Inbox and Environment News: Issue 327

August 27 - September 2, 2017: Issue 327

New Land Management And Conservation Laws Start

24 August 2017: Media Release - NSW OE&H
New land management laws, which will improve both environmental outcomes and farmers’ productivity, will begin from tomorrow, Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair, and Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said today.

Mr Blair said the NSW Government has committed $240 million over five years in private land conservation and an additional $70 million each year in ongoing funding to the new system.

“The improved framework will provide greater fairness and flexibility to farmers so they can focus on what they do best, producing some of the best food and fibre in the world,” Mr Blair said.

“The old laws pitted farmers against environmentalists, while doing nothing for productivity or biodiversity.

 “The NSW Government is delivering a modern, innovative and integrated system that is balanced, scientific and evidence-based, and places farmers at the centre of efforts to reverse the current decline of biodiversity in NSW.

 “The new system creates more options for farmers to boost agricultural productivity and manage private land for conservation, supported by 65 additional Local Land Services staff dedicated to this program on the ground.”

As part of the reforms, the Biodiversity Conservation Trust will be established to manage the $240 million private land conservation program.

Ms Upton said the Biodiversity Conservation Trust Board has been appointed, with its members bringing extensive experience in conservation of biodiversity, rural and regional land and resource management, financial management, and law and governance.

“The Trust will deliver the Government’s unprecedented investment in private land conservation. This investment is in addition to the NSW Government’s $100 million Saving our Species program,” Ms Upton said.

“For the first time state-wide standards have also been introduced under the new system for development in local communities to avoid, minimise and offset environmental impacts.”

The Trust is also responsible for securing offsets for developers who choose to use the Biodiversity Conservation Fund to fulfil their biodiversity offset obligations.

The Biodiversity Conservation Trust Board consists of:

The Hon Robert Hill AC (Chairman) – Mr Hill is a former Commonwealth Government Environment Minister and a former Permanent Representative to the United Nations for Australia. He is a member of the Asia Pacific Board of The Nature Conservancy and a Governor of WWF Australia. He Chairs the Cooperative Research Centre on Low Carbon Living at UNSW.
Virginia Malley (Deputy Chair) – Ms Malley is a non-executive director of Perpetual Superannuation Limited, a member of the Clean Energy Regulator and a former director of the Nature Conservation Trust. She has 30 years’ experience in the investment and banking sectors, as well as in conservation and environmental initiatives.
The Hon Gary Nairn AO – Mr Nairn became the Chairman of the Mulloon Institute following a 12-year term as the Federal Member for Eden-Monaro. He has extensive experience as a surveyor and he was the inaugural Chairman of the Northern Territory Planning Commission and on the board of the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority.
Renata Brooks – Ms Brooks is currently a Commissioner of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and was previously Deputy Director General, Land and Natural Resources, in the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
Russell Taylor AM – Mr Taylor is on the Council of the University of Technology, he is a senior Indigenous leader on a number of boards including The Australian and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation, and he was a member of the Nature Conservation Trust.
Duncan McGregor – Mr McGregor is an environment and planning law specialist. He is a former partner and remains a Legal Consultant at MinterEllison. He was the inaugural Chair of the Commonwealth Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee as part of the Carbon Farming Initiative.

The reforms commit to the 43 recommendations of the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review, which the NSW Government commissioned in 2014, and drew on feedback received during an extensive three-year consultation process with key stakeholders and the community. 

A total of 7166 submissions were received, including approximately 6000 form submissions. Click here to read the submissions

NSW Government Green-Lights New Wave Of Tree Clearing And Species Loss

25 August 2017

As the leading conservation organisations in NSW, we reiterate our steadfast opposition to the NSW Coalition Government’s new land management regime that weakens tree-clearing laws and takes effect tomorrow.

These new arrangements, imposed by the Coalition Government against the wishes of the general community, significantly erode hard-fought safeguards for native species, soils and water supplies, and represent the most significant backward step in nature conservation in NSW in a generation.

The NSW Coalition Government has introduced this package against the advice of well-informed professional and civic organisations, including scientific societies, legal bodies, local councils and regional local government organisations, conservation groups, farmers, and even one of the government’s own key advisors on the reforms, Professor Hugh Possingham.

The government has also disregarded the wishes of the great majority of citizens who made their views known during the drafting and consultation process. More than 5000 people made submissions opposing the weakening of environmental protections and warning of the increased risk the proposals posed for native wildlife and bushland, soils and water supplies.

The number of species in NSW listed as threatened with extinction now exceeds 1000, a list that includes the iconic koala and about 60% of our remaining native mammals.

Land clearing is one of the key threats to the long-term survival of many of these species, so any measures likely to increase this form of habitat destruction amounts to environmental vandalism and will be vigorously resisted.

Today we give a commitment that we will not rest until the protections removed or weakened by these deeply flawed laws are restored and strengthened.


Conservation Groups Welcome The Senate’s Call To Delay NSW Government’s Tree-Clearing Laws

August 17, 2017
The Australian Senate has called on the Berejiklian Government to delay introducing new tree-clearing laws in NSW until regulatory maps are made public showing areas that will and will not require approval before clearing can occur. [1] 

The NSW Government has committed to “switching on” its new tree-clearing laws on Friday next week (August 25) when codes and regulations supporting the new Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 are due to come into force.

The Coalition last year abolished the Native Vegetation Act and Threatened Species Conservation Act, replacing them with the Biodiversity Conservation Act, which had weaker tree-clearing controls and diluted protection for native wildlife and threatened ecosystems.

Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said: “Conservation groups been warning thousands of hectares of wildlife habitat could be lost under the new laws, as happened in Queensland when the Campbell Newman LNP government gutted that state’s land clearing laws.

“It is clear the Australian Senate shares our concerns, which is why it has called on Premier Berejiklian to delay implementing these weaker laws until their effect is better understood and the regulatory framework is fully in place.

“We have already had reports that some unscrupulous agribusinesses have already begun clearing illegally in anticipation of the new laws, and it is widely expected that landholders will rush to clear in the weeks and months after these laws take effect.

“These laws are already going to do a lot of harm, but implementing them before all the regulatory protections are in place will simply multiply the damage they can do.”

Total Environment Centre Director Jeff Angel said: “Despite the fact the previous land-clearing laws were working well – a new weaker act has been passed.  It is a very complex system and we have been advised that key regulatory instruments will not be completed by the turn-on date of 25 August. 

“This was noted by the Senate and importantly that the NSW offset scheme does not accord with the Commonwealth offset scheme which has stronger rules.

“Further, government officers who are supposed to administer the new system have not been fully trained on the new codes and regulations, because they are still being finalised. It is also clear there won’t be enough staff to administer the new system. All up NSW will see a massive expansion in land clearing.”


The Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) earlier this year the NSW Government released a range of draft regulations and instruments to support two laws that cover how biodiversity, ‘offsetting’ and land-clearing are assessed in rural and urban areas,

(ii) the NSW Government plans for these biodiversity and land-clearing changes to commence on 25 August 2017, and

(iii) the NSW Environment Defenders Office in its submission to the NSW Government on this issue pointed out that:

(A) the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme will not meet federal standards in the Commonwealth Offsets Policy under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and

(B) where Local Land Services (LLS) consider that proposed clearing may require Commonwealth approval, LLS will only certify the clearing after being reasonably satisfied by the landowner that Commonwealth approval is unnecessary or approval has been granted; and

(b) calls on the NSW Government to delay setting a commencement date until all the mapping required to be able to make decisions about land-clearing and offsets is accurately and comprehensively completed, and NSW offsets under the Commonwealth policy meet Commonwealth standards.


In the final week of NSW Parliament in 2016, the Liberal/National Government rushed through the two bills that are the biggest step backwards in NSW's environmental history.

The Local Land Services Amendment Bill 2016 and the Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016 will lead to a massive expansion of land-clearing, the release of millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases adding to the climate change emergency and an acceleration in the loss of already threatened species. 

It will expand the flawed biodiversity offset system which is already failing the environment. For the first time, proponents can now just pay into a fund, instead of even locating offsets . 

The environment is already under unprecedented threat from climate change and land clearing and these laws will irreversibly destroy what precious little we have left. 

We demand that these laws be repealed and replaced with laws that actually protect wildlife, stop broad scale clearing and preserve and improve our environment.

Sydney’s Drinking Water At Risk: Lock The Gate Urges Catchment Coal Mining Moratorium

August 21, 2017
Lock the Gate Alliance says revelations that coal mining is reducing water availability in Sydney’s drinking water catchment must trigger urgent action from the NSW Government to declare a moratorium on any further mining in the Special Areas of the catchment and review all current mining approvals.

The long-awaited audit of Sydney’s drinking water catchment was tabled in parliament two weeks ago, but its findings have only been brought to lighttoday. The “Special Areas” are parts of the catchment supposed to be kept in a pristine state to protect the city’s drinking water: they are off-limits to the general public.

Lock the Gate spokesperson Georgina Woods said, "We have long feared that there would be a cumulative impact on water flowing into Sydney’s dams from the extensive coal mining under the catchment that is cracking creeks and drawing precious water into longwall cavities."

The 2016 Catchment Audit, tabled in parliament on 8 August, warns that, "The cumulative, and possibly accelerated, impact of mining on flow regimes in the Catchment is likely linked to the increased prevalence of the current longwall methods of underground mining."

"It’s simply astounding that the Government would be given a report that warns of a possibly accelerated loss of Sydney’s drinking water as a result of these coal mines and take no action. Urgent action is needed before we do damage to Sydney’s water supply that could last for centuries.

"There are new proposals to further extend longwall coal mining under consideration, including expanding Dendrobium mine and the high risk Russell Vale mine and these must be stopped immediately. Discharge of saline polluted mine-water into the creeks that feed Sydney’s dams must also be stopped. Enough is enough.

"The NSW Coalition is failing to uphold the election promise it made prior to coming to Government six years ago to protect drinking water catchments from coal mining.

"There is no more time to dither: we need a moratorium on any further mining in Sydney’s Special Areas and a review of all current operations."

The Catchment Audit has been uploaded online here:

Climate Impacts Of Coal Before The Court

August 16, 2017: EDO NSW
The Wollar Progress Association represented by public interest environmental lawyers, Environmental Defender’s Office NSW, is bringing court action challenging a decision by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) to allow the extension of the Wilpinjong open cut coal mine near Wollar, Mudgee. 

The Wollar Progress Association says that the approval is invalid because the PAC hasn’t considered climate change impacts in the way it should according to NSW planning law. 

Wilpinjong Coal, a subsidiary of Peabody, sought permission to expand its open-cut mining operations for an additional seven years and develop a new open cut pit that will bring the mine closer to the village of Wollar. The Wollar Progress Association has long held concerns about the impact of the Wilpinjong mine on the local community and the environment.

CEO of Environmental Defender’s Office NSW, Sue Higginson, says “Our client is bringing this case in the public interest to uphold the law. We have laws in place that require downstream greenhouse gas emissions of mining projects to be fully considered; those laws must be followed by decision-makers and in this case our client alleges they were not.”

This is the first case to test the efficacy of the provisions of the State’s Environmental Planning Policy for mining which is designed to ensure the climate change impacts of mining are fully assessed. The PAC is required to consider the greenhouse gas emissions of mining projects, including downstream emissions such as those arising from the burning of coal.

A substantial proportion of the coal mined from Wilpinjong is planned to be burned at power stations within NSW, which the Association argues should have been considered in light of government objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Bev Smiles, from the Wollar Progress Association says “If this mine expansion goes ahead it will exacerbate climate change impacts in NSW and be the death knell for our community. We don’t believe the approval has been lawfully given so we are asking the Court to overturn the approval.” 

FAIL: QLD Gov Changes To Minerals Act Won’t Protect Landholders From Gas Mining Impacts

August 24, 2017: Lock the Gate
The Government’s proposed amendments to the Minerals and Energy Act will not protect landholders from the environmental impacts of gas mining because they do not mandate that gas companies hold insurance designed to protect farmers and their businesses, according to Lock the Gate.

“The proposed amendments put up by the QLD Government miss the point when it comes to protecting landholder interests,” said Lock the Gate spokesperson Phil Laird.

“The only real way to protect farmers’ interests is to require that gas companies hold insurance. They need cover for physical damage to property, both above and below ground; loss of accreditation; contamination of livestock and interruption to or contamination of surface and groundwater.

“Without comprehensive environmental insurance, landholders will still be severely impacted in the event of impacts to ground and surface water from the toxic chemicals used in fracking. None of these amendments seriously address protecting landholder interests.

“There have been repeated attempts to engage the Minister in a discussion about the need to mandate gas companies hold the necessary insurance to protect landholders and the environment.

“The Minister has not engaged with Lock the Gate on this issue or made a serious attempt to consider mandating insurance.

“Mandating that gas companies hold the necessary insurance to cover these impacts is a simple, efficient and effective way of protecting landholders. Yet the Government has resisted implementing this solution.

“Yet again the Palaszczuk Government has backed the resources sector over the interests of farmers and rural residents.

“In the absence of the Minister’s willingness to engage, we will be making strong representations to the Committee scrutinising these amendments on behalf of our rural members and Queensland landholders more broadly. If the Government won’t stick up for farmers, Lock the Gate will,” Mr Laird concluded.

Post-Whaling Recovery Of Southern Hemisphere

22 August, 2017: CSIRO
By 2100 some Southern Hemisphere whale species will not have reached half their pre-whaling numbers, while other species are expected to recover by 2050.
The findings are part of new CSIRO and UQ research, which looks at the interaction of historical whaling, food availability and future climate changes to predict whale numbers to 2100.

University of Queensland and CSIRO PhD student Viv Tulloch, affiliated with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, said this was the first time researchers had used this approach to predict future Southern Hemisphere whale numbers.

“We predict that Antarctic Blue, Southern Right and Fin whales will be at less than half their pre-exploitation numbers by 2100 because of slow growth rates and heavy historical whaling,” Ms Tulloch said.

“Although humpbacks are currently at 33 per cent of their pre-whaling numbers, we predict they will make a full recovery by 2050.”

Southern Right whales, which were reported to have declined to 300 before anti-whaling laws were established, raise one calf every two to three years, compared to humpback whales which generally raise a calf per year.

CSIRO senior scientist and co-author of the paper Dr Eva Plaganyi said the research was enabled through a complex ecosystem model nicknamed ‘MICE’, an acronym for Model of Intermediate Complexity for Ecosystem Assessments.

“Our MICE model uses whale numbers dating back from 1890 to now and then couples this with food availability and ocean physics to understand the changes to ocean conditions that whales are likely to experience,” Dr Plaganyi said.

“Projections of Southern Hemisphere whale numbers are crucial for management and conservation and this research helps answer some of the uncertainties regarding their recovery.”

A humpback whale.  ©Diego Cotterle

Native Rodent Rediscovered In The Kimberley

Thursday, 24 August 2017
The black-footed tree-rat, a species that has not been seen in the Kimberley since 1987, has been rediscovered by staff from the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).
Researchers caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a black-footed tree-rat during regular mammal monitoring at Bachsten Creek in the remote north-west Kimberley last year.
DBCA Parks and Wildlife Service ecologist Ben Corey said remote field cameras deployed over the wet season confirmed the existence of the species once the cameras were collected after eight months in the field.

Black-footed tree-rat - image credit - DBCA
“Many species, such as the endangered northern quoll and golden-backed tree-rat, as well as sugar gliders and scaly-tailed possums were recorded,” Mr Corey said.
“However, the biggest surprise was photographic evidence of the black-footed tree-rat – the first in 30 years.
“It has not been seen in the Kimberley since 1987, despite considerable survey efforts during this period.”
The black-footed tree-rat is a large tree dwelling rodent with distinctive black feet and a long black and white tail.
Mr Corey said another unexpected record of the species came from the identification of hair in a python scat, which was found in a nest box at one of the monitoring sites.
“This suggests black-footed tree-rats are still present in the Kimberley, although very elusive.”
The north Kimberley is recognised as a stronghold for species that are now extinct across the northern regions of Australia.
Each year, researchers from the department survey mammals in more than 100 locations across the north-Kimberley. 

The black-footed tree rat is a large, tree-dwelling rodent. This one was photographed on Melville Island. Supplied: Hugh Davies @hughdavies


The above demonstrates that just because we can't see it anymore, doesn't mean it's not still there, somewhere...

A little more about this elusive (nocturnal in W.A.) critter, from Wikipedia:

The black-footed tree-rat also known as Djintamoonga (Mesembriomys gouldii) is one of two endemic arboreal rat species from the genus Mesembriomys found in the northern regions of Australia. The species is one of the largest murids found in Australia. It is a folivore and frugivore and its diet may be supplemented by invertebrates such as termites and molluscs.

Mesembriomys gouldii From "Mammals of Australia"(1849–1861), Vol. III Plate 4 Part of the 3 Volumes by John Gould, F.R.S.

The tree rat has a greyish-brown coat that is shaggy and coarse and has a creamy white underbelly. The hind feet are black and they have well developed pads and strong sharp claws. They also large ears and a long tail with a brush of white hair at the tip. They grow up to a mass of 830 grams (29 oz). The height of the rat is typically 250 to 310 millimetres (9.8 to 12.2 in) with a length of 320 to 420 millimetres (13 to 17 in).

Mesembriomys gouldii has a range extending from the savannahs of Cape York Peninsula in Queensland westward to the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Habitats such as tropical woodlands or open forest are suitable for the tree rat. It is not commonly found across the area and the population has been reduced between 30 to 50% in the last decade. The estimated population is 30,000.

The tree rat is solitary and nocturnal, it is arboreal sheltering in tree hollows and pandanus stands during the day

Call For Community Comment On Mawson’s Huts Management Plan

The community is invited to comment on the management plan for the site considered the birthplace of Australia’s Antarctic endeavours, Mawson’s Huts. The Huts were home to the Australasian Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Douglas Mawson between 1911–14.

Raising the flag at Cape Denison after the erection of the hut, March 1912. (Photo: Frank Hurley)

The site is listed as a National Heritage place and Commonwealth Heritage place, with the Huts and surrounding area also protected under the Antarctic Treaty system.

The Australian Antarctic Division, which has responsibility for the management of the historic site, prepared the current version of the Mawson’s Huts Historic Site management plan in 2013. This plan is now up for its five year review and the public are invited to comment until 16 September.

Invitation to comment
Mawson’s Huts are a collection of buildings located at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, in the far eastern sector of the Australian Antarctic Territory.

Mawson's Huts, Cape Denison
Mawson’s Huts are a collection of buildings located at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, in the far eastern sector of the Australian Antarctic Territory. The buildings were built and occupied by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) of 1911–14, led by geologist and explorer Dr (later Sir) Douglas Mawson.

Mawson’s Huts are of national and international heritage significance. They are rare in a world context as one of just six complexes surviving from the ‘Heroic Era’ of Antarctic exploration: a period of great human adventure, exploration, research and discovery on the last continent to be explored.

The buildings are unique in the context of Australian history as the only surviving site representing the work of an Australian Antarctic expedition during this period. The site also has great heritage values for Australia’s Antarctic interests, since Douglas Mawson’s AAE was the foundation of the modern Australian Antarctic science program.

Mawson’s huts have suffered over the years from the effects of wind, ice and time. A number of recent expeditions by the AAD and the Mawson’s Huts Foundation (a non-profit organisation whose expeditions have been largely funded by the Australian Government) have sought to stabilise the remains.

Explore the Home of the Blizzard website to find out more about Mawson’s Huts and the Australasian Antarctic Expedition.

Mawson's main hut at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay (Photo: Peter McCabe)

Mawson's Huts Historic Site Management Plan 
In 2001, the Mawson’s Huts Foundation commissioned a conservation management plan for the site, which guided works at the site for several years. In 2007, the AAD developed a management plan, to meet its obligations arising from the inclusion of the site on the National Heritage List (in 2005) and Commonwealth Heritage List (in 2004), and to reflect the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty management plans for the Cape Denison Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) and Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA).

This plan was reviewed and revised in 2013 and a management plan is available: Mawson’s Huts Historic Site Management Plan 2013–18 [PDF].

In 2014, ASMA No. 3 was de-designated and the boundary of ASPA No. 162 expanded to coincide with the previous ASMA boundary.

The Department of the Environment and Energy, Australian Antarctic Division, is conducting a review of the Mawson’s Huts Historic Site Management Plan. Public comments are now being sought. Please send your comments on the management plan by Saturday 16 September 2017.


Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
Notice under sections 324W and 341X
Invitation to comment on a Management Plan for a National Heritage place and Commonwealth Heritage place - Mawson’s Huts Historic Site

The Department of the Environment and Energy, Australian Antarctic Division, is conducting a review of The Mawson’s Huts Historic Site Management Plan. Public comments are now sought:

(i) as to whether this management plan is consistent with the National Heritage management principles;

(ii) on the effectiveness of the management plan in protecting and conserving the National Heritage management values of the site;

(iii) whether this management plan is consistent with the Commonwealth Heritage Management Principles; and

(iv) on the effectiveness of the plan in protecting and conserving the Commonwealth Heritage.

Download the Mawson’s Huts Management Plan 2013-2018 [PDF: 4.01MB].

Please send your comments on the management plan by Saturday 16 September 2017, by emailing or writing to:

Mawson’s Huts Historic Site Management Plan review
Territories, Environment and Treaties Section
Australian Antarctic Division
203 Channel Highway
Kingston TAS 7050

Film Screening: 'Coal- Is It Worth It?'

Friday, September 15 at 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Avalon Public School
Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon
Hosted by The Green Team

The film is a new documentary by veteran filmmaker and Pittwater resident, John Davis who tragically died in a helicopter crash while trying to expose damage caused by the Shenua coal-mine. His family and friends completed the film in his memory. 

The film shows the effect on the land and the air we breathe. It depicts invasive coal expansion near our farms and forests. It also documents some of the inspirational people who have dedicated their lives to stopping this destruction of our environment. Some of the best experts in the field of climate change give us hope and knowledge to save the climate for future generations.

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door on the night. The ticket cost goes towards the making of the film. FREE POPCORN will also be available on the night! 

Please come along and support one of our local families!

Bushcare in Pittwater 

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

Angophora Reserve             3rd Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Dunes                        1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Golf Course              2nd Wednesday                 3 - 5:30pm 
Careel Creek                         4th Saturday                      8:30 - 11:30am 
Toongari Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon (8 - 11am in summer) 
Bangalley Headland            2nd Sunday                         9 to 12noon 

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

North Bilgola Beach              3rd Monday                        9 - 12noon 
Algona Reserve                     1st Saturday                       9 - 12noon 
Plateau Park                          1st Friday                            8:30 - 11:30am 

Church Point     
Browns Bay Reserve             1st Tuesday                        9 - 12noon 
McCarrs Creek Reserve       Contact Bushcare Officer     To be confirmed 

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

Kundibah Reserve                   4th Sunday                       8:30 - 11:30am 

Mona Vale     
Mona Vale Beach Basin          1st Saturday                    8 - 11am 
Mona Vale Dunes                     2nd Saturday+3rd Thursday     8:30 - 11:30am 

Bungan Beach                          4th Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
Crescent Reserve                    3rd Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
North Newport Beach              4th Saturday                    8:30 - 11:30am 
Porter Reserve                          2nd Saturday                  8 - 11am 

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     3rd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

Palm Beach     
North Palm Beach Dunes      3rd Saturday                    9 - 12noon 

Scotland Island     
Catherine Park                          2nd Sunday                     10 - 12:30pm 
Elizabeth Park                           1st Saturday                      9 - 12noon 
Pathilda Reserve                      3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon 

Warriewood Wetlands             1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

Western Foreshores     
Coopers Point, Elvina Bay      2nd Sunday                        10 - 1pm 
Rocky Point, Elvina Bay           1st Monday                          9 - 12noon

Free Guided Bush Walk

Dundundra Falls Reserve, Terrey Hills.
10th September 10 -12 pm at Myoora end of Larool Road Fire Trail Terrey Hills
Come down and enjoy the wild flowers and have all your questions answered by our qualified bush consultant.

This reserve is exploding with colour at the moment so even if you can’t make this special walk you can come down anytime and enjoy our new map and information signs and appreciate what this 40 Hectare recreational Reserve is all about.

Wear clothes and shoes suitable for bush walking and be prepared for Ticks and Leeches as unfortunately they like living here too. 

Long Reef Walks 2017/18 Season

If you’d like to join us on a walk please contact me a couple of weeks before the walk date to make a booking. FREE GUIDED WALKS of Long Reef Aquatic Reserve with NSW Department of Industry & Investment Fishcare Volunteers will be held on the following date:

Dates for 2017
Sunday 17 September 2017         11:00am – 1:00pm
Sunday 8 October 2017                   3:30pm – 5:30pm
Sunday 5 November 2017               3:00pm – 5:00pm
Sunday 3 December 2017              2:00pm – 4:00pm

Dates for 2018
Sunday 14 January 2018                1:00pm – 3:00pm
Sunday 18 February 2018              4:00pm – 6:00pm
Sunday 18 March 2018                   3:00pm – 5:00pm
Sunday 15 April 2018                      1:00pm  – 3:00pm

~ Walks are held subject to weather conditions ~

Bookings are preferred.
Please email Wendy to book:

Phil Colman, who keeps us updated on the Fishcare Volunteer Walks, has said, when sending in these monthly dates for the new season walks;

"I am only too happy to take individuals or small groups of senior school students out when I might be able to help them with their studies, give them possible projects or whatever.  

Keep in mind that I am totally dictated to by tides, but am retired and basically available at any time.  I am not, by the way, looking for payment.  If I can steer someone in the direction of marine study, I’m paid enough!"

You contact Phil via email at: - ph; 9982 6142

Navigation Warning - NSW Coastal Waters: Whale Migration Season

June to December 2017

Migrating whales and whale calves are expected to be present in numbers off the NSW coast during this time.

From June to August whales will be in greater abundance generally moving north within about five nautical miles (nine kilometres) of the coast.

From August to December whales will be in greater abundance generally moving south within about 10-15 nautical miles (18-28 kilometres) of the coast.

From July to December Southern Right Whales with calves are likely to be present within 10 nautical miles of the NSW coast and within coastal estuaries.

Within this period it is expected that whale sightings may be common and mariners are advised to navigate with due care and appropriate caution around any whale activity, including reducing to an appropriate speed to maintain safe navigation.

The approach distance for whales in NSW and Commonwealth waters is 100 metres for whales without calves.  If calves are present the approach distance is 300 metres.

In the event of a collision with a whale, entanglement or whale carcass sighting please call:

National Parks and Wildlife Service Incident Duty Officer on: 02 9895 6444

Charts: AUS 806 to AUS 813 Inclusive.

RMS Coastal Boating Maps: 1-14 Inclusive.

Contact Details:

For further details please contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Wildlife Team on 9585 6523 or (RMS Contact details 13 12 36)

Information regarding the current location of whales may be obtained at:

Further information about whale approach distances or whale behaviour may be obtained from the Office of Environment and Heritage website at:


Muogamarra Season 2017

Hidden wildflower garden open for just six weekends
31 July 2017: NPWS and NSW OE&H
A hidden wildflower garden with a rare collection of botanical treasures and native plant species will open its gates this August and September for six weekends only.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Area Manager Michele Cooper said Muogamarra Nature Reserve-just north of Sydney-is home to more than 900 species of native plants as well as the remnants of an ancient volcano.

"Muogamarra is home to a vast range of Australian wildflowers such as native orchids, towering Gymea lily, pink Boronia, eriostemon and old-man Banksia, which makes it a spectacular wildflower destination," said Ms Cooper.

"This unique array of flora and fauna is one reason why we need to limit the opening times to just six weekends each year to allow it to flourish, to preserve the fragile ecosystems and to protect the reserve's Aboriginal cultural heritage.

"This year during our open season, visitors can join a Discovery guided tour on foot or on a kayak and discover the secrets of this special place," she said.

Some of the walking tracks in the reserve provide outstanding views of the Hawkesbury, Aboriginal rock engravings and convict built roads, and other tracks wind through rainforest and historic relics.

One of the guided walks leads people down to Peat's Crater, which is an unusual volcanic structure called a diatreme that is not found in many parts of Australia.

"By joining a guided walk you'll will see and learn all the secrets of the reserve that you might miss by going on your own," said Ms Cooper.

The launch weekend (12-13 August) will also mark the 50th anniversary of NPWS.

"The Muogamarra open season will launch on Saturday 12 August with a Welcome to Country by Uncle Ray Davison, cultural workshops throughout the day delivered by Aboriginal Discovery Ranger Jess Sinnott, and activities for young children including free show bags for the first 50 children," said Ms Cooper.

"While visitors can certainly come along on any of the weekends during our open season and explore the park at their own pace, keep in mind that the Discovery walks and kayak tours will need to be pre-booked online as numbers are limited and places can fill up quickly," she said.

Muogamarra Nature Reserve will open to the public every Saturday and Sunday from Saturday 12 August until Sunday 17 September 2017.

What's on
  • Discovery tours include the Muogamarra Highlights Walk (new in 2017), Muogamarra Bird Gully Walk, Muogamarra Lloyd Trig Walk and Muogamarra Peats Bight Walk.
  • A kayaking tour is also available: Paddle our Parks Muogamarra, the first of which will take place on Saturday 12 August.
  • An event in celebration of the NPWS 50 Year Anniversary will take place on the first weekend (12 - 13 August).
More information
Prior bookings are essential for the guided walks and kayak tours and can be made by visiting the NPWS website: 

Muogamurra Nature Reserve is located on the western side of the Pacific Highway, 3.35 kilometres north of Cowan Station.

A park access fee applies during the 6 annual open weekends of $15 for adults, $10 for children, and $40 for families of 2 adults and 2 children.

Call For Submissions On Water Management Regulation

9 Aug 2017: DPI
Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Water is exhibiting proposed amendments to the Water Management (General) Regulation 2011, and is inviting submissions and feedback from stakeholders online.

The Water Management Act 2000 outlines a framework for the sustainable management of water in NSW. General regulations are made under the Act to support its implementation.

DPI Water Director Mr Frank Garofalow said the Regulation is being amended to reduce duplication and cut red tape.

“The Water Management (General) Regulation 2011 is due to automatically lapse on 1 September 2018, and DPI Water is proposing to remake it with amendments,” Mr Garofalow said.

“The focus of many of the proposed amendments is to reduce duplication and cut red tape by establishing additional exemptions from approval requirements.

“It is important to remake the Regulation because it supports the operation of the Act by specifying procedural matters for access licences and approvals, and certain functions and powers of water supply authorities.
“DPI Water is inviting submissions and feedback on the proposed amendments, with all details available on our website.”

The regulation will be exhibited until 3 September 2017 and submissions can be made online.
For more information and to provide feedback

Department Seeks Community Input On Improving Environmental Impact Assessments

July 5th, 2017: Departmental Media Release, Department of Planning and Environment
The community has a chance to improve the way state significant projects are assessed during workshops to gather feedback on new draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) guidelines.

The draft guidelines are on exhibition until Friday,1 September 2017, and representatives from the Department of Planning and Environment will be holding community information sessions across NSW during the exhibition period.

Executive Director, David Kitto, said the new guidelines are an important initiative to drive better practice in NSW.

“While state significant projects such as large infrastructure, industry, mining and urban renewal developments are essential for NSW, they require a comprehensive triple-bottom line assessment with extensive community input,” Mr Kitto said.

“Last year we exhibited a discussion paper on improving the assessment process and received strong support for the improvements from industry and the community.

“After extensive consultation we developed draft guidelines and we’re undertaking workshops to hear what the community has to say about them.

“This is an important opportunity for the community to make sure we get the new guidelines right.”

Mr Kitto said key improvements include getting the community involved much earlier in the assessment process, focussing on the most important issues and improving the quality of all assessment documents.

“While assessment documents, such as environmental impact statements, need to be technically rigorous they also need to be easy to understand and clearly address issues raised by the community. This means everyone should be able to understand them, not just technical experts,” he said.

All public feedback gathered during the exhibition and roadshows will be considered and will assist the Department in finalising the EIA guidelines.

On exhibition are:
  • Guides for proponents covering all stages of the assessment process
  • A guide to help the community understand and participate in the assessment process
  • A guide on the Department’s approach to setting conditions for projects
To view the draft guidelines currently on public exhibition and make a submission, visit the Department’s website

To attend the public information sessions, people should call 1300 305 695 or visit the Department’s website at

Once registered, relevant information for the community information session will be provided via email.
Comment by September 1st, 2017

Visit a community information session

Tuesday 25 July Sydney
S1:  12:00pm - 2.30pm
S2:  4:30pm – 7:00pm

Thursday 10 August Sydney  
S1:  12:00pm - 2.30pm

Guideline 1
Overview of the EIA Improvement Project
This document outlines the proposed improvements. It will help you locate further details of the improvements outlined in each of the guidelines.
Make a submission

Guideline 2
Community Guide to EIA
This guideline outlines the opportunities to participate at each phase of EIA, what information the community can expect to receive and how the community’s knowledge and opinions will be used by the proponent and the Department.
Make a submission

Guideline 3
Scoping an Environmental Impact Statement
This guideline will help proponents identify the key issues for assessment in the EIS by providing guidance on how to scope a project and setting out the requirements for engagement with the community and other stakeholders in the early phases of EIA.
Make a submission

Guideline 4
Preparing an Environmental Impact Statement
This guideline will help proponents prepare a clear and consistent EIS with all the required information. It will also enhance understanding by the community and other stakeholders.
Make a submission

Guideline 5
Responding to External Submissions 
This guideline provides direction to proponents on how to address comments and issues and communicate to the community and other stakeholders who have made a submission in response to a proposed project during the exhibition of the EIS.
Make a submission

Guideline 6
Community and Stakeholder Engagement
This guideline encourages proponents to engage earlier with the community and other stakeholders by introducing a set of engagement requirements applicable to all projects. It will also help proponents to improve the quality of engagement by directing them to focus on meeting participation outcomes during the preparation of the EIS.
Make a submission

Guideline 7
Approach to Setting Conditions
This guideline outlines the Department’s approach to setting conditions of approval. It will promote understanding of the role of conditions of approval in decisions about the project and the management of environmental impacts during construction and operation.
Make a submission

Guideline 8
Modifying an Approved Project
This guideline will help proponents to understand if changes are permitted using the same development consent, if the consent needs to be modified or if a new application is required. It will also help them to understand whether community and other stakeholder engagement is required.
Make a submission

Guideline 9
Peer Review
This guideline sets out a methodology for independent peer review including criteria to determine the suitability of a peer reviewer, review practice, review reporting and post approval requirements. It will provide for greater consistency in peer review.
Make a submission

For further information, please call our Information Centre on 1300 305 695 or email

Threatened Species Day September 7th 2017

23 August 2017: NSW OE&H
National Threatened Species Day is commemorated across the country on 7 September to raise awareness of plants and animals at risk of extinction.
Australia is home to more than 500,000 animal and plant species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Over the last 200 years, more than 100 animal and plant species have become extinct.

In NSW alone there are close to 1000 animal and plant species at risk of extinction.

Threatened Species Day is when we turn the spotlight on native plants, animals, and ecosystems that are under threat and reflect on how we can protect them into the future.

The day also celebrates the amazing work that is being done to save them by passionate conservationists, researchers, volunteers, and community experts.

Threatened Species Day events and activities
Find out what is happening near you or what you can do to get involved forNational Threatened Species Day, 7 September 2017.

How to host a Threatened Species Day event
Our guide has advice and resources for running a successful Threatened Species Day event in your business, school or community.

How is Saving our Species helping
Watch videos about some of the recent Saving our Species projects and how they are helping NSW threatened plants and animals.

About Threatened Species Day
Threatened Species Day was declared in 1996 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the death of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger (also known as the thylacine) at Hobart Zoo in 1936.

Threatened Species Day is a time to reflect on what happened in the past and how similar fates to the thylacine could await other native plants and animals unless appropriate action is taken.

Watch film clips of thylacines in captivity that include the last film footage of the species.

Why are threatened species important?
Saving threatened species is important for a healthy and diverse environment. Once plants and animals become extinct they are gone forever.

Today most species become threatened because of habitat destruction and the invasion of non-native species. With effective management almost all threatened species can be protected.

Why promote threatened species?
Helping people understand the problems that cause plants and animals to become extinct can help us to effectively manage threatened species in NSW. Being aware of how our actions can increase the risk of species loss and curbing these activities will support conservation efforts to prevent species becoming extinct in the wild.

We encourage everyone, whether you are a scientist, an artist, a business person, a sportsperson, an educator, work for local government or just love plants and animals, to do something to celebrate National Threatened Species Day and our unique threatened wildlife.

How can you help?
No matter what your background, age or expertise, you can get involved with conservation programs and help the recovery of threatened animals and plants. 

Asparagus Fern

Asparagus Fern is our worst weed in Pittwater. The Bush Invaders is by PNHA member and primary school teacher Sylvia Saszczak. Share to spread the message about this horror weed.

Opera House Reef Breathes New Life Into Harbour

22 August 2017: NSW OE&H
A modular artificial reef will be suspended alongside the Sydney Opera House as part of a new research project exploring ways to improve marine biodiversity and increase native species in Sydney Harbour, Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton announced today.

The three-year research project, between the Sydney Opera House, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), and the University of Sydney, will start by recording baseline data on fish numbers and diversity in underwater areas around the Opera House and in other harbour sites later this year. Once this surveying is complete the new artificial reef will be installed.

“This project is a great example of how the NSW Government can partner with organisations to protect and improve the environment,” Ms Upton said.

“This trial is an important project because research shows seawalls and other man-made structures tend to attract less marine life and native species than natural harbour shores.”

The artificial reef will be made up of nine hexagonal-shaped modules that will hang underwater around Bennelong Point.

UTS Professor of Marine Ecology David Booth, who will lead the research, said the project would provide further evidence of the value of artificial reef structures as biodiversity boosters and refuges for fish.

“Across Sydney Harbour over 50 per cent of the shoreline has been replaced by seawalls to protect infrastructure from storms and erosion,” Professor Booth said.

“We believe that new initiatives, such as the artificial reef that will be trialled at the Opera House, could help restore natural marine habitats and rebalance biodiversity around the harbour.”

Sydney Opera House Environmental Sustainability Manager Emma Bombonato described the new research project as an important step forward in the Opera House’s mission to better connect with and enhance the surrounding environment.

“In designing the Opera House, Jorn Utzon was strongly influenced and inspired by nature. Projects such as this enable us to continue that legacy by inspiring greater community awareness of the marine environment around Bennelong Point and contributing to local biodiversity.”

The new project, which is expected to get underway in the next few weeks, is being funded through an $86,000 NSW Government Restoration and Rehabilitation grant, with further in-kind contributions from the Opera House and UTS.

It is anticipated that the artificial reef, which will help the Opera House to achieve goals set out in its latest Environmental Sustainability Plan (PDF 5.5MB), will be installed early next year.

Update On Baleen 2D HR Seismic Survey 

(The survey comprises 46 2D lines of total length 208km.) - 
NOPSEMA 'Not reasonably satisfied – opportunity to modify EP'
Decision date: 03/08/2017 
Titleholder action Resubmission due date 3: 02/09/2017

From Decision notification:
Basis of decision 
NOPSEMA has assessed the environment plan in accordance with its assessment policies and procedures. 

On completion of assessment, NOPSEMA has decided that it is not reasonably satisfied that the environment plan meets the criteria below as set out in regulation 10A of the Environment Regulations: 
(a) is appropriate for the nature and scale of the activity 
(b) demonstrates that the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be reduced to as low as reasonably practicable 
(c) demonstrates that the environmental impacts and risks of the activity will be of an acceptable level 
(d) provides for appropriate environmental performance outcomes, environmental performance standards and measurement criteria 
(e) includes an appropriate implementation strategy and monitoring, recording and reporting arrangements 
(g) demonstrates that: 
(i) the titleholder has carried out the consultations required by Division 2.2A 
(ii) the measures (if any) that the titleholder has adopted, or proposes to adopt, because of the consultations are appropriate 

Titleholder requirements 
For OMR decision In accordance with regulation 10, the titleholder is required to modify and resubmit the environment plan. Upon resubmission of the plan, NOPSEMA will continue to assess the submission in 
accordance with its assessment policies and make a decision under regulation 10. After a titleholder has been provided with reasonable opportunity to modify and resubmit an environment plan, NOPSEMA will 
make a final decision on whether to accept or refuse to accept the environment plan. 
Animated photo

Have Your Say On Marine Park Draft Plans 

21 July 2017: Media release - Australian Government, Director of National Parks
Australia is surrounded by magnificent oceans and a marine environment that is the envy of the world. Our marine parks are distinctive and diverse, home to marine life found nowhere else.
And from today you can have your say on how we will manage our marine parks into the future.

The Director of National Parks Sally Barnes has released five draft plans to manage 44 Australian Marine Parks over the next 10 years.
“Our marine parks protect important marine habitats and species,” Ms Barnes said.

“They also support people’s livelihoods and the Australian lifestyle. They provide places for people to watch wildlife, dive and snorkel, go boating, and fish. They create jobs in industries like fishing and tourism, and are a source of food and energy.”

Ms Barnes said Australian Marine Parks recognised our oceans as a shared resource -– protecting our environment and supporting the sustainability of our fishing industry and the communities whose livelihoods rely on it.

“I’d encourage everyone to take a look at these five plans my team at Parks Australia have put together,” she said.

“This is your chance to influence how we’ll manage a large area of our marine environment over the next 10 years. We want to hear from you, all of you. It’s your passion that will make marine parks work for everyone.”

Australian Marine Parks (also known as Commonwealth marine reserves) were established in 2012 to protect our oceans. This was a significant contribution to Australia’s marine parks which now cover more than 3.3 million square kilometres of ocean – that’s an area the size of India.

“Before creating these plans, my team and I met with many of you from across our country. We listened to many people, fishers, conservationists, tourism operators, traditional owners and coastal communities before writing these plans,” Ms Barnes said.

“These draft plans balance our commitment to protect the marine environment, while supporting a sustainable fishing industry, promoting tourism and providing cultural, recreational and economic benefits for coastal communities.”

Australian Marine Parks are located in Commonwealth waters that start at the outer edge of state and territory waters, generally no less than three nautical miles (5.5 km) from the shore, and extend to the outer boundary of Australia’s exclusive economic zone, 200 nautical miles (about 370 km) from the shore. The draft plans cover Commonwealth waters off the coast of New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Individual marine parks have been carefully zoned to include representative examples of Australia’s marine habitats and features. This builds the resilience of our marine environment to withstand pressures, including some of the impacts of climate change, cyclones, marine pollution, and invasive species.

Ms Barnes has considered comments from over 54,000 submissions providing feedback on the preparation of draft plans. She has also considered the recommendations from the independent review of Commonwealth marine reserves released in 2016; the best available science; the expertise of traditional owners on managing sea country; and experiences from those managing Australian and international marine parks.

“Finalising these plans makes us one of the world’s leaders in marine protection. Already our country’s marine parks cover 36 per cent of waters around this country. That’s more than comparable to many similar countries, like the United States, France, Canada, Mexico or Chile,” Ms Barnes said.

“I truly believe that we will enhance our international reputation as marine park managers with these plans. But I want to hear your thoughts on whether we’ve got that balance right. Doing nothing is not an option for anyone – we want to provide certainty to all. So please have a read of the plans, and let us know what you think.”
To reduce any impacts on commercial fishers, the Australian Government will make funding available to assist those directly affected by the new arrangements.

The draft plans can be found at .

We are seeking your feedback on whether we have the balance right in these draft plans.  Please send your feedback on these draft plans or the proposed renaming by 20 September 2017, by:

1. Filling in our feedback form, available at: 

3. Writing (free of charge) to: 
Australian Marine Parks Management Planning Comments
Department of the Environment and Energy
Reply Paid 787
Canberra ACT 2601
To help us to consider your feedback, please: 
• Say what you would like to see kept or changed in the plan/s and why
• Refer your points to a specific marine park or use, where appropriate
• Give sources of any information you refer to, where possible.
 Please note, comments sent after 11.59 pm AEST Wednesday 20 September 2017 or to an address other than those listed above cannot be considered.
 Comments may be made public. Personal information provided to us will be dealt with in accordance with the Australian Privacy Principles. 

Further information and our privacy notice is available Your personal information may be disclosed to the Minister, relevant government agencies, the Australian Parliament and where required by law. 

Your submission may also be published online by the Director of National Parks. Please tell us in your submission if you do not want it published. Your submission will still be considered in the Director’s Report on the Preparation of the Management Plans, and may be provided to the Minister and tabled before Parliament.

Important facts and figures
With 36 per cent of Australia’s waters included in marine parks, we are well ahead of both the international benchmark ‘Aichi target’ of 10 per cent by 2020, and a recent World Conservation Congress resolution calling for 30 per cent by 2030.

According to data from the IUCN’s World Database on Protected Areas, we compare very favourably with the United States of America (41 per cent), New Zealand (30 per cent), the United Kingdom (28 per cent), Mexico (22 per cent), Canada (less than 1 per cent), and France (15 per cent).

Under the zoning proposed in the draft plans, the portion of green (or no take) zones within all of the marine parks managed by the Commonwealth would be 25 per cent.

There is no reliable ‘league table’ against which we can compare this with other nations as methodology and reporting differ considerably, but we are among the closest nations to meeting the 2016 call by the World Conservation Congress four countries to designate 30 per cent of their marine parks to have no extractive activities.

Thanks to our carefully targeted approach to zoning, the same number of conservation features are protected in green zones in the plans released today as those in 2012.

Australia’s biodiversity hotspots and sites of ecological significance, including Coral Sea reefs and the Bremer Reserve are protected in these plans.

97 per cent of waters within 100 kilometres of the coast are open for recreational fishing.

By intelligently zoning conservation areas like this, we have halved the economic impact on commercial fishers compared with 2012, from $8.2 million to $4.1 million a year (that’s less than 0.3 per cent of total income generated by Australia’s wild catch fisheries). This zoning will also enable a continued Australian tuna fishing industry based out of northern Queensland.

The Australian Government has committed an additional $56.1 million over four years to fund the management of Australian Marine Parks.
Our more balanced approach means there is a significant increase in yellow zones – where the seafloor is protected, but activities like diving and fishing are allowed. Our green zones are based on the best available science – while minimising impacts on our important tourism and fishing industries.

Mathematical Mystery Of Ancient Babylonian Clay Tablet Solved By UNSW

August 24, 2017: University of New South Wales

The 3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet Plimpton 322 at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University in New York.
Credit: UNSW/Andrew Kelly

UNSW Sydney scientists have discovered the purpose of a famous 3700-year old Babylonian clay tablet, revealing it is the world's oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, possibly used by ancient mathematical scribes to calculate how to construct palaces and temples and build canals.

The new research shows the Babylonians, not the Greeks, were the first to study trigonometry -- the study of triangles -- and reveals an ancient mathematical sophistication that had been hidden until now.

Known as Plimpton 322, the small tablet was discovered in the early 1900s in what is now southern Iraq by archaeologist, academic, diplomat and antiquities dealer Edgar Banks, the person on whom the fictional character Indiana Jones was based.

It has four columns and 15 rows of numbers written on it in the cuneiform script of the time using a base 60, or sexagesimal, system.

The UNSW Science research provides an alternative to the widely-accepted view that the tablet was a teacher's aid for checking students' solutions of quadratic problems.

"The huge mystery, until now, was its purpose -- why the ancient scribes carried out the complex task of generating and sorting the numbers on the tablet.

"Our research reveals that Plimpton 322 describes the shapes of right-angle triangles using a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles. It is a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undoubted genius.

The new study by Dr Mansfield and UNSW Associate Professor Norman Wildberger is published in Historia Mathematica, the official journal of the International Commission on the History of Mathematics.

A trigonometric table allows you to use one known ratio of the sides of a right-angle triangle to determine the other two unknown ratios.

The Greek astronomer Hipparchus, who lived about 120 years BC, has long been regarded as the father of trigonometry, with his "table of chords" on a circle considered the oldest trigonometric table.

"Plimpton 322 predates Hipparchus by more than 1000 years," says Dr Wildberger. "It opens up new possibilities not just for modern mathematics research, but also for mathematics education. With Plimpton 322 we see a simpler, more accurate trigonometry that has clear advantages over our own."

"A treasure-trove of Babylonian tablets exists, but only a fraction of them have been studied yet. The mathematical world is only waking up to the fact that this ancient but very sophisticated mathematical culture has much to teach us."

Dr Mansfield read about Plimpton 322 by chance when preparing material for first year mathematics students at UNSW. He and Dr Wildberger decided to study Babylonian mathematics and examine the different historical interpretations of the tablet's meaning after realizing that it had parallels with the rational trigonometry of Dr Wildberger's book Divine Proportions: Rational Trigonometry to Universal Geometry.

The 15 rows on the tablet describe a sequence of 15 right-angle triangles, which are steadily decreasing in inclination.

The left-hand edge of the tablet is broken and the UNSW researchers build on previous research to present new mathematical evidence that there were originally 6 columns and that the tablet was meant to be completed with 38 rows.

They also demonstrate how the ancient scribes, who used a base 60 numerical arithmetic similar to our time clock, rather than the base 10 number system we use, could have generated the numbers on the tablet using their mathematical techniques.

The UNSW Science mathematicians also provide evidence that discounts the widely-accepted view that the tablet was simply a teacher's aid for checking students' solutions of quadratic problems.

"Plimpton 322 was a powerful tool that could have been used for surveying fields or making architectural calculations to build palaces, temples or step pyramids," says Dr Mansfield.

The tablet, which is thought to have come from the ancient Sumerian city of Larsa, has been dated to between 1822 and 1762 BC. It is now in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University in New York.

A Pythagorean triple consists of three, positive whole numbers a, b and c such that a2 + b2 = c2. The integers 3, 4 and 5 are a well-known example of a Pythagorean triple, but the values on Plimpton 322 are often considerably larger with, for example, the first row referencing the triple 119, 120 and 169.

The name is derived from Pythagoras' theorem of right-angle triangles which states that the square of the hypotenuse (the diagonal side opposite the right angle) is the sum of the squares of the other two sides.

Daniel F. Mansfield , N.J. Wildberger. Plimpton 322 is Babylonian exact sexagesimal trigonometry. Historia Mathematica, August 2017 DOI:10.1016/

Major New Measures To Help Combat Rare Cancers

24 August 2017: The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health
The Turnbull Government is supporting major new initiatives that will improve access to clinical trials, particularly for people with rare cancers including children. 

AIM BRAIN is new genetic testing that aims to transform brain tumour classification, treatment and ultimately the survival of children with brain cancer.

I am delighted to announce that Australian kids will have access to this from 31 October 2017.

Through AIM BRAIN, Australian children will have access to international research collaborations of paediatric brain cancer led by the Australian New Zealand Children’s Haematology and Oncology Group. 

We’re building technical and research capacity in Australia to undertake molecular diagnostic profiling of children with brain cancer to refine diagnosis of a tumour and tailor personal treatment.

This helps provide kids with better and targeted treatments for cancer, and helps avoid unnecessary treatments that won’t work for a particular patient.

Cancer represents Australia’s largest burden of disease and is the leading cause of death from disease in Australian children.

Brain cancer disproportionally affects young people, killing more people under 25 years in Australia than any other cancer and the five year relative survival rate is low, at around 22 per cent. 

The AIM BRAIN four-year study will be funded as part of $79 million for cancer research announced in the Budget and will also be co-funded by the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation. 

Today we’re also announcing that funding of $13 million is now available for competitive research grants from the Medical Research Future Fund. 

The new research grant program is designed to boost clinical trial and registry activity with priority given to under-researched health priorities, such as rare cancers and rare diseases.

Brain cancer research is critical to improving survival rates and outcomes for those kids and adults suffering from brain cancer, their carers, families and communities.

Clinical trials benefit patients, improve health outcomes and advance medical knowledge.

Our $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund is a clear demonstration of our commitment to supporting Australian researchers in their quest to make the next major medical breakthrough.

These two major announcements come ahead of a Brain Cancer Research Roundtable which I am hosting in Melbourne today.

I am looking forward to meeting with individuals and families impacted by brain cancer and their advocates, leading researchers and clinicians and potential funders. 

This is an important discussion that will identify further research investment opportunities that can make an immediate and lasting impact on brain cancer survival rates.

Sub-Tropical Corals Vulnerable, New Study Shows

August 23, 2017: University of Queensland

Corals on a subtropical reef off eastern Australia. Credit: Brigitte Sommer

The vulnerability and conservation value of sub-tropical reefs south of the Great Barrier Reef -- regarded as climate change refuges -- has been highlighted in a new study.

University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences researcher Dr Brigitte Sommer said the study of Eastern Australian reefs revealed coral species would likely shift their distribution southward in response to climate change.

Coral range expansions would likely vary among species depending on the species' characteristics and traits.

"In the subtropical-to-temperate transition zone south of the Great Barrier Reef, corals are at the limits of their distribution and environmental tolerances, as the water is cooler," Dr Sommer said.

"There is less light and conditions are more seasonal and variable than on the Great Barrier Reef."

Dr Sommer, a member of Professor John Pandolfi's lab at UQ, said the new study examined 17 reefs from the Sunshine Coast, in south-east Queensland, to Port Stephens in New South Wales.

"We sought to investigate the ecological and evolutionary processes that shape coral biodiversity patterns at their southern range limits," she said.

"We also examined the evolution of coral species' traits to determine whether these characteristics were stable over time."

Dr Sommer said it was important to conduct such studies to understand the stability of the species' environmental tolerances and the ecological drivers of biodiversity patterns so scientists could more accurately predict species' range shifts and ecological responses to climate change.

"For example, if characteristics such as environmental tolerances are stable over time and don't change, then corals will likely only expand their ranges to areas where environmental conditions are similar to where corals currently occur," Dr Sommer said.

"And corals will probably have less capacity to adapt to novel environmental conditions."

"Our results suggest that species that occur in these subtropical and temperate reefs south of the Great Barrier Reef are more closely related to each other and have more similar characteristics than the coral species that occur on the Great Barrier Reef.

"This suggests that environmental tolerance is important for coral persistence in these marginal environments and that species with unsuitable traits cannot persist in these cooler and more light-limited environments."

Results suggested competition by corals for space and light were also important drivers of biodiversity patterns at local scales.

"These findings indicate that coral biodiversity patterns south of the Great Barrier Reef are shaped by a combination of regional and local processes," Professor Pandolfi said.

Species unable to persist in these cooler and darker conditions were initially excluded from the region and the remaining species then divided into local sites, depending on whether species interactions or environmental conditions were more important locally.

Brigitte Sommer, Eugenia M. Sampayo, Maria Beger, Peter L. Harrison, Russ C. Babcock, John M. Pandolfi. Local and regional controls of phylogenetic structure at the high-latitude range limits of corals.Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2017; 284 (1861): 20170915 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0915

Improving Intellectual Property Arrangements

25 August 2017: Joint media release with the Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield and Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science

The Turnbull Government is improving Australia’s intellectual property (IP) arrangements by ensuring they provide the flexibility needed for our 21st century economy.

The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator Arthur Sinodinos, and Minister for Communications, Senator Mitch Fifield, said the proposed Australian Government changes responded to a recent Productivity Commission review of IP.

The Government will engage with industry and stakeholders through consultation to determine how best to implement the reforms.

As recommended by the Productivity Commission, IP policy will be monitored by a new IP Policy Group. A key priority will be to align Australian inventive step law with international best practice to ensure that the necessary protections are available to deserving inventions. The Government has also accepted the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to phase out the Innovation Patent System.

The Government supports recommendations aimed at facilitating fairer access for Australians to copyright material, including orphan works and ensuring technological protection measures do not restrict legitimate contractual rights. The Government is mindful in this process of the position of rights holders and of the economic value generated by copyright material.

It is important copyright reform is considered in a holistic context rather than focused on individual issues. We will continue to work closely with stakeholders over the next 12 months to develop effective options for copyright reform.

The Government is also considering the merits of a number of other recommendations and will work on these further.

Ministers Sinodinos and Fifield said that Australia’s IP system is well regarded and consistently ranks in the top tiers of international comparisons, and that these reform measures will ensure that Australia remains competitive in domestic and global marketplaces.

The Government’s response to the Productivity Commission review, including the planned consultation process, is available at

First Camp For Children Of Veterans Affected By Mental Illness

26 August 2017: The Hon Dan Tehan MP 
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
The first Kookaburra Kids Foundation camp for children of current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) families affected by mental illness will take place this weekend.

The camp will give the children the opportunity to have fun in a supportive environment while also learning about mental illness and developing coping and resilience skills.

More than 30 children from the ACT region will participate in the camp which includes a range of activities led by qualified volunteer leaders.

The Government announced funding of $2.1 million in March for the Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation to run a two-year pilot program to help children of veterans.

The Government recognises the burden of service extends beyond veterans to their families. That is why we are committed to supporting programs such like the Kookaburra Kids Foundation camps.

Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation CEO Pam Brown said through activities and group work, the camp program allowed children to gain a greater understanding of mental illness and to form new friendships with other children who are facing similar challenges.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to launch the Kookaburra Kids Program nationally, enabling us to support more of the ADF community,” Ms Brown said.

Anyone looking to get involved with Kookaburra Kids, or to refer a child, please visit the Kookaburra Kids website

Australia Takes Another Major Step Forward In Quantum Computer Race

23 August 2017:Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science
Australia is one step closer in its quest to be the first in the world to crack the code and build a fully-fledged quantum computer.

Today I was delighted to join with representatives from the University of New South Wales, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Telstra and the New South Wales Government to launch a new Australian quantum computing company, Silicon Quantum Computing Pty Ltd.

Quantum computers are expected to transform the way we live, work, and do business over the coming decades—creating new jobs in new industries not even imaginable today.

If Australia wins the global race to build a functional quantum computer, it will create new industries and job opportunities across our economy.

The Australian Government through its National Innovation and Science Agenda is investing $25 million over five years in Silicon Quantum Computing to produce a prototype quantum computer chip—the first step in building a fully-functional quantum computer.

In addition to the Government’s investment, the University of New South Wales is contributing $25 million, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Telstra are providing $10 million each to fund this world-leading research over the next five years.

These investments are on top of previous government support for the technology and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s $4.14 million prior investment in the sector.

Today the NSW Government announced that it will also support this ground-breaking research by investing $8.7 million in Silicon Quantum Computing.

The power and potential of quantum computing is game changing—quantum computers are expected to exceed the combined power of all the computers currently on Earth.

They have the potential to solve, in a matter of hours, complex problems that would take a digital supercomputer more than a lifetime to achieve.

This is going to offer enormous advantages for a range of sectors, including finance, security and transport.

Silicon Quantum Computing is a prime example of how governments, researchers and business can work together to translate great Australian research into commercial reality, and I congratulate everyone involved.

Quantum computing will help shape how we deal with health, our living spaces, our businesses, our transport systems, our financial systems and our whole economy and way of life.

The transformative impact of quantum computing will be particularly relevant in the healthcare sector. Instead of waiting for years, personalised medicines could be made available very quickly, saving not just time, but, importantly, lives.

Mammoth-Sized Exhibition Headed To Sydney

August 25, 2017: NSW Government
The world’s only intact and preserved woolly mammoth will be coming to the Australian Museum.

Province of British Columbia/Flickr licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Mammoths – Giants of the Ice Age is an interactive exhibition that will take visitors back in time. The highlight of the exhibition is baby mammoth Lyuba, the best preserved woolly mammoth in existence.

Lyuba was discovered in 2007 in Siberia and has been preserved for more than 40,000 years.

It will be the fifth time Lyuba has been seen outside Russia and her first appearance in the Southern Hemisphere.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said the NSW Government is committed to continuing to develop world-class events.

“Securing exhibitions such as this will help us maintain our position as the number one tourism and events state in Australia,” Mr Marshall said.

The exhibition will open on 18 November 2017.

Record Low Number Of New HIV Cases In NSW

23 August 2017: NSW Health
HIV is one step closer to being eliminated in NSW with a rapid fall in diagnoses to record low levels, according to the latest quarterly NSW HIV Data Report.

NSW Health Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said NSW is a world leader in preventing HIV and is on track to achieve its goal of virtually eliminating HIV transmission by 2020 under the NSW HIV Strategy 2016-2020.

“This new data marks 12 months of rapid decline in new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men, and that’s great news,” Dr Chant said.

“There were 101 new HIV diagnoses in gay and bisexual men in NSW in the first six months of this year – that number is the lowest recorded in NSW since HIV emerged in the 1980s.

“The report shows that in January to June 2017 there was a 39 per cent drop in the number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV with recent infection, compared with the same period over the past six years (76 down to 46).

“The data demonstrates our continuing leadership in HIV prevention – we are experiencing one of the most rapid decreases in new HIV notifications among gay and bisexual men anywhere in the world.”

Dr Chant said the fall in HIV infections among gay and bisexual men reflects the combined efforts of government, clinicians, researchers and affected communities to encourage more testing, improve treatment rates and provide access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention.

“In the first half of this year, 286,626 tests were performed across NSW – 33 per cent more than the same period in 2012,” Dr Chant said.

“But the number of people diagnosed late with HIV has remained stable, meaning there are still people with undiagnosed HIV infection in the community.

“The Dried Blood Spot (DBS) HIV test, which became available in NSW last December, now provides a new avenue for people to be tested in the privacy of their own home.

“Early detection enables early treatment. This improves the health for people with HIV and prevents HIV from being passed on to others. Ninety-five per cent of people diagnosed in public clinics and private practices are on HIV treatment, and people newly diagnosed with HIV are starting treatment sooner than ever before.

“Added to that, NSW is running the world’s largest PrEP trial, EPIC-NSW. So we’re fighting this battle on three fronts.”

Professor David Cooper, Director of the Kirby Institute which is leading the EPIC NSW trial, said the state’s collaborative approach to fighting HIV was the key to the latest impressive results.

“NSW is a true leader in its approach to HIV prevention,” Professor Cooper said.

“Together with NSW Health, ACON and a network of doctors across the state, we have facilitated the rapid uptake of PrEP among people at high risk of HIV.

“The dramatic reductions in HIV notifications we have achieved are unprecedented.”

Dr Chant said HIV diagnoses among people born overseas or heterosexual people, however, have remained stable.

“While testing rates are at an all-time high, more needs to be done to reach people at high risk of HIV who aren’t aware of their risk.

“I am encouraging everyone at risk or who is unsure of their status to talk to their doctor about having a test as well as their HIV and STI prevention options.”

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill welcomed the report findings.

“Gay and bisexual men in NSW have mobilised around recent scientific advances that assist to drive down infection rates and improve health outcomes for HIV positive people,” Mr Parkhill said.

“This is a remarkable collective effort and the momentum must be maintained.”

The full NSW HIV Data report can be viewed at:

Further information on HIV testing and EPIC-NSW can be found at:

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