sources for koalas to mitigate heat stress.

“The $10 million investment follows the creation in March of flora reserves totalling 120 square km on the South Coast, run by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, to protect the last known local koala population.”

A three-month consultation program will include regional community information sessions, stakeholder meetings, webinars and information/feedback via a web portal.

“We want communities to look at the independent review and provide input to help direct the NSW Government’s strategy so we can preserve this iconic species for all generations to come,” Mr Speakman said.

To comment on the strategy’s direction visit
and to find out more about the NSW Government’s koala conservation
efforts through the Saving our Species program

Public exhibition for the Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project is from 4 December 2016 to 11:59pm 3 March 2017. You are invited to comment on the Saving our Species Iconic Koala Project by sending a written submission during this time. Visit: HERE

An important finding of this review is that it may not be possible to ensure all koala populations continue to persist in all locations. There are some populations where government and community action can help secure ongoing viability but there are also areas where the historical land use decisions, current competing land uses, as well as risks from road strike, dog attack and, in some areas, drought and bush fire events mean that it will be much more difficult to secure those populations. Government will need to make clear choices and invest resources where it is most likely to make a difference.

Critical to this are data. We need more and better quality data and more information to prioritise investment, to get the most out of the various regulatory and management tools we have available and to know if we are making progress towards the overall goal. New sensor and data analytics technology can make data gathering more efficient and cost effective.
Key elements of a whole-of-government koala strategy should be to:
  • prioritise data gathering and research about populations, habitat and threats, including the cumulative impacts of multiple threats, to inform better planning and management decisions 
  • review and align the various legislative and management arrangements to ensure
  • improved outcomes for koalas across different land uses and tenures
  • work across tenures to identify and implement on-ground actions that improve connectivity and resilience against threats 
  • identify incentives for best practice new development and ongoing land use in all cases where koala populations may be adversely affected across tenures, industries and land users 
  • establish a framework for on-going coordination and cooperation of land managers, policy makers, researchers and the community to deliver the defined actions.
While many of the recommendations in this report aim to understand and address threats to koala populations, it is also important to support those who respond when the threats cannot be mitigated. Fauna rehabilitation groups play a critical front-line role in assisting the recovery of individual koalas, most commonly injured by car strikes, dog attacks or fire.
Successful implementation of a NSW koala strategy should lead to the following outcomes:
  • we will know which koala populations have the potential for long term viability 
  • we will have evidence that threats to these populations have been identified and mitigated 
  • the community will feel confident that new development and ongoing land use will not threaten key koala populations 
  • our scientific knowledge of koala populations, dynamics and health will be substantially increased 
  • the number of koalas will become stable and then start to increase.
A NSW koala strategy should provide clear benefit to key koala populations in NSW.

However, in identifying and protecting koala habitat and managing key threats, this strategy will also benefit other native species and NSW landscapes more broadly.

This review makes 11 recommendations to inform the development of a NSW koala strategy.

Recommendation 1
That Government adopt a whole-of-government koala strategy for NSW with the objective of stabilising and then starting to increase koala numbers.
Recommendation 2
That Government initiate a program to improve data on the number, location and occurrence of koalas in NSW, including trends over time, taking advantage of new sensor and communication technologies and data analytics within 12 months of receipt of this report.
Recommendation 3
That Government publish a state-wide predictive koala habitat map within three years of receipt of this report, with immediate priority given to improving coverage of the north coast.
Recommendation 4
That Government improve outcomes for koalas through changes to the planning system.
Recommendation 5
That Government improve outcomes for koalas through the Biodiversity Conservation Bill and associated Regulations.
Recommendation 6
That Government investigate models for guiding and incentivising collaborative best practice for new development and ongoing land use occurring in areas of known koala populations across tenures, industries and land users.
Recommendation 7
That Government agencies identify priority areas of land across tenures to target for koala conservation management and threat mitigation.
Recommendation 8
That Government, through the Office of Environment and Heritage, convene two symposia within 12 months of receiving this report: one for scientists active in koala research and land managers to develop a koala research plan; and one focussed on koala rehabilitation to identify actions to optimise the delivery of and support for the network of koala rehabilitation
groups and carers.
Recommendation 9
That Government establish the Australian Museum as a preferred repository for koala genetic samples in NSW, and all data and metadata associated with these samples should be deposited into the SEED Environmental Data Portal (extended if necessary to include
flora and fauna).
Recommendation 10
That Government facilitate the exchange of information among land managers, local government, the research community and the broader community.
Recommendation 11
That Government draws on knowledge and shares information with local community members through a program that supports localised engagement between liaison people and residents and industry.

Source: Report of the Independent Review into the Decline of Koala Populations in Key Areas of NSW

New Approach For Assessing The Social Impacts Of Mining

08.12.2016: Ministerial Media Release  - The Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning
The assessment of the social impacts of mining projects will be strengthened following the exhibition of draft social impact assessment guidelines.

The guidelines have been developed to improve the quality and utility of social impact assessments, which in turn will drive better project design and provide greater certainty to local communities and proponents.

Examples of positive social impacts may include increased employment opportunities and support for local businesses and organisations, whilst examples of negative social impacts may include community dislocation and amenity loss.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the new guidelines reflect the important principle that people are at the heart of planning decisions.

“It’s critical that impacts on communities are thoroughly considered and addressed in the assessment of mining projects,” Mr Stokes said.

“These guidelines will support consistency and fairness in decision making, while driving greater accountability and transparency with respect to the social impacts.”

The draft guidelines have been informed by:
  • meetings with local groups in eight locations across rural, regional and remote NSW;
  • advice on current leading practice from the University of Queensland’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, a respected leader in the field of social impact assessment; and
  • consultation with peak community, environment, industry, local government and Aboriginal groups via the Department of Planning and Environment’s Resources Advisory Forum.
The draft guidelines have been released for an extended public exhibition and submission period of 12 weeks from 8 December 2016 until 3 March 2017. The Department will also conduct community workshops and stakeholder briefing sessions.

To view the draft guidelines or to make a submission, please visit

Have Your Say On The Container Deposit Regulation

November 30, 2016: NSW Government
The NSW Environmental Protection Authority is seeking feedback on the draft container deposit scheme (CDS) regulation. Submissions are due by 5pm on 23 December 2016. 

The draft Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Regulation 2016 sets out the operational details for the day-to-day running of the NSW scheme and annual reporting requirements.

The draft regulation covers topics such as:

  • the types of containers that will be accepted
  • the amount that will be refunded to consumers at collection points
  • the circumstances in which a container may not be accepted at a collection point.
NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman said finalising these operational details would be another key step towards rolling out the NSW container deposit scheme in 2017.

"The CDS is the single largest litter reduction initiative in NSW so it's fitting that community members can have their say on these important details and I encourage them to do so.”

View the draft regulation and have your say by 23 December 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.

Deua Catchment Parks Plan Of Management

The Deua Catchment Parks Draft Plan of Management is on exhibition until 13 February 2017. The draft plan of management covers Berlang and Majors Creek State Conservation Areas and Frogs Hole Nature Reserve.

Parks and reserves established under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 are required to have a plan of management. The exhibition of the draft plan provides members of the community with the opportunity to have a say in the future management directions for Berlang and Majors Creek State Conservation Areas and Frogs Hole Nature Reserve.

Submit your written feedback on the draft plan by 13 February 2017 by:

using the online submission form on the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage website
writing to–
NPWS Planner
Deua Catchment Parks PoM
PO Box 707
Nowra NSW 2541

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.

Shaping Australia’s Foreign Policy For The Future

Joint media release:
Minister For Foreign Affairs, The Hon Julie Bishop MP
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, The Hon Steve Ciobo MP
13 December 2016
Today we invite the Australian community to help inform and shape the Australian Government’s Foreign Policy White Paper.

The White Paper will build on the Government’s foreign policy achievements over the last three years and will outline Australia’s most important principles and interests for engaging with the world and working with allies and partners in the decade ahead.

There have been significant changes domestically and globally since the last White Paper was developed thirteen years ago. The optimism of the Arab Spring has given way to the  aftermath we are seeing in Syria, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere. Developments in the East and South China Seas are now headlines around the world.

The global economy has been through its greatest crisis since the 1930s and our international role is now enhanced through organisations such as the G20 and East Asia Summit. 

The White Paper will include analysis of international opportunities and challenges facing Australia and the Indo-Pacific region as a result of these shifts and will guide our foreign policy and diplomatic efforts.

The Government is reaching out to hear the views of organisations and individuals. Critical to this outreach is the call for all interested parties to offer their input through the public submissions process. All submissions will be considered carefully and be used to inform and improve our preparation of the White Paper.

Public submissions are open until 28 February 2017. Information about the public consultation process and submissions is available on the Foreign Policy White Paper website

Airservices Continues Preparations: Santa's Call Sign Released

15 December, 2016
Airservices preparations for Santa’s visit to Australia on 24 December, one of the busiest nights of the year for our air traffic controllers are well underway.

Airservices has now allocated Santa his 2016 call sign—‘SLEIGH RIDER ONE’—to communicate with air traffic control on Christmas Eve.
We have used a number of initiatives including the use of tailwinds to lessen the effort for the reindeers to keep them fresh for the long trip, reducing airborne holding by making Santa the priority for the big flight and ensuring we minimise Santa’s sleigh noise by using a ‘continuous descent’ when arriving into every airport.

The initiatives we have adapted to Santa’s flight is in keeping with Airservices increased focus on technology and making better use of our systems to improve performance, efficiency and safety.

In the lead-up to Christmas, Airservices has been working closely with Santa to ensure safe and efficient passage for his sleigh and reindeer across the nation’s skies.

Aquaman To Be Filmed In Australia

15 December 2016 : Australian Government department of Communications and the Arts - JOINT MEDIA RELEASE with The Hon Scott Morrison MP, Treasurer, Senator The Hon Mitch Fifield, Minister For Communications, Minister for the Arts
The next DC superhero movie Aquaman is set to be filmed in Australia in 2017.
The feature film is expected to bring more than $150 million in the local economy and provide more than 1,100 jobs.
The blockbuster will be directed by Australia’s own James Wan (Saw) and star Jason Momoa (Games of Thrones) and Willem Dafoe (The Grand Budapest Hotel). 

The Australian Government will invest $22 million in a one-off grant to support Aquaman in Australia.
The production will provide Australian cast and crew with unique opportunities and experiences and have flow-on effects for Australia’s film industry, businesses and service industries.

Aquaman is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger, the character debuted in More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941). Initially a backup feature in DC's anthology titles, Aquaman later starred in several volumes of a solo title. During the late 1950s and 1960s superhero-revival period known as the Silver Age, he was a founding member of the Justice League of America. In the 1990s Modern Age, Aquaman's character became more serious than in most previous interpretations, with storylines depicting the weight of his role as king of Atlantis.

Aquaman has been adapted for screen many times, first appearing in animated form in the 1967 The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure and then in the related Super Friends program. Since then he has appeared in various animated productions, including prominent roles in the 2000s series Justice League Unlimited and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, as well as several DC Universe Animated Original Movies. Actor Alan Ritchson also portrayed the role in live action in the television show Smallville. Jason Momoa portrayed the character in the 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and will reprise his role in the DC Extended Universe, including a solo film in 2018.
Aquaman in Adventure Comics #443. (Jan. 1976) Art by Jim Aparo.


Chuditch the native cat was irritated, someone was hunting all of the native animals. The native animals had a meeting and decided they needed to get rid of all the feral cats because they ate too much food and no one preyed upon them!
Enjoy this story, which was written and illustrated by the 2015 yr 4/5 Avonvale Primary School as part of the enviro-stories literacy education program (PDF: 4.73MB)

For further information about enviro-stories, visit their website at

Endangered Bird Hatches At Congo For First Time In 10 Years

Media release: 13 December 2016: NPWS
For the first time in a decade a pair of Pied Oystercatcher have hatched a chick at Congo, within Eurobodalla National Park, much to the delight of volunteers and campers.
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Shorebird Recovery Program Coordinator Amy Harris, said the endangered chick emerged from the nest following years of unsuccessful attempts to breed.
“Pied Oystercatchers have tried to nest here at Congo for many years but never seem to get to chick hatching stage,” Ms Harris said.

“There is thought to be fewer than 200 breeding pairs along the NSW coast and their conservation is supported through the NSW Government’s $100 million Saving our Species program.
“Fox predation, inundation and disturbance have affected them in the past so this year our volunteers put in extraordinary effort to protect the nest, and we’re delighted these efforts have paid off.
“Since October we have undertaken fox control work with the support of South East Local Land Services to manage a number of foxes that had been seen in the direct vicinity of the nest.  
“They have also helped strengthen the shorebird signage surrounding the nest and on adjacent beaches through much needed grant funding.
“The nest, located at the entrance to the creek, was also threatened by inundation from King Tides but thanks to our dedicated volunteers and people camping nearby we were able to successfully sandbag it just in time.
“We are not sure if the chick is male or female but they are regularly spotted learning to feed and getting used to their new surroundings in the sparse grass at the creek entrance.
“To think that a little egg in a vulnerable nest inspired volunteers and campers to pull out all stops and protect them is quite simply amazing.
“Without their protection and active conservation is likely the story would be much different and we may have been reporting 11 years with no successful breeding.
“But in fact it’s the complete opposite, we are now celebrating the birth of the chick and have our fingers crossed they return to Congo next year,” Ms Harris said.
Visit the South Coast’s Shorebird Recovery Program website for more information or to become a volunteer.
Photo: Pied Oystercatcher chicks at Congo, Eurobodalla National Park  Photoby Toby Whitelaw 2016, courtesy OEH

Mint Brings Richness And Romance To Canberra With Exhibition Exploring Devlin’s Masterly Work

15/12/2016: Media Release - Royal Australian Mint
The highly anticipated exhibition exploring the masterly work of Stuart Devlin AO, The Designer with the Midas Touch, has now officially opened to the public at the Royal Australian Mint (the Mint).

Featuring stunning pieces created by the most prolific goldsmith and silversmith of our time, the exhibition sees richness and romance uncovered in the forms of a candelabrum, exclusive dinner settings from Devlin’s personal collection and the history of the designs seen on our nation’s coins.
Mint CEO Mr Ross MacDiarmid said that as the first exhibition of its kind in Australia, The Designer with the Midas Touch explores the work of the influential artist who designed Australia’s circulating coins and was appointed as the goldsmith and jeweller to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
“Every Australian carries some of Stuart’s work in their pocket, however may not be familiar with the full achievements of this great artist ultimately influencing the development of twentieth century art,” said Mr MacDiarmid.

“The Designer with the Midas Touch tells the incredible story of Stuart’s life, who credits the opportunity to design Australia’s decimal coins for spring boarding his career into the international arena, becoming one of the most renowned designers, goldsmiths and silversmiths of his generation.”
Free to visit, The Designer with the Midas Touch will feature specific highlights from Devlin’s career including an iconic place setting and candelabrum from his personal collection, the ubiquitous Wiltshire Staysharp carving knife and original sketches from where it all began.

The Mint will be offering tours of the exhibition with a guide holding specialist knowledge of Devlin and his work to explore his illustrious career in further depth. The cost will be $10 per person for a 30 minute tour.

A special collectible commemorative coin will also be released in Devlin’s honour featuring the never-before-struck ‘Kangaroo and Joey’ based on Stuart Devlin’s original 1966 concept for the nation’s circulating two cent piece. While the frill-necked lizard eventually won out, this iconic image has stood the test of time, a testament to the immunity of great design and a true hallmark of Stuart Devlin’s enduring appeal.

2017 2c Bronze Uncirculated Coin - Reverse
This coin will be available to purchase ($12.50 each) in February 2017 but the public can register their interest now through

Have Your Say On The Redevelopment Of Harbourside Shopping Centre

15.12.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
A concept proposal by Mirvac Projects Pty Ltd to redevelop the Harbourside Shopping Centre in Sydney is on exhibition for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the proposal, which seeks to provide a new retail shopping centre, residential apartment tower and public domain improvements at 2-10 Darling Drive.

Key elements of the proposal include:
  • a network of open space areas and pedestrian links
  • building envelopes for the base of a tower and a tower up to 166.35 metres above sea level
  • a maximum gross floor area of 87,000m2 for residential and non-residential uses.
This concept proposal does not seek approval for any construction works on site.

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

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

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.
“It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.” 

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

Submissions can be made from Thursday 15 December 2016 until Tuesday 14 February 2017. People wishing to make a submission are encouraged to use the online form if possible. 

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

The application and EIS are also available to view in person at: 
Department of Planning and Environment: Information Centre, Level 22, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney
City of Sydney Council: Customer Service Centre, Level 2, Town Hall House, 456 Kent Street, Sydney.

Silent Heart Attack In Women

December 12, 2016
Many women put too much pressure on themselves to make the holidays perfect for everyone. This can add a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety that can lead to serious heart problems.

Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center cardiologist Karla Kurrelmeyer, M.D. says in their quest to get everything done on time, some women will ignore the mild symptoms of a silent heart attack.

"Most of the time people who are experiencing a heart attack will have pain in the chest, shortness of breath, etc. Silent heart attack symptoms might be as simple as indigestion, flu-like symptoms, or feeling discomfort like a pulled muscle in the chest or back," Kurrelmeyer said. "It's important to have these symptoms checked as soon as possible to avoid scarring or damage to the heart."

Kurrelmeyer says stress-induced cardiomyopathy is also a concern for women around the holidays. This occurs when women are under great amounts of stress for a short period of time and that stress is compounded with another traumatic event such as a death in the family, a car accident, loss of money, etc. If it is ignored it can be fatal.

"Stress-induced cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber," Kurrelmeyer said. "It is brought on by the release of stress hormones that shock the heart, causing changes in the heart muscles that then cause the left ventricle to not work properly. The vast majority of people who are affected by this condition are women in the late 50s to mid-70s."

Someone experiencing this condition might develop chest pains or shortness of breath after severe stress, either emotional or physical, she said. In most cases, it is treated with medication such as beta blockers or ACE inhibitors. It's important to have an echocardiogram as soon as possible if you are experiencing any symptoms.

A spike in blood pressure is also common during the holidays. Kurrelmeyer says many women end up in the ER with chest pains or palpitations and, in the most severe cases, can suffer a stroke. If a woman has a history of high blood pressure it's important to monitor it closely, especially during those times when the stress level rises.

Heart problems in women are not usually as recognizable as they are in men. Some of the symptoms for women include:
  • Extreme weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath.
  • Discomfort, pressure, heaviness or pain in the chest, arm, below the breastbone or in the middle of the back.
  • Sweating, nausea, vomiting, dizziness.
  • Fullness, indigestion, a tightness in the throat area.
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats.
"It's important to take time for yourself during the holiday season and do things that will help relieve your stress," Kurrelmeyer said. "Exercise, either walking or running, yoga, meditation, a nice walk with a loved one, whatever it takes, make it happen. The holidays should be a joyous time spent with family and friends at home, not with doctors in an emergency room."
Materials provided by Houston Methodist. 

Men Should Avoid Rock Music When Playing Board Games, Say Scientists

December 12, 2016
Mozart may enhance a man's performance in board games -- while AC/DC may hinder their chances, according to new research.

The game used in the experiments, modified to monitor time and mistakes.
Credit: Image courtesy of Imperial College London

The scientists behind the study, from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Music, say classical music may be the best option for men when concentrating on a task.

Music was found to have no effect on women's performance, though they generally performed better than men at the game involved in the study.

In the research, the team asked 352 visitors at the Imperial Festival -- an annual celebration of the science that takes place at Imperial -- to play the game Operation.

This game involves removing various body parts from a pretend patient -- Cavity Sam -- whose nose flashes and buzzes if your tweezers touch the metal sides of the body.

Researchers gave the volunteers headphones that played one of three tracks -- Andante from Sonata for Two Pianos by Mozart, Thunderstruck by AC/DC, or the sound of an operating theatre.

The team then timed them how long it took the participants to remove three body parts, as well as tracking their mistakes.

The results revealed that men who listened to AC/DC were slower and made more mistakes, compared to men who listened to Mozart or the sound of an operating theatre. Thunderstruck triggered around 36 mistakes on average, while the Sonata and operating theatre noises caused 28.

It took volunteers around one minute to complete the task.

Women, however, did not seem to be distracted by the rock music, and none of the three tracks made any difference to performance or speed.

Generally, women took longer to remove the body parts, but made fewer mistakes.

The researchers are unsure why rock music affected men more than women. One explanation, they said, could be that rock music causes more auditory stress -- a state triggered by loud or discordant music -- in men.

The scientists also asked people about their musical tastes, and found that Mozart only reduced the number of mistakes people made if they reported high levels of appreciation for the Sonata they listened to.

The team, who are from the Centre for Performance Science, a collaboration between Imperial and the Royal College of Music, say the study is part of wider research into how music affects performance.

Dr Daisy Fancourt, lead author of the research from the Centre for Performance Science, said: "Although this study is clearly tongue-in-cheek, and was all performed in our spare time, it is part of our wider research into the effect of music on performance -- particularly in a medical setting such as an operating theatre."

She explained that music is reportedly played up to 72 per cent of the time in an operating theatre. However, experts are divided on whether it has a beneficial effect. Some research, for instance, has found that Jamaican music and Hip-Hop increases operating speed and surgical instrument manipulation. However another study reported that one in four anaesthetists, who are responsible for keeping patients sedated, said music reduced their vigilance.

The team also investigate how music can affect performance in other fields.

"One of our areas of research is how we can boost performance in many different settings -- from rowing in the Olympics, to a musical performance or delivering an important speech. This study suggests that for men who are operating or playing a board game, rock music may be a bad idea," said Dr Fancourt, who is also a research fellow at the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial.

The research is published in the Medical Journal of Australia's Christmas issue, where it won top prize for quirky -- yet scientifically rigorous -- research.

Daisy Fancourt, Thomas MW Burton, Aaron Williamon. The razor’s edge: Australian rock music impairs men’s performance when pretending to be a surgeon. The Medical Journal of Australia, 2016; 205 (11): 515 DOI: 10.5694/mja16.01045

Surf Photo And Surf Video Of The Year 

December 9, 2016 Surfing Australia
Entries are open for the Nikon Surf Photo and Surf Video of the Year categories for the 2017 Australian Surfing Awards incorporating the Hall of Fame. There is a heap of Nikon Camera gear to be won. Click through below to enter NOW! 

Photo: 2016 Nikon Surf Photo of the Year by Leroy Bellet

Thousands Of High Tech Jobs On The Horizon For Western Sydney

15.12.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
Western Sydney is set to become a nucleus of research, technology and innovation with the approval of a planning proposal to enable development of the Sydney Science Park at Luddenham.

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the high-tech employment, education and housing project will create more than 12,000 knowledge based jobs, provide a world-class environment for research and development and contain 3,400 new homes.

“The Sydney Science Park will be a vibrant employment and residential hub for students, residents and workers.

“There will be a town centre at the heart of the city, around 80 hectares of open space, space for research and education, as well as 3,400 homes, including student accommodation,” the spokesperson said.
The approval of the Sydney Science Park planning proposal will change planning controls on the site, allowing different types of development to be built and a maximum height limit of up to seven to eight storeys.

The park will be in the Western Sydney Employment Area, the largest and fastest growing employment area in Sydney.

The Western Sydney Employment Area is expected to secure more than 60,000 jobs over the next 30 years and more than 200,000 jobs once fully developed.
The Department’s latest annual audit of land available for jobs shows that industrial development is bringing thousands of jobs closer to home for Western Sydney residents.

The Employment Lands Development Monitor (ELDM) shows that about 80 per cent of Sydney’s industrial development was approved in the west last year.

“Western Sydney’s economy is driving jobs closer to home for the more than two million residents who live in Western Sydney – cutting the commute so workers can spend more time with their family and friends,” the Department spokesperson said. 

“Across metropolitan Sydney, $1.6 billion worth of industrial development was approved in 2015. More than $1.2 billion or 75 per cent of that was in Western Sydney. The value of approved industrial development in Western Sydney has more than doubled in 2015 compared to 2014, when about $650 million was approved.”

Western Sydney has accounted for approximately a third of the increase in NSW’s labour force since 2011.

Since April 2011, the number of employed people in this area has increased by more than 100,000 to almost 1.256 million in October 2016.

“In 20 years’ time, Western Sydney will be home to an extra 900,000 people. The Government is providing the settings needed to create the jobs, infrastructure and services to meet the needs of current and future populations of Western Sydney, as set out in A Plan for Growing Sydney,” the spokesperson said.

The ELDM shows that as at January 2016 there was:
  • about 13,500 hectares of zoned land for industrial-related jobs across Sydney
  • of this more than 2,900 hectares was zoned but undeveloped. This land will be ready for economic activity once it is serviced with roads and infrastructure.
  • a further 6,500 hectares of land has been identified as being potentially suitable for industrial use and may be rezoned once structural planning is complete. This includes land within the Western Sydney Employment Area and South West Priority Growth Area.

Emeritus Professor Stephen Leeder

13 December 2016
Health Minister Jillian Skinner today paid tribute to Emeritus Professor Stephen Leeder on his departure as Chair of the Western Sydney Local Health District Board.
Mrs Skinner appointed Professor Leeder as the inaugural Chair of the newly-created Board in 2011.
“I had been fortunate to work with Professor Leeder over many years in Opposition and admired his views on reform, from the need for greater involvement by clinicians in local decision-making to a greater focus on preventive health, new models of care and integrated health services which focus less on acute hospital beds,” Mrs Skinner said.
“His public comments - or ‘Leederisms’, as I call them - in his role at the University of Sydney very much influenced my thinking as we set about developing policy for the change of Government in 2011. 
“On becoming Minister, I was acutely aware of the need to appoint a widely-respected person to set the path for the clinical community in Western Sydney - and I knew he was the best person for the job.”
Mrs Skinner said Professor Leeder led one of the state’s largest Local Health Districts with distinction and success. 
“In so many ways, and for so long, Professor Leeder has said that good public health is everybody's business,” she said.
“As Chair of the Western Sydney Local Health District, he forged close ties with universities, local government and a range of government and non-government businesses. He chaired the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Preventive Health, which I established in 2012 and from which the recently-released NSW Diabetes Plan emerged.
“The extraordinary innovations introduced into Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals and the concept of the Westmead health precinct are just two aspects of his marvellous legacy. I thank him heartily and wish him a long and happy retirement.”

$500 Million Fund Will Help Build Australia's Biomedical Industry Of The Future

13 December 2016: The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Joint media release with the Hon. Sussan Ley MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care.

The Turnbull Government is today launching the $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund, established under the government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, which will help take Australian biomedical discoveries out of the laboratory and to the patient.

Three experienced venture capital fund managers have been selected to help turn biomedical discoveries into high growth potential companies which will benefit Australian patients.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Greg Hunt and Minister for Health and Aged Care, Sussan Ley, today launched the Fund at CSIRO in Canberra.

The three managers announced today will support Australia’s world class biomedical talent to create new drugs, devices, and therapies and improve patient lives.

The selected fund managers – Brandon Capital Partners, OneVentures Management and BioScience Managers – will manage $250 million in government capital to be matched by more than $250 million from the private sector.

“The Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF) is ultimately about improving the lives of thousands of Australians through better healthcare, creating jobs and growing both new and established businesses,” Minister Hunt said.

“The BTF will stimulate both the health and medical research sector and the broader economy – creating more jobs and better health outcomes.”

Minister Ley said: “This is a ‘smart money’ investment that leverages the talent of our home-grown innovators to deliver real health benefits to everyday Australians.

“The BTF will help upskill early-stage medical research here in Australia and create more jobs.

“Australia’s biomedical talent is world class and this investment capital will help to bring new drugs, devices, and therapies to market where they can improve the lives of patients.”

Australians are capable innovators, but all too often great biomedical ideas and discoveries are lost overseas because of a lack of local funding for the costly process to test and commercialise them.

“The investments made by BTF funds into biomedical start-ups will help the businesses mature into internationally competitive companies solving unmet health needs and create new markets for healthcare,” Minister Hunt said.

Under the BTF, Brandon Capital Partners has been licensed to manage $115 million in Commonwealth capital and $115 million in private capital.

OneVentures is a licensed fund manager with combined Commonwealth and private capital commitments totalling $170 million.

BioScience Managers is a licensed fund manager with combined Commonwealth and private capital of at least $100 million.

Further information on the BTF is available at 

In The Blink Of A Golden Eye

It's a thought that would make most people wince – receiving an injection in the eye. Monthly, or even more often.

But for those with macular degeneration that's the reality of trying to treat severe vision loss. Now a team of CSIRO and Chinese researchers have developed a potentially less invasive drug delivery system for patients with the condition, and gold is a key ingredient.

Writing in the international edition of Angewandte Chemie this week, the team described how a hydrogel infused with gold nanoparticles had, when exposed to light, released pre-loaded therapeutics.

CSIRO researcher Johan Basuki said in principle, the patented method is able to reduce the number of injections required by patients with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) by controlling the dosing using an external light.

"This unique delivery system improves on current therapeutic delivery which is via frequent injections to the back of the eye," Dr Basuki said.

"Many effective biomacromolecule therapeutics are currently available to patients with AMD, but due to their susceptibility to biodegradation they are required to be administered via an ongoing monthly injection into the eye.

"Our system can control the release of drugs though exposure to light, which means a higher concentration can be injected, with the drug release activated monthly using light.

"Importantly the drug doesn't need to be modified in any way and it retains very high biological activity after release."

While CSIRO researchers can use various materials as part of the delivery system, they've focused for now on gold nanoparticles.

It absorbs light at specific wavelengths then releases it as heat, enabling the polymer matrix to soften, increasing the diffusion of drugs.

Importantly, the process is reversible, so when the light is turned off, the polymer cools down and hardens – stopping the release of the drugs.

The system is highly versatile and can deliver different types of drugs ranging from small molecules to proteins and antibodies.

The gold nanoparticles can also be customised to different light wavelengths, meaning the method isn't just skin – or retina – deep.

Infrared light, for instance, could release drugs used in deep tissue, solid tumour therapy.

It could even play a role in fighting cancer, while possible personal care and agricultural applications are also being investigated.

CSIRO Manufacturing is seeking investment partners to help take its research to the next stage.

Australian Farm Production To Crack $60 Billion In 2016-17

13 December 2016: ABARES
Following news last week of Australia’s bumper winter crop, the gross value of Australian farm production is forecast to increase by 6.1 per cent, surpassing $60 billion in 2016–17, according to the latest Agricultural commodities report.

Released today by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), Acting Executive Director, Peter Gooday, said that the latest forecast would be around 16 per cent higher than the average of $52 billion over the five years to 2015–16 in nominal terms.

“Export earnings from farm commodities are forecast to increase by 6.7 per cent to $47.5 billion in 2016–17, following a modest increase of 1.4 per cent in 2015–16 to $44.6 billion,” Mr Gooday said.

“The gross value of crop production is forecast to increase by 14.7 per cent to $31.7 billion in 2016–17.

“This is due in part to recent record high winter crop production of 52.4 million tonnes and forecast increases in the gross value of horticulture and cotton production.”

The agricultural commodities for which export earnings are forecast to rise in 2016–17 are wheat (up 25 per cent), wool (3 per cent), sugar (23 per cent), wine (3 per cent), barley (15 per cent), cotton (56 per cent), chickpeas (74 per cent), lamb (4 per cent), canola (33 per cent) and rock lobster (6 per cent).

The forecast increases in export earnings are expected to be partly offset by forecast falls in beef and veal (down 17 per cent), live feeder/slaughter cattle (17 per cent) and mutton (12 per cent). Export earnings for dairy products are expected to continue on unchanged.

“The gross value of livestock production is forecast to fall by 2 per cent to $28.5 billion in 2016–17, following an estimated 7.7 per cent increase in 2015–16,” Mr Gooday said.

The December quarter edition of the ABARES Agricultural commodities report also features articles on current agricultural issues, including biofuel policies and the European Union beef industry.

The December quarter edition of Agricultural commodities is available at ABARES Publications.


The Australian Museum’s Master Plan encompasses a bold vision for a world-leading natural history and culture museum.

Named barrabuwari muru, meaning ‘future path’ in Sydney’s indigenous language, the Master Plan sets the course for the 190 year old Australian Museum to reclaim its place as a museum of international standing, opening more of its historic site to the public and showcasing more of its collection of over 18 million objects.

The vision for the future museum includes a new multi-story building on the AM’s eastern quarter on the corner of William and Yurong Streets, which will also extend over the top of the existing structures, while recognising the heritage of the historic site.

In addition to providing more space to display the AM’s extensive collection, the Master Plan’s vision includes:
  • A Grand Hall at the centre of the site, more than 70 metres long surrounded by historic sandstone walls and accommodating up to 2,000 people for gala events and conferences.
  • A new large temporary exhibition space attracting major international blockbusters, allowing Sydney to compete on a global stage.
  • An Indigenous and Pacific centre, where culture can be celebrated and researched at the highest level, alongside the scientific research of the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI).
  • Increased educational and community facilities including specialised STEM learning spaces and a new theatre
  • State-of-the-art DNA labs to expand the work of AMRI and the AM’s Wildlife Genomics team.
  • Creating a favourite meeting place for Sydney-siders to return throughout the year
  • Increased digital engagement with AM’s science and cultural collections unlocked for lifelong learning
  • Creating an economically and environmentally sustainable museum, invigorating the economy through experiences and events, as well as generating new income streams through commercial partnerships.
The barrabuwari muru master plan has been submitted to the NSW Government for consideration as part of the State Cultural Infrastructure Strategy, and details plans for a $250 million redevelopment, with a further $35 million contributed from other sources. Once the master plan is considered by the Government, the next stages is for the AM to undertake an international architecture competition for the new building design.

The community will be encouraged to comment on any future detailed designs. Current images are artist impressions only.

In 2017, the Australian Museum celebrates 190 years. At this crossroad the AM needs to grow in order to continue their leading work in scientific research, STEM education and creating world-class exhibitions for Australians and visitors alike. The Australian Museum will play a critical role in not only explaining Australia’s natural science history but also our Indigenous and Pacific Island cultures.

In preparation for the Master Plan, the Australian Museum has commenced an extensive transformation program to upgrade existing facilities, including:
  • building the award-winning Crystal Hall public entrance on William Street, opened in 2015
  • a new Wild Planet gallery, the AM’s first new permanent gallery space in 50 years, opened in 2015
  • a new First Australians Gallery featuring two new permanent exhibitions – Garrigarrang: Sea Country and Bayala Nura: Yarning Country, opened in 2015
  • a new Pacific Spirit Gallery, opened in 2015
  • a new museum rooftop restaurant on level four No. 1 William, opened in 2016
  • the restoration of the Long Gallery – Australia’s first museum gallery – reopening as the Westpac Long Gallery in late 2017, showcasing 200 Treasures of the Australian Museum.
We encourage the community to provide comments and feedback on the barrabuwari muru master plan vision. If you have any suggestions as to what you’d like to see improved and featured in the new Australian Museum please send us an email.

2nd Phase Subdivision - Stage 1A Barangaroo South
Amended DA/EIS Exhibition

Staged subdivision of land at Stage 1A Barangaroo South (subdivision of residue lot from earlier Initial Subdivision of Stage 1A Barangaroo South)

Amended DA/EIS Exhibition Start 15/12/2016
Amended DA/EIS Exhibition End 12/01/2017

Have Your Say On The Redevelopment Of Cockle Bay Wharf

15.12.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
A concept proposal for the redevelopment of Cockle Bay Wharf will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on DPT & DPPT Operator Pty Ltd’s proposal for 241-249 Wheat Road, Cockle Bay.

Key elements of the proposal for a concept plan and demolition works include:
  • demolition of existing site improvements
  • up to 12,000m2 of public domain space
  • building envelopes for a tower base and a tower up to 235 metres high
  • a maximum gross floor area of 85,000m2 for commercial and 25,000m2 for retail development.
A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

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

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.
“It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.” 

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

Submissions can be made from Thursday 15 December 2016 until Tuesday 14 February 2017.

People wishing to make a submission are encouraged to use the online form if possible. 

Written submissions can also be made to: 

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

The application and EIS are also available to view in person at: 
Department of Planning and Environment: Information Centre, Level 22, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney
City of Sydney Council: Customer Service Centre, Level 2, Town Hall House, 456 Kent Street, Sydney.

Have Your Say On A Modification To The Bulk Liquids Storage Facility At Port Botany

13.12.2016: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
A proposal by Vopak Terminals Pty Ltd to modify its bulk liquids storage facility at Port Botany will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the proposal located at 1-9 and 20 Friendship Road, which seeks to increase the annual product throughput capacity at the facility from 3,950 Mega Litres (ML) to 7,800 ML and includes the following works at the site: 
  • construction of a new access road and driveway
  • construction of four new road tanker bays, driver amenities building and extension to existing warehouse
  • upgrade to the vapour recovery unit
  • installation of additional transfer pumps and pipelines and associated infrastructure.
A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said the local community always has an opportunity to share their views.

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

“This feedback is taken into consideration as part of the assessment.
“It’s easy to participate by going online and we encourage everyone to take a look and have their say.” 

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

Submissions can be made from Wednesday 14 December 2016 until Tuesday 14 February 2017.

People wishing to make a submission are encouraged to use the online form if possible. 

Written submissions can also be made to: 

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

The Modification Application and accompanying documents are also available to view in person at: 

Department of Planning and Environment: Information Centre, Level 22, 320 Pitt Street, Sydney
Randwick City Council: Administration Building & Customer Service Centre, 30 Frances Street, Randwick
Eastgardens Library: 152 Bunnerong Road, Eastgardens.

Ure Smith's Art In Australian Now Digitised

The impressive early twentieth century art magazine Art in Australia has been made permanently available online through Trove as a result of a joint project between the UOW Library, UNSW Library and the National Library of Australia.

Guest blogger Rebecca Daly of the University of Wollongong Library has put together a stunner of a post for the Trove blog, now available for your enjoyment and delight at

You can browse Art in Australia in Trove via or use the usual search box in the 'Journals, articles and data sets' zone for particular topics of interest.

Trapdoor Spiders Disappearing From Australian Landscape

December 9, 2016: University of Adelaide

Female trapdoor spider of the genus Eucyrtops from Western Australia.
Credit: M. Harvey, courtesy Western Australian Museum
Recent surveys by Australian scientists have identified an apparent significant decline in the numbers of trapdoor spiders across southern Australia.

Famous for their carefully camouflaged burrows -- some with lids or 'trapdoors' from which they launch themselves to catch their prey -- trapdoor spiders are remarkable animals. The females of some species are known to live in the same burrow for more than 25 years.

Led by the University of Adelaide, in collaboration with the Western Australian Museum, the Queensland Museum, the Department of Parks and Wildlife (WA) and The University of Western Australia, the scientists have compared numbers of trapdoors at various locations across Australia's southern agricultural and arid zones with survey data from the 1950s to the present. The findings have been published in the journal Austral Entomology.

"We have good historical records of trapdoor spiders going back 60 years which showed population numbers were reasonably good, but recent surveys of the same areas show numbers are extremely low, and in some cases spiders are completely absent," says project leader Professor Andrew Austin, from the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Evolution Biology and Biodiversity.

Trapdoor spiders are sometimes encountered in domestic gardens in towns and cities around Australia when they emerge from their burrows to feed or look for a mate.

However, these represent just a few common species, when in fact there are several hundred species found in particular habitats, most of which haven't even received a formal scientific name.

Now there is concern that this major and unique component of Australia's fauna may be threatened.

"The problem in some areas looks to be that the few spiders surviving are old females, and an absence of males means there is no capacity to reproduce, and they eventually die and the population disappears," says team member Dr Mark Harvey, a national expert on spiders based at the Western Australian Museum.

"The reasons for this decline are probably complex but are undoubtedly linked to a century of intensive land clearing and the fact that trapdoor spiders are susceptible to soil disturbance around their burrows."

Lead author Dr Mike Rix, who did his research at the University of Adelaide and is now at the Queensland Museum, says the results of this research are concerning on their own, but may also be representative of a decline in populations of other invertebrate animals.

"To get a better handle on the extent of the problem, there is a real need for more detailed follow up surveys, including to assess where remnant populations still exist," he says.

Michael G Rix, Joel A Huey, Barbara Y Main, Julianne M Waldock, Sophie E Harrison, Sarah Comer, Andrew D Austin, Mark S Harvey. Where have all the spiders gone? The decline of a poorly known invertebrate fauna in the agricultural and arid zones of southern Australia. Austral Entomology, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/aen.12258

Record Penalties For Illegal Foreign Fisherman

13 December 2016
Joint media release Australian Fisheries Management Authority and Department of Immigration and Border Protection

In a major strike against illegal fishing, four illegal foreign fishers involved in three separate incidents were convicted in Darwin courts last Friday after investigations by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), in cooperation with Maritime Border Command (MBC), a multi-agency task force embedded within the Australian Border Force (ABF).

In the Northern Territory Supreme Court, the master of the Papua New Guinea-flagged trawler CAPS 01, was convicted and fined $110,000. The owners were also penalised $300,000, after posting a bond for the return of their vessel on the condition that its location could be monitored by AFMA’s satellite-based tracking system. These are the highest penalties for illegal fishing in more than a decade.

The CAPS 01 was apprehended on 23 September 2016 approximately 110 nautical miles west of Thursday Island. Australian Defence Vessel Cape Byron, assigned to MBC, and an AFMA officer, embarked, intercepted and boarded the vessel. Approximately 10 tonnes of catch was found on board the vessel, which was also actively trawling at the time of apprehension.

In another matter, the Indonesian master of the BERKAH III, pleaded guilty to two offences and was fined $15,000. The fisherman had just completed a term of imprisonment at Darwin Correctional Centre for an unpaid fine relating to a previous conviction. The BERKAH III was apprehended on 6 November 2016 by ABF Cutter Cape St George approximately 150 nautical miles north-west of Cape Londonderry. AFMA confiscated the vessel and destroyed it by burning.

In a separate matter, an Indonesian fishing vessel master and one reoffending crew member from the vessel AKRAB 01 were convicted in Darwin Local Court and received fines totalling $10,000. The AKRAB 01 was sighted by an MBC aircraft during a surveillance flight on 15 November 2016, and boarded that day by ABF Cutter Cape St George. The vessel was approximately 27 nautical miles south-east of Browse Island, with catch on board consisting mainly of shark fin and trochus. The vessel was also confiscated and destroyed by AFMA.

AFMA’s General Manager of Operations Peter Venslovas said the penalties approaching nearly half a million dollars should send a strong message to those who think they can get away with ransacking Australia’s maritime resources.

“Australian fisheries are very well managed and, as such, are a target for foreign operators seeking out new opportunities,” Mr Venslovas said. “It is important that we remain vigilant to ensure our fish resources are protected so they remain biologically and economically sustainable.”

Commander MBC, Rear Admiral Peter Laver, praised the successful prosecution of the illegal fishers, saying that it presents a strong deterrence to others thinking of fishing illegally in Australia’s waters.

“MBC is committed to working together with AFMA to stop illegal fishing and protect Australia’s unique maritime resources,” Rear Admiral Laver said. “These prosecutions demonstrate that we take this issue very seriously.”

More information on how Australia is working to combat illegal fishing can be found at

Smart Technology To Solve City Problems: Release Of Smart Cities And Suburbs Program Guidelines

13 December 2016: Media release - The Hon Angus Taylor MP, Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation
Smart street lighting which helps police solve crimes may be among technologies to revolutionise city living in Australia.

Proposals on digital and data solutions for local communities are being encouraged in the Federal Government’s $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.

Draft guidelines for the program were released Tuesday at the Smart Cities Expo in Sydney by Assistant Minister for Cities Angus Taylor, with stakeholders invited to provide feedback on the guidelines.

Assistant Minister Taylor said the program would support projects which put citizens at the centre.

“Smart Cities need to take a people-first approach to designing and delivering responsive public services with the help of smart technologies. The Australian Government is committed to working with governments, business and the community to help our cities - regional and metropolitan - reach their full potential.”

The new program has been welcomed by local government and the tech sector across Australia. Lighting Council Australia CEO Bryan Douglas said it could expand the benefits of technologies like sensors on street lights that are already being used to help solve crimes.

“Smart street lighting is already playing a vital role in smart cities – not only delivering energy savings of 30% – 40% from lighting that can be dimmed in periods of low traffic, but managing traffic flow, providing parking services and in some parts of the world detecting the precise location, time and characteristics of gunshots.”

Hundreds of sensors on Sydney Harbour Bridge are also collecting road surface information to provide early warnings of problems. An app allowing easy reporting of potholes or broken playground equipment is helping local councils maintain their equipment.

The Smart Cities and Suburbs Program aims to deploy new ideas not yet seen in Australia including international smart cities technology.

Eligible applicants are able to apply for up to $5million in Federal grant funding with the first funding round expected to be opened in the first half of 2017.

Stakeholders interested in the program can download the draft guidelines and provide input until 20 January 2017 through the Government’s Cities website.

Biodiversity Monitoring In The Amazon 

A team of scientists from Australia, Brazil and Spain have joined forces to develop the most sophisticated remote monitoring system ever used to track the diminishing biodiversity of South America's Amazon Jungle.

The project will revolutionise the way biodiversity is monitored by creating a distributed, wireless sensor network throughout the jungle with autonomous nodes that continuously monitor wildlife under the canopy of the Amazon Forest.

Right: The Amazon river from an aerial perspective

The team has been granted nearly $2 million by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, a philanthropic funding body established by Gordon Moore – the founder of Intel – to carry out the first stage of this biodiversity monitoring project.

The four research partners involved in the project, dubbed Providence, are meeting in Australia this week to commence phase one.

Dr Alberto Elfes, research scientist at CSIRO's Data61 and leader of the Australian arm of Providence, said species were being extinguished at a faster rate than we can catalogue them, but accurate biodiversity assessments were difficult to obtain.

"Remote sensing satellites and science aircraft provide a wealth of data about broad changes in forest cover, deforestation and land use, but these methods reveal almost nothing about the true story of biodiversity beneath the forest canopy," Dr Elfes said.

"Biodiversity assessments are difficult to carry out in rugged and remote areas using traditional methods. Researchers need to trek into the jungle to count the species they see and hear, and it can be quite dangerous as tropical rainforests are very inhospitable to humans.

"Our technological innovation to monitor biodiversity in the Amazon is on a scale that hasn't been seen before, and will use multiple technologies including acoustics, visual and thermal imaging.

"This work will also benefit forest biodiversity research in Australia and other countries worldwide."

The new technology will have a major impact on measuring and preserving the Amazon's ecosystem, allowing researchers, governments and the public to understand and monitor the impact of changes in forest cover and biodiversity.

Dr Emiliano Esterci Ramalho, researcher and monitoring coordinator at the Mamirauá Institute in Brazil and Providence project leader, said the initial study area was at the southern end of the Mamirauá Reserve, between the Amazon and Japurá rivers.

"One of the major concerns for scientists worldwide is loss of biodiversity and the extinction of species. An accurate biodiversity assessment of an area such as the Amazon is essential to help combat the potential loss of wildlife," Dr Ramalho said.

"We'll be collecting data from acoustic sensors (for underwater creatures, as well as terrestrial animals such as birds, frogs and monkeys), visual images, environmental data (wind, temperature, humidity, air pressure), and even thermal images.

"The animals of key interest in the trial stages are a range of species including jaguars, monkeys, bats, birds, reptiles, river dolphins and fish."

Phase one of Providence we field test 10 trial monitoring devices in the Amazon, to create a wireless network of sensor nodes. Phase two will scale up to around 100 nodes in the Amazon basin and phase three will see up to 1000 nodes installed.

Professor Michel André, founder and president of The Sense of Silence Foundation and director of the Laboratory of Applied Bioacoustics of the Technical University of Catalonia, BarcelonaTech, said monitoring wildlife with underwater passive acoustics will be a key technology in this project.

"New sensor developments and increased power in processing modules, originally developed for complex underwater ocean ecosystems, will be applied to the conservation of terrestrial and aquatic creatures for the first time in a large scale environment like the Amazon," Professor André said.

"This unique biodiversity of sounds will be streamed online so the scientific community and the general public can follow our progress in real-time from the comfort of their lounge room."

CEO of CSIRO's Data61, Mr Adrian Turner, said Project Providence brings together and extends state-of-the-art wildlife monitoring techniques in species identification, data compression and transmission, and energy management.

"The integration of technologies involved in the Providence project will revolutionise the way we monitor biodiversity in tropical forests around the world," Mr Turner said.

"Providence will enable, for the first time, the establishment of an accurate recording and assessment system of the biodiversity status of this region in the Amazon, and provide a warning system alerting us to any change that could threaten the amazing wildlife resident there."

Open For Ideas: Try, Test And Learn Fund

Media Release - The Hon. Christian Porter MP, Minister for Social services
Innovative ideas that help move people from welfare to work will be funded by the Turnbull Government, with the opening of the $96 million Try, Test and Learn Fund on Friday.

Using insights from the Australian Priority Investment Approach to Welfare, the Try, Test and Learn Fund will initially target and invest in groups of young people who are at-risk of long-term welfare dependency.

Speaking at Mission Australia’s Campsie site in western Sydney, Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, encouraged new and forward-thinking ideas on how we can support people to have better lives through work and independence from the welfare system.

“This is an innovative Government initiative; from Friday 9 December until late-February, we want your ideas on how we can help people who may be at risk of being on welfare for the long term to find, retain and flourish in long-term employment,” the Minister said.

“Our priority groups for this first round of the Try, Test and Learn Fund are young carers, young parents and young students at risk of long-term unemployment.

“Mariam and Rola are fine examples of parents taking initiative and utilising programs offered by the Coalition Government, in conjunction with services providers like Mission Australia.

“Existing programs such as ParentsNext and the Empowering YOUth Initiatives are already supporting innovative new service approaches. Through the first phase of the Fund, we want to build on these approaches by trying and testing scalable, efficient initiatives that help young people establish themselves in the workforce.

“At the end of the day, the Fund isn’t about kicking people off welfare and saving money. Nor is it about replacing programs that are already doing great work across Australia, or expanding existing programs. It is about investing in people who may need some extra help.

“The evidence from the Baseline Valuation Report tells us that what we’re currently doing isn’t helping people as it should be. That’s why we need your ideas to do it differently. We need your ideas to better help people at risk of welfare dependence, and better help their children.”

From Friday 9 December, ideas for the Fund can be submitted using a simple online form on the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) Engage website.

Ideas will be published on DSS Engage for everyone to see, to encourage collaboration and innovation. A discussion forum will run alongside the ideas generation phase, to encourage people to share views about how to help people in our priority groups, through the Try, Test and Learn Fund.

“We expect proposals to come from industry, the not-for-profit sector, NGOs – any group with ideas about how we can help improve lives through self-reliance and employment,” Mr Porter said.

“The most promising ideas will be selected for development into possible policy initiatives, which will involve refinement and co-design of the idea in preparation for funding.

“Our aim is that by May 2017, the first handful of successful ideas will have been selected by Government, and we will be on our way to on-the-ground implementation.”

The Fund itself is the product of innovation. Over thirty key stakeholders—representing service providers, academia, social enterprise and business—helped design the Fund, including how ideas are published online for public review and collaboration.

“I’m absolutely committed to making sure that the Fund operates in a way that fosters innovation and collaboration, while minimising the burden of red tape,” Mr Porter said.

More information about the Try, Test and Learn Fund and the Priority Investment Approach is available on the Department of Social Services website—

To submit an idea for the Try, Test and Learn Fund, visit