Inbox and Environment News: Issue 303

March 5 - 11, 2017: Issue 303

Clean Up Australia Day 2017

Register or join a site at:

Coasters Retreat
Meeting Point: The fire brigade shed
Date: March 5th 2017
Start time: 9:00 AM
End time: 11:00 AM
Contact Wilma Taylor - Email:

Avalon Beach
Meeting Point: Avalon Beach SLSC.
Date: March 5th 2017
Start time: 9:00 AM
End time: 10:00 AM
Site Coordinator Details
Guy Williment - Email:

Avalon Dunes Careel Creek
Meeting Point: near Avalon Skate Park
Date: March 5th 2017
Start time: 8:00 AM
End time: 11:00 AM
Site Coordinator Details
Marita Macrae - Email:

Bayview Shore Front
Come For Half An Hour Or As Long As You Can Manage. Plastic Is The Number One Material Caught In The Mangroves, Buried In Mud And Sand And Mixed In With Shore Debris.
Meeting Point: Bayview Baths - in the park to the right of Gibsons Marina
Date: March 5th 2017
Start time: 08:00 AM
End time: 11:00 AM
Site Coordinator Details
Louise Smith - Email:

Coastal Environment Centre
Representing: Upper Northern Beaches Rotary Club
Meeting Point: Volunteers will meet at the Coastal Environment Centre and work north towards Warriewood SLSC
This Clean Up is a recurring one which takes place yearly.
Next Clean Up: March 5th 2017
Date: March 5th 2017
Start time: 9:30 AM
End time: 11:00 AM
Site Coordinator Details
Michael Baxter - Email:

Mona Vale Beach
Representing: Blackmores Ltd
Meeting Point: Car park next to Bronze Cafe
Date: March 2nd 2017
Start time: 7:00 AM
End time: 2:00 PM
Site Coordinator Details
Jackie Smiles - Email:

Narrabeen Lagoon State Park
Representing: Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment
Meeting Point: Berry Reserve
Date: March 5th 2017
Start time: 8:00 AM
End time: 11:00 AM
Site Coordinator Details
Judith Bennett - Email:

Community Urged To Attend Narrabri Gas Project Info Sessions

01.03.2017 Type: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
Communities of North West NSW are encouraged to register for the Department of Planning and Environment’s public information sessions on the Narrabri Gas Project proposal.

Two community information sessions will be held at the Crossing Theatre in Narrabri on Tuesday 7 March and Wednesday 8 March from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.

Mike Young, Director of Resource Assessments, said the Department is keen to hear the views of individuals and groups living locally.
“Information on the planning process will be provided and we’ll also be able to answer the community’s questions about the assessment,” Mr Young said.

“We want to hear people’s views - farmers, landholders, locals, Aboriginal groups, industry groups, councils. Everyone is welcome to make a submission and all will be read and considered in our assessment.

“The Department wants everyone to have a chance to be listened to”

The Narrabri Gas Project proposal involves a coal seam gas field with up to 850 gas wells to be developed progressively over 20 years, and gas processing and water treatment facilities.

Santos’ Environmental Impact Statement is available on the Department’s website, and at all major centres in the region including Narrabri, Wee Waa, Gunnedah, Coonabarabran and Coonamble.

To attend one of the public information sessions, people should register their interest on 1800 616 493
If media plan to attend they must register

Department Seeks Community Views On Narrabri Gas Project Proposal

20.02.2017: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
The Department of Planning and Environment will today place on public exhibition Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project Environmental Impact Statement and is inviting the community to share its views.

Given the high level of public interest in the proposal, the Department has extended the normal exhibition period to more than 60 days. It closes on April 24.

Mike Young, Director of Resource Assessments, said the Department will be consulting broadly on the proposal and is keen to hear from all individuals and groups interested in the proposal.

“We are making every effort to make sure people have an opportunity to hear about the project and give us feedback during this assessment,” Mr Young said.

“There will be a number of opportunities to provide feedback including community information sessions and meetings with local landowners and interest groups.

“We want to hear people’s views - farmers, landholders, locals, Aboriginal groups, industry groups, councils. Everyone is welcome to make a submission and all will be read and considered in our assessment.”

Mr Young said as part of the assessment the Department will be establishing a panel of eminent scientific experts to provide independent advice on the proposal.

“These experts will be an integral part of the assessment process. Much of the information is of a scientific and technical nature and we are keen to get the best independent advice possible in assessing this project,” he said.

“In addition, we will be working with other key NSW Government agencies and seeking advice from the Commonwealth’s Independent Expert Scientific Committee.

“Any issues raised in submissions will be looked at and taken into account.”

Given the high level of public interest in the proposal, the Department has extended the normal exhibition period to more than 60 days. It closes on April 24.

Following the exhibition period, the Department will comprehensively assess the submissions and the EIS.

The Narrabri Gas Project proposal involves a coal seam gas field with up to 850 gas wells to be developed progressively over 20 years, and a gas processing and water treatment facilities.

Santos’ Environmental Impact Statement is available on the Department’s website, and at all major centres in the region including Narrabri, Wee Waa, Gunnedah, Coonabarabran and Coonamble

Related information: 
  • Environmental Impact Statement for the Narrabri Gas Project
  • NSW Chief Scientist 2014 Coal Seam Gas Review
  • NSW Gas Plan
Narrabri Gasfield

Exhibition Start 21/02/2017
Exhibition End  24/04/2017

To attend one of the public information sessions, people should 
register their interest on 1800 616 493.

Location: Crossing Theatre, 117 Tibbereena St, Narrabri, NSW
Dates: Tuesday 7 March and Wednesday 8 March 2017

If media plan to attend they must register

The Final Push For The Pilliga

Published on 21 Feb 2017 by The Wilderness Society
Now is a critical moment in the campaign to protect the Pilliga forest. We need you to lodge a submission against Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project to help end CSG in NSW once and for all. 

Santos has filed its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with the NSW Government and we now have just 60 days to voice our opposition. This is the last remaining CSG proposal in NSW, and it’s essential we make our powerful opposition clear. 

The local community of the Pilliga has spearheaded the campaign against this project for years—now is the time for all Australians to stand with them in the final push for the Pilliga. 

Anyone can make a submission and every submission will be counted. 
We have until 24 April 2017 to lodge as many submissions as possible

New Program To Help Grow Commercial Fishing In NSW

February 27, 2017: NSW Dept. of DPI
A new subsidised share trading market will open, after an inquiry into the NSW commercial fishing sector. 
The NSW Commercial Fisheries Business Adjustment Programwill allow commercial fishers across the state to grow and invest in their businesses.

Following feedback from commercial fishers:
  • The government will establish an independent commercial fisheries sector advisory council to the Minister for Primary Industries - Commfish NSW
  • A Chair will be quickly appointed to oversee the establishment of the new Commfish NSW
  • The Office of the Small Business Commissioner is now available to help ensure small commercial fishing businesses are adequately supported during the reforms
  • Share linkages have been extended until December 2017
  • The subsidised share trading market will start in May 2017. Once this market has closed, fishing business owners will have five months to adjust their businesses before the linkages commence in December.
NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair said the recommendations in the Upper House inquiry report into the NSW commercial fisheries sector are an important step in improving the fishing industry’s economic viability.

“There is a clear signal from the report that it’s time to get on with the job at hand and at the same time assist the industry and individual businesses transition into the new arrangements,” Mr Blair said.

All commercial fishers are being encouraged to register for the subsidised share trading market to ensure they benefit from the $16 million adjustment package.

New Funding For Cane Toad Research In NSW To Help Save Threatened Species

Media release: 1 March 2017- NSWDept. of Environment and Heritage
Cane toad sausages will be on the menu for threatened native species as part of a $75,000 grant to Professor Rick Shine of the University of Sydney from the NSW Government to help develop practical responses to the cane toad invasion.

The grant of $50,000 from the Saving our Species Program with $25,000 provided by the Department of Primary Industry's Biosecurity and Food Safety program will build on successful work from the Northern Territory teaching native species to avoid eating cane toads.

Professor Shine said the research involves giving low-dose toad-flesh sausages to native carnivores, such as Spotted-tail Quolls, which has been proven in others areas of Australia to teach them that cane toads are poisonous, and should be avoided.

"Cane toads are fatal to large predators, causing up to 95% mortality when toads first arrive in an area," Professor Shine said.

"Field studies show that aversion training can help predators to survive the onslaught of toads to a new area.

"The research is based on observations that if a predator encountered a small cane toad, it becomes ill and avoids toads thereafter and thus, is relatively unaffected by the invasion.

"If the first toad it encounters and eats is a large one however, the predator dies before it can learn and in some species pass that knowledge on to their young.

"It is a simple idea and approach but it has already proven successful in helping quolls in tropical Australia survive the invasion of cane toads even after a single episode of training."

"The University is trialling a range of techniques for managing cane toads, including the toad-flesh sausages, in the field at or just before the time that the toad invasion arrives in an area," Professor Shine said.

Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Executive Director Ian Hunter said cane toads are a significant threat in northern Australia and applying the lessons learnt to NSW was a valuable exercise.

"Cane toads currently occur in NSW from the Clarence Valley north and outside this area there have only been two major incursions, Port Macquarie and Taren Point in Sydney, both of which have been successfully managed by the local Councils and OEH," Mr Hunter said.

"Within their existing range cane toads are continuing to spread into areas of conservation significance and affect a range of wildlife.

"Professor Shine's three-year project will help provide more information to better to manage the risk of future incursions and the potential impacts that would have on threatened species.

"The funding would also help develop a NSW response consistent with the national approach, and to undertake a more complete analysis of risk areas."

Mr Hunter said it was part of the $100 million Saving our Species program which sets out the NSW Government's threatened species management plan and what needs to be done to secure the State's threatened species in the wild for the next 100 years.

Highest Temperatures Recorded For Antarctic Region

March 1. 2017
The World Meteorological Organization has announced new verified record high- temperatures in Antarctica, an area once described as "the last place on Earth." The temperatures range from the high 60s (in Fahrenheit) to the high teens, depending on the location they were recorded in Antarctica.

Knowledge and verification of such extremes are important in the study of weather patterns, naturally occurring climate variability and human induced change at global and regional scales, said Randy Cerveny, an Arizona State University professor of geographical science and urban planning and the Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for the WMO.

"The temperatures we announced today are the absolute limit to what we have measured in Antarctica," Cerveny said. "Comparing them to other places around the world and seeing how other places have changed in relation to Antarctica gives us a much better understanding of how climate interacts, and how changes in one part of the world can impact other places."

Because Antarctica is so vast (it is roughly the size of the United States) and varied the WMO committee of experts, convened by Cerveny, provided three temperature measurements for the Antarctic.

The highest temperature for the "Antarctic region" (defined by the WMO and the United Nations as all land and ice south of 60-deg S) of 19.8 C (67.6 F), which was observed on Jan. 30, 1982 at Signy Research Station, Borge Bay on Signy Island.

The highest temperature for the Antarctic Continent, defined as the main continental landmass and adjoining islands, is the temperature extreme of 17.5 C (63.5 F) recorded on Mar. 24, 2015 at the Argentine Research Base Esperanza located near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The highest temperature for the Antarctic Plateau (at or above 2,500 meters, or 8,200 feet) was -7 C (19.4 F) made on Dec. 28, 1980 at an automatic weather station site D-80 located inland of the Adelie Coast.

The Antarctic is cold, windy and dry. The average annual temperature ranges from -10 C on its coasts to -60 C (14 F to -76 F) at the highest points in the interior. Its immense ice sheet is about 4.8 km (3 miles) thick and contains 90 percent of the world's fresh water, enough to raise sea levels by around 60 meters (200 feet) if it were all to melt.

Cerveny said that observing the extremes of what the Polar Regions are experiencing can provide a better picture of the planet's interlinked weather system.

"The polar regions of our planet have been termed the 'canary' in our global environment," Cerveny said. "Because of their sensitivity to climate changes, sometimes the first influences of changes in our global environment can be seen in the north and south polar regions. Knowledge of the weather extremes in these locations therefore becomes particularly important to the entire world. The more we know of this critically important area to our environment, the more we can understand how all of our global environments are interlinked."

Cerveny said an additional benefit is understanding how those extremes were achieved.

"In the case of the Antarctic extremes, two of them were the result of what are called 'foehn' winds -- what we call Chinook winds -- very warm downslope winds that can very rapidly heat up a place. These winds are found even here in the United States, particularly along the front range of the Rockies. The more we learn about how they vary around the world, the better we can understand them even here in the United States.

Full details of the Antarctic high temperatures and their assessment are given in the on-line issue of Eos Earth and Space Science News of the American Geophysical Union, published on Mar. 1, 2017: 

If Victoria Can Ban CSG, NSW Can Too!

By The Wilderness Society
Coal seam gas (CSG) threatens our water, our health and our climate. Many jurisdictions around the world are permanently banning this dangerous industry, most recently Victoria. We do not need or want risky coal seam gas in NSW. 
It’s clear that the industry has no social licence in our state, yet vast and critical areas—as well as human health—are still under threat from CSG across the state.

Call on the new Premier Berejiklian and the new Planning Minister Roberts to follow Victoria's lead and ban this harmful and risky industry in NSW. 

Federal Senate Inquiry: The Rehabilitation Of Mining And Resources Projects As It Relates To Commonwealth Responsibilities

On 8 February 2017, the Senate referred the following matters to the Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry andreport by 23 August 2017:

The rehabilitation of mining and resources projects as it relates to Commonwealth responsibilities, for example under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), with regard to:
  • the cost of outstanding rehabilitation obligations of currently operating projects;
  • the adequacy of existing regulatory, policy and institutional arrangements to ensure adequate and timely rehabilitation;
  • the adequacy and transparency of financial mechanisms, including assurances, bonds and funds, to ensure that mining and resources projects are rehabilitated without placing a burden on public finances;
  • the effectiveness of current Australian rehabilitation practices in safeguarding human health and repairing and avoiding environmental damage;
  • the effectiveness of existing abandoned mines programs, with regard to repairing environmental damage and safeguarding human health;
  • whether any mining or resources companies have engaged in conduct designed to avoid fulfilling their rehabilitation obligations;
  • the potential social, economic and environmental impacts, including on matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act, of inadequate rehabilitation;
  • the potential social, economic and environmental benefits of adequate rehabilitation, including job opportunities in communities affected by job losses in the mining and resources sectors;
  • international examples of effective rehabilitation policy and practice;
  • proposals for reform of rehabilitation of mining and resources projects; and any other related matters.
The closing date for submissions is 10 April 2017.

NSW Water Resource Plan Consultation 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017: Media Release - NSW Dept. of DPI
Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair said the NSW Government is delivering on a key Basin Plan commitment with the release of eight Water Resource Plan Status and Issues papers to take place on Friday.

“These papers set out issues related to water availability, reliability of access and longterm sustainable use, particularly through times of drought,” Mr Blair said.

“I urge all members of the community, particularly water users, to comment on the relevant Status and Issues paper in their region, and submit any additional issues that should be considered in developing a Water Resource Plan.

“It is an opportunity to look at existing planning mechanisms and water sharing rules, to identify and resolve any shortcomings, and find ways to be more efficient and productive in the NSW Murray Darling Basin.

“The plans need to work for regional communities and economies, so it is important to balance cultural and environmental needs without constraining the productive use of water that underpins the world-class irrigated agriculture sector in NSW.”

Status and Issues papers will be released on Friday for consultation in the Barwon- Darling (surface water), Murray-Lower Darling (surface water), Murrumbidgee (surface water), Namoi (surface water), Border Rivers (groundwater), Gwydir (groundwater), Lachlan (groundwater) and Macquarie-Castlereagh (groundwater).

Stakeholder Advisory Panels have been established for each surface water plan area – a vital aspect for widespread and meaningful stakeholder and community engagement.

Copies of the Status and Issues Papers, together with other supporting information will be available at

The exhibition period will be open from this Friday until Friday 31 March 2017. All written submissions, from brief emails to full technical papers, are welcome. 

Comment Invited On Draft Lower Namoi Valley Floodplain Management Plan

13 Feb 2017: NSW Dept. of DPI
An areal view of a floodplain
Floodplain landholders and the general community are being invited to comment on the draft Lower Namoi Valley Floodplain Management Plan, Senior Water Planner, Stacey Winckel, announced today.

“The draft Lower Namoi Valley plan is the fourth of six floodplain management plans being prepared across the northern valleys in NSW's Murray-Darling Basin,” said Ms Winckel.

“The purpose of the draft Lower Namoi Valley plan is to coordinate the future development of flood works on the floodplain.

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

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

“The draft plan outlines the types of flood works that may be considered for approval, standards for the construction of flood works, and where flood work approvals will and will not require advertising.

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

Ms Winckel continued, saying that in addition to the Lower Namoi plan DPI Water is also currently undertaking a process to licence floodplain harvesting through the NSW Healthy Floodplains Project.

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

More information
Details of where people can view the draft plan, together with additional information, can be found at Plans on exhibition.

Public comment on the draft Lower Valley Floodplain Management Plan closes on Thursday 13 April 2017.

Funding for the NSW Healthy Floodplains project is provided by the Australian Government’s Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program as part of the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in NSW.

Planning Reforms To Boost Housing Supply

09.01.2017: Ministerial Media Release - The Hon. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Planning
Making it simpler to build a home and enhancing community participation in key decisions will be now easier through a package of red tape-busting reforms released for consultation by the NSW Government today.

Planning Minister Rob Stokes said proposed amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 target delays in Development Application (DA) processing by councils, while also enhancing community confidence in the planning system.

The proposed changes include standardising the format of council’s development control plans to make them easier to understand and navigate, giving developers incentives to resolve objections before lodging DAs, and focusing councillor attention on strategic planning with greater numbers of DA assessments being processed by staff or local planning panels.

Local communities will have greater opportunity to participate in strategic planning for their neighbourhoods as early as practicable, with each planning authority required to prepare community participation plans. 

Other proposed changes include leveling the playing field for the assessment of major projects by ending transitional arrangements under Labor’s controversial Part 3A development assessment which will prevent the misuse of modifications. 

Mr Stokes said the state was experiencing the longest housing construction boom in NSW history with the latest figures for the 12 months to October showing 74,577 approvals, the second highest on record.

“However, there is still more work to do and these planning reforms build on our impressive results over the past five years by making it easier to build new homes,” Mr Stokes said.

“The NSW Government is determined to do everything it can, including making the planning system more efficient, to ensure housing supply gets to homebuyers fast.”

Mr Stokes said NSW Treasury estimated there is pent up demand for up to 100,000 new homes due to the former Labor Government failing to provide adequate supply.  

Proposed updates to the EP&A Act include:
• Investigating incentives for developers to consult with neighbours and the surrounding community to ensure disputes are resolved prior to a Development  Application proceeding to council;
• New powers for the Planning Minister to direct a council to establish a local planning panels of experts and community representatives;
• A standardised format for development control plans, produced in consultation with councils, to promote consistency across the confusing array of up to 400 formats currently used in NSW;
• Authority for the Department of Planning and Environment Secretary to ensure the efficient processing of developments that require separate approvals and advice under different NSW legislation;
• Measures to ensure that local environmental plans are kept up to date;
• Extending and improving the complying development assessment process that currently covers most new one or two storey dwellings, to include greenfield developments and terrace housing.
• Simplifying and consolidating building provisions to remove confusion for developers;
• Widening the availability of internal review options for proponents aggrieved by council decisions as a faster, low cost alternative to court action; and
• Introducing fair and consistent planning agreements between developers and councils to ensure there is more transparency on deals to fund public amenities, affordable housing, transport and other infrastructure.

Mr Stokes said the planning reforms would assist the NSW Government deliver the 725,000 new homes forecast to be required by 2036 to house an extra 1.7 million residents.

The community is encouraged to have its say on the proposed amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. These updates are on public exhibition from 9 January – 10 March 2017, and can be viewed at 

The consultation package comprises four documents:
2. Bill guide  
3. Draft Bill - Environmental Planning and Assessment
Amendment Bill 2017

Have your say on the draft updates to the EP&A Act 
Consultation is now underway on the draft amendments to the EP&A Act, details of which are at the ‘Key documents’ tab above.

The public consultation period for the Bill is from 10 January 2017 to 10 March 2017.

We encourage our stakeholders, interested community groups and individuals to review the reforms and respond:
• by mail to: 
Planning legislation updates 2017
NSW Department of Planning and Environment 
GPO Box 39
Sydney NSW 2001

Join The Fight Against Foxes

27 February 2017: Media Release - Greater Sydney Local Land Services
Northern Sydney residents are being urged to join the fight against foxes in the lead up to an autumn baiting program in March.

Run by Greater Sydney Local Land Services in partnership with the Sydney North Vertebrate Pest Committee, National Parks and Wildlife Services and other land management agencies, the annual program coincides with fox cubs leaving the den and adults finding a mate for the winter breeding period.

Greater Sydney Biosecurity Manager Graham Wilson said coordinated, large-scale baiting programs had proven most effective in limiting the impacts of foxes in urban areas.

“Past experience has shown foxes are more likely to take baits in autumn but the support and cooperation of local residents is vital to the program’s success.”

Mr Wilson said there were simple things residents could all do to minimise the impact of foxes.

“Foxes are attracted to food scraps and domestic pets like chickens and rabbits. You can help by ensuring compost bins are properly closed, keeping household rubbish in a secure location, feeding domestic pets inside, ensuring food is not left outside and wherever possible, keeping pets inside overnight.

“Pesticide restrictions mean baiting can’t be undertaken on the average suburban block which is why coordinated programs like this are crucial to limiting the damage foxes can cause to native wildlife, infrastructure, livestock and domestic pets,” he said.

“Keeping yards in check by tidying gardens, weeding to reduce fox harbour and housing backyard chickens in secure, fox-proof enclosures rather than free ranging will also help.”

The Northern Sydney baiting program will be in place until the end of March. It is important for residents to keep their domestic pets away from sign-posted bait sites and walk their dogs on a leash during this time.”

The baiting will take place in The Hills Shire, Northern Beaches, North Sydney, Willoughby, Ku-Ring-Gai, Mosman and Hornsby areas.

For further information contact Greater Sydney Local Land Services on 1300 795 299.

Photo: Fox courtesy James Doumtsis Invasive Animals CRC

Environmental Planning And Assessment Amendment (EPlanning) Regulation 2017

February 15, 2017: NSW Depratment of Planning and Environment
Have your say on online development applications for homes and businesses

We welcome your feedback on changes that will allow people to lodge development applications for homes or businesses online. 

This will help to make it faster and easier to get the approvals you need, and also make it easier to find planning information.

Proposed changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (the Regulation) will support online lodgement of development applications by introducing consistent documents and technical requirements across NSW.

Currently, there are many variations in document requirements for development applications, which can cause delays in preparing and determining applications. The Regulation seeks to address this by introducing standards for online submission and lodgement.

Online lodgement through the Planning Portal will dramatically reduce the time and resources spent on producing and reviewing hard copy documents, making it faster and easier for NSW residents to lodge and track applications. It will also make planning information more accessible.

Proposed changes include:
  • standardising the documents required to lodge applications for development
  • replacing written consent with legally enforced declarations by applicants that they have permission from land owners to submit a development application
  • introducing new requirements for making and exhibiting Development Control Plans and Contribution Plans (financial contributions from developers towards infrastructure costs).
To ensure consistency, the Secretary’s Requirements for the Lodgement of Applications for Development (PDF: 2.85MB - 182 pages) provides a clear list of documents and technical requirements for different application types. This will replace requirements contained in Schedule 1 of the Regulation.

Details of the proposals can be found in the resources section below. 

Your feedback can play a vital role in further developing these updates to the Regulation. To make a submission, find out how to get involved.

How to get involved
You can make a submission until 15 March 2017 using the online form below, or by mail to:
Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (ePlanning) Regulation 2017
NSW Department of Planning and Environment 
GPO Box 39
Sydney NSW 2001

Documents and attachments available HERE:
Attachments and Resources

Bird Walks And Talks 2017: PNHA

Come and see and hear some of our fantastic native birds, many of which you'll never see in your garden. Join in a Sunday guided bird walk with Pittwater Natural Heritage Association. All walks  start at 8am and end about 10am.

March 26, Irrawong reserve. Meet at corner Irrawong Rd and  Epworth Rd.
May 28, Warriewood Wetlands, meet at End of Katoa Close, north Narrabeen.
August 27 Chiltern Track. Meet at gate, off northern of Chiltern Rd Ingleside.
September 17 Irrawong reserve. Meet at corner Irrawong Rd and Epworth Rd.
November 26 Warriewood Wetlands. Meet end of Katoa Close, north Narrabeen. 

Bring binoculars if possible. Drink, hat and comfortable shoes.
More information contact or 
Ph Kerry on 0402605 721.

You don't need to book but if we know you're coming we'll watch out for you. Call if in doubt about weather as we won't go out if it's raining.

Av. Green Team Back At Work

Youth-run, volunteer-based environment initiative from Avalon in Sydney. Trying to keep our area green and clean!

Keep up to date with and join in their next cleansvia their facebook page

‘Quollity’ Project Helping Illawarra’s Quolls

Media release: 28 February 2017 - NPWS
Last week landholders neighbouring Barren Grounds and Budderroo National Parks coordinated fox control efforts as part of the Illawarra’s ‘Quollidor’ conservation program.

Illawarra's Quollidor Project 
Spotted-tailed Quoll, Barren Grounds, Budderoo Quollidor remote monitoring stations - photo courtesy NSW Office E&H

Simon Tedder from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) said it’s the first time these landholders have come together with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) on this project to coordinate fox control across the landscape, giving local spotted-tail quolls a fighting chance.

“Foxes are a key threat to the survival of the spotted tail quoll as they compete for food and have been known to prey on young quolls following the breeding season,” Mr Tedder said.

“We have been really overwhelmed with the enthusiasm of landholders at Brogers Creek, Upper Kangaroo River, Carrington Falls and Knights Hill.

“Many of the landholders are aware of the threats posed by foxes and South East Local Land Services have been providing training and biosecurity advice in response to this,” Mr Tedder said.

Pest management is one of the ways the ‘Quollidor’ project is improving habitat for this vulnerable species in and around the Barren Grounds and Budderroo National Parks.

As the name alludes to, the Saving our Species-funded Quollidor project also aims to increase understanding of quoll populations throughout the native vegetation corridors across the region.

“Quolls can have relatively large home ranges, roaming across 3,000 hectares so our goal is to improve the condition of the native vegetation corridors that connects this population with reserves on the South Coast and southern Blue Mountains,” said Mr Tedder.

“The added bonus of enhancing these Quollidors using coordinated pest management is that other species in the region will benefit.

“Pest control will also reduce threats to the long-nosed potoroo, eastern bristlebird and eastern ground parrot found in the national parks as well as the long-footed myotis, greater glider and feathertail glider recently spotted as part of a Bioblitz survey on private properties.

“Early monitoring indicates there is up to 12 individual spotted tail quolls in the project area, including several newly weaned young.

“Hopefully we’ll see the population increase over time and make the most of the enhanced Quollidor habitat with reduced competition for food and new territories established,” Mr Tedder said.

For more information about this saving our species project, including details on how landholders can get involved

Chief Scientist’s Energy Review Must Stop Ignoring Cost Of Gas And Impacts On Farmers

March 02, 2017: Media Release - Lock the Gate Alliance
The Lock the Gate Alliance has delivered a stinging rebuke to the notion that Australia should build more gas-fired power stations in its submission to the Chief Scientist’s national energy review.

Submissions to the preliminary report of the Review into the Future of the National Electricity Market, being chaired by Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, close tomorrow.

The preliminary report promoted greater gas supplies for electricity generation, describing it as “increasingly urgent,” but failed to address the rising cost and damage from gas mining.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “Politicians in Canberra are having the wool pulled over their eyes by greedy gas companies.

“The roll out of unconventional gas for export in Queensland has driven up domestic gas prices and created market turmoil while at the same time inflicting considerable damage to farmland, water and other industries.

“In every other state and the Northern Territory, rural communities have seen the damage and are flat out rejecting unconventional gas mining. As a result, state governments are finally starting to respond to this overwhelming public opposition.

“Unconventional gas is expensive, it’s risky and now it is also politically untenable. Fortunately for Australia, it is also unnecessary.

“There are clean and reliable energy options like concentrated solar thermal ready to be built. Unlike coal and gas, renewable energy will not lock in rising energy prices or damaging mining activity.

“A clean, safe and prosperous future is beckoning and the only thing holding this country back is the stranglehold that the mining industry has over energy policy in this country.

“The task of the Finkel electricity review is not to push gas mining onto unwilling regional communities but to propose a blueprint for a smooth adjustment towards the kind of electricity generation that investors and the public want built: renewable, non-extractive and non-polluting."

Lock the Gate's submission is available here

GPS Collars Pinpoint Koala Population

27th February, 2017: NSW Dept. of Environment and Heritage
A GPS koala tracking study in Wingecarribee has mapped more than 3000 koalas in the Southern Highlands, making it the largest known koala population in southern NSW. 

With 36,000 koalas estimated to be left in NSW, the Wingecarribee research will help councils to protect koalas and assist with the development of the NSW Government’s Koala Strategy(external link) and Saving our Species (Koala Iconic Species) project(external link).

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said this Saving our Species conservation project had now been extended into Wollondilly. Almost $100,000 from the NSW Government’s flagship $100 million Saving our Species program will fund the project extension for 100 koala spotlight surveys, up to eight GPA collars and koala habitat assessment.

“As part of the extended project six to eight koalas in Wollondilly will be fitted with a GPS collar for NSW Government ecologists and Wollondilly Council to track their movements and preferred food trees,” Ms Upton said.

“This project will also pinpoint the bushland corridors that koalas use to move across the landscape, creating a map to help guide future conservation efforts.”

Koala populations have declined in NSW by an estimated 26% over the past 15 to 21 years. Without active intervention, this level of decline is likely to continue.

Broken Hill North Mine Recommencement Project

Recommencement of underground mining operations at the Broken Hill North Mine (see attached Environmental Impact Statement). 

Exhibition Start   05/02/2017
Exhibition End 06/03/2017

Project is currently on public exhibition and opportunity for public submissions is availableVisit HERE

Have Your Say On A Modification To Hunter Valley Operations South

09.02.2017: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment
A proposal by HV Operations Pty Ltd for a modification to its coal mine 24 kilometres north-west of Singleton will be on exhibition from today for community consultation.

The Department of Planning and Environment is keen to hear the community’s views on the proposal, which involves:
  • extending the depth of the Riverview and Cheshunt Pits and South Lemington Pit 2 to allow the extraction of deeper coal seams
  • increasing the maximum annual production from 16 to 20 million tonnes of run-of-mine coal
  • increasing the height of selected overburden emplacement areas
  • amending the Statement of Commitments
Submissions can be made from Thursday 9 February until Friday 10 March 2017.

$1 Million In Grants To Support Environmental Research

Media release: 6 February 2017- NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
Grant funding of $1 million is now available as the NSW Environmental Trust Environmental Research program opens for expressions of interest.

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Chief Executive and Trust Secretary Michael Wright said the funding will go towards helping solve current and future environmental issues with innovative and sustainable research solutions.

"The funding supports academics and scientific institutions, working in close collaboration with relevant stakeholders, as they use applied research to investigate new knowledge and advanced techniques to answer complex environmental issues," Mr Wright said.

"For the 2017 grant program, new research priorities have been set and proposals must focus on contaminants and pollution; biodiversity; climate adaption and/or mechanisms for social engagement.

"Past funding has played a critical role in a variety of projects, from investigating the ecological benefits of blackwater through to examining identification of hazardous organics at fire scenes.

"The funding will go towards preventing environmental harm and forging successful, real-world solutions to solve environmental problems in NSW.

"Individual grants of up to $150,000 are available and I encourage interested researchers to apply.

"A total of 187 expressions of interest were received in the last funding round; I anticipate high interest in this round too," Mr Wright said.

The 2017 Environmental Research program, run by the NSW Environmental Trust, opens for expressions of interest on Monday 6 February and closes on Monday 13 March.

To find out more about the application process visit the Environmental Trust’s website: Environmental research grants.

On Snow Leopard Mountain (15 Min) - Planet Earth II - Behind The Scenes

Published on 1 Mar 2017 by BBC Earth Unplugged
In a remote village in the Himalaya Tsewang Norboo has grown up with snow leopards. In his own words he shares his experiences and reveals why community based conservation is vital to saving these remarkable cats. A ambient portrait of a life high in the mountains, full of silence, dark interiors and mysterious glimpses of mystical cats. 

Australian First Review Of Large African Hive Beetle Pest Risk

01 Mar 2017: Media Release - RIRDC
Species of Large African Hive Beetle have the potential to become invasive and highly damaging to the worldwide beekeeping industry, according to Australian researchers.

Large African Hive Beetle (LAHB) can cause significant damage to honey bee colonies and is currently widespread in Africa.

Currently the pest is regarded as ‘low risk’, but the Australian first research review – led by Professor Ben Oldroyd from the University of Sydney – recommends that the current biosecurity risk assessment be changed to ‘high’.

While the pest is yet to spread to Australia, the risk assessment has identified the potential danger of importation of eggs, larvae or pupae in dung should be considered ‘medium, and that the likelihood of establishment after importation is high.

Chairman of the Honey Bee and Pollination Program Advisory Panel, Michael Hortnizky said the report also identifies the likely economic impact of LAHB as high.

“These are sobering research results but it also provides vital information and education to the Australian beekeeping industry on how to identify the pest should it ever be suspected locally,” Dr Hornitzky said.

“Since 2002 we have experienced the incursion of Small Hive Beetle here in Australia, and prior to the threat, the industry was not prepared, or informed to deal with, for such a biosecurity breach,” he said.

“This particular piece of research, funded by the Honey Bee & Pollination Program, highlights how beekeepers in Africa and Kenya have dealt with LAHB.

“The assessment also provides Australian beekeepers with information on how to prevent its introduction, as well as identify the pest should it arrive in the country.”

“The safety and strength of our local beekeeping industry relies on the evaluation of risks of pests and diseases, and it is vital there is an awareness and understanding about potential threats.”

For more information, read the project summary at:

The Honey Bee and Pollination RD&E Program is a jointly funded partnership with the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (Hort Innovation) and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. RIRDC funds are provided by honey industry levies matched by funds provided by the Australian Government. Hort Innovation funding is from the apple and pear, almond, avocado, cherry, dried prunes, summer fruit and onion levies and voluntary contributions from the melon and canned fruit industries. Levies are matched by funds from the Australian Government.

Introducing Healthy School Canteens In NSW

28 February 2017: Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes
School canteens will promote freshly-made foods and only stock packaged goods that have a minimum 3.5 star Health Star Rating.

A new Healthy School Canteens Strategy replaces the current “traffic light” system in schools, which experts have found to be overly complex and too narrow in its consideration of nutrition. The new strategy offers simpler, easier to understand menus consistent with the latest Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Under the Healthy School Canteens Strategy:
  • fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, salads, pasta, and stir fries will make up at least 75 per cent of the menu
  • occasional foods, which will make up the remaining 25 per cent, will need to have a Health Star Rating of 3.5 stars or higher.
  • pies, sausage rolls and pizzas that are above the 3.5 star rating can be available at all times.
Cake stalls or fundraising initiatives will not be affected by the changes.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that providing healthier options in school canteens was just one of the ways the NSW Government could move towards achieving its priority target to reduce childhood obesity by five per cent by 2025.

“Obesity has significant health impacts for children with around one in five NSW children between the ages of five and 16 being overweight or obese," Ms Berejiklian said.

Education Minister Rob Stokes said the new strategy would reassure parents that food sold in school canteens is healthy for their children.

 “This is a simpler, easier-to-understand approach that is consistent with Federal Government guidelines on healthy food.”

The strategy will be phased in over three years so that schools and the food industry have time to adjust.

Pathology Providers Guarantee To Continue To Provide Pap Tests For Australian Women

27 February 2017: Media Release
The Federal Department of Health has reached agreement with representatives of the Australian Pathology providers which will ensure that women will be able to continue to access the current Pap Test to screen for cervical cancer until a new testing program begins on December 1 2017.

Last week I announced that, due to the complexity of assimilating and migrating data from eight state and territory cancer registers into one register, the start date for Australia’s first National Cancer Screening Register has been delayed. This meant also that the introduction of the new cervical cancer screening test would also be delayed as the new testing regime was contingent on the establishment of the new national register.

Following this announcement there was some speculation that pathology providers would not have the workforce or capacity to continue to offer the current Pap Test as they had restructured their businesses to provide the new test. 

To ensure that Australian women could be guaranteed to continue to have the existing Pap Test, I have held constructive discussions with pathology providers and we have reached agreement which includes:
  • a proposed Medicare fee of $28 for the Pap Smear Test to reflect the costs of maintaining this test and,
  • a new Medicare item for a more automated form of the Pap Test, a liquid based cytology test, at a Medicare fee of $36 per test.
The new Medicare benefit for pathologists when they use the liquid based cytology test will help reduce workforce pressures on the sector associated with the delay of introducing the new test and is a positive move towards partial implementation of the new technology. It is good news for women also who currently pay when this liquid cytology test is used.

These changes will help the pathology sector to continue to provide cervical screening for this transitional period.

The Department of Health fully acknowledges the impost and disruption on the pathology sector caused by the delay to the new Cancer Screening Register and I thank the pathology sector for working with the Department to achieve an acceptable interim solution.

Professor Brendan Murphy
Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer

The Big Wave Project (Official Trailer )
By Tim Bonython Productions

The Big Wave Project - A Band Of Brothers
Filmed and Directed by award winning ocean cinematographer and Avalon resident Tim Bonython

Short Synopsis: 

It is a production that is everything Tim Bonython lives for when it comes to documenting surfing.

Big wave surfing has evolved so much over the past 10 years and his relationship with this genre of the sport that has grown more than any other.

The Big Wave Project is about just that. It's everything from where its come from to where it is now.

The production of the BIG WAVE PROJECT has taken Tim around the planet to interview the world’s most renowned big wave surfers to document the biggest & craziest waves. It’s a narrative film that will scare as much as it will exhilarate the viewer.

The Danger Level increases as we attempt to climb a mountain of water where the peak keeps getting higher” Alex Gray, big wave surfer.

Five years in the making, the BIG WAVE PROJECT follows a tight-knit crew of leading big wave surfers (A Band Of Brothers) who are working together to attempt a personal goal that drills to core passion of surfing: Riding the World's Biggest Wave.

We hear candid, personal, no-holes barred accounts as the real fear of death walks side by side with ultimate personal glory.

The BIG WAVE PROJECT depicts the history of the how the sport has developed from humble origins to modern tow-in surfing with the latest challenges of returning to the simple art of unassisted paddling into 100-foot walls of water.

This progression collides with the best swell season in 30-years as the World's best paddle and tow into some of the greatest waves ever documented including what has been titled "the biggest wave ever attempted” featuring Aaron Golds infamous massive paddle-in wave at Jaws, Hawaii. 

The BIG WAVE PROJECT also travels across Australia, Tahiti and finally to Europe's new frontier of Nazare, in Portugual.
The BIG WAVE PROJECT incorporated the best surfers on the planet from around the world. 
Jamie Mitchell, Aaron Gold, Mark Healey, Ryan Hipwood, Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Billy Kemper, with insights from Peter Mel, Big Wave icon Greg Noll, the legendary late Brock Little and many more…


This film will be touring as part of the Australian Surf Movie Festival in May / June 2017
More screenings around the world to be announced. Visit: for further details.

New TB Drug Candidates Developed From Soil Bacteria

March 1, 2017
A new treatment for tuberculosis (TB) is set to be developed using compounds derived from bacteria that live in soil -- according an international collaboration of researchers, including the University of Warwick.

The research partnership -- involving the University of Warwick, and spanning institutions from Australia, Canada and the USA -- has discovered a compound which could translate into a new drug lead for TB.

The group looked at soil bacteria compounds, known to effectively prevent other bacteria growing around them. Using synthetic chemistry, the researchers were able to recreate these compounds with structural variations, turning them into more potent chemical analogues.

When tested in a containment laboratory, these analogues proved to be effective killers of Mycobacterium tuberculosis -- the bacterium which causes TB.

These chemicals target an enzyme in Mycobacterium tuberculosis called MraY, which catalyses a crucial step in building the cell wall around a bacterium. Attacking this part -- a potential 'Achilles' heel' of the bacterium -- provided an essential pathway for the antibacterial compounds to attack and destroy TB strains.

Key reagents and expertise in antimicrobial resistance from the research groups of Dr David Roper, Professor Chris Dowson and Professor Tim Bugg at the University of Warwick, played a crucial role in successfully targeting TB bacteria with the new compounds.

Believed by many to be a relic of past centuries, TB still causes more deaths than any other infectious disease, including HIV/AIDs.

In 2015 there were an estimated 10.4 million new cases of TB and 1.4 million deaths from the disease.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is becoming increasingly resistant to current therapies, meaning there is an urgent need to develop new and effective TB drugs.

In 2015 an estimated 480,000 cases were unresponsive to the two major drugs used to treat TB. It is estimated more than 250,000 TB deaths were from drug-resistant infections.

Dr David Roper, from the University of Warwick's School of Life Sciences, comments:

"The University of Warwick is a central hub in the UK for antimicrobial resistance research and we have crucial expertise in the bacterial cell wall as a target for new antibiotics.

"This study highlights the international nature of our research and how such collaboration can bring new innovation in drug discovery and biomedicine."

Anh T. Tran, Emma E. Watson, Venugopal Pujari, Trent Conroy, Luke J. Dowman, Andrew M. Giltrap, Angel Pang, Weng Ruh Wong, Roger G. Linington, Sebabrata Mahapatra, Jessica Saunders, Susan A. Charman, Nicholas P. West, Timothy D. H. Bugg, Julie Tod, Christopher G. Dowson, David I. Roper, Dean C. Crick, Warwick J. Britton, Richard J. Payne.Sansanmycin natural product analogues as potent and selective anti-mycobacterials that inhibit lipid I biosynthesis. Nature Communications, 2017; 8: 14414 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14414

Countering Violent Extremism Through Australian Aid

1 March 2017: Media release - Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Hon Julie Bishop MP
Today I launch a new policy framework, 'Development Approaches to Countering Violent Extremism', to guide the inclusion of countering violent extremism activities across Australia's aid program. 

The framework will ensure development assistance considers countering violent extremism in targeted and sensitive ways, including across education, civil society, governance, livelihoods, justice and the rule of law.

Violent extremism is a significant threat to global and regional security. It negatively affects economic growth and stability in developing countries, and undermines Australia's efforts to deliver humanitarian and development assistance.

The Australian Government has already increased our support to international efforts to target violent extremism, including providing $3 million to the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund and $2.5 million to establish a Commonwealth Secretariat Counter-Violent Extremism unit.

We endorsed the UN Secretary General's Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, which recognises that countering violent extremism requires a concerted approach by UN member states.

In 2016, Australia supported a revision of OECD rules to make non-coercive efforts to counter violent extremism eligible for Official Development Assistance.

The Australian Government will continue to protect Australians and help build a more prosperous and stable region.

Illegal Fish Pirates Jailed

01-03-2017 - This is a joint media release by the Australian Border Force, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and Parks Australia
Fifteen illegal Vietnamese fishers faced the harsh reality of illegal fishing in Australian waters in the Darwin Magistrates Court on Tuesday with several crew sentenced to jail time.

The 15 crew were all sentenced to two months suspended sentences for illegally fishing from a vessel caught on 6 February 2017, near Lihou Reef in the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve, off Cairns. The Master received a suspended six month sentence. In addition, seven of the crew were found to be repeat offenders and received two months imprisonment for breach of their good behaviour bonds. The vessel used by the fishers was confiscated and destroyed.

A joint effort by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), the Maritime Border Command (MBC), a multi-agency task force within the Australian Border Force (ABF), and Parks Australia resulted in the apprehension and subsequent court case.

Following investigations by AFMA and Parks Australia, they were found guilty for committing offences against the Australian Fisheries Management Act 1991 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

General Manager Fisheries Operations Peter Venslovas said that the consequences faced by these illegal fishers further reinforces Australia’s message on deterring and preventing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.

“Those who seek to illegally fish in Australian waters will be caught,” Mr Venslovas said.

“As demonstrated by this court case, those seeking to take advantage of Australia’s well-managed fisheries will face the harsh consequences, including of jail time.”

Acting Commander MBC, Stephen Alexander reinforces that harsh penalties will face anyone seeking to exploit our natural resources.

“Our ABF and Australian Defence Force surveillance aircraft and mariners constantly monitor our Exclusive Economic Zone to the north-east of Australia, sometimes several hundred nautical miles from the coastline. We have recently stepped up our detection and response efforts in collaboration with other maritime law enforcement agencies in our region including France and Papua New Guinea to ensure we will detect and intercept illegal fishers so as to ultimately protect our resources and pristine ecology and ensure compliance to our laws,” Acting Commander Alexander said. 

“If there are vessels that are fishing illegally in our waters, we will catch them and fishers will be prosecuted.”

Parks Australia Manager for Marine Parks Compliance, Scott Clementz, said Lihou Reef had been a sanctuary since 1982.

“This pristine ecosystem is a very special place and harsh penalties are needed to ensure a strong message is sent to illegal fishers entering this marine habitat,” Mr Clementz said.

“Illegal fishing threatens to deny current and future generations the chance to experience these natural assets.

“Parks Australia welcomes the convictions and will continue to pursue those who undermine the protection of Australia’s marine reserves.”

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

ASIC Action On Cash Converters

1 March 2017: Media Release - The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services
ASIC last November secured an Enforceable Undertaking against Cash Converters under which approximately 55,000 Australians will be refunded their share of $10.8 million due to Cash Converters breaching their responsible lending obligations for small amount credit contracts. This program is being overseen by an independent expert.

I am advised by ASIC that they are currently investigating Cash Converters in relation to debt collection laws.

In addition, ASIC has advised that Cash Converters has been required to engage that same independent expert to review its current business operations and compliance with the consumer credit regime and report to ASIC.

Finally, Cash Converters has been fined an additional $1.34 million penalty.

This is Australia’s largest compensation program for customers of small amount credit contract providers to date and a significant penalty.

Beyond the compensation program, Australian consumers who believe that Cash Converters has breached its obligations when providing small amount credit contracts can still seek redress through the Credit and Investments Ombudsman. The ombudsman is free for all consumers to access, makes independent decisions and can award compensation of up to $309,000 per consumer.

ASIC have confirmed today that they have the ability to take action against Cash Converters for breaches of responsible lending laws, the ASIC Act (such as misleading, deceptive or unconscionable conduct), debt collection laws or criminal conduct, arising from Cash Converters’ current or future activities.

ASIC also retains the ability to take action in respect of Cash Converters’ debt collection that relates to all loans before 9 November 2016.

Following an independent review, the Turnbull Government is acting to better protect consumers who use small amount credit contracts. The Government’s changes will strengthen the protections available under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act.

The Government has committed to progressing legislation this year and welcomes bipartisan support on this much needed reform.

75th Anniversary Of The Sinking Of HMAS Perth

1 March 2017 - The Hon Dan Tehan MP 
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said Australians should pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who served on the HMAS Perth, which was sunk at the Battle of the Sunda Strait, during the Second World War, on this day 75 years ago.

Of the 681 sailors, airmen and civilians aboard the Perth, 353 were killed in the battle and four sailors who survived the fighting died of their wounds after reaching shore.

The remaining survivors were taken into Japanese captivity where 106 died while prisoners of war and the surviving 218 returned to Australia after the war.

The Perth and the United States Cruiser, USS Houston, had been the only two large ships to survive the Allied defeat in the Battle of the Java Sea in February 1942.

As they sailed through the Sunda Strait to Tjilatjap on Java’s south coast, the two ships encountered a large Japanese force and were soon overwhelmed.

Mr Tehan said the Perth fought to the last of her ammunition when she was hit by four Japanese torpedoes and Captain Hector (Hec) Waller gave the order to abandon ship. Houston was also torpedoed and sank 20 minutes later.

“Captain Waller was last seen standing on the bridge of the ship and was later awarded a posthumous mention in dispatches for ‘gallantry in the face of the enemy and for setting an example of whole hearted devotion to duty’,” Mr Tehan said.

“Today we remember the courage of the entire crew of the Perth for their service and sacrifice, from those who lost their lives, to those who were injured and those that were taken prisoner.”

$213 Million Upgrade To Garden Island Navy Facilities

2 March 2017: Media Release - The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon Dan Tehan MP
Minister for Defence Personnel
A $213 million upgrade to the Navy’s Garden Island facility in Sydney will improve Defence operations, enhance national security and create hundreds of jobs.

The wharf upgrade project has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works today with work expected to begin in mid-2017, subject to approval.

The Cruiser Wharf and Oil Wharf will be demolished and a new wharf with different alignment will be constructed; an adjoining wharf will be extended to reduce the new wharf’s protrusion into Sydney Harbour.

The Garden Island upgrade will provide critical capability for Navy as part of the 2016 Defence White Paper.

The Australian Government is investing significantly in securing our national security by increasing Defence spending, including a $40 billion investment in Australia’s future naval capabilities.

Our investment in Naval ship building means we also need high-quality Defence infrastructure to support and maintain our Navy and Garden Island is one of our key operating bases.

The project is expected to create about 300 direct jobs with flow-on benefits for the local economy.

Defence is committed to engaging local and Indigenous suppliers on this project as well as consulting with the local community.

Building a new wharf that is equipped with engineering services, including electrical, water, and fuel, along with a crane, will enable maintenance work to be conducted well away from residential areas, reducing the noise and visual impacts.

Australian Support For Somalia And South Sudan Continues

1 March 2017: Media release - Minister for Foreign Affairs
The Hon Julie Bishop MP
The United Nations has declared a famine in parts of South Sudan and has raised deep concerns about Somalia, which is on the brink of famine.

In South Sudan, more than seven million people require humanitarian assistance.  Over one million children under five and nearly 340,000 women are acutely malnourished.

In Somalia, more than six million people require assistance. The risk of famine in Somalia is high and there are similarities to the conditions that led to famine in 2011.

Today I announce the Australian Government will contribute an additional $20 million towards helping more than 13 million people in South Sudan and Somalia suffering from critical food shortages caused by conflict and severe drought.

Australia's assistance will provide emergency food and nutrition, health services, water and sanitation, and agricultural livelihoods support to vulnerable communities, particularly women and children.

Working alongside partners including the United Nations World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organisation, and trusted NGOs, Australia will continue to play a constructive and generous role in responding to these humanitarian crises.

This funding will bring the amount of life-saving humanitarian assistance Australia has committed in South Sudan and Somalia to over $120 million since 2014. 

ASIC Commences Civil Penalty Proceedings Against Westpac For Breaching Home-Loan Responsible Lending Laws

March 1, 2017
ASIC has today commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac) for a number of contraventions of the responsible lending provisions of National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (Cth) (the National Credit Act).

ASIC alleges that in the period between December 2011 and March 2015 Westpac failed to properly assess whether borrowers could meet their repayment obligations before entering into home loan contracts.

Specifically, ASIC alleges that Westpac:
  • used a benchmark instead of the actual expenses declared by borrowers in assessing their ability to repay the loan
  • approved loans where a proper assessment of a borrower's ability to repay the loan would have shown a monthly deficit
  • for home loans with an interest-only period, Westpac failed to have regard to the higher repayments at the end of the interest-only period when assessing the borrowers' ability to repay.
The National Credit Act provides consumer protections to ensure that credit providers make reasonable inquiries about a borrower's financial situation and assess whether a loan contract will be unsuitable for the borrowers.

The first hearing for the proceedings will be on 21 March 2017 at 9.30am in the Federal Court in Sydney.

ASIC will be making no further comment at this time.


The proceedings follow ASIC's review of interest-only home loans (REP 445) in which ASIC reviewed the responsible lending practices of 11 lenders (refer: 15-220MR).

Be Part Of Something Beautiful

Wednesday, 1 March 2017
Bureau calls for Australian Weather Calendar 2018 entries

The Bureau of Meteorology's Capture the Weather photo competition gives entrants the chance to feature in the 2018 edition of the iconic Australian Weather Calendar.

This year, judges will be on the hunt for 13 unique images that capture Australian weather in a dramatic, captivating or creative setting. Interesting interpretations of frost, clouds, rainbows or sunshine have been the top picks in previous years.

The competition closes on 31 March 2017, giving amateur and professional photographers one more month to scour the Australian countryside for the perfect cloud formation, rainbow or lightning strike and capture the moment to share with the world.

Winners could have their image displayed in homes across Australia and overseas as part of a weather calendar tradition that has spanned more than 30 years.

CEO and Director of Meteorology Dr Andrew Johnson is looking forward to seeing images submitted for the 2018 calendar, published jointly by the Bureau and the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society. 

"We encourage photographers to send in work showcasing the diversity of Australian landscapes and weather including images that show the interaction of extraordinary weather phenomena with industry, infrastructure or communities."

Information for photographers wishing to submit their images is

You can view the winning images for 2017 by grabbing one of the final remaining Australian Weather Calendars online at

Businesses Missing Out By Ignoring Diverse Customers

Monday 27 February 2017: Australian Human Rights Commission
One in three customers from diverse backgrounds ceased a sale in the past 12 months because they were not treated fairly or respectfully, according to a new report released today by the Australian Human Rights Commisssion and Deloitte.

The report - Missing out: The business case for customer diversity - which includes real-world examples of leading Australian organisations, including Qantas Airways and Westpac, found businesses that fail to meet the needs of their diverse customers are missing out on sales and customer loyalty.

“Equality, fairness and respect are fundamental values in our community. This report now shows us how important they are to businesses and their bottom line, especially in our increasingly empowered marketplace,” said President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs.

This is resonating in successful advertising campaigns such as the Tiffany Rings campaign for marriage equality and Audi’s Superbowl advertisement promoting gender equality. Catering to a diverse market makes good business sense; Missing out found one in five customers from Indigenous, gay, lesbian, bisexual or faith backgrounds abandoned a transaction because they were not treated fairly or respectfully.

It also found half of those surveyed were positively influenced by messages of equality.  

“The old advertising mantra was ’sex-sells’, now it’s ‘equality sells’. Two forces are at play. First, in a diverse and globally accessible market place, customers have choices. Unfortunately, organisations often imagine customers come in one shape and size. Our diversity has been overlooked. And that’s a huge opportunity. Second, many customers feel alienated by political messages of disrepect. We want to express our humanity and we can do that with our buying choices and the brands we support,” said Deloitte Human Capital Partner and co-author of the report, Juliet Bourke.

The report, which will be officially released to market at an event held in the Sydney Deloitte offices, features case studies of several Australian businesses including: Qantas Airways, QBE Insurance, SBS and Westpac, whose insights further highlight the findings of the research.

Government Releases Consumer Representation Review Report

27 February 2017: Media Release - Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield
Minister for Communications
Minister for the Arts
Manager of Government Business in the Senate
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) will continue to be funded as the peak body representing telecommunications consumers, following a review of section 593 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.

The final report on the review of telecommunications consumer representation has now been released, and makes ten recommendations including:

Retaining Section 593 of the Act and establishing a new funding agreement with ACCAN;
  • Proposals for improved engagement between ACCAN and industry
  • Improvements to the independent research grants program; administered by ACCAN, fostering collaboration between government, regulatory agencies and industry representatives to guide research priorities;
  • Removal of funding caps and time limits for research projects to provide greater flexibility and allow for longer-term research proposals.
Section 593 allows the Minister for Communications to make grants to organisations to represent the interests of consumers in relation to telecommunications services, and to conduct telecommunications-related research.

The Department of Communications and the Arts undertook a review of consumer representation in late 2016. A public consultation process attracted 65 submissions, the majority of which supported retaining section 593 of the Act.

The review also found that ACCAN is seen as an effective representative body by stakeholders, though steps could be taken to improve both its representation role and the benefits of the research it funds.

The Turnbull Government recognises the ongoing need for consumer representation in telecommunications policy and regulatory processes and has accepted the recommendations of the review.

The recommendations will be implemented by means of a new ACCAN funding agreement, to be entered into following the expiry of the current funding agreement in May 2017.

The review’s final report is released today and is available

World's Oldest Fossils Unearthed

March 1, 2017

Rounded-shaped laminated iron-carbonate (orange) with white chert and black oxide and silicate layers in the Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt, Québec, Canada. This outcrop may have been part of a hydrothermal vent structure. Credit: D.Papineau

Remains of microorganisms at least 3,770 million years old have been discovered by an international team led by UCL scientists, providing direct evidence of one of the oldest life forms on Earth.

Tiny filaments and tubes formed by bacteria that lived on iron were found encased in quartz layers in the Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt (NSB), Quebec, Canada.

The NSB contains some of the oldest sedimentary rocks known on Earth which likely formed part of an iron-rich deep-sea hydrothermal vent system that provided a habitat for Earth's first life forms between 3,770 and 4,300 million years ago. "Our discovery supports the idea that life emerged from hot, seafloor vents shortly after planet Earth formed. This speedy appearance of life on Earth fits with other evidence of recently discovered 3,700 million year old sedimentary mounds that were shaped by microorganisms," explained first author, PhD student Matthew Dodd (UCL Earth Sciences and the London Centre for Nanotechnology).

Published today in Nature and funded by UCL, NASA, Carnegie of Canada and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the study describes the discovery and the detailed analysis of the remains undertaken by the team from UCL, the Geological Survey of Norway, US Geological Survey, The University of Western Australia, the University of Ottawa and the University of Leeds.

Prior to this discovery, the oldest microfossils reported were found in Western Australia and dated at 3,460 million years old but some scientists think they might be non-biological artefacts in the rocks. It was therefore a priority for the UCL-led team to determine whether the remains from Canada had biological origins.

The researchers systematically looked at the ways the tubes and filaments, made of haematite -- a form of iron oxide or 'rust' -- could have been made through non-biological methods such as temperature and pressure changes in the rock during burial of the sediments, but found all of the possibilities unlikely.

The haematite structures have the same characteristic branching of iron-oxidising bacteria found near other hydrothermal vents today and were found alongside graphite and minerals like apatite and carbonate which are found in biological matter including bones and teeth and are frequently associated with fossils.

They also found that the mineralised fossils are associated with spheroidal structures that usually contain fossils in younger rocks, suggesting that the haematite most likely formed when bacteria that oxidised iron for energy were fossilised in the rock.

"We found the filaments and tubes inside centimetre-sized structures called concretions or nodules, as well as other tiny spheroidal structures, called rosettes and granules, all of which we think are the products of putrefaction. They are mineralogically identical to those in younger rocks from Norway, the Great Lakes area of North America and Western Australia," explained study lead, Dr Dominic Papineau (UCL Earth Sciences and the London Centre for Nanotechnology).

"The structures are composed of the minerals expected to form from putrefaction, and have been well documented throughout the geological record, from the beginning until today. The fact we unearthed them from one of the oldest known rock formations, suggests we've found direct evidence of one of Earth's oldest life forms. This discovery helps us piece together the history of our planet and the remarkable life on it, and will help to identify traces of life elsewhere in the universe."

Matthew Dodd concluded, "These discoveries demonstrate life developed on Earth at a time when Mars and Earth had liquid water at their surfaces, posing exciting questions for extra-terrestrial life. Therefore, we expect to find evidence for past life on Mars 4,000 million years ago, or if not, Earth may have been a special exception."

Matthew S. Dodd, Dominic Papineau, Tor Grenne, John F. Slack, Martin Rittner, Franco Pirajno, Jonathan O’Neil, Crispin T. S. Little. Evidence for early life in Earth’s oldest hydrothermal vent precipitates. Nature, 2017; 543 (7643): 60 DOI: 10.1038/nature21377

Online One-Stop Shop For Development Applications

2nd March, 2017: NSW Government
Development applications will take less than 30 minutes when a new online lodgement portal launches later this year.
Currently, the average time it takes homeowners and builders to investigate, prepare, submit, lodge and track a development application manually is up to 10 days.

The Department of Planning and Environment’s planning portal will eventually be a one-stop shop for development applications and complying development certificate submissions.

Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts said the new portal would save people time and make the entire development application process easier and more efficient.

“This new functionality for online lodgement will improve people’s lives,” Mr Roberts said.

“We’re getting down to business making it easier for home owners and developers to lodge their applications.

“This will also benefit people in the bush who live hours away from council offices.”

Eventually, the portal will connect any type of application to be lodged to any council in NSW.

Channel-Billed Cuckoo Juveniles - Summer 2017

Published on 27 Feb 2017 by BIBY TV
These juvenile Channel-billed Cuckoos were filmed at Hunters Hill, Sydney, Australia in January and February 2017.

Disclaimer: These articles are not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Pittwater Online News or its staff.