Inbox and Environment News: Issue 338

November 19 - 25, 2017: Issue 338

Report Shows New Biodiversity Laws Were Designed To Save Profits, Not Species

9 November, 2017: NSW Conservation Council
A leaked NSW Cabinet document shows company profits, not wildlife conservation, was the prime motivation behind the new biodiversity laws the Coalition introduced in NSW last November.

A cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the government and obtained by Fairfax Media found coal giant Glencore would have saved $80 million in environmental obligations for just one of its open-cut projects if it had been assessed under the Berejiklian government’s new biodiversity offset rules. [1]

The analysis also found the new rules would have saved a rare-earths mine, the Dubbo Zirconia Project, almost $13 million by requiring fewer offset credits.

“Greed trumps nature every time for this government,” said Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski.

“These changes weren’t designed to save species. They were designed to fast-track development and save companies millions of dollars in environmental obligations.

“Meanwhile, the state’s 1000 threatened species in NSW are being pushed closer to extinction.”

Ms Smolski said Premier Berejiklian should make public all internal government reports into the potential environmental impacts of her new Biodiversity Conservation Act, if any such reports were ever prepared.

“The government claims the new laws will be good for nature, but it has never provided evidence. I suspect it has none,” Ms Smolski said.

“Liberal Premiers over the past six years have abdicated responsibility for environmental policy to the National Party, at great cost to nature in NSW.

“The Nationals have mangled water policy and gutted the land clearing laws.

“They have rewarded their big agribusiness mates, rogue irrigators and illegal land clearers by undermining environmental protections.

“The Liberals, for their part, have frequently rewritten environmental laws when developers and mining companies come unstuck.”

1. 'Greed trumps nature': Leaked report points to big offset savings for developers. Peter Hannam. Sydney Morning Herald. November 9, 2017.

Scientists Warn Time Is Running Out To Save The Planet

November 14, 2017: Deakin University
Twenty five years ago, a majority of the world's living Nobel Laureates united to sign a warning letter about the Earth; today, scientists have taken grassroots action, with a scorecard showing that of nine areas only one has improved: our ozone.

The scientists say urgent action must be taken to avoid substantial and irreversible harm to the Earth.

The article, "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice", has been co-signed by more than 15,000 scientists in 184 countries and is published today in the journal BioScience.

Included is a series of graphs that highlight at a glance the direction things have headed.

Co-author Dr Thomas Newsome, a research fellow at Deakin University and The University of Sydney, said he believed this was possibly the biggest number of signatories to any published scientific paper.

"It's an overwhelming response we didn't quite expect," said Dr Newsome, who issued a number of Tweets to garner interest via his handle @NewsomeTM and using the hashtag #ScientistsWarningtoHumanity.

Dr Newsome, a multi award-winning early career researcher and author, said their callout on the first day, four months ago, attracted almost 600 signatories.

"People just started sharing the letter; it was added to a few email lists and things just took off from there," he said.

The initial warning 25 years ago identified trends that needed to be reversed to curtail environmental destruction, including ozone depletion, forest loss, climate change and human population growth.

"In this paper we look back on these trends and evaluate the subsequent human response by exploring the available data," Dr Newsome said.

Among the negative 25-year global trends noted in today's article are:
  • A 26 per cent reduction in the amount of fresh water available per capita
  • loss of nearly 300 million acres of forestland
  • A collective 29 per cent reduction in the numbers of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish
  • 75 per cent increase in the number of ocean dead zones.
Regarding Australia, Dr Newsome said habitat loss was the number one threat, and in 2017 we ranked number two in the world for global biodiversity loss, behind Indonesia.

"There's been recent reports on an alarming rise in tree clearance in Queensland - about 400,000 hectares per year; the equivalent of 400,000 football fields - which puts us in line with Brazil," Dr Newsome said.

"All the while we have very low public spending for example on threatened species - around $70 million each year, or less than one hundredth of a percent of the federal government's annual revenue of $416.9 billion - we spend more rehabilitating mine sites each year," he said.

The article states there is still time but notes the areas that need to be improved, including promoting dietary shifts away from meat, encouraging the adoption of renewable energy and limiting human population growth.

Scientists can continue to endorse the warning by visiting

Co-authors of the article include William Ripple and Christopher Wolf at Oregon State University and Eileen Crist of Virginia Tech in the United States; Mauro Galleti of the Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil;Thomas Newsome of The University of Sydney and Deakin University and William Laurence of James Cook University in Australia; Mohammad Alongir of the University of Chittagong in Bangladesh; Mahmoud Mahmoud of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency in Nigeria.

Australia is a global top-ten deforester – and Queensland is leading the way

Noel D PreeceJames Cook University and Penny van OosterzeeJames Cook University

When you think of devastating deforestation and extinction you usually think of the Amazon, Borneo and the Congo. But eastern Australia ranks alongside these in the top 10 of the world’s major deforestation fronts – theonly one in a developed nation. Most of the clearing is happening in Queensland, and it is accelerating.

Only last year a group of leading ecologists voiced their alarm at new data which showed the clearing of 296,000 hectares of forest in 2013-14. This was three times higher than in 2008-09, kicking Australia up the list as one of the world’s forest-clearing pariahs. At the 2016 Society for Conservation Biology Conference, a Scientists’ Declaration was signed by hundreds of scientists, expressing concern at these clearing rates.

Read more: Queensland land clearing is undermining Australia’s environmental progress

But the latest snapshot, Queensland’s Department of Science report on land cover change published last month, showed a staggering 395,000ha of clearing for 2015-16: a 133% increase on 2014-15. As far as we can tell this rate of increased clearing is unmatched anywhere else on the globe.

Strong vegetation management laws enacted in Queensland – theVegetation Management Act 1999 – achieved dramatic reductions in forest and woodland loss. But the subsequent Liberal National state government, elected in 2012, overturned these protections.

The current government, elected in 2015, has tried and failed to reinstate the protections. In response, “panic clearing” caused clearing rates to shoot up, in anticipation that the state election will deliver a government that will reintroduce the much-needed protection of forests.

The Queensland Parliament is now in caretaker mode ahead of the November 25 election. The Queensland Labor Party has pledged to reinstate laws to prevent wholesale clearing, while the LNP opposition has vowed to retain current clearing rates.

Forest cleared by bulldozers towing massive chains. Noel Preece

Australian Community And Wildlife Lose

Whichever way you look at it, there is not a lot of sense in continued clearing. Australia already has some of the highest extinction rates on the planet for plants and animals. With 80% of Queensland’s threatened species living in forest and woodland, more clearing will certainly increase that rate.

Clearing also kills tens of millions of animals across Australia each year, a major animal welfare concern that rarely receives attention. This jeopardises both wildlife and the A$140 million invested in threatened species recovery.

Read more: Land clearing isn’t just about trees – it’s an animal welfare issue too

This rate of clearing neutralises our major environment programs. Just one year of clearing has removed more trees than the bulk of 20 million trees painstakingly planted, at a cost of A$50 million. Australia’s major environment programs simply can’t keep up, and since 2013 are restoring only one-tenth of the extent of land bulldozed just last year.

Restoration costs to improve the quality of waters running onto the Great Barrier Reef are estimated at around A$5 billion to A$10 billion over 10 years. Nearly 40% of the land cleared in Queensland is in reef catchments, which will reverse any water quality gains as sediment pours onto the reef.

Climate Efforts Nullified

Since 2014, the federal government has invested A$2.55 billion on reducing emissions in the Carbon Farming Initiative through the Emissions Reduction Fund. Currently 189 million tonnes of abatement has been delivered by the Emissions Reduction Fund. This – the central plank of the Australian government’s climate response – will be all but nullified by the end of 2018 with the current clearing rates, and will certainly be wiped out by 2020, when Australia is expected to meet its climate target of 5% below 2000 emissions.

Ironically, this target will be achieved with the help of carried-over results from the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which Australia was only able to meet because land clearing had decreased between 1990 and 1997.

Why Is This Happening?

Most of the clearing in Queensland since 1999 has been for pasture. Most good cropping land was cleared decades ago. Removing trees in more marginal lands can increase the carrying capacity for a short time with an immediate, and usually short-lived, financial reward. These rewards come at the expense of long-term sustainability, which future landholders and government will bear.

Large areas of the cleared lands have been subject to substantial erosion and nutrient loss from the newly cleared lands, and land degradation over time, and some areas have suffered massive woody weed incursions.

This is playing out today across the north where pastoralism is a marginal activity at best, with declining terms of trade of about 2% per year, with no net productivity growth, high average debts and low returns, and many enterprises facing insolvency. Clearing vegetation won’t change that.

A recent preliminary valuation of ecosystem services, on the other hand, estimated that uncleared lands are worth A$3,300-$6,100 per hectare per year to the Australian community, compared with productivity of grazing lands of A$18 per hectare.

The ConversationWith a clear divide between the policies Labor and the LNP are taking to the election, now is a good time to give land clearing’s social, economic and environmental impact the scrutiny it deserves.

Noel D Preece, Adjunct Principal Research Fellow at Charles Darwin and,James Cook University and Penny van Oosterzee, Principal Research Adjunct James Cook University and University Fellow Charles Darwin University, James Cook University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Community Group Takes Legal Action To Enforce Water Laws Because The Coalition Government Has Not

November 16, 2017: NSW Conservation Council
The Inland Rivers Network is taking legal action to force Peter Harris, a big irrigator in the state’s northwest and a Nationals Party donor, to return more than five billion litres of water he took, allegedly illegally, from the Barwon-Darling River. [1]

“It should not fall to community groups to enforce our water laws, but the Berejiklian government’s inaction has left the Inland Rivers Network no option,” said Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski.

“The Coalition government, and especially the National’s minister responsible for the water portfolio, have sat on their hands hoping this issue would go away.

“I can assure the government this issue will not go away until we get to the bottom of the scandalous misuse of water in NSW, either through the courts, the Independent Commission Against Corruption or a Royal Commission.

“The environment and downstream communities depend on river flows and a healthy river system, and we will fight to ensure that their interests are protected.”

Inland Rivers Network spokesperson Melissa Gray said: “People in NSW want to see the water in our precious river systems managed fairly so everyone gets a share, including the river itself.

“The Darling River is important for fish, water birds, Aboriginal culture, floodplain graziers and communities along its entire length. It is the key link between the Northern Basin and the Murray River system.

“Inland Rivers Network has had to instigate legal action to ensure that water licences and entitlements on the Darling are used according to the rules of water sharing.

“Under the Nationals, the Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan was changed to favour big irrigators, and yet some greedy irrigators have allegedly broken those rules to extract even more.

“The IRN wants a fair go for everyone and the river, but that cannot happen if people who break the rules go unpunished.

“The government should enforce the laws but if it will not, we will do everything we can to ensure justice prevails.

“The NSW Government appears to be not properly regulating water use under the law and now the community has to take up the role of watchdog.”

1. Irrigator Peter Harris summonsed for 'illegal' water use - The Australian, November 14, 2017

Updated Mapping Provides Status Of Land Use In Australia

14 November 2017: ABARES 
Over 585 million hectares, or 76 per cent, of Australia’s land use mapping information has been updated for the Catchment scale land use of Australia – Update September 2017.

ABARES Executive Director, Steve Hatfield-Dodds, said the updated data is the best available for Australia’s regions.

“This update improves the currency of land mapping information released in May 2016. These land use data products are recognised as foundational spatial data for Australia, by showing the location and extent of how we use the landscape,” Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.

“Comprehensive land use mapping informs and supports innovative and prompt responses to economic, social and environmental challenges facing the agricultural sector.

“Some of these challenges arise in the scope of productivity and sustainability, biodiversity, conservation, land use planning, natural disaster management and natural resource investment and management.”

Land use data resources are developed by ABARES with national, state and territory agencies as part of the Australian Collaborative Land Use and Management Program (ACLUMP), with the support of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

“Land use is mapped using high resolution imagery and is then verified through local, expert and industry input and field validation. The data has a currency of 2003 to 2017 (reflecting when an area was last mapped) and a scale of 1:5,000 to 1:250,000.

“Land use is mapped according to the Australian Land Use and Management Classification version 8, released in October 2016. Primary, secondary and tertiary classes describe the use of land for conservation and natural environments, production from dryland or irrigated agriculture and plantations, intensive uses and water features.”

The following areas have been updated since the May 2016 release of the Catchment Scale Land Use of Australia dataset:

Desert Channels and Mackay-Whitsundays natural resource management (NRM) regions in Queensland
The Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM region in South Australia (extending into part of the Murray-Darling Basin NRM region)
The state of New South Wales
The state of Victoria
The state of Tasmania
The state of Western Australia
The Northern Territory.

Complementing the Catchment Scale Land Use of Australia is the first release of a commodities dataset - the Catchment Scale Land Use of Australia – Commodities – September 2017. This commodity information can be extracted or combined with other spatial datasets to provide new insights and analysis concerning land use in Australia.

Agricultural commodity level mapping is available for all of the Northern Territory, and for the following commodities nationally (as at the date mapped):

Crops – rice, sugar cane, cotton
Fruit – bananas (except Southern Queensland), avocados, mangoes, olives, grapes
Nuts – macadamias
Livestock – dairy cattle, pigs, poultry, horse studs, aquaculture.
The focus of this first release of commodities data has been horticultural and intensive animal industries to support biosecurity preparedness and response.

These two national datasets and the original individual state and territory data (from which the national datasets were derived) are accessible to download via Land usee data download.

Have Your Say On Priorities For NSW Land Conservation

November 17, 2017: OE&H
Public consultation has commenced on continued planning for future NSW national park additions as well as the NSW Government's investment in private land conservation.

Draft Biodiversity Conservation Investment Strategy 2017-2037 
Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Chief Executive, Anthony Lean said he encouraged the community to have their say on the two important documents which will guide the establishment of an integrated and well planned protected area system across both private and public land in New South Wales.

"The draft Biodiversity Conservation Investment Strategy 2017–2037 will guide the government's $240 million investment in private land conservation while the draft National Parks System Directions Statement will guide the protection of high value conservation lands across NSW in the public reserve system," Mr Lean said.

"The draft strategy and the draft directions statement are being exhibited at the same time as they speak to each other in working towards the same broad objectives of improving outcomes for our State's biodiversity.

"The National Parks System Directions Statement will set the priorities for acquiring new high conservation value land as part of our State's national park and reserve system, which currently accounts for around 9% of the State.

"On the other hand, the Biodiversity Conservation Investment Strategy recognises that with over 70% of NSW land privately owned or managed it is critical that we support landholders to protect and manage important conservation assets on private land."

The Strategy is a key component of the government's comprehensive new framework for private land conservation established under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

The NSW Government established the Biodiversity Conservation Trust to manage a statewide private land conservation program that will invest $240 million over 5 years and $70 million per year ongoing, supporting landholders who commit to protect and manage areas of high environmental value on their properties.

The consultation period for both documents is open from 17 November to 5pm 15 December 2017.

For further information and to have your say, visit:

Post-Market Day BEACH CLEAN
Hosted by The Green Team
Sunday, November 19 at 5 PM - 6 PM
Avalon Beach

Come join us for a beach clean at Avalon Beach after Market Day! Last year Avalon was a mess after the markets and it's not fair to let it drift into the ocean! 

It has been estimated that we will have more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050...These beach cleans are aimed at reducing the vast amounts of plastic from entering our oceans before they harm marine life. 

This clean will be held on the afternoon of market day! As we can assume there will be a lot to clean up after this busy day!

Anyone and everyone is welcome! If you would like to come along, please bring a bucket, gloves and hat. Kids of all ages are also welcome! 

Hope to see you there!

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.

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 0402 605 721.

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.

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

Spotlight Walk 8:15pm Monday Nov 27
This walk will take place after Jayden Walsh has shown pictures and talked about amphibians and reptiles in Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment.
8:15pm Meet at Katoa Close. Spaces limited to 30 people

Spotlight Walk - 8pm Friday Dec 15
Spotlighting walk - meet at start of Slippery Dip Trail. Spaces limited to 20 people

Wildlife Walk - 7:30am Friday January 19, 2018
Meet at end of Deep Creek Carpark. Spaces limited to 30 people
Email: Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment to get a ticket and book a place for one of these fascinating Wildlife Walks led by Jayden Walsh.

Bush Regeneration - Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment  
This is a wonderful way to become connected to nature and contribute to the health of the environment.  Over the weeks and months you can see positive changes as you give native species a better chance to thrive.  Wildlife appreciate the improvement in their habitat.

Belrose area - Thursday mornings 
Belrose area - Weekend mornings by arrangement
Contact: Phone or text Conny Harris on 0432 643 295

Wheeler Creek - Wednesday mornings 9-11am
Contact: Phone or text Judith Bennett on 0402 974 105
Or email: Friends of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment :

Eco Paddle on Narrabeen Lagoon
1pm, Sunday Feb 11, 2018
Black Swan have returned to the lagoon after 20 years - come and see these majestic creatures! This paddle will visit the Western Basin, Deep and Middle Creeks. Beautiful Deep Creek attracts migratory birds from as far away as Russia and Middle Creek has been the subject of a substantial remediation programme. A relaxing 2 to 3 hour afternoon paddle. No previous kayaking experience required, tuition given. BYO boat or a hire kayak can be arranged for you at cost. 
Bookings essential.
Email or call 0417 502 056.

Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Board Meeting In Public

06 November 2017 by Sydney Harbour Federation Trust
The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust invites the public to observe the next Board Meeting.
When: Wednesday 20 December 2017 at 3.30pm
Venue: Boardroom, SHFT offices, Building 28, Best Avenue, Headland Park, Mosman
Members of the public may submit a question/s (maximum of two) in writing prior to the meeting. Questions must be received by 15 December 2017. Questions may be emailed (link sends e-mail)
The Chair has the discretion to allow a question to be asked and/or answered at the meeting.
If you would like to attend, please RSVP by 15 December on (02) 8969 2100 or

Tahmoor Coal Mine
Tahmoor Colliery MOD 4

Proposed modification to the Tahmoor Colliery (see attached Environmental Assessment)
To permit low levels of subsidence within an area where subsidence is not currently permitted to occur...
Exhibition Start         08/11/2017
Exhibition End         22/11/2017
Tahmoor Underground Mod 4_EA_Final.pdf (3.194 MB)
Tahmoor Underground Mod 4_EA_Appendices 1-4.pdf (3.462 MB)
Tahmoor Underground Mod 4_EA_Appendices 5-6.pdf (9.177 MB)

Centennial Northern Coal Services: Northern Coal Logistics Project - Mod 1

Centennial Northern Coal Services Pty Limited is seeking to modify Development Consent SSD-5145 pertaining to the Northern Coal Logistics Project in order to increase the number of employees based at the Cooranbong Entry Site and make administrative amendments to the operational noise criteria and air quality criteria.

Exhibition Start    10/11/2017
Exhibition End  24/11/2017

Documents and have your say: 610.17594 SEE Letter 201710 Final_ Revised.pdf (4.539 MB) at HERE

Moolarben Mine: Moolarben Coal 1 - MOD 14

Modifications to the Moolarben Coal Complex.
Increased annual run-of-mine (ROM) coal production from the open cuts
Exhibition Start 07/11/2017
Exhibition End 07/12/2017

Executive Summary.pdf (8.561 MB)
Environmental Assessment.pdf (8.664 MB)
Attachment 1_ Secretary's Environmental Assessment Requirements.pdf (250.0 KB)
Attachment 2_ Stage 1 Project Approval _05_0117_.pdf (4.053 MB)
Attachment 3_ Stage 2 Project Approval _08_0135_.pdf (2.841 MB)
Appendix A_ Noise Assessment.pdf (3.138 MB)
Appendix B_ Air Quality Assessment.pdf (4.144 MB)
Appendix C_ Biodiversity Assessment Review.pdf (6.051 MB)
Appendix D_ Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment.pdf (9.078 MB)
Appendix E_ Site Water Balance and Surface Water Assessment.pdf (5.173 MB)
Appendix F_ Controlled Water Release Assessment.pdf (2.348 MB)
Appendix G_ Aquatic Ecology Assessment.pdf (17.43 MB)
Appendix H_ Geochemistry Review.pdf (1.942 MB)
Appendix I_ Groundwater Assessment.pdf (5.885 MB)
Documents and have your say at HERE

Barangaroo South
Building C1

- construction of a seven-storey commercial building (maximum height RL 33.2), comprising retail on the ground floor and commercial on levels one to six; 
- provision of an outdoor terrace on level 6 of the building; 
- installation of photovoltaic cells on the rooftop of the building; 
- business and building identification signage zones; 
- allocation and use of 18 car spaces within the approved basement below and provision of end-of-trip facilities 
- public domain works; and 
- alterations to basement structures below. 

Exhibition Start  09/11/2017
Exhibition End   08/12/2017

Documents and have your say HERE

Magenta Shores: DA 32-01-2003 MOD 5 - 

Modification to North Entrance, "Magenta Shores"
Seeks to modify the original masterplan to increase the number of lots in the R07A Release Area, amend lot orientation, change road layout and remove pedestrian access points to the golf course.
Proposed to be amended to 58 lots ...
Exhibition Start   08/11/2017
Exhibition End    22/11/2017

Plan of Proposed Subdivision.pdf (628.8 KB)
Updated Environmental Assessment Report .pdf (705.7 KB)
Documents and have your say Available HERE

Reducing Threats To The NSW Marine Estate

30 October, 2017: Media Release - NSW DPI
The NSW Marine Estate Management Authority independent Chair, Dr Wendy Craik AM, today called for feedback on the draft Marine Estate Management Strategy, which outlines eight initiatives to address the major threats to the state’s oceans, wetlands, coastline and coastal lakes and lagoons – our ‘marine estate’.

“The NSW Government is committed to the long term future of our coastal waterways, estuaries and oceans, by balancing economic growth, use and conservation of the marine estate,” said Dr Craik.

According to Dr Craik the draft Strategy is a first for NSW. It will help to achieve holistic, co-ordinated and evidence-based management, to ensure NSW’s coastal and marine environments can be enjoyed in a sustainable way.

“In developing the draft Strategy, the Authority has consulted extensively to understand the NSW community’s views on the importance of the marine estate, any perceived threats to its future and opportunities to improve how it is managed,” said Dr Craik.

The draft Strategy outlines initiatives to:
  • Improve water quality and reduce litter
  • Achieve sustainable coastal use and development for healthy habitats
  • Assist planning for a changing climate
  • Reduce impacts on wildlife
  • Protect the cultural values of the marine estate
  • Ensure sustainable fishing and aquaculture
  • Enable safe and sustainable boating
  • Improve governance and enhance social and economic benefits
The draft Strategy also includes proposed management initiatives for the Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion (termed the ‘central region’).

A separate consultation process will take place for spatial management in the Hawkesbury Shelf bioregion, as any proposal for spatial management must undergo extensive and rigorous consultation before a making a decision.

“We’d like to know what the community and key stakeholders think about the eight initiatives and proposed management actions included in the draft Strategy so it delivers on their expectations and needs,” said Dr Craik.

A series of regional workshops with peak marine estate stakeholders, local government, State agencies and Aboriginal communities will take place between 30 October and 8 December 2017.

The community and key stakeholders are encouraged to make a submission online by visiting the marine estate website

The NSW Government has re-set the Marine Estate Management Authority’s work priorities to take into account several related reforms that are at a crucial stage of development. This has allowed the Marine Estate Management Strategy to progress ahead of other marine estate reform projects, ensuring a consistent, co-ordinated and evidence-based statewide approach to management of the marine estate. 

Consequently, we have a number of important updates on the marine estateSchedule of Works to bring to your attention:

1. Draft Marine Estate Management Strategy - the Authority has released the first Draft Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018-2028 for public consultation, with feedback required by Friday 8 December 2017 via ouronline submission form. The draft Strategy is a first for NSW and is a key element of the marine estate reforms that sets the framework and strategic direction for marine estate management over the next decade.

2. Final Statewide Threat and Risk Assessment - the draft Strategy is underpinned by the NSW Marine Estate Threat and Risk Assessment Final Report (statewide TARA) which has also been released for information. The report identifies and ranks the priority statewide threats and risks to the environmental assets and social, cultural and economic benefits the community derive from the NSW marine estate.

3. Community and Stakeholder Engagement Report – Draft Statewide TARA - This report provides a summary of changes made to the final statewide TARA based on additional evidence and feedback provided during public engagement on the draft statewide TARA earlier this year.

4. NEW NSW Marine Protected Areas Policy Statement - this policy statement outlines the role and purpose of marine protected areas in marine estate management in NSW.

5. Phase 2 Community Engagement Report - Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment - the report provides an overview of the outcomes from community engagement (28 February to 8 May 2016) on eight suggested management initiatives to enhance marine biodiversity conservation in the bioregion while achieving balanced outcomes for all users of the marine estate.

Given the extent of work currently underway with implementation of the marine estate reforms, the Authority has developed a new e-newsletter to provide you with regular updates on projects outlined in the Schedule of Works.  Further details on all of our work can also be found on the marine estate website. 

Draft Environment SEPP

The Explanation of Intended Effect for the Environment SEPP is on exhibition from 31 October 2017 until the 15 January 2018.
The NSW government has been working towards developing a new State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for the protection and management of our natural environment. These areas are important to communities in delivering opportunities for physical health, economic security and cultural identity.
This consolidated SEPP proposes to simplify the planning rules for a number of water catchments, waterways, urban bushland, and Willandra Lakes World Heritage Property. These environmental policies will be accessible in one location, and updated to reflect changes that have occurred since the creation of the original policies.
The Department of Planning and Environment is seeking your feedback on the proposed SEPP to update and improve the planning framework in regards to these environmental issues. This is discussed in the Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) for the proposed Environment SEPP.
Changes proposed include consolidating the following seven existing SEPPs:

• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 19 – Bushland in Urban Areas
• State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Drinking Water Catchment) 2011
• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 50 – Canal Estate Development
• Greater Metropolitan Regional Environmental Plan No. 2 – Georges River Catchment
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan No. 20 – Hawkesbury-Nepean River (No.2-1997)
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan (Sydney Harbour Catchment) 2005
• Willandra Lakes Regional Environmental Plan No. 1 – World Heritage Property.
Changes are also proposed to the Standard Instrument – Principal Local Environmental Plan. Some provisions of the existing policies will be transferred to new Section 117 Local Planning Directions where appropriate.
The EIE outlines changes to occur, implementation details, and the intended outcome. It considers the existing SEPPs proposed to be repealed and explains why certain provisions will be transferred directly to the new SEPP, amended and transferred, or repealed due to overlaps with other areas of the NSW planning system.
Download the EIE document (PDF: 6.215 MB)

Have your say on the Explanation of Intended Effect for the proposed Environment SEPP until 15 January 2018

We welcome your feedback on the Explanation of Intended Effect and encourage you to have your say.
• Or write to:

Director, Planning Frameworks
Department of Planning and Environment 
GPO Box 39 
Sydney NSW 2001

Primary Production And Rural Development
Draft SEPP And Planning Reforms

The agricultural sector is vital to the NSW economy as it provides food and other products for local consumption and export, and is a major employer in regional areas. The NSW Government is proposing changes to the planning system to further support sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and rural development. These changes will help ensure planning proposals affecting rural land are properly assessed and provide greater certainty to farmers on the types of activities that will require development consent.
The Department of Planning and Environment is seeking your feedback on a package of reforms to update and improve the planning framework for primary production and rural development. These are discussed in the Primary Production and Rural Development - Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE).
The proposals outlined in the EIE will help industry and the community respond to existing challenges. Simpler and more streamlined processes will allow us to adapt to emerging economic opportunities as they arise. They also support commitments in the NSW Right to Farm Policy.
Changes proposed include consolidating the following five existing SEPPs:
• State Environmental Planning Policy (Rural Lands) 2008 (Rural Lands SEPP)
• State Environmental Planning Policy 30 - Intensive Agriculture (SEPP 30)
• State Environmental Planning Policy 52 - Farm Dams and Other Works in Land and Water Management Plan Areas (SEPP 52)
• State Environmental Planning Policy 62 - Sustainable Aquaculture (SEPP 62)
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan 8 - Central Coast Plateau Areas (SREP 8)
The EIE outlines provisions to be included in a new SEPP. It also highlights proposals to transfer existing plan making requirements to the Ministerial Planning Directions under section 117 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, and to amend the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan.
• Part 1 – Executive summary
• Part 2 – The new SEPP
• Part 3 – Proposed amendments to other planning legislation
• Conclusion
• Attachment A – Planning framework
• Attachment B – Summary of key policy proposals
• Attachment C – Existing SEPPs
• Attachment D – Existing clause analysis and proposed action
• Attachment E – Outline of revised definitions and clauses
Download the whole EIE document
Download the FAQs
Planning guidelines for intensive livestock agriculture development
Draft guidelines have been prepared to support the proposed planning reforms. These are intended to assist applicants and planning authorities to understand the assessment requirements for new intensive livestock developments, such as feedlots, poultry farms and pig farms.
Download the draft guidelines

Have your say until 18 December 2017
We welcome your feedback on the Explanation of Intended Effect and draft planning guidelines and encourage you to make a submission.
• Or write to:

Director, Planning Frameworks
Department of Planning and Environment
GPO Box 39
Sydney NSW 2001
Published submissions will include your name and the organisation on whose behalf you may be writing. Contact details such as email and postal addresses, and telephone numbers are not published. The Department reserve the right to not publish selected submissions (in full or part).
Please read our privacy statement.

Where can I find out more about the Draft Primary Production and Rural Development SEPP reforms package?
• For further information please see the Frequently Asked Questions, or phone 1300 305 695.
• If you require translation assistance, please call 131 450.
You can also subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates from the Department.

EP&A Regulation Review

Review of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000

The Department has recently commenced a review of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (the Regulation).

This review follows proposed changes to the Regulation’s parent Act, theEnvironmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act).  While the EP&A Act provides the overarching framework for the planning system in NSW, the Regulation supports the day-to-day requirements of this system.

This review affords an opportunity to undertake a comprehensive look at the Regulation and remove any unnecessary complexities or outdated rules which make the system hard to use. 
As a first step, the Department is seeking feedback from stakeholders on the current Regulation. 
The Department has prepared an issues paper that outlines the key operational provisions of the Regulation and seeks:
• Stakeholder views on known issues with the current Regulation
• Stakeholder feedback to help identify other issues, including suggestions for updating and improving the function of key operational provisions and reducing unnecessary regulatory and administrative burdens.

What does the Regulation address?
The Regulation contains key operational provisions for the NSW planning system, including those relating to:
• Planning instruments, including requirements and procedures for planning proposals and procedures for making and amending development control plans
• Procedures relating to development applications and complying development certificates 
• Existing uses and designated development
• Requirements for environmental assessment under Part 5 of the EP&A Act and applications for State significant infrastructure
• Environmental impact statements 
• Building regulation and subdivision certification 
o Note: the review of the Regulation will not examine these building and certification provisions, as broader building regulation reforms are being fast tracked through a separate process.

• Fees and charges, including fees for development applications, building certificates and other planning services 
• Development contributions, including the preparation of contributions plans
• Planning certificates, which provide information about land
•Other miscellaneous matters, including amounts for penalty notices (or fines) that may be issued for breaches of the EP&A Act and the Regulation, provisions for planning bodies (the Planning Assessment Commission and Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels), development by the Crown, and record keeping requirements for councils.

What are the objectives of the review?
The review of the Regulation presents an opportunity to build on the proposed changes to the EP&A Act and further improve the architecture of the planning system.

The objectives are to undertake a comprehensive review of the Regulation in order to:
• reduce administrative burden and increase procedural efficiency (e.g. by removing any outdated rules which make the system hard to use)
• reduce complexity 
• establish a simpler, more modern and transparent planning system.

Have your say until 24 November 2017
The NSW Government welcomes your feedback on the EP&A Regulation Review issues paper. Feedback received in response to this issues paper will be used to inform the preparation of a draft regulation, which will be released for consultation in 2018.
You can provide your feedback by:
• Writing to:
Director, Legislative Updates
Department of Planning and Environment
GPO Box 39 Sydney NSW 2001

Your feedback can play a vital role in the review of the Regulation. 
Where can I find out more?
• Call us on 1300 305 695
• Email:
• If English isn’t your first language, please call 131 450. Ask for an interpreter in your language and then request to be connected to us on 1300 305 695.

Major Changes: State Environmental Planning Controls(Draft Enviro. SEPP)

The Berejiklian government has just announced changes that propose to repeal and replace the following State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) with a single Environment SEPP:

• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 19—Bushland in Urban Areas - [Manly, Warringah, Pittwater; pages 28 to 32]
• State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Drinking Water Catchment) 2011
• State Environmental Planning Policy No. 50—Canal Estate Development
• Greater Metropolitan Regional Environmental Plan No. 2—Georges River Catchment
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan No. 20—Hawkesbury-Nepean River (No.2-1997) [*Pittwater and Warringah]
• Sydney Regional Environmental Plan (Sydney Harbour Catchment) 2005
• Willandra Lakes Regional Environmental Plan No. 1—World Heritage Property.

Aimed at reducing 'red tape' and 'streamlining' NSW's planning system, some changes are commended such as protecting Sydney Harbour's natural assets by prohibiting new canal estates.

However other changes will enable development in sensitive areas that are currently protected.

Designed to marry up with other planning instruments, such as the controversial Biodiversity Act 2016, the changes also give greater effect to Ministerial Directions.

The changes also propose to revise the term ‘bushland zoned or reserved for public open space purposes’ to ‘public bushland’. This includes all land that is zoned non-rural, and owned or managed by a council or a public authority, or reserved for acquisition for open space or environmental conservation by a council or a public authority, and that has vegetation which meets a clear definition of bushland.

Critically the current SEPP (no 19) SEPP 19 extends 'beyond the protection of environmental values of bushland by identifying 'the need to protect the aesthetic and community values as well as the recreational, educational and scientific values of this resource'.

The proposed SEPP also enables the Roads and Maritime Services, to undertake the subdivision of foreshore lands in order ‘to lawfully reclaim Sydney Harbour land’ and redefine the ‘heads of consideration for consent authorities when assessing Development Applications on Foreshore lands.

The changes also include amending the aim of the Harbour Regional Environmental Plan that ensures Sydney is a ‘working harbour’ to enable a range of recreational, transport, tourism and commercial uses. Greater flexibility to 'mooring pens' is also proposed, which are currently prohibited.

Other changes include transferring heritage provisions to the relevant local environmental plan, thereby reducing the protection of heritage assets.

In addition, concerns have been flagged that moving the prohibition of extractive industries in parts of the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment to the SEPP for Mining, Petroleum and Extractive Industries - and moving the Sydney Opera House provisions in the Harbour Regional Environmental Plan to SEPP (State Significant Precincts) effectively reduces the current protections.

The changes are on exhibition for public comment until the 15 January.

*page 26:
Provisions to be updated and moved to Ministerial Directions
Provisions within the Hawkesbury Nepean Regional Environmental Plan related to local plan making will be updated and are to be moved to a new Ministerial Direction.

The following current provisions contain plan making guidance suited to a Ministerial Direction:
• Clause 3 ‘Aim of This Plan’
• Part 2 ‘General Planning Considerations, Specific Planning Policies and Recommended Strategies’
• Clause 6(3) ‘Water Quality’
• Clause 6(10) (a) ‘Urban Development’ - rezoning or subdivision of land
• Clause 6(11) ‘Recreation and Tourism’.

Other aspects of Clause 6, such as water quality, total catchment management, biodiversity and environmentally sensitive
areas will be transferred to the proposed new SEPP.

Repeal Of Two Operational SEPPs

By NSW Dept. of Planning
Exhibition Commences 27/10/2017
Exhibition Concludes 22/12/2017
The Department of Planning and Environment is reviewing State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) to simplify and modernise the planning system by removing duplicated, redundant and outdated planning controls. 

The Department proposes to improve and simplify NSW development standards by repealing SEPP No. 1 - Development Standards and SEPP (Miscellaneous Consent Provisions) 2007 (MCP SEPP). The planning provisions contained in these two policies will be incorporated in local planning controls. 

Both SEPPs now only apply to lands which have been deferred from the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan. Councils that have adopted the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan already have the equivalent measures in place within their areas. This means local controls will essentially replace the function of the repealed SEPPs. 

The Department of Planning and Environment will work with affected councils to manage the transition of planning provisions into their Local Environmental Plans. 

The Repeal of two operational SEPPs package is currently on exhibition until 22 December 2017. 

Swift Parrots Legally Pushed Closer To Extinction

November 13, 2017
The Swift Parrot is in imminent danger of extinction. With fewer than 2000 birds left in the wild, the Swift Parrot was urgently uplisted to Critically Endangered last year. It is one step away from extinction.

Yet the Tasmanian Government owned Sustainable Timber Tasmania has just logged a large tract of eucalypt forest at Tyler’s Hill, near Dover, in the South-east Tasmania Key Biodiversity Area – an area long known to provide critical breeding habitat for the species. To make matters worse, the logging has coincided with the Swift Parrot breeding season.

Coupe SO34A-Tyler's Hill in the southern forests logged - photos Supplied: Dr Dejan Stojanovic

Dr Dejan Stojanovic, a conservation biologist at the Australian National University, said he and his research team had been monitoring the habitat at Tyler's Hill for a decade. Last week he visited the site to plan for the installation of predator-proof nest boxes, used to protect the birds from sugar gliders. Upon arrival he found the area had been felled.

“It was pretty shocking, to be honest. We’ve been monitoring this site for about a ­decade now and we’ve known for a long time that it’s critical swift parrot habitat. On arrival a whole patch of bush where these birds have nested for over 10 years of our monitoring was just gone.” Dr. Stojanovic said.

Forestry Minister Guy ­Barnett said the coupe logged was within the production forest zone, which the Wilderness Society and the Greens had signed off on as being available for harvesting under the ­dismantled forestry peace deal, the Tasmanian Mercury reports.

BirdLife Australia has condemned such a flagrant disregard for one of the nation’s most threatened birds.

“Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s logging of this vital habitat is unconscionable,” said BirdLife Australia’s Charlie Sherwin. “But what’s worse it that this egregious act is legal because our national nature laws don’t protect threatened species’ habitat in areas covered by a Regional Forest Agreement.”

Our national nature laws are clearly broken when short term economic interests trump the future of a species.

When Sustainable Timber Tasmania is legally allowed to push a species towards the extinction cliff, it’s abundantly clear that Australia desperately needs new nature laws that will actually protect nature,” continued Mr Sherwin.

BirdLife Australia calls on the Tasmanian and Federal Governments to take urgent action to ensure the logging of further Swift Parrot habitat stops immediately.

“The Tasmanian Environment Minister claims to be working on a strategic landscape approach to assist with managing the species, but the government has been claiming this for years, and in the meantime, Sustainable Timber Tasmania is allowed to destroy Swift Parrot habitat.”

In 2016 the government entity failed to achieve Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certification on a number of points, including threatened species management. FSC advised the company it needed to, among other things, identify swift parrot nesting habitat before its forests could be labelled "environmentally, economically and socially responsible".

In a statement this week the Tasmanian Environment Minister Elise Archer said her department was working closely with the Forest Practices Authority to ensure appropriate management of swift parrot habitat.

“Ongoing discussions with Sustainable Timber Tasmania are aimed at developing a strategic landscape approach to the management of the ­species,” she said.

“STT is working with swift parrot researchers to develop this approach, and has indicated that this process may be completed by the end of 2017.”

Dr Stojanovic said protecting the bird’s nesting areas “wasn’t really that hard”.

“Don’t cut down mature trees in areas where we know swift parrots need them,” he said.

The fact the logging was done legally was an “indictment of the quality of the law”.

Dr Dejan Stojanovic holds a swift parrot - Photo Supplied: Dr Dejan Stojanovic

Mystery As Frog Numbers Rebound

November 16, 2017: JCU
James Cook University scientists are trying to figure out the reason behind some good news on the environmental front, as frog populations bounce back from a devastating disease.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, an outbreak of the fungal disease chytridiomycosis caused many species of frog to decline or disappear in the Wet Tropics of northern Queensland.

PhD candidate Donald McKnight said the disease is caused by a pathogen, which does not grow well in warm temperatures.

“As a result, the most severe declines happened at cool, high-elevation sites. But although the declines and disappearances are well-documented, much less attention has been given to the fact that many of the upland populations have recovered, even though the disease is still present,” he said.

As an example, the researchers said the waterfall frog had been completely absent during repeated surveys in the 1990s at a high-elevation site in the Girramay National Park in north Queensland. But by 2001, small numbers of the frogs had appeared again.

“From what we’ve seen, population recovery has been the most widespread and pronounced in green-eyed tree frogs and waterfall frogs. Upland populations of green-eyed tree frogs recovered rapidly, and they have even returned to their pre-decline numbers at one site,” said Mr McKnight.

He said waterfall frogs had been wiped out at high elevations, but were now back and thriving in many places, though not to the same extent. Common mist frogs have also made strong recoveries at some upland sites, but there are many places at which they have not recovered and lace-lid frogs do not seem to have returned at all.

Mr McKnight said the research teams were working with four hypotheses about what was happening.

“The first idea is that there may have been a change in the frogs’ behaviour, immune system, the beneficial bacterial community that lives on them, or a combination of those factors. The second is that the disease may simply have become less virulent. The third is that the environment may have changed to be less favourable for the disease, and the fourth that it was a precise combination of environmental factors that caused it in the first place and these have not been repeated.”

He said the work was still in its early stages and the team didn’t yet have enough information to determine exactly what had happened.

“Emerging infectious diseases are complex and what we are seeing may result from multiple factors. But understanding the phenomenon could have wide-ranging implications for managing frog populations and for understanding how disease-afflicted populations generally can recover.”

The paper, 'Fighting an uphill battle: the recovery of frogs in Australia's Wet Tropics', is available here.

Green-eyed tree frog. Image: Donald McKnight.

Study Urges Global-Change Researchers To Embrace Variability

November 15, 2017
Scientists typically make every effort to keep all factors but one constant when doing an experiment. Global-change scientists might move a coral from a reef to an aquarium whose water is held 1°C higher to test the effects of the ocean warming predicted for the end of the century. Or they might decrease the water's pH by 0.4 units to study the effects of ocean acidification.

But a new review article presents evidence that argues for a more nuanced approach to the design of these experiments -- one that acknowledges and purposefully incorporates the variability inherent in nature.

The article, in the latest issue of Current Climate Change Reports, focuses on studies examining how ocean warming and acidification might affect corals and coralline algae. Lead author Emily Rivest of William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science says its findings are also likely applicable to other foundational reef species such as oysters.

Back reef, Moorea, French Polynesia. Corals growing here typically experience greater variability in temperature and pH than corals growing on the ocean side of the reef.  © Emily Rivest.

"The range of pH and temperature that some organisms experience on a daily basis exceeds the changes we expect to see in the global ocean by the end of the century," notes Rivest, an assistant professor at VIMS. "But we don't really know how this variability affects their physiology and their ability to respond to future change. The papers we reviewed suggest this variability is important, and we need to incorporate it into our experiments."

Indeed, there's a growing consensus that the degree of variability in temperature and pH an organism faces in its current environment will likely influence its response to future warming and acidification. For instance, a coral growing in a back-reef lagoon -- whose restricted waters may warm drastically each afternoon under the blazing sun -- may be less susceptible to long-term warming than a coral growing in the more open, temperate waters of the reef face. The same may hold true for entire species or populations of warmth-adapted corals.

In their paper, Rivest and co-authors Steeve Comeau and Christopher Cornwall of the University of Western Australia reviewed almost 100 studies of how predicted changes in ocean pH or temperature might affect coral growth. But their review found only a "handful" of the studies had purposefully varied these factors, or examined the importance of natural variability to the performance of reef organisms.

The experiments that incorporated variability fell into two categories. "One type was studies where you collect corals from a high-variability site and a low-variability site and see how they do under controlled laboratory conditions," says Rivest. "If the variability is important in shaping their response to environmental change, then their response will depend on the site they are from."

The second type "looked at the variability within laboratory treatments -- taking corals into the lab and raising them under constant or variable conditions, then providing them with an additional stress and seeing if the variability they experienced in the lab influences their response to that stress."

Rivest and her colleagues found that incorporating variability into an experiment's design produced ambiguous and intriguing results.

"Corals from habitats with more temperature variability generally exhibit greater thermotolerance," says Rivest, "but the effects of past pH variability are less clear." On the other hand, she says, "In laboratory studies, pH variability often limited the effects of ocean acidification, but the effects of temperature variability on responses to warming were equivocal."

Rivest, Comeau, and Cornwall say their findings warrant additional research. "We want our paper to signal the start of a new era in studies of how climate change affects foundation species," says Rivest. "We really need to consider an animal's current environment as a starting point for how it will respond in the future -- we want this to be a point of discussion in our field, for how we should be designing experiments and thinking about these questions moving forward."

The team says their findings could also lead to practical applications. "If we know better how environmental variability affects the ability of animals to tolerate future environmental change, then we can think about it in a restoration and conservation context," says Rivest. "For example, if you target a reef for restoration, we could start a training program for corals where you culture them in the lab under variable conditions so they would be ready to perform well out in the reef environment." This approach is already being applied at the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and other research labs worldwide.

Rivest led one of the field studies included in the recent review article -- in which she compared corals from the warm waters of French Polynesia to the cooler waters of Taiwan -- and now has plans to extend that research to different animals and waters near her new home on the U.S. East Coast. She joined the faculty of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester Point in 2016.

"I think of oysters as the corals of Chesapeake Bay," says Rivest. "They provide similar benefits in that they create a three-dimensional habitat that supports other species. And the variability in pH and temperature in the Bay is even more dramatic than we see in a lot of coral reefs. So I plan on asking the same types of questions here. There's a lot we can learn about how oysters will respond to future environmental changes just by surveying the natural environmental gradients they face in the Bay right now."

She also plans to begin a series of laboratory studies. "I haven't had the ability to easily manipulate the variability of temperature and pH in the lab yet," says Rivest, "but the aquarium system I'm building here will allow me to do that." She's constructing the system in the Seawater Research Lab at VIMS, one of the largest facilities of its kind in the nation.

Emily B. Rivest, Steeve Comeau, Christopher E. Cornwall. The Role of Natural Variability in Shaping the Response of Coral Reef Organisms to Climate Change. Current Climate Change Reports, 2017; DOI: 10.1007/s40641-017-0082-x

Saving Cavendish: Panama Disease-Resistant Bananas

November 15, 2017: Queensland University of Technology
QUT researchers have developed and grown modified Cavendish bananas resistant to the devastating soil-borne fungus Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4), also known as Panama disease.

In a world-first GM field trial conducted in heavily TR4-infested soil, one Cavendish line transformed with a gene taken from a wild banana remained completely TR4 free, while three others showed robust resistance. The results have just been published in Nature Communications.

Key points:
  • Cavendish Grand Nain were modified with the RGA2 gene, taken from the TR4-resistant wild, south-east Asian banana subspecies, Musa acuminata ssp malaccensis
  • One modified Cavendish line (RGA2-3) remained TR4-free for the three years of the trial
  • Three other lines modified with RGA2 showed strong resistance, with 20% or fewer plants exhibiting disease symptoms in three years
  • By contrast, 67%-100% of control banana plants after three years were either dead or TR4-infected, including a Giant Cavendish variant 218 generated through tissue culturing in Taiwan and reported to be tolerant to TR4
  • Researchers found RGA2 gene activity level in the modified bananas was 'strongly correlated' with TR4 resistance
  • Cavendish bananas have been found to also have this RGA2 gene naturally, but it is not very active
  • New research is looking at how to 'switch on' the gene in Cavendish to make them TR4 resistant
The field trial, which ran from 2012 to 2015, was led by Distinguished Professor James Dale, from QUT's Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities. It was conducted on a commercial banana plantation outside Humpty Doo in the Northern Territory previously affected by TR4. The soil was also heavily reinfested with disease for the trial.

Professor Dale said the outcome was a major step towards protecting the US$12 billion Cavendish global export business, which is under serious threat from virulent TR4.

"These results are very exciting because it means we have a solution that can be used for controlling this disease," he said.

"We have a Cavendish banana that is resistant to this fungus that could be deployed, after deregulation, for growing in soils that have been infested with TR4.

"TR4 can remain in the soil for more than 40 years and there is no effective chemical control for it. It is a huge problem. It has devastated Cavendish plantations in many parts of the world and it is spreading rapidly across Asia.

"It is a very significant threat to commercial banana production worldwide."

The researchers have begun an expanded field trial on the same Northern Territory plantation, growing the four RGA2 lines that showed resistance in the last trial, as well as newly developed lines of modified Cavendish Grand Nain and Williams cultivars.

They will have the capacity to grow up to 9000 plants and quantify crop yield over the five-year trial.

"The aim is to select the best Grand Nain line and the best Williams line to take through to commercial release," Professor Dale said. "While in Australia we primarily grow Williams, in other parts of the world Grand Nain is very popular."

This is the RGA2-3 modified Cavendish in the Northern Territory field trial. Credit: QUT

Professor Dale said the correlation demonstrated between the RGA2 gene activity and TR4 resistance opened up new research.

"We can't make the assertion that the RGA2 gene is the gene responsible for the resistance in the original wild diploid banana, because in the modified Cavendish we significantly increased the gene's expression -- the level of its activity -- over its activity in the wild banana," he said.

"But we've established a correlation, and we've found that the RGA2 gene occurs naturally in Cavendish -- it just isn't very active.

"We are aiming to find a way to switch that gene on in the Cavendish through gene editing. We've started that project. It is not easy, it's a complex process that is a way off, with four or five years of lab work.

"We're also looking at as many genes as possible in the wild banana and screening them to identify other resistance genes, not only for resistance to TR4 but to other diseases."

Other key findings of the field trial:
  • Nine lines of Cavendish Grand Nain transformed with the nematode-derived Ced9 gene were also trialled, with one line remaining TR4-free for the three years
  • There was no difference in observed mature bunch size between the transgenic bananas and healthy control Cavendish
James Dale, Anthony James, Jean-Yves Paul, Harjeet Khanna, Mark Smith, Santy Peraza-Echeverria, Fernando Garcia-Bastidas, Gert Kema, Peter Waterhouse, Kerrie Mengersen, Robert Harding. Transgenic Cavendish bananas with resistance to Fusarium wilt tropical race 4. Nature Communications, 2017; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01670-6

Avalon Boomerang Bags: An Idea That's Spreading To Stop Plastic Bag Use

Avalon Boomerang Bags - now at North Avalon shops - A J Guesdon photo, 25.5.2017

Avalon Boomerang Bags

11am-5pm @ sewcraft cook 
Unit 20/14 Polo Ave Mona Vale

Boomerang Bags is a bag-share initiative involving the installation of a number of ‘Boomerang Bag’ boxes throughout any given business district, shopping centre, street or market. Each box is stocked with re-useable bags for customers to borrow if they have forgotten to bring their own.

Unlike the traditional purchase-and-keep approach, Boomerang Bags are free, and local community members are responsible for returning the bags once they’re no longer required. The availability of free re-useable bags reduces the reliance of local businesses to supply bags to all customers, and encourages a mentality of re-use among local communities, thereby reducing the amount of plastic bag material entering our landfills and waterways.

So who makes the Boomerang Bags? Well, you do! Boomerang Bags are made by local communities for local communities, and are sewn from recycled and donated materials.

Get in touch if you'd like to donate materials, join us making bags, or implement Boomerang Bags in your own local area!

Inaugural Avner Pancreatic Cancer Symposium And 2017 Grant Announcements 

Sydney, 16th November 2017
Australia’s leading pancreatic cancer researchers working to double the number of people who survive this disease by 2020 will receive a further $2M in critical funding grants from the Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.

Chairman of the Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, Alan McArthur, said the six grants awarded in this round are another important step in breaking through more than 40 years of no progress in solving the very poor survival rates of pancreatic cancer. Today the 5-year survival rate is 8%
compared with prostate and breast cancer that have a 5-year survival rate of more than 90%.

“These grants to globally-leading researchers provide pancreatic cancer patients, their families and the community with hope that we are unlocking the answers to this hideous problem,” Mr McArthur said.

The 2017 four Innovation Grants and two Accelerator Grants includes a Queensland project for the first time, along with projects from NSW and Victoria.

Associate Professor Paul Timpson at The Garvan Institute has been awarded an Accelerator Grant for his work on mapping and targeting the extracellular matrix in pancreatic cancer. Associate Prof Timpson's team has devised a new way to dissolve cells from tumors, leaving behind the delicate 3Darchitecture of the matrix to allow researchers to study and tap into the vast and currently unexplored reservoir of anti-cancer matrix targets in this disease.

Professor Minoti Apte OAM, at UNSW Sydney has been awarded her second grant from the Foundation, this time for her work on a novel drug combination for pancreatic cancer which will target not only cancer cells but also specific cells in the tissue surrounding cancer cells which help cancer
growth. Professor Apte was a Principal Investigator on a project that received an Innovation Grant in 2015, the same year she was named NSW Woman of the Year. This is the first time a previous Innovation Grant recipient has gone on to be awarded an AcceleratorGrant.

Innovation Grants are designed to support established scientists and/or early career researchers to develop preliminary data necessary to pursue additional funding in subsequent years, as well as encourage and retain talented skilled individuals in the field of pancreatic cancer. The 2017 Innovation

Grant recipients are:
• Professor John Hooper - University of Queensland
• Dr Zaklina Kovacevic - University of Sydney
• Associate Professor Shane Grey - Garvan Institute of Medical Research
• Professor Brendan Jenkins – Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Monash University

Mr McArthur said “The more progress our funding allocations achieve on understanding pancreatic cancer, the more we hope that funds will be forthcoming to invest in future progress.”

The researchers gathered in Sydney to attend the Avner Foundation’s first National Pancreatic Cancer Symposium due to take place at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre at UNSW on World Pancreatic Cancer Day (16th November). The Symposium has been established to create a ‘network of excellence’ that will accelerate the path to helping the organisation achieve
its vision of doubling the number of people who survive pancreatic cancer by 2020.

The Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, Australia’s peak body for the disease, announced its 2017 grant recipients at a private dinner that brought together leaders from 18 pancreatic cancer research projects and dedicated corporate sponsors.

Caroline Kelly, Director and Founder of Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation said: “For the first time since we started awarding the Innovation and Accelerator Grants, past and present recipients representing different institutions and universities across Australia will share updates on their progress. The Symposium will offer an unparalleled opportunity for pancreatic cancer researchers to discuss and collaborate for the betterment of the disease.”

The Foundation has a Scientific Advisory Panel comprised of six national and international scientific experts who assess grant applications and make recommendations to the Board for the Innovation and Accelerator Grants, which are awarded annually.

“With funding from the Foundation, there has been a significant increase in the number of researchers doing pancreatic cancer research in Australia”, said Associate Professor Phoebe Phillips who will be convening the Symposium and is a 2016 Innovation Grant recipient. “The next
10 years is looking really bright for pancreatic cancer research, compared to the last 10,” she said.

As the Foundation looks to 2020, the year by which they hope to have doubled the survival rates for pancreatic cancer patients, the organisation has also launched a 5-step plan in order to focus their energies and achieve their bold ambitions. This roadmap outlines a clear vision of what they want to achieve through prioritising research funding, leading advocacy, developing a pancreatic cancer knowledge bank, General Practitioner education and patient care and support.

About the Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation
The Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation (APCF) is the peak body in Australia raising and allocating funds for Pancreatic Cancer research. Incorporated as a Foundation - the Avner Nahmani Pancreatic Cancer Foundation Limited on 30 July 2010. It is the only Foundation in Australia exclusively dedicated to Pancreatic Cancer and is named in honour of Avner Nahmani, a former senior executive of Woolworths Limited and Pittwater resident who succumbed to the disease thirteen months after diagnosis. The name of the Foundation was changed to Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation Limited on 10th March 2015.


Breakthrough Dog Surgery Performed For First Time In Australia

November 15, 2017: Sydney University
Open-heart surgery to address the most common cardiorespiratory disease in dogs has been performed for the first time in Australia, at the University of Sydney’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.  

Every year mitral valve disease (MVD) kills thousands of dogs in Australia, and millions worldwide. There is no cure and death usually occurs within a year after symptoms of heart failure being diagnosed.

The only exception to this is a surgical procedure developed by Dr Masami Uechi, Director of Jasmine Veterinary Cardiovascular Medical Centre in Japan, which has added years to the lives of dogs affected by the condition.

Dr Uechi, accompanied by five of his surgical team, flew to Australia to perform the open-heart surgery last week with University of Sydney School of Veterinary Science specialists.

“We’re excited and grateful that Dr Uechi and his team could perform this surgery at our clinic. It is an unparalleled opportunity for us to assist with the surgery,” said Dr Niek Beijerink, the veterinary cardiology specialist who took part in the operation.

“It means that we’ll be able to start the process of learning how to perform the surgery ourselves on Australian dogs and hopefully prolong many of their lives.”

Dr Beijerink invited Dr Uechi, who he has known for many years, to come to Australia.

The six-hour operation was performed on Prince, a 10-year-old male Cavalier King Charles spaniel who was diagnosed with severe heart failure due to MVD earlier this year. 

The operation was a success and promises to extend Prince’s life by many years.

Dr Uechi and Dr Niek Beijerink prepare Prince for the surgery

“Due to the fact that this was a first-of-its-kind operation, the emotional and financial cost was high but we hope that these early first steps will eventually mean Dr Uechi’s procedure will be more accessible for dog owners in Australia who were previously left without hope if their dog was diagnosed with MVD.” 

“We would like to thank Dr Uechi and his team, Dr Beijerink and the staff at Sydney University for saving Prince.”

“We are especially grateful that the owner of Jackson, another dog with this condition who sadly died shortly before he could be operated on alongside Prince, contributed to the costs for Prince’s surgery.”

Dr Uechi said, “This technique of mitral valve repair has been developed over 15 years. It began with open heart surgery on cats before applying it to dogs. I have now performed over 900 operations on dogs with MVD with a 94 percent success rate.”

“I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to share my knowledge with my University of Sydney colleagues and begin to teach them this technique, which will prolong the lives of many dogs in the future.”

Dr Uechi’s team will continue to liaise with the University of Sydney’s veterinary surgeons, and to visit the University in 2018. 

The University of Sydney has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to support the costs associated with training their staff to develop a centre for mitral valve repair in the upcoming years.

Mitral valve disease (MVD) is caused by the wearing out of the valve that prevents blood from going backwards from the heart’s left ventricle (pumping chamber) to the left atrium (upper chamber), ultimately resulting in trouble breathing due to heart failure.

MVD is most common in middle-aged to older small to medium size breed dogs such as dachshunds, poodles and chihuahuas.  

Updated Mapping Provides Status Of Land Use In Australia

14 November 2017: ABARES 
Over 585 million hectares, or 76 per cent, of Australia’s land use mapping information has been updated for the Catchment scale land use of Australia – Update September 2017.

ABARES Executive Director, Steve Hatfield-Dodds, said the updated data is the best available for Australia’s regions.

“This update improves the currency of land mapping information released in May 2016. These land use data products are recognised as foundational spatial data for Australia, by showing the location and extent of how we use the landscape,” Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.

“Comprehensive land use mapping informs and supports innovative and prompt responses to economic, social and environmental challenges facing the agricultural sector.

“Some of these challenges arise in the scope of productivity and sustainability, biodiversity, conservation, land use planning, natural disaster management and natural resource investment and management.”

Land use data resources are developed by ABARES with national, state and territory agencies as part of the Australian Collaborative Land Use and Management Program (ACLUMP), with the support of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

“Land use is mapped using high resolution imagery and is then verified through local, expert and industry input and field validation. The data has a currency of 2003 to 2017 (reflecting when an area was last mapped) and a scale of 1:5,000 to 1:250,000.

“Land use is mapped according to the Australian Land Use and Management Classification version 8, released in October 2016. Primary, secondary and tertiary classes describe the use of land for conservation and natural environments, production from dryland or irrigated agriculture and plantations, intensive uses and water features.”

The following areas have been updated since the May 2016 release of the Catchment Scale Land Use of Australia dataset:

Desert Channels and Mackay-Whitsundays natural resource management (NRM) regions in Queensland
The Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM region in South Australia (extending into part of the Murray-Darling Basin NRM region)
The state of New South Wales
The state of Victoria
The state of Tasmania
The state of Western Australia
The Northern Territory.

Complementing the Catchment Scale Land Use of Australia is the first release of a commodities dataset - the Catchment Scale Land Use of Australia – Commodities – September 2017. This commodity information can be extracted or combined with other spatial datasets to provide new insights and analysis concerning land use in Australia.

Agricultural commodity level mapping is available for all of the Northern Territory, and for the following commodities nationally (as at the date mapped):

Crops – rice, sugar cane, cotton
Fruit – bananas (except Southern Queensland), avocados, mangoes, olives, grapes
Nuts – macadamias
Livestock – dairy cattle, pigs, poultry, horse studs, aquaculture.
The focus of this first release of commodities data has been horticultural and intensive animal industries to support biosecurity preparedness and response.

These two national datasets and the original individual state and territory data (from which the national datasets were derived) are accessible to download via Land usee data download.

IP Australia Helps Create World First Trade Mark Database Platform

15 November 2017: Media Release - The Hon Craig Laundy MP, Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science

Currently trade mark databases are country specific, but this is about to change.

IP Australia, Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Melbourne are working together to create a single, internationally linked trade mark database called ‘TMlink’.

This database is a world-first platform that links trade mark application numbers across countries, which shows how trade marks are used in different markets, opening up new opportunities for global research in brand behaviour, trends, and patterns.

Currently, TMlink includes trade mark data from Australia, Canada, the European Union, New Zealand and the United States. In future the database will expand to incorporate trade mark data from other major economies around the world, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, Japan and South Korea.

Country specific trade mark databases make it expensive, if not unviable, for analysing global aspects of branding and trade mark policy issues. However, TMlink takes the burden away from business and links national trade mark data registers on the basis of company names, trade mark text, and sector classification numbers to form a comprehensive global database that will facilitate market research.

Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Craig Laundy MP commented on the new tool.

“The aim of the project is to provide insights into the foreign trade interests of Australian businesses. By knowing what is already registered in each jurisdiction, companies will be able to make evidence based decisions on if they should enter and if they should register IP in that market. This central database will continue to grow and we hope to include every country that the World Intellectual Property Organization works with,” said the Hon Craig Laundy MP.

For some background on figures, IP Australia contributed 1.4m trade marks to the database, covering the period 1906-2015, while the United States register included 7.4m trade marks filed between 1884 and 2015.

To receive access to the data email

Graham Farquhar Receives Kyoto Prize In Japan

13 November, 2017: ANU
Distinguished scientist Dr Graham Farquhar AO has received the Kyoto Prize in Japan as part of an official ceremony for this year's winners.

The Kyoto Prize is the most prestigious international award for fields not traditionally honoured with a Nobel Prize.

Dr Farquhar from the ANU Research School of Biology won the 2017 Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences for his life's work in plant biophysics and photosynthesis, which has involved research on water-efficient crops and the impacts of climate change.

He has helped develop new water-efficient varieties of wheat, improved global food security, and found evaporation and wind speeds are slowing as the climate changes.

Dr Farquhar is the first Australian to win a Kyoto Prize.

It is the second honour for Dr Farquhar in the past fortnight, who was also awarded ACT Senior Australian of the Year.

Graham Farquhar Kyoto Prize - photo Courtesy of Inamori Foundation

Academy Awards For Four UNSW Scientists

November 17, 2017 - By Denorah Smith, UNSW
For their outstanding research on gene function in the brain, climate change, cardiovascular disease and the probability of hard-to-predict events, four UNSW scientists have been awarded prestigious Australian Academy of Science medals.

The Academy presents the annual honorific awards to recognise scientific excellence by a range of researchers, from those in the early stages of their careers to those who have made life-long achievements.

Three UNSW Science researchers were awarded early career medals, with Dr Irina Voineagu, Dr Zdravko Botev and Dr Alex Sen Gupta honoured for achievements made within 10 years of their PhDs.

Professor Anushka Patel, of UNSW Medicine and The George Institute for Global Health, received a mid-career award.

In all, 18 bright stars of Australian science were honoured, with UNSW receiving more awards than any other university or institute. The recipient of the Dorothy Hill Award, Associate Professor Tracy Ainsworth of James Cook University, will join UNSW Science as a new Scientia Fellow in 2018.

President of the Academy of Science congratulated all the award winners for their inspiring research.

“Research by this year’s awardees is addressing some of society’s biggest challenges and also changing the world for the better,” he said.

“It is absolutely crucial that we continue to recognise and support their outstanding contributions so that people can be reminded of the important role of science for humankind.”

UNSW Dean of Science Professor Emma Johnston said: “This is a very impressive result for the Faculty of Science, with three of our researchers from three different Schools recognised by these awards as emerging leaders in their respective fields.

“It demonstrates the great depth and diversity of research talent we have in UNSW Science and I congratulate the medal recipients on their outstanding achievements," she said.

The majority of the awards will be presented at the Academy’s Science at the Shine Dome event on 24 May 2018. The full list of awardees is here.

Have Your Say On The Environmental Impact Statement For Narrabri To North Star Inland Rail Project

15 November 2017 - JOINT MEDIA RELEASE WITH:
The Hon Darren Chester MP, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and The Hon Melinda Pavey, NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight
The next stage of the transformational Inland Rail project between Brisbane and Melbourne via Parkes is underway with the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Narrabri to North Star section released for public comment by the NSW Government.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the release of the EIS was a major milestone for the project and encouraged the local community to provide feedback.

“The EIS will give people detailed information about the project, as well the chance to make formal submissions that can be taken into account as we do further design work,” Mr Chester said.

“The EIS details the measures the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) will use to address matters such as noise, vibration and the visual impact of the rail line during construction and operation.

“ARTC will be holding community information sessions and will have experts in attendance to answer any technical questions on the project.”

NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said the state government was pleased to release the EIS today, and said the Inland Rail project had the potential to transform the movement of freight within the state.

“The Narrabri to North Star project was recently declared Critical State Significant Infrastructure by the New South Wales Government, affirming Inland Rail as essential to the state based on economic, social and environmental reasons,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Inland Rail will deliver significant benefits to regional NSW and is expected to increase the volumes of commodities being moved by rail. It will make it easier to move freight from farms, mines, and ports to New South Wales, national, and overseas markets.

“It will also increase reliability, improve service standards, and reduce freight costs, while boosting growth opportunities for businesses in the regions.”

The Narrabri to North Star section will make use of 185 kilometres of existing track and require 3 kilometres of new track. Works are expected to include reconstruction of the existing track, replacement of bridges and culverts, enhanced level crossings and crossing loops.

The Australian Government's $8.4billion investment in Inland Rail will support thousands of jobs during construction, and improve access for regional producers and industries to domestic and international markets.

Information session times and locations are:
Date          Location                                  Time
November 21  Narrabri Crossing Theatre        3pm—6pm
November 22  Balo Square Moree                9am—Midday
                         Croppa Creek Store                1pm—2pm
                         North Star Sporting Club         3pm—6pm
November 28  Royal on Heber, Moree         3pm—6pm
November 29  Narrabri Crossing Theatre         9am—Midday
November 30  North Star Sporting Club         9am—Midday

Consultation for the Narrabri to North Star Project Environmental Impact Statement closes on the 15th of December.

The EIS is available online:

Commonwealth Southern Bluefin Tuna Catch Limit Set For 2018 Season

15 November 2017: AFMA
The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) Commission has agreed to setting Australia’s national catch allocation for southern bluefin tuna (SBT) at 6 165 tonnes for the 2018 season.

As part of this decision, the Commission recognised that the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association has voluntarily agreed to set aside 250 tonnes of the 500 tonnes increase on Australia’s 2017 national catch allocation for SBT.

For more information on how Australia manages the Southern Bluefin Tuna Fishery, visit

2018 New South Wales Australian Of The Year Award Recipients Announced

November 11, 2017
2018 NSW Australian of the Year – Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons
2018 NSW Senior Australian of the Year – Dr Catherine Hamlin AC
2018 NSW Young Australian of the Year – Macinley Butson
2018 NSW Local Hero – Eddie Woo

The 2018 New South Wales Australian of the Year Award recipients have been announced and presented with trophies this evening at a ceremony at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

The NSW Award recipients will join a cohort of 32 State and Territory recipients from around the country. These recipients will represent their state at the national Awards on 25 January 2018 in Canberra, where the four Australians of the Year will be announced.

The 2018 NSW Australian of the Year is quantum physics Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons.
One of the world’s top scientists, Professor Michelle Simmons has pioneered research that could lead to a quantum leap in computing. Since arriving in Australia from Britain 18 years ago, Michelle has transformed the University of NSW Quantum Physics Department into a world leader in advanced computer systems. In 2012, Michelle and her team created the world’s first transistor made from a single atom, along with the world’s thinnest wire. At the forefront of what she calls the “space race of the computing era”, Michelle aims to build a quantum computer able to solve problems in minutes that would otherwise take thousands of years. Such a discovery has the potential to revolutionise drug design, weather forecasting, self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence and more. An evangelist for Australian scientific research and a role model to young scientists everywhere, Michelle actively encourages all students – girls and boys – to dream big, challenge themselves and to achieve ambitious goals in science.

The 2018 NSW Senior Australian of the Year is 93 year old pioneering surgeon Dr Catherine Hamlin AC. 
For more than 50 years, obstetrician Dr Catherine Hamlin has devoted herself to giving women in Africa a second chance at life. A surgical pioneer, Catherine and her late husband Dr Reginald Hamlin founded a network of six hospitals and a midwifery college in Ethiopia. The hospitals provide free fistula repair surgery to poor women suffering from horrendous and preventable childbirth injuries. The midwifery college trains midwives to prevent the injuries.  When Catherine arrived in Ethiopia in 1959, there were almost no resources for expectant mothers. Since then she has treated more than 50,000 women, restoring their health and dignity. Catherine’s organisation is a global centre of expertise in fistula repair and she trains surgeons from around the world. Through her foundation, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, Catherine is tackling a new fistula frontier, Uganda. Now 93, Catherine remains active in her day-to-day work at the hospital, healing women through surgery, rehabilitation and counselling, so they can be whole again. 

The 2018 NSW Young Australian of the Year is 17 year old scientist and inventor Macinley Butson.
A rising star in the male-dominated world of science, Macinley Butson made history in 2017 when she became the first Australian to win the top prize in the category of medicine at the prestigious INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair. Each year, more than seven million high school students develop original research projects for the world’s largest international science competition. Macinley’s world-beating idea, ‘Smart Armour’, is a shield that can be used by breast cancer patients to protect their non-treated breast while undergoing radiotherapy treatment. A prolific inventor, 17-year-old Macinley has also taken home science awards for other exceptional ideas, such as a system that simultaneously collects solar power and filters water, a spoon that accurately measures and delivers oral medicine to children, and a device that deters garden snails without the use of poison. While empowering young people to embrace science, Macinley also demonstrates the power of giving back to the community as a national youth ambassador for environmental organisation, Green Cross Australia.

The 2018 NSW Local Hero is mathematics teacher Eddie Woo.Arguably Australia’s most famous mathematics teacher, Eddie Woo makes maths fun. The head mathematics teacher at Cherrybrook Technology High School, the largest secondary school in New South Wales, Eddie started posting videos online in 2012 for a student who was sick with cancer and missing a lot of school. Before long, he was sharing the videos across the country and beyond. Wootube now boasts more than 80,000 subscribers and has attracted more than six million views worldwide and counting. With infectious enthusiasm, the father-of-three's unique and caring approach to teaching destigmatises mathematics as an inaccessible and difficult subject. Outside his high school classroom, Eddie is a volunteer facilitator with the University of Sydney's Widening Participation and Outreach program and has motivated more than 1,400 students from disadvantaged backgrounds. A brilliant student, Eddie could have chosen any field, but in defiance of social convention and his parents opted for teaching. Today, he is using his vocation to “pay it forward” and make education equitable for all.

 NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said the Australian of the Year Awards celebrate the selfless contributions and wonderful achievements of Australians.

“The NSW Australians of the Year contribute so much to our community. Their dedication to the issues that affect our State and our nation ignites discussion, raises awareness and improves our lives,” said Ms Berejiklian.

“Leading by example, they inspire all of us to make a difference in our communities. On behalf of the people of NSW I thank them for their contribution to NSW and wish everyone the very best of luck for the national announcement.”

National Australia Day Council CEO, Ms Jenny Barbour, said the NSW Award recipients are examples of how individuals can have big impacts.

"The Australian of the Year Awards allow us to recognise and celebrate the achievements of outstanding Australians – people making extraordinary contributions to our society," said Ms Barbour.

“The stories of the NSW Award recipients show us the power of an individual and how one person can make a big difference – from education to medicine to scientific breakthroughs, they are all making an impact.”

Commonwealth Bank has proudly sponsored the Australian of the Year Awards for over 30 years. Chief Executive Officer, Ian Narev, said it was an honour to acknowledge the NSW Award recipients.

“We would like to congratulate Professor Michelle Simmons, Dr Catherine Hamlin, Macinely Butson and Eddie Woo on becoming State and Territory recipients in the Australian of the Year Awards,” said Mr Narev.

“All recipients should feel extremely proud of their achievements. We wish them all the very best in the national Awards on 25 January.”

Photo by Salty Dingo

Salvator Mundi (Leonardo)

Salvator Mundi is a painting of Christ as Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World), which has been attributed by some scholars as a work by Leonardo da Vinci since its rediscovery in 2005. This attribution has been disputed by other specialists. Long thought lost, it was restored and then exhibited in 2011. The painting shows Christ, in Renaissance dress, giving a benediction with his raised right hand and crossed fingers while holding a crystal sphere in his left hand.

The painting was sold at auction by Christie's in New York, on November 15, 2017, for US $450.3 million ($594.9 million Aus.), setting a new mark for most expensive painting ever sold.

Leonardo da Vinci is believed to have begun the painting while under the patronage of Louis XII of France between 1506 and 1513.

Leonardo da Vinci, c.1500, Salvator Mundi (framed)

It was apparently subsequently owned by Charles I of England and recorded in his art collection in 1649 before being auctioned by the son of the Duke of Buckingham and Normanby in 1763. It next appeared in 1900, when it was purchased by a British collector, Francis Cook, 1st Viscount of Monserrate. The painting was damaged from previous restoration attempts, and its authorship unclear. Cook's descendants sold it at auction in 1958 for £45.

In 2005, the painting was acquired by a consortium of art dealers that included Robert Simon, a specialist in Old Masters. It had been heavily overpainted so it looked like a copy, and was, before restoration, described as "a wreck, dark and gloomy".

The consortium of art dealers believed there was a possibility that the low quality mess might actually be the long missing da Vinci original. They spent the next few years having the painting restored and authenticated as a painting by Leonardo.

Once it was cleaned and restored, it was exhibited by London's National Gallery during the Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan from November 2011 to February 2012. The painting was compared with, and found superior to, twenty other versions of the Salvator Mundi. Several features in the painting have led to the positive attribution: a number of pentimenti are evident, most notably the position of the right thumb. Also, sfumato, the unusual technique of pressing down the side of a palm into the paint is typical of many Leonardo works. The way the ringlets of hair and the knotwork across the stole have been handled are also seen as indicative of Leonardo's style. Furthermore, the pigments and the walnut panel upon which the work was executed are consistent with other Leonardo paintings. Additionally, the hands in the painting are very detailed, something that Leonardo is known for.

From Wikipedia.

Closest Temperate World Orbiting Quiet Star Discovered

Closest Temperate World Orbiting Quiet Star Discovered
ESO’s HARPS Instrument Finds Earth-Mass Exoplanet Around Ross 128

15 November 2017:  European Southern Observatory
A temperate Earth-sized planet has been discovered only 11 light-years from the Solar System by a team using ESO’s unique planet-hunting HARPS instrument. The new world has the designation Ross 128 b and is now the second-closest temperate planet to be detected after Proxima b. It is also the closest planet to be discovered orbiting an inactive red dwarf star, which may increase the likelihood that this planet could potentially sustain life. Ross 128 b will be a prime target for ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope, which will be able to search for biomarkers in the planet's atmosphere.

A team working with ESO’s High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) at the La Silla Observatory in Chile has found that the red dwarf star Ross 128 is orbited by a low-mass exoplanet every 9.9 days. This Earth-sized world is expected to be temperate, with a surface temperature that may also be close to that of the Earth. Ross 128 is the “quietest” nearby star to host such a temperate exoplanet.

“This discovery is based on more than a decade of HARPS intensive monitoring together with state-of-the-art data reduction and analysis techniques. Only HARPS has demonstrated such a precision and it remains the best planet hunter of its kind, 15 years after it began operations,” explains Nicola Astudillo-Defru (Geneva Observatory – University of Geneva, Switzerland), who co-authored the discovery paper.

Red dwarfs are some of the coolest, faintest — and most common — stars in the Universe. This makes them very good targets in the search for exoplanets and so they are increasingly being studied. In fact, lead author Xavier Bonfils (Institut de Planétologie et d'Astrophysique de Grenoble – Université Grenoble-Alpes/CNRS, Grenoble, France), named their HARPS programme The shortcut to happiness, as it is easier to detect small cool siblings of Earth around these stars, than around stars more similar to the Sun [1].

Many red dwarf stars, including Proxima Centauri, are subject to flares that occasionally bathe their orbiting planets in deadly ultraviolet and X-ray radiation. However, it seems that Ross 128 is a much quieter star, and so its planets may be the closest known comfortable abode for possible life.

Although it is currently 11 light-years from Earth, Ross 128 is moving towards us and is expected to become our nearest stellar neighbour in just 79 000 years — a blink of the eye in cosmic terms. Ross 128 b will by then take the crown from Proxima b and become the closest exoplanet to Earth!

With the data from HARPS, the team found that Ross 128 b orbits 20 times closer than the Earth orbits the Sun. Despite this proximity, Ross 128 b receives only 1.38 times more irradiation than the Earth. As a result, Ross 128 b’s equilibrium temperature is estimated to lie between -60 and 20°C, thanks to the cool and faint nature of its small red dwarf host star, which has just over half the surface temperature of the Sun. While the scientists involved in this discovery consider Ross 128b to be a temperate planet, uncertainty remains as to whether the planet lies inside, outside, or on the cusp of the habitable zone, where liquid water may exist on a planet’s surface [2].

Astronomers are now detecting more and more temperate exoplanets, and the next stage will be to study their atmospheres, composition and chemistry in more detail. Vitally, the detection of biomarkers such as oxygen in the very closest exoplanet atmospheres will be a huge next step, which ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) is in prime position to take [3].

“New facilities at ESO will first play a critical role in building the census of Earth-mass planets amenable to characterisation. In particular, NIRPS, the infrared arm of HARPS, will boost our efficiency in observing red dwarfs, which emit most of their radiation in the infrared. And then, the ELT will provide the opportunity to observe and characterise a large fraction of these planets,” concludes Xavier Bonfils.

This artist’s impression shows the temperate planet Ross 128 b, with its red dwarf parent star in the background. This planet, which lies only 11 light-years from Earth, was found by a team using ESO’s unique planet-hunting HARPS instrument. The new world is now the second-closest temperate planet to be detected after Proxima b. It is also the closest planet to be discovered orbiting an inactive red dwarf star, which may increase the likelihood that this planet could potentially sustain life. Ross 128 b will be a prime target for ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope, which will be able to search for biomarkers in the planet's atmosphere. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

[1] A planet orbiting close to a low-mass red dwarf star has a larger gravitational effect on the star than a similar planet orbiting further out from a more massive star like the Sun. As a result, this “reflex motion” velocity is much easier to spot. However, the fact that red dwarfs are fainter makes it harder to collect enough signal for the very precise measurements that are needed.

[2] The habitable zone is defined by the range of orbits around a star in which a planet can possess the appropriate temperature for liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface.

[3] This is only possible for the very few exoplanets that are close enough to the Earth to be angularly resolved from their stars.

More information
This research was presented in a paper entitled A temperate exo-Earth around a quiet M dwarf at 3.4 parsecs”, by X. Bonfils et al., to appear in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The team is composed of X. Bonfils (Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IPAG, Grenoble, France [IPAG]), N. Astudillo-Defru (Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, Sauverny, Switzerland), R. Díaz (CONICET – Universidad de Buenos Aires, Instituto de Astronomía y Física del Espacio (IAFE), Buenos Aires, Argentina), J.-M. Almenara (Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, Sauverny, Switzerland), T. Forveille (IPAG), F. Bouchy (Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, Sauverny, Switzerland), X. Delfosse (IPAG), C. Lovis (Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, Sauverny, Switzerland), M. Mayor (Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, Sauverny, Switzerland), F. Murgas (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain), F. Pepe (Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, Sauverny, Switzerland), N. C. Santos (Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço and Universidade do Porto, Portugal), D. Ségransan (Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, Sauverny, Switzerland), S. Udry (Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, Sauverny, Switzerland) and A. Wü̈nsche (IPAG)

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile and by Australia as a strategic partner. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope and its world-leading Very Large Telescope Interferometer as well as two survey telescopes, VISTA working in the infrared and the visible-light VLT Survey Telescope. ESO is also a major partner in two facilities on Chajnantor, APEX and ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, the ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.


ABC Unveils Stellar Children’s Programming For 2018

November 15, 2017: ABC
ABC will continue its commitment to Australian children by championing their voices and showcasing their stories through a slate of diverse and inclusive programming across ABC ME and ABC KIDS.

On ABC ME, the Award winning Nowhere Boys drama returns for its fourth and climactic final season. The gang return to unite to battle chaotic forces unleashed on Bremin, intent on dividing them. In another home-grown production, Grace Beside Me, we meet Fuzzy Mac, a 13-year-old girl who struggles with having one foot in the Indigenous realm of culture, Country – and spirits – and the other firmly planted in the world of a 21st century teenager.

Everyday Australian schoolkids are the stars of My Year 7 Life. Through a series of video diaries, these 10 & 11 year old’s share firsthand accounts of the monumental changes impacting them as they make the transition from primary school to high school. It’s both real and relatable.

Tough life lessons are learnt early in Teenage Boss, as we follow a mix of teenagers from a myriad of different backgrounds across Australia, take control of the family finances for a month, with some surprising (or perhaps not so surprising) results.

The insightful What It’s Like series continues in 2018, providing a story-sharing platform for young people from groups who have previously been deprived of an equal space in the media landscape. It embraces diversity, inspires empathy, and encourages young marginalised voices to speak up.

Australian stories are also at the core of our pre school offering. Work is already underway for several new Australian animation series – including Bluey, a six-year-old cattle dog whose wild imagination turns ordinary moments into wild adventure; Strange Chores, a paranormal comedy about friendship and imagination; and Spongo, Fuzz and Jalapeña, three best mates in a town full of crazy contests and a friendship that breaks all the rules.

“Children are curious, they want to see their lives reflected on screen, and they want to laugh out loud. We have an incredible portfolio of new programmes lined up for them”, said Michael Carrington, Head of Children’s, ABC. “In 2018, we want to showcase the lives of Australian kids and their stories on THEIR ABC and we’re thrilled to be offering them inclusive content that is compelling, funny, and true to our distinct Australian culture.”

Australian children and families trust the ABC to consistently deliver quality programming on devices and platforms of their choosing. In 2018, Australian children can enjoy even more from the ABC across a variety of platforms. With the success of the ABC KIDS iview app and the ABC ME app, with over 2 million downloads, the introduction of family friendly podcasts and this announcement of world class content for 2018, the ABC remains committed to this goal. 


The New Legends of Monkey

Inspired by the 16th Century Chinese fable Journey to the West, the 10-part half hour series follows a teenage girl and a trio of fallen gods on a perilous journey as they attempt to bring an end to a demonic reign of chaos and restore balance to their world.

ABC ME will be launching the series with a triple-episode (80’) telemovie on Sunday the 28th January at 6pm. Immediately following the broadcast, the complete series will be available in the ABC ME app. The remaining 7 episodes will broadcast daily at 6:00pm with the final on Sunday 4th February.

Starts Sunday 28 January at 6pm and continues daily on ABC ME and ABC ME app.

Production credits: See-Saw Films and Jump Film & TV
Producers: Rachael Gardner and Robin Scholes
Format: 10×24’ (linear: 1×80’ + 7×24’)
Commissioning Partners: ABC, TVNZ, Netflix
Funding Partners: Screen Australia and Create NSW, Fulcrum Media Finance and the New Zealand Screen Production Grant


Nowhere Boys Season 4

In the penultimate season the Nowhere Boys – Luke, Nicco, Heath and Jesse – are more powerful than ever after a summer of magical training. But with the New Year comes new threats and when a series of elemental attacks hit Bremin, the Gang fear their powers are the cause of the trouble. But all is not as it seems as the Gang discover that dark, chaotic forces have been unleashed on Bremin, intent on dividing them. The Gang’s unity is challenged and the future of the entire multiverse hangs in the balance.

Production credits: Matchbox Pictures
Producers: Beth Fry, Tony Ayres, Michael McMahon
Funding Partners: Screen Australia and Film Victoria
Runs for: 13 x 26-minute episodes on ABC ME and the ABC ME app


Grace Beside Me (NiTV/ABC co-commission)

Adapted from the award-winning novel by Sue McPherson, Grace Beside Me follows Fuzzy Mac, whose life is turned upside down when, at the age of 13, she discovers she can see ghosts and spirits. But all she wants is to fit in and have fun with her mates. It’s hard enough navigating the highs and lows of becoming a teenager while living with your eccentric Nan and Pop, without also having to deal with needy ghosts, mischievous totems and cantankerous Ancestors. Combining whimsy, adventure, comedy and drama, Grace Beside Me takes 8 – 12-year-old audiences on a roller coaster adventure as Fuzzy reluctantly learns to accept her gift and understand its importance. With one foot in the Indigenous realm of culture, Country – and spirits – and the other firmly planted in the world of a 21st century teenager, Fuzzy Mac’s journey is to realise she belongs to both in her own unique way. She must learn to be herself and to walk in two worlds.

Production credits: Magpie Pictures
Producers: Dena Curtis and Lois Randall
Funding Partners: NiTV, Disney Australia, Screen Australia, Screen Queensland, Create NSW
Runs for: 13 x 26-minute episodes on ABC ME and the ABC ME ap



Bluey is a loveable, ruff-and-tumble little six-year-old girl cattle dog, who lives with her Dad, Mum and her four-year-old little sister, Bingo. Imaginative and curious, Bluey and her sister Bingo love role-playing games. Bluey takes the everyday events of family life (making a cake, paying at the supermarket, trying on shoes) and transforms them with her wild imagination into unique, bizarre gameplay, turning ordinary moments into wild adventures! Gameplay is how Bluey integrates the adult world into her own; it helps Bluey and her sister learn important lessons and deal with the emotional ups and downs of growing up.

Production credits: Ludo Studios
Producers: Daley Pearson and Charlie Aspinwall
Funding Partners: Screen Australia, Screen Queensland, BBC Worldwide
Runs for: 52 x 7-minute episodes on ABC KIDS and the ABC KIDS iview app

The Strange Chores

The Strange Chores is a hilarious new show with a unique voice. Part coming of age story about three best friends, part paranormal comedy, the show draws from several much-loved genres to create an innovative and original story. Charlie and Pierce are two teenage wannabe warrior-heroes who, together with spirited ghost girl Que, master the skills they need to replace an ageing monster slayer by doing his strange, supernatural chores. A quick witted and contemporary animated school age show about friendship and imagination, The Strange Chores is anarchic with a small ‘a’ – a far cry from the zany madness of recent competitor offerings. With engaging, relatable characters in fun, fantasy settings our three best friends have a laugh and cause mischief in strange and surreal lands.

Production credits: Ludo Studios
Producers: Daley Pearson, Charlie Aspinwall and Colin South
Funding Partners: Screen Australia, Film Victoria, Screen Queensland
Runs for: 26 x 11-minute episodes on ABC ME and the ABC ME


Spongo, Fuzz and Jalapeña

Three best buds, a town full of crazy contests and a friendship that breaks all the rules! Welcome to the town of Champions – whose state-of-the-art stadium plays host to a never-ending parade of weird and wonderful world championships. Whether as spectators, competitors, event judges or the girl who sells the hot dogs, the proud population knows it’s all about one thing – the win. Well, maybe with two or three exceptions… ‘Cos then there’s Spongo, Fuzz and Jalapeña, three best buds on summer break with summer jobs making the most of a town full of world champs. Sometimes that means actually competing in the World’s Longest Fingernails Contest, or the Extreme Ice Chess Championship. Sometimes it’s a plan to make the perfect noodles, primp up poodles, or combine the two and create noodle-poodles. Sometimes it’s all about stopping spoilt rich kid Tyler la Strange treading on the little guy and restoring karmic order to the world! Whatever the case comedy and chaos are guaranteed, because there’s no such thing as an easy option.

Production credits: Cheeky Little Media
Producers: David Webster and Patrick Egerton
Funding Partners: Disney Australia, Screen Australia, Create NSW
Runs for: 26 x 12-minute episodes on ABC ME and the ABC ME app


My Year 7 Life

The most highly anticipated year of a student’s life is also the one that can change the course of their adult psychology forever – the transition into Year 7. Psychologists have discovered that the way we navigate the change from Top Dog in primary school to Small Fish in high school affects how successfully we navigate our entire lives, making and finding of new friends, dealing with new teachers and surviving puberty critically important. In My Year 7 Life, 16 diverse kids from around the country were given cameras to document their transition from primary school to high school. The series goes straight to the source, getting first-hand accounts of monumental changes taking place over their entire first year of high school. Through them we’ll discover just how much homework grown-ups still have to do in order to relieve the stress and anxiety around a year that even people who loved high school remember as hard.

Sneak peek of episode 1: Thursday 14th Dec at 4.35pm and full series starts February 2018.

Production credits: Princess Pictures
Producers: Laura Waters and Karla Burt
Funding Partners: Screen Australia and Film Victoria
Runs for: 18 x 26-minute episodes on ABC ME and the ABC ME app


Teenage Boss

What happens when a teenager takes responsibility for the family’s finances for a month? In the all new Teenage Boss – we’ll find out. With star maths teacher and numbers whiz, Eddie Woo as their mentor, we let the teenager assume responsibility for the whole family budget over the course of a month. The ultimate goal is to teach the teenager (and the family) how to spend the money in a balanced way…without running out! Through realistic and fun challenges, these teenagers and their families are seriously put to the test.

Production credits: McAvoy Media
Producers: John McAvoy and Simon Steele
Funding Partners: Screen Australia and Create NSW
Runs for: 15 x 26-minute episodes on ABC ME and the ABC ME app



Good Game Spawn Point

ABC ME’s show by gamers for gamers is back for another huge year of gaming goodness, with a fresh new look and a few exciting surprises! Exploring the latest in the wonderful world of gaming, from the hottest news to the must-play game reviews, and VIP access to some of the world’s biggest gaming events, Good Game Spawn Point is the number one videogame show for the whole family.

Production credits: ABC Children’s TV
Runs for: 42 x 24-minute episodes on ABC ME and the ABC ME app


Play School

Join the Play School presenters and the toys for some exciting new series in 2018 as they explore, create, sing, tell stories, and discover what’s through the windows. Follow our food’s journey from paddock to plate in To Market, To Market, and invent some extraordinary uses for everyday objects in Bits and Pieces. Come on a journey of discovery in Tracks and Trails¸ and explore the world of the imagination in Once Upon a Time. Find out who’s come to visit Play School when some special guests help create toys and games from the recycling in What is it Now? and meet some small feathered, fluffy and scaly visitors in Baby Animals. There are plenty more surprises, games and fun in store with all new Play School in 2018.

Production credits: ABC Children’s TV
Available in 2018 on ABC KIDS and ABC KIDS iview


Giggle and Hoot

In 2018, Jimmy Giggle and his best owl pals are back with new hootastic adventures, exciting top-secret missions and lots of owl naps and owl snacks of course! There will also be a brand-new nighty night song! So get your toothbrushes and beak brushes ready! Through the new year, the Land of Giggle and Hoot will be full of day time fun, gadgets galore and exciting new adventures in the Batty Lair and Gadget Cubby. Each night you can join the owl pals on their nighty night adventures too; Hootogadget will make sure everyone has done their 5 Steps to Bed, while Giggle Fangs heads out on Bat Patrol and Hootabelle twinklifies the stars before Hoot’s Night Watch!

Production credits: ABC Children’s TV
Available in 2018 on ABC KIDS and ABC KIDS iview


What It’s Like

This is the show where young Australians tell their stories the way they’d like them to be told – by themselves. It’s here that young people have their say – to talk about the ups and downs of their situations, to discuss what bothers them, what they find funny, and to share stories about their lives, their personalities and their hopes and dreams. This genuine and real storytelling shows us just how unique we all are, and how you never really know what someone is experiencing until you hear their side of the story. Have you ever thought about what it’s like to be adopted, to be a refugee, to have same sex parents or to experience a disability? The great thing about hearing these important stories is that we learn to appreciate all the ways we’re different, and all the ways we’re the same.

Production credits: ME TV
Runs for: 10 x 8-minute episodes on ABC ME and the ABC ME app
Break the Future (2018) – Episode number not specified

With shiny new upgrades and modified features, ABC ME’s weekly future news download Break the Future is back in 2018 revealing the latest, greatest, and craziest future inventions from around the world, and beyond! From robotics to space, and the internet to gadgets, Break the Future is the show that breaks the news of tomorrow… today!

Production credits: ME TV
Available in 2018 on ABC ME and the ABC ME app


News To Me (2018) – Episode number not specified

The show that puts you in the know is back with all the up to the minute good news stories we can find! News To Me is your weekly dose of what’s happening in the world, in our country, and even in your back yard! From sports to music, from the internet to the school yard, if it’s good news we’ve got it. With guests dropping by, experiments going wrong, and the occasional strange outfit, News To Me brings the news to you!

Production credits: ME TV
Available in 2018 on ABC ME and the ABC ME app


Short & Curly

Short & Curly is a fast-paced fun-filled ethics podcast for kids and their parents, with questions and ideas to really get you thinking. It asks kids to puzzle over curly questions about animals, technology, school, pop culture and the future. Thanks to our two fabulous hosts, Carl Smith and Molly Daniels, there’s lots of time for silliness too. They’re also helped out by resident ethicist Matt Beard from The Ethics Centre, a brains-trust of school children and some special high-profile guests including sporting stars and famous musicians.

Short & Curly is designed to be listened to alone or as a family, with questions to think about and time to discuss the ethical conundrums together.

The ABC and WNYC Studios in New York have also co-produced a special five-episode season of Short & Curly, which will ask children across the world a series of ethical questions grounded in everyday life. ABC’s Carl Smith and Shumita Basu from WNYC Studios will co-host the series. It will be known under the name Pickle for its North American release.

Production credits: ABC Audio Studios and WNYC Studios (Season 5); ABC Audio Studios (Season 6)
Producers: Kyla Slaven for ABC Audio Studios, WNYC Studios Vice President for On-Demand Content Emily Botein
Format: Season 5 – 5 x episodes of around 20 minutes on the ABC listen app

Spartan Maintenance To Create Jobs

15 November 2017
The Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, today announced a $200-million sustainment contract with Northrop Grumman Australia which will ensure ongoing jobs for at least 40 Australian workers.

Minister Pyne said the contract is for Through Life Support Services to Defence’s newly acquired C-27J Spartan aircraft fleet.

“Not only will this contract provide jobs for workers at RAAF Base Richmond and RAAF Base Amberley, it will also develop Australian industry capabilities in support of the Spartan into the future,” Minister Pyne said.

Initially provided in Richmond, New South Wales, the services will move to Amberley, Queensland, when the Spartan relocates in 2019.

The contract is expected to become fully operational from January 2018.

Australia Supports Changing The Law To Allow Same-Sex Couples To Marry

15 November 2017: ABS
All states and territories recorded a majority Yes response. Of the 150 Federal Electoral Divisions, 133 recorded a majority Yes response, and 17 Federal Electoral Divisions recorded a majority No response.

12,727,920 million people participated in the voluntary survey – representing 79.5 per cent of the more than 16 million eligible Australians.

Releasing the results, Australian Statistician, David W. Kalisch, said the participation rate was high for a voluntary survey.

“This high response rate far exceeds expectations and compares extremely favourably with other voluntary exercises conducted around the world thanks to the strong interest and engagement of eligible Australians in this topic,” he said. 

The ABS had rigorous methods to avoid fraud, manage risks and protect the integrity and privacy of all responses.

“Independent assurers checked our approach and actions along the way, and external observers reviewed our coding processes,” he said.

“This combined with our efforts to ensure only one response was counted per eligible Australian, means Australians can have confidence these statistics reflect the country’s views.”

The detailed results published for national, states and territories and Federal Electoral Divisions are accompanied by a statement on the quality and integrity of the results.

“We’re grateful almost all respondents complied with the survey instructions and this enabled extremely accurate response coding, allowing us to quickly produce these results and complete all the requirements of the Treasurer’s Direction,” he said.

Mr Kalisch acknowledged the large number of agencies across Government and the private sector, including the Australian Electoral Commission, the Department of Human Services and Australia Post, that assisted the ABS to undertake this survey. 

“With their help, the ABS conducted this survey to the standard expected by the community, and to meet the requirements of the Legal Direction from the Treasurer.

“In addition, while costs are still being tallied, the ABS is confident the final cost for the survey will be under $100 million, many million dollars less than the available budget,” he said. 

The official statistics, including a count of responses (Yes, No and Response Not Clear) by Federal Electoral Division, State/Territory and National, are available from 

Key results 

(a) Includes Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (within the Division of Lingiari).
(b) Includes Jervis Bay (within the Division of Fenner) and Norfolk Island (within the Division of Canberra).

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.