Inbox and Environment News: Issue 342

December 17, 2017 - January 13, 2018: Issue 342

Environment Good Bad Ugly In 2017

The Good: The continued program followed by Volunteers in Pittwater to maintain and restore local Bush Reserves.

The Bad: The plan to do Seismic Testing during Whale Migrations North and South by a W.A. Mining Company.

The Ugly: The polluting of the Caley Wetlands by Adani from its Abbott Point facility and the continued Australian Government support of the world's most unpopular proposed coal mine in the Galilee Basin, including pushing around the traditional owners of these sacred lands through changing laws to facilitate this, robbing local farmers of needed water to be put to Adani's use and discussing granting a billion dollar loan to help Adani destroy another part of this place.

The Ugly II: read below - the NSW Dept. of Planning (& Environment ?!) has plans to move local bush reserves out from council custodianship and under their jurisdiction per 'Ministerial Directions'; to 'give priority to retaining bushland unless significant environmental, economic, or social benefits arise which outweigh the value of the bushland'

State Environmental Planning Controls(Draft Environment SEPP):Urban Bushland

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 23 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.

From • Draft Environment SEPP (PDF: 6.215 MB):
State Environmental Planning Policy No 19 – Bushland in Urban Areas (SEPP 19)
  • The majority of the provisions of SEPP 19 will be transferred to SEPP (Environment). These provisions will be updated and some will be transferred to a Ministerial Direction.
  • Update council names to reflect recent council amalgamations and boundary changes.
  • Extend its land application to cover local government areas that are currently partly outside the application of SEPP 19 including parts of Hawkesbury and Central Coast local government areas.
  • Transfer plan making provisions in SEPP 19 to a Ministerial Direction.
  • A new circular on Urban Bushland is being finalised for consultation. It has been developed to provide further information and detail regarding the application of SEPP 19. This circular will replace planning Circulars No. B13 and No. 114. 
Creating a new Ministerial Direction – Urban Bushland
SEPP 19 contains provisions for the preparation of local environmental plans in clause 10. The clause ensures that when a council is drafting local environmental plan provisions for any land to which SEPP 19 applies, other than rural land, it considers the general and specific aims of the SEPP, andgives priority to retaining bushland unless significantenvironmental, economic, or social benefits arise which outweigh the value of the bushland. This should be transferred to a
new Ministerial Direction as it is the appropriate mechanism to guide plan making. No current direction adequately covers urban bushland in the same way. Urban bushland exists across many different zones, therefore Ministerial Direction 2.1 – Environmental Protection Zones, is not appropriate to address public urban bushland of the type protected by SEPP 19.

The new Ministerial Direction is intended to function largely the same way as clause 10 of SEPP 19. As currently, the direction will apply when a planning authority is preparing a planning proposal for land to which the Urban Bushland provisions of SEPP (Environment) apply.

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.

Have your say on the Explanation of Intended Effect for the proposed Environment SEPP until 31 January 2018 (NB changed date for submissions/feedback)
• Or write to:

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

From Issue 339

Newport's Bushlink 'From The Crown To The Sea' Paths: Celebrating Over 20 Years Of Community Volunteer Bushcare Results: The pathways wend through the Crown of Newport Reserve, Porter’s Reserve, Attunga Reserve and the Kanimbla Reserve. Includes link to March 2016 Amended Draft of 'North Ward' by NSW Government 'Planner'.

Draft Environment SEPP

October 31, 2017: NSW Dept. of Planning and Environment
• Draft Environment SEPP (PDF: 6.215 MB)
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.

Have your say on the Explanation of Intended Effect for the proposed Environment SEPP until 31 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

Integra Mine Complex
Integra Underground Modification 8

Realignment of main headings, extension of approved longwalls (LW15-17), development of up three additional longwalls (LW18-20) to the northwest in the Middle Liddell Seam and changes to ancillary surface infrastructure and water management.

Exhibition Start       07/12/2017
Exhibition End  21/12/2017

Mine Rehabilitation Discussion Paper

The NSW Government is committed to ensuring major mining projects use best practice rehabilitation so that previously mined land can sustain other uses.
The Government is already implementing a number of reforms to strengthen operational rehabilitation requirements for all mining projects in NSW. As the next step in these reforms, we have released the discussion paper, Improving Mine Rehabilitation in NSW, to seek feedback on proposed improvements to the regulatory framework for rehabilitation of major mining projects. This feedback will be used to develop new state-wide policy and actions that provide certainty to industry and the community by clearly setting out Government expectations regarding rehabilitation and closure requirements for all major mining projects in NSW.
There are five proposed reforms set out in the discussion paper across the assessment, operational and closure stages of the mine life cycle. A key aim of the proposed improvements is to ensure mine rehabilitation is consistent with leading practice and delivers appropriate social, economic and environmental outcomes for communities.
We invite you to comment on the mine rehabilitation Discussion Paper until 16 February 2018

New Research Program To Tackle PFAS

December 13, 2017: Joint Media Release - Minister for Defence, Minister for Education and Training, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister
The Turnbull Government has launched a new $13 million research program to tackle PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) in the environment.

The PFAS Remediation Research Program will support the development of innovative technologies to investigate and remediate PFAS contaminated areas, including soil and other solid contaminated debris, groundwater, waterways and marine systems.

The Program will see some of Australia’s leading research minds investigate options to address the highly complex problems PFAS presents.

The Turnbull Government asked the Australian Research Council (ARC) to administer a range of research programs that investigate existing and emerging solutions for PFAS removal and disposal and to develop new technologies and processes that can be deployed across the country.

The PFAS Remediation Research Program will fund a range of research projects focused on:
  • minimising PFAS in the environment
  • developing effective technologies that can be applied to remediate PFAS contaminated soil, waterways, waste, debris and/or large volumes of groundwater
  • developing options and mechanisms through which these effective technologies can be applied in the field.
The PFAS Remediation Research Program is funded by the Australian Government through the ARC Special Research Initiatives (SRI) scheme.

The ARC SRI scheme provides funding for new and emerging fields of research and builds capacity in strategically important areas. The objective of the SRI scheme is to support high-quality research, which will assist in advancing Australia’s research excellence to be globally competitive and deliver benefits to the community.

To date the Government has invested over $100 million in responding to PFAS contamination, including investigations, community support, remediation and research.

The Program builds on the Turnbull Government’s investment of more than $100 million in responding to PFAS contamination, including investigations, community support, remediation and research.

The first selection round of the PFAS Remediation Research Program will be open to eligible Administering Organisations from December 2017 to February 2018, inviting grant applications for between $50,000 to $1 million per year, for one to three years.

For more information about the PFAS Remediation Research Program please visit the ARC website.

Update On Baleen 2D HR Seismic Survey 

(The survey comprises 46 2D lines of total length 208km.) - 
NOPSEMA 'Not reasonably satisfied – opportunity to modify EP'
Decision date: 03/08/2017 
Titleholder action Resubmission due date 3: 02/09/2017
Extension of timeframe: 17/08/2017 Titleholder action: 15/10/2017
Extension of timeframe: 05/10/2017 Titleholder action: 31/10/2017
Resubmission of EP: 31/10/2017 NOPSEMA decision: 30/11/2017
Request for further information: 30/11/2017 Titleholder action: 21/12/2017

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

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

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

Avalon Boomerang Bags 2018 Dates

Diary Dates

Last workshop for the year at SewCraftCook for the year - passed.
Huge thanks to Kate for providing such an amazing and creative space for us to make the bags and store our "bits".

And a huge thanks to all those who have volunteered making bags, stamping bags, screen printing, cutting, ironing, folding, providing yummy treats, making cups of tea and for all the laughs, chats and good times. Without you we wouldn't be the team that we are.

On that note, dear sewers - if any of you, including the "at home" sewers need more fabric during the break, please contact Robyn via this email and she'll arrange it - the cupboards are bulging.
Tuesday 31 January
Return to our regular workshops  from 11am - 4pm.
Come for a hour or two or come for the day.
SewCraftCook 20/14 Polo Ave, Mona Vale.

Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment Activities

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

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. 

Long Reef Walks 2018 Season

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

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

~ Walks are held subject to weather conditions ~

Bookings are preferred.
Please email Wendy to book:

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

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

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

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

Think before you print ; A kilo of recycled paper creates around 1.8 kilograms of carbon emissions, without taking into account the emissions produced from transporting the paper. So, before you send a document to print, think about how many kilograms of carbon emissions you could save by reading it on screen.


Warriewood Wetlands Update 

In the 2017/18 financial year Council has allocated $40,000 to progress restoration works and employed a local bushland restoration company which specialises in wetland management. 

The work that has been programmed to be completed over the next 12 months includes the prioritisation of aquatic weeds such as Ludwigia peruvia and Alligator weed, a continued reduction in the extent of Coral trees, and the ongoing maintenance of previously worked areas. 

This will include a focus on weeds visible from the boardwalk, walkways, and high profile areas in general. Council is looking at alternative methods of site management. For example Council is investigating the potential of more environmentally friendly herbicides for use in wetlands. Council is also working with a university to map weeds via the use of drones to get a more accurate picture of weed distribution. This information will further assist management decisions on where to prioritise available funding. 

Sydney Water Fined $30,000 For North Head Sewage Overflow

13 December 2017: NSW EPA
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Sydney Water $30,000 after 238,000 litres of raw sewage was discharged from the North Head Sewage Treatment Plant, near Manly, into the ocean.

Penalty notices were issued for breaches of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act: pollution of waters and failure of Sydney Water to comply with the conditions of their licence.

Untreated sewage overflowed from the cliff face at North Head for 40mins on the morning of 10 March 2017 during maintenance work at the Sewage Treatment Plant.

EPA Regional Director Metropolitan Giselle Howard said the discharge occurred despite detection by an automated alert system of an imminent overflow and multiple warning alarms.

“Untreated sewage can have environmental impacts in marine systems. While the environmental impacts in this case were not severe, the overflow was large and preventable,” Ms Howard said.

“Sydney Water’s Environment Protection Licence prohibits overflows from the cliff face outfall except in severe wet weather events, and on this occasion, they weren’t compliant.”

Sydney Water is implementing strategies to prevent a recurrence including revised plans for how maintenance activities are to be handled for future works.

The maximum court-related penalty for a company for water pollution is $1,000,000 and a further $120,000 for each day the offence continues.

Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions. For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy

NSW Coastal National Park Safety Reminder

December 15, 2017: NPWS
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Surf Life Saving NSW (SLSNSW) are reminding park visitors to take care when venturing out into coastal areas this summer particularly when near cliff edges and ocean rock platforms, including Figure Eight Pools (Royal National Park).

Figure Eight Pool, ocean waves, Royal National Park
NPWS Area Manager Shaun Elwood said this safety message is timely, as the weather warms up and we head into the busy peak summer season.

"We've teamed up with Surf Life Saving NSW to urge park visitors to stay safe when visiting coastal areas by following warning signs and safety alerts issued by authorities," Mr Elwood said.

"NSW's coastline is vast, stretching over 2000 plus kilometres, with many cliff top walking tracks found within coastal national parks.

"Most visitors to coastal parks have a healthy respect for coastline safety and will stay on designated pathways and adhere to warning signs and barriers restricting access.

"We can't stress enough how important it is for park visitors to stop taking unnecessary risks near cliff lines," Mr Elwood said.

Surf Life Saving NSW said if you're planning on visiting a coastal area, particularly a rock platform such as Figure Eight Pools, it's important to follow ocean safety advice from authorities before stepping out onto the rock shelf.

"Rock platforms are natural areas exposed to the elements and inherently dangerous and unpredictable, particularly rock shelves that are open to the ocean," said Lifesaving Manager Matt du Plessis.

"If conditions on the day are safe to visit Figure Eight Pools, and once you are on the rock platform, stay alert and never turn your back on the ocean as large waves can crash across the platform even at low tide," Mr du Plessis said.

Mr Elwood said before visiting Figure Eight Pools, check the NPWS safety alerts issued daily as they advise when it's too dangerous to visit the pools due to dangerous swell conditions.

"Before you travel, check the Figure Eight Pools safety website to review the safety checklist, to know that you need to pack things like a small first aid kit and 2 litres of water per person and to decide if you are capable of walking the challenging 6km return hike to the site.

"It's important park visitors check ocean conditions and the weather and if conditions aren't right to visit the pools safely, don't risk it, go another day.

"We want people to enjoy our stunning coastal parks but please don't risk your safety. Stay on designated pathways, abide by warning signs and safety alerts and always check ocean conditions before climbing onto rock ledges," Mr Elwood said.

Calls For Community Input Into Managing Murrah

December 13, 2017: NPWS
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is inviting the community to have input into the ongoing management of the Murrah Flora Reserves on the Far South Coast.

Kane Weeks, NPWS South Coast Director said a draft working plan released today outlines how NPWS will manage and enhance the reserve's important koala habitat and continuing Aboriginal connections.

"Since NPWS were appointed as managers of the 11,800-hectare reserves last year we have worked with our partners to develop a way forward to further protect the area's natural and cultural values," Mr Weeks said.

"The draft plan is where we have landed – and this exhibition period is a genuine opportunity for the community to have their say on the ongoing management of the reserves.

"The management arrangement of the reserves offers a unique set of circumstances where the NSW Government will embrace an active and adaptive approach to manage koala habitat at a landscape level.

"The draft plan outlines how the local koala monitoring program will continue – including surveys and research into different bush regeneration techniques.

"Another focus is supporting opportunities for the Djirringanj Yuin (Djuwin) people to re-introduce cultural burning to the landscape," said Mr Weeks.

The draft plan has been developed by the Murrah Flora Reserves Steering Committee with members from Forestry Corporation NSW, the local wood pulp industry, NSW Rural Fire Service, Local Land Services, Crown Lands, neighbours and the Yuin community.

The community are invited to view the plan and provide feedback until 31 January 2018.

More information, including details of public info sessions can be found at the OEH Have your Say page.

Sixth Emissions Reduction Fund Auction Continues To Deliver Low Cost Abatement

14 December 2017: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) has today released results of its successful sixth auction leaving more than $265 million in the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) to purchase further abatement to help reduce emissions and meet our international targets.

In line with market expectation, the CER awarded 26 contracts for 7.95 million tonnes of abatement at an average price per tonne of $13.08.

Total abatement contracted under the ERF is now 191 million tonnes, with the average price per tonne across all six auctions at $11.90.

As foreshadowed ahead of the auction by the CER, the value of contracts was lower than previous auctions reflecting a maturing market.

The CER public estimate for the total value of contacts for the sixth auction was between $75 million and $150 million, with the total amount for the auction coming it at $104 million.

The ERF is in stark contrast to Labor's $15.4 billion carbon tax, which increased power prices for households and businesses with little emissions reduction to show.

Results from this latest auction will help ensure we meet our 2020 emissions reduction target, which we are currently on track to beat by 224 million tonnes. It will also help to meet our 2030 target.

The ERF offers a broad range of opportunities for business, farmers and others to reduce emissions right across the economy. Projects also generate income and employment, including for rural and Indigenous communities, and improve biodiversity.

The ERF is reducing emissions by storing carbon in forests and soils, improving energy efficiency, fuel switching and capturing methane from landfills.

Full results from the sixth ERF auction are available on the CER's

Proposals Welcomed To Manage Smoky Cape And Sugarloaf Lighthouse Keeper's Cottages

December 15, 2017: NPWS
The chance to run holiday accommodation in the lighthouse keeper's cottages at Smoky Cape and Sugarloaf Point on the NSW Mid North coast will be closing at 10am on 12 February 2018.

Smoky Cape and Sugarloaf Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottages
Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) Director Assets Activation, Stuart Schramm, said expressions of interest (EOI) are being sought from suitably qualified operators to manage the state heritage significant site as holiday accommodation.

"This includes the historic heritage lighthouse property precincts consisting of multiple cottages, ancillary buildings and surrounding lands at Sugarloaf Point and Smoky Cape," Mr Schramm said.

"We are seeking proposals from private operators to lease and manage the lighthouse keeper's cottages as short term, public holiday accommodation at Smoky Cape, Hat Head National Park, Sugarloaf Point and Myall Lakes National Park.

"This can be either a separate or combined opportunity and five-year lease with a five-year option being offered.

"The EOI provides private operators with the opportunity to put forward proposals for how they would operate the sites under a lease agreement with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

"The EOI is due to the expiration of the current contracts, and the NSW Government's commitment to fair and equitable access to leasing opportunities means the leases must be put out to market on a regular basis.

"The current operator is welcome to submit a response to this EOI in the same way as any other entity," Mr Schramm said.

The EOI is only available online at: Department of Finance, Services and Innovation – Managed (Tenders) eTendering Website

The EOI process closes at 10am on 12 February 2018.

Anyone with questions or planning to make a submission can contact:

Katarina Simunic, Commercial Services Management Officer
Commercial Services & Precinct Development
Park Activation Branch
02 9585 6496 

Dolphin And Bear Studies Have Paved The Way To Improved Population Forecasting

December 1, 2017: Deborah Smith: UNSW
A new article by a UNSW Sydney-led team challenges the validity of current methods for forecasting the persistence of slow-growing species for conservation purposes, and provides a better approach to reducing the threat of extinction.

Previous research on wild dolphins in Australia and wild bears in North America has revealed that reproductive success is the best predictor of the viability of these long-lived populations, rather than their survival rates.

The findings of these and other studies fly in the face of decades of population modelling, which has led to a widespread generalisation that survival is the most important factor for population viability of long-lived species, the researchers say.

“Our analysis suggests that conservation planners are often getting it wrong,” says first author and UNSW scientist Dr Oliver Manlik.

“We believe our research will set a new course for wildlife biologists who are trying to minimize extinction.  It shows them how to identify whether to focus on alleviating threats to reproduction, or to survival,” he says.

The review article, Applicability and limitations of sensitivity analyses for wildlife management, by Dr Manlik and Professor William Sherwin of UNSW, and Dr Robert Lacy of the Chicago Zoological Society, is published in the prestigious Journal of Applied Ecology.

The inspiration for carrying out their review of different population forecasting methods for conservation management was a research project led by Dr Manlik that compared two bottlenose dolphin populations in the wild in Western Australia.

The international team carrying out that study showed that the very different forecasts for the two dolphin populations could only be explained by differences in reproductive rates, not by the much smaller differences in survival rates.

After reviewing many other publications, Dr Manlik, Dr Lacy and Professor Sherwin found a small number, such as a study on bears, that showed similar results. On closer analysis of these studies, they realised the reason for this was not the biology of the animals, but the way the data had been analysed.

In this new study, the researchers evaluate several methods of assessing the effect of changes in reproduction and survival on the persistence of wildlife populations. They outline why some very commonly used methods are flawed when they are used to guide wildlife management.

“These methods often investigate potential changes in reproduction and survival that are quite unrealistic, assessing fluctuations of survival and reproduction that are unlikely or even impossible. This can lead to wildlife management actions that are ineffective,” says Dr Manlik.

The study also describes alternative tools, based on realistic parameters, which conservation planners can use to devise management actions to best protect wildlife populations.

A bottlenose dolphin mother and calf (Tursiops aduncus) of Western Australia. Photo: Kate Sprogis, Murdoch Cetacean Research Unit

Call For National Heritage List Nominations

1 December 2017: Media release - The Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy
Nominations are now open for places of outstanding natural, Indigenous or historic significance to the nation for possible inclusion on our National Heritage List.

“Our prestigious National Heritage List celebrates and protects places that reflect our unique landscapes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and development as a nation,” said the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, Minister for the Environment and Energy.

“The List currently includes more than 100 sites from across Australia and its territories, ranging from icons such as Bondi Beach, Fraser Island and Kakadu National Park to lesser-known gems such as the Dirk Hartog’s Landing Site, Darlington Probation Station, Mount William Stone Hatchet Quarry, Witjira-Dalhousie Springs and the High Court-National Gallery Precinct.”

“Each year, more places are added to the List as our national story unfolds and understanding of our heritage deepens.”

Nominations are open until 26 February 2016 and will be considered by the Australian Heritage Council before a final list of places to be assessed in 2018-19 is developed. As part of that assessment process, there will be further opportunities for public comment on each proposed listing.

Nominations of natural, Indigenous and historic places with significant heritage value for possible Commonwealth heritage listing are also being sought.

Exhibition Of Proposed Changes To Noise And Dust Assessment For Mining Projects

November 30, 2017: Departmental Media Release, Department of Planning and Environment
Proposed planning policy changes will help improve the management of noise and dust impacts on properties near proposed mining projects.
The Department of Planning and Environment’s Deputy Secretary for Policy, Strategy & Governance, Alison Frame, said the proposed changes to the NSW Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy respond to the Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) recently updated policies for assessing noise and air quality.
"The NSW Government applies the Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy during the assessment of state significant resource proposals, such as mines, to address potential noise and dust impacts on neighbouring land," Ms Frame said.  
"We’ve based our revised air and noise assessment criteria on those developed through recent reviews conducted by the EPA, which underwent public consultation.
"In addition, we’ve also improved the language to explain terms and processes more clearly such as negotiated agreements, acquisition and mitigation processes, and valuation of land.
"We’re interested in hearing from any interested individuals, land-owners, and community groups wishing to provide feedback on the proposed changes.
"Public submissions provide important feedback to our Department, which we will consider as we finalise the policy.
"In the coming months, we will separately be consulting stakeholders across a range of sectors on the potential to provide more policy guidance on negotiated agreements and dispute resolution," Ms Frame said.
The proposal to revise the NSW Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy also requires amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) 2007.
To view the proposed changes or make a submission between November 30 and 16 February 2018, visit the Department's website here.

Asparagus Fern

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

Navigation Warning - NSW Coastal Waters: Whale Migration Season

June to December 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charts: AUS 806 to AUS 813 Inclusive.

RMS Coastal Boating Maps: 1-14 Inclusive.

Contact Details:

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

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

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


Magpie Voted Bird Of The Year

11 December 2017: BirdLife Australia
Australian White Ibis pipped at the post
The Australian Magpie has been officially voted Australia’s Bird of the Year, having won the Guardian/BirdLife Australia ‘Bird of the Year’ poll, scoring nearly 20,000 of the 149,000 votes cast. Runner up was the early leader, the often-maligned Australian White Ibis, with just over 19,000 votes.

Although the White Ibis leapt out to an early lead, and looked to be a runaway winner with just a few days to go, late votes for the magpie accumulated steadily in the latter stages of the poll, and this momentum was enough to see it win comfortably.

Magpies have long been a favourite with Australians, many of whom enjoy their rich, carolling songs. Further, magpies often become rather tame when people feed them in their back yards and gardens, providing a genuine link between people and their local birdlife. The only time when magpies are not so popular is during the spring nesting season, when the birds sometimes swoop passersby to protect their nestlings.

White Ibis, on the other hand, are seldom spoken about in positive terms, at least in built-up areas. In rural districts, they are sometimes referred to as ‘the farmer’s friend’, as they eke out a living eating all sorts of agricultural pests. However, now that they’ve become familiar residents in many of Australia’s major cities, their habit of scavenging scraps and annoying alfresco diners has not endeared them to many people. How can we explain their unexpectedly high vote? It appears to have been a ‘Boaty McBoatface’ moment, with many people voting for the bird in an effort to be ‘ironic’.

Behind the White Ibis were the perennially popular Laughing Kookaburra, Tawny Frogmouth and Superb Fairy-wren.

Thanks to everyone who took part.

Australia’s Top 10 Favourite Birds
Australian Magpie (19,926 votes)
Australian White Ibis (19,083 votes)
Laughing Kookaburra (10,953 votes)
Tawny Frogmouth (6869 votes)
Superb Fairy-wren (6366 votes)
Rainbow Lorikeet (6041 votes)
Willie Wagtail (4789 votes)
Wedge-tailed Eagle (4517 votes)
Southern Cassowary (4168 votes)
Splendid Fairy-wren (4129 votes)

Australian Magpie, Australian Ibis and Kookaburra photos by A J Guesdon - taken in Pittwater.

A Bird In The Bush Is Worth $223,851 In The Hand

December 12, 2017: Deborah Smith - UNSW
The arrival of a single Black-backed Oriole bird in rural Pennsylvania – 5000 kilometres from its usual home in Mexico – was worth an estimated $US223,851 to the economy from bird watchers flocking to see it.

The study, by a UNSW Sydney-led team, is the first to quantify the economic impact of a vagrant bird –  a species observed outside its normal geographic range.

“More than 1800 birders from all over the Unites States and parts of Canada came to see the Black-backed Oriole, which was first spotted in a suburban backyard on 26 January 2017,” says study first author and UNSW Science PhD candidate Corey Callaghan.

“The bird stayed for 67 days, until 10 April, and we estimate this ecotourism event generated more than $3000 a day for the local and extended economy as a result of the travel, food and accommodation costs of the avitourists.”

A Black-backed Oriole. Photo: Susan Schmoyer

The study, by researchers from UNSW, the Australian Museum, Charles Sturt University and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, is published in the journal Human Dimensions of Wildlife.

“There is sometimes a mixed perception of the role biodiversity plays in our economy,” says study senior author Professor Richard Kingsford, Director of the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science.

Here we show that real dollars come from conserving biodiversity. This one bird made an important contribution to the economy.”

The 2017 appearance of the Black-backed Oriole in a backyard bird feeder in rural Berks County in Pennsylvania was only the second time this species had been recorded as visiting the US.

The researchers examined a log book of visitors kept by the home owners, and surveyed the tourists about their travel costs, to estimate the economic value of the event.

“I’ve always wondered how much money is generated by this unique and unpredictable part of birding – vagrant bird chasing – given the number of people who sometimes travel long distances to see an individual bird outside its normal range,” says Mr Callaghan, who is himself a keen birder.

“This was a rare opportunity to find out, and our study reveals just how much people are prepared to pay. There are dozens of similar events around the world each year.”

Watching birds is big business in the United States, Australia and around the world. According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service,up to $40 billion dollars per year is spent on watching birds in the US.

Ultimately, all birds depend on their habitats and so the benefits to the economy from bird watching need to be balanced against environmental threats that destroy their habitats, such as land clearing. There is a need to have thorough economic assessments of developments, given the value to the economy from passive bird watching, the researchers say.

Bird watchers watching the Black-backed Oriole in Pennsylvania. Photo: Jeffrey Gordon

Lizards Of Oz Take Toll On Turtle Eggs

December 14, 2017: University of Queensland
Goannas have overtaken foxes as the number one predator of the endangered loggerhead turtle at its second largest Queensland nesting beach.

A University of Queensland study has found that since feral red foxes were controlled in the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number goanna raids on loggerhead turtle nests at Wreck Rock beach, south of Agnes Waters.

Yellow-spotted goanna on Wreck Rock Beach, Queensland. Credit: Courtesy Dr. David Booth

UQ School of Biological Sciences researchers PhD student Juan Lei and Dr David Booth observed -- with the assistance of Turtle Care Queensland Inc volunteers and camera traps -- that the predators disturb up to 400 nests at the beach in one year.

"We discovered that only large male yellow-spotted goannas dug open sea turtle nests, but once the nest was opened other lizards, such as lace monitors and smaller yellow-spotted goannas, raided them," Dr Booth said.

"We had expected most nests would be discovered within one or two days of being constructed because of the visual and scent cues left behind by the female turtle.

"But what we found was the likelihood of a turtle nest being opened by a goanna wasn't related to the nest age or even the presence of ghost crabs, which disturb nests by burrowing and potentially releasing those smells that attract a goanna's attention.

"So we still don't know the mechanism by which goannas discover and attack sea turtle nests that are several weeks into the incubation period."

Dr Booth said studying the relationships between predators and prey, and the interactions between different predators that hunt the same prey, were important in ecological research.

"One predator species may provide the cue signalling the location of prey to the other predator species, particularly when food sources become sparse," he said.

The study, supported by a Nest to Oceans Turtle Protection Program grant, is published in Austral Ecology.

Juan Lei, David T. Booth. How do goannas find sea turtle nests? Austral Ecology, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/aec.12568

Shrinking Wilderness Ignored At Our Peril

December 12, 2017: Wildlife Conservation Society
Maps of the world's most important wilderness areas are now freely available online following a University of Queensland and Wildlife Conservation Society-led study published today.

The authors have made the maps available to assist researchers, conservationists and policy makers to improve wilderness conservation.

UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences PhD student James Allan said these wilderness areas were strongholds for endangered biodiversity and critical in the fight to mitigate climate change.

"These ecosystems play a key role in regulating local climates, sequestering and storing large amounts of carbon and supporting many of the world's most culturally diverse -- but politically and economically marginalized communities," Allan said.

The maps show that the majority of remaining wilderness areas are in the deserts of Central Australia, the Amazon rainforest in South America, the Tibetan plateau in central Asia, and the boreal (snow) forests of Canada and Russia.

"Despite their importance, wilderness areas are being destroyed at an alarming rate and need urgent protection with almost 10 per cent being lost since the early 1990s. Their conservation is a global priority," Allan said.

Wildlife Conservation Society and UQ Associate Professor James Watson said he anticipated the maps would be important for identifying places where conservation actions must occur, and as indicators of progress towards United Nations commitments such as Sustainable Development Goals.

Said Watson: "Environmental policy almost completely ignored wilderness conservation but this has to change. National governments and multilateral environmental agreements such as the World Heritage convention need to step up and protect wilderness before it is too late."

James R. Allan, Oscar Venter, James E.M. Watson. Temporally inter-comparable maps of terrestrial wilderness and the Last of the Wild.Scientific Data, 2017; 4: 170187 DOI: 10.1038/sdata.2017.187

Dryad Digital Repository maps are available here (
These new maps show shrinking wilderness being ignored at our peril. Credit: James Allan UQ

Laser-Boron Fusion Now 'Leading Contender' For Energy

December 13, 2017: UNSW
A laser-driven technique for creating fusion that dispenses with the need for radioactive fuel elements and leaves no toxic radioactive waste is now within reach, say researchers.

Dramatic advances in powerful, high-intensity lasers are making it viable for scientists to pursue what was once thought impossible: creating fusion energy based on hydrogen-boron reactions. And an Australian physicist is in the lead, armed with a patented design and working with international collaborators on the remaining scientific challenges.

In a paper in the scientific journal Laser and Particle Beams today, lead author Heinrich Hora from the University of New South Wales in Sydney and international colleagues argue that the path to hydrogen-boron fusion is now viable, and may be closer to realisation than other approaches, such as the deuterium-tritium fusion approach being pursued by U.S. National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor under construction in France.

"I think this puts our approach ahead of all other fusion energy technologies," said Hora, who predicted in the 1970s that fusing hydrogen and boron might be possible without the need for thermal equilibrium. Rather than heat fuel to the temperature of the Sun using massive, high-strength magnets to control superhot plasmas inside a doughnut-shaped toroidal chamber (as in NIF and ITER), hydrogen-boron fusion is achieved using two powerful lasers in rapid bursts, which apply precise non-linear forces to compress the nuclei together.

Hydrogen-boron fusion produces no neutrons and, therefore, no radioactivity in its primary reaction. And unlike most other sources of power production -- like coal, gas and nuclear, which rely on heating liquids like water to drive turbines -- the energy generated by hydrogen-boron fusion converts directly into electricity. But the downside has always been that this needs much higher temperatures and densities -- almost 3 billion degrees Celsius, or 200 times hotter than the core of the Sun.

However, dramatic advances in laser technology are close to making the two-laser approach feasible, and a spate of recent experiments around the world indicate that an 'avalanche' fusion reaction could be triggered in the trillionth-of-a-second blast from a petawatt-scale laser pulse, whose fleeting bursts pack a quadrillion watts of power. If scientists could exploit this avalanche, Hora said, a breakthrough in proton-boron fusion was imminent.

"It is a most exciting thing to see these reactions confirmed in recent experiments and simulations," said Hora, an emeritus professor of theoretical physics at UNSW. "Not just because it proves some of my earlier theoretical work, but they have also measured the laser-initiated chain reaction to create one billion-fold higher energy output than predicted under thermal equilibrium conditions."

Together with 10 colleagues in six nations -- including from Israel's Soreq Nuclear Research Centre and the University of California, Berkeley -- Hora describes a roadmap for the development of hydrogen-boron fusion based on his design, bringing together recent breakthroughs and detailing what further research is needed to make the reactor a reality.

An Australian spin-off company, HB11 Energy, holds the patents for Hora's process. "If the next few years of research don't uncover any major engineering hurdles, we could have prototype reactor within a decade," said Warren McKenzie, managing director of HB11.

"From an engineering perspective, our approach will be a much simpler project because the fuels and waste are safe, the reactor won't need a heat exchanger and steam turbine generator, and the lasers we need can be bought off the shelf," he added.

H. Hora, S. Eliezer, G.J. Kirchhoff, N. Nissim, J.X. Wang, P. Lalousis, Y.X. Xu, G.H. Miley, J.M. Martinez-Val, W. McKenzie, J. Kirchhoff. Road map to clean energy using laser beam ignition of boron-hydrogen fusion. Laser and Particle Beams, 2017; 35 (04): 730 DOI:10.1017/S0263034617000799

Mammal Long Thought Extinct In NSW Resurfaces In State’s West

December 15, 2017: UNSW Media
A Crest-tailed Mulgara, a small carnivorous marsupial known only from fossilised bone fragments and presumed extinct in NSW for more than century, has been discovered in Sturt National Park north-west of Tibooburra.

A team from the UNSW Sydney's Wild Deserts project made the unexpected discovery during recent scientific monitoring.

The Crest-tailed Mulgara was once widely distributed across sandy deserts in inland Australia. Photo: Reece Pedler

UNSW scientist and Wild Deserts ecologist Dr Rebecca West says it is particularly exciting to find a Crest-tailed Mulgara alive for the first time in NSW.

“The Crest-tailed Mulgara was once widely distributed across sandy desert environments in inland Australia, but declined due to the effects of rabbits, cats and foxes,” West says.

“The species weighs around 150 grams and has pale blonde fur and a thick tail with a distinctive black crest.”

The discovery comes at a great time, according to UNSW scientist and Wild Deserts project co-ordinator Reece Pedler.

“Next year we are due to begin introduced predator and rabbit eradication from a large area, which will no doubt help the Mulgara,” Pedler says.

National Parks and Wildlife Service area manager Jaymie Norris says the Wild Deserts project is contributing to the NSW Government’s Saving our Species conservation program (SOS).

Reduced rabbit populations over the past 20 years are thought to have benefited the species. Photo: Katherine Moseby

“The aim of this project is to return mammal species not seen in their natural habitat for over 90 years in Sturt National Park,” he says.

“Rabbits, cats and foxes will be eradicated from two 20-square-kilometre fenced exclosures in Sturt National Park, before locally extinct mammals are reintroduced.

Reintroduced native mammal species will include Greater Bilby, Burrowing Bettong, Western Quoll and Western Barred Bandicoot.”

The Wild Deserts project is a partnership between UNSW and Ecological Horizons, in collaboration with Taronga Conservation Society Australia.

Wild Deserts has been contracted by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage to restore and promote desert ecosystems in Sturt National Park.

Previous work in South Australia by Wild Deserts team members suggests that the Crest-tailed Mulgara has been recovering in numbers and expanding its range.

Reduced rabbit populations during the past 20 years due to release of rabbit calicivirus is thought to have benefited the species by leading to increases in ground cover.

Reductions in populations of introduced predators such as cats and foxes has also increased the numbers of small rodents for Mulgara to prey on.

In recent years, Crest-tailed Mulgara have expanded their distribution in the Strzelecki Desert over the border in South Australia.

Tasmanian Seed Market Letter Deemed Presumptuous

The thin edge of the wedge has arrived in Whitemore, Tasmania. Got a letter in the mail the other day from the international seed company, Bejo, asking me not to save my own vegetable seeds – specifically beetroot and silver beet. What the sh*t? Bejo say that they are growing beetroots for seed somewhere in Tasmania – they say not where.

Apparently these plants produce pollen which can spread by wind for up to 10 km and the seeds that I save in my garden (I currently have one plant being saved for seed) could stuff things up for them by cross pollinating with their plants. It seems that I could possibly, single-handedly with my one plant, destroy an industry worth millions. Well best of luck with that one. I am currently trying to word a letter that tells Bejo to basically go and get stuffed.

I don’t know much about Bejo but they seem to have a whiff of Monsanto about them. Apparently Bejo are part of the Dutch company Bejo Zaden. There also seems to be some information that their head office is actually in USA so it is hard to tell. They are a private company and they don’t seem to list their directors or who actually owns the operation (or if they do I can’t find it). They claim to be the third biggest vegetable seed company in the world and are active in 30 different countries. According to our ABC rural news department they are moving into Tasmania in a big way because of climate change.

They ask “that you please cut off, at ground level, any plants which are presently flowering in your garden”. Ah, well actually, no, I don’t intend to. They didn’t offer to supply me with free vegetable seed by way of compensation and I would also greatly appreciate it they stopped spraying their crops with insecticides that could adversely affect my bees. We were never consulted on this, just being requested to fall into line for the sake of the profits of an extraordinarily wealthy multi-national company - I don’t think so.

It is actually a bit hard to tell if Bejo are goodies or baddies because they seem to employee some extraordinarily capable spin doctors – as does Monsanto. They continually throw in impressive (but meaningless) motherhood statements like “we stay close to nature” and “exploring nature never stops”. They also seem to be using the power of association by trying to ride on the back of the organic movement by producing some organic seeds. They don’t say how much.

So far I have only come up with one line for my letter of reply, “You are possibly a villain masquerading as one of the good guys”. I may substitute bully for villain - haven’t decided yet. It’s a start.

I have attached a photo of myself and my supposedly sinister silver beet plant.

Steven French
December 12, 2017


Further to our magazine article on seed production in Tasmania, we would like to give a more detailed explanation to a letter that we circulated to households close to our production fields in Tasmania, and which has received many reactions on social media recently.

This letter has been circulated to households near our seed production areas for more than 20 years, and indeed, it is common practice by all seed producing companies around the world to make this request.  It is a kind request from our side in which we merely appeal to the good nature of gardeners – people who share our interest in producing quality seed for quality crops.  In Tasmania, our seed production operation is thriving in order to supply commercial growers with quality seed for the global food market.  We do not use any GMO products, and currently our focus is on producing quality organic seed for the organic grower.  With the growing success each year, we are able to offer more employment opportunities within the local community, and we strive to build relationships with our growers and neighbours.

We unreservedly apologise if our intentions have been misconstrued, and we encourage you to check the following links for more information on our company.

World-First Uses Satellites, Ocean Models To Explain Antarctic Seafloor Biodiversity

In a world-first, a research team of Australian and international scientists has used data collected by satellites and an ocean model to explain and predict biodiversity on the Antarctic seafloor.

The researchers combined satellite images of phytoplankton colour on the sea surface with a suite of connected models of how the microscopic phytoplankton are swept by ocean currents, sink to the seafloor and are then redistributed across it, to accurately predict the extent of seafloor life without the need for extensive physical sampling.

The study's lead author, IMAS PhD student Jan Jansen, said the breakthrough, published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, would support better conservation and management of biodiversity in the Antarctic.

"For the first time, we are able to predict how much food is available to organisms on the Antarctic sea floor, and therefore how much life is supported across the region," Mr Jansen said.

"Scientists have long known that there was a relationship between organic matter on the surface and life on the sea floor.

"But until now there hasn't been a reliable model that not only explained the link but also enabled predictions of biodiversity.

"Our 'food availability model' brings satellite data and analysis of the rate at which organic matter sinks together with data about fluctuating ocean currents on and above the seafloor.

"The model's predictions about how much food there will be in a particular area have been verified by physical sampling of seafloor sediments.

"This system of models allows broad scale predictions of seafloor biodiversity over vast regions of the Antarctic continental shelf that were previously hidden, as well as predictions about how climate change will affect the ecosystem.

"It will also support better informed decisions about how parts of the ocean can be best managed and conserved in the future," Mr Jansen said.

Co-author IMAS Professor Craig Johnson said that while the study was based on a region in eastern Antarctica, the new approach could be used to generate maps of biodiversity across the continental shelf right around the Antarctic continent, including areas where information is currently limited or difficult to collect.

"This information would be very valuable and is an exciting prospect," Professor Johnson said.

"Jan Jansen is to be congratulated for his lead role in pulling together many threads across several disciplines to help answer a major research question. It is a remarkable achievement by a scientist so early in his career

"With further research, this system of models has the potential to provide valuable insights into seafloor biodiversity across other parts of the world's oceans.

Professor Johnson said an extraordinarily diverse team of researchers were involved in this study, including earth scientists, physicists, geologists and biologists. The research team included Jan Jansen, Dr Nicole Hill and Professor Craig Johnson from IMAS, and scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), CSIRO, ACE CRC, Geoscience Australia, Macquarie University, and research organisations in France and the United States.

Jan Jansen, Nicole A. Hill, Piers K. Dunstan, John McKinlay, Michael D. Sumner, Alexandra L. Post, Marc P. Eléaume, Leanne K. Armand, Jonathan P. Warnock, Benjamin K. Galton-Fenzi, Craig R. Johnson. Abundance and richness of key Antarctic seafloor fauna correlates with modelled food availability. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0392-3

Image taken during Collaborative East-Antarctic Marine Census 20072008 Copyright-Australian-Antarctic-Division

Oceans Book Launches At Critical Time

CSIRO has launched Oceans: Science and Solutions for Australia (Oceans), a book bringing together the latest science to explain the crucial role oceans play in the lives of all Australians.

CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Director Dr Tony Worby said Australia faced several opportunities and challenges, with three of the world’s four major oceans in its marine estate.

"Australia’s oceans cover almost 14 million square kilometres, nearly twice the area of our land, and hold the key to our climate, weather, economy, international security, and social well-being," Dr Worby said.

"It is important that we strike a balance between our national economic and resource requirements, while ensuring long term sustainability of our marine estate and this is key research focus for CSIRO and the Australian marine science community.

"Our oceans do the heavy lifting with respect to carbon dioxide and heat absorption and their capacity to continue to do these things is one of many areas we are focused on through our climate research.

"The effects of ocean warming can be seen already as tropical fish are found further south from warming coastal waters, cold water species decline in some regions, and coral bleaching becomes more frequent.

"There has never been a more important time to focus on marine research."

Oceans editor and CSIRO Chief Research Scientist Dr Bruce Mapstone said national and international collaboration was essential, with Australia having stewardship of the third largest marine estate in the world and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. 

"The book focuses on Australia’s marine estate which includes the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans, however many of the topics covered have global relevance because of the interconnectedness of the world’s oceans," Dr Mapstone said.

"Collaboration is the only way we can tackle the breadth of marine research Australia and the world need to fully understand our oceans.

"Indigenous coastal peoples have had cultural and livelihood connections with Australia’s oceans for thousands of years and their knowledge is extremely valuable.

"Importantly, this book takes complex and detailed research and translates it into clear English that can be understood by policy makers and just as importantly students, some of whom are Australia’s future marine scientists."

Oceans: Science and Solutions for Australia has been authored by scientists from CSIRO and other Australian research agencies and is available for free download: Oceans [PDF 21.5MB] or to order a hardcopy through CSIRO Publishing visit: Oceans.

Archaeologist Finds World's Oldest Funereal Fish Hooks

December 14, 2017: Australian National University
An archaeologist from The Australian National University (ANU) has uncovered the world's oldest known fish-hooks placed in a burial ritual, found on Indonesia's Alor Island, northwest of East Timor.

The five fish hooks were among items carefully placed under the chin, and around the jaws of a female from the Pleistocene era, dating back 12,000 years.

Distinguished Professor Sue O'Connor from the School of Culture, History and Language in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific said the discovery turns on its head the theory that most fishing activities on these islands were carried out by men.

"These are the oldest known fish-hooks associated with mortuary practices from anywhere in the world and perhaps indicate that fishing equipment was viewed as essential for transition to the afterlife in this area," Professor O'Connor said.

"The discovery shows that in both life and death, the Pleistocene inhabitants of the Alor Island region were intrinsically connected to the sea, and the association of the fish-hooks with a burial denotes the cosmological status of fishing in this island environment."

Prior to the find, the earliest fish-hooks associated with a burial site date back only about 9,000 years and were found in a river environment of the Mesolithic era in Siberia, known as the Ershi cemetery.

Professor O'Connor said in a maritime context, the earliest burials with fish-hooks are from Oman, where rotating fish-hooks made of pearl shell have been dated to about 6,000 years ago.

Older fish hooks from Japan, Europe and East Timor date back as far as 22,000 years, but they were not related to burial rites.

In the Alor Island find, two different types of fish-hooks were buried -- a J-Shaped hook and four circular rotating hooks fashioned from the shell of a species of sea-snail.

Professor O'Connor said the appearance of the Alor rotating fish-hooks so early on a disconnected island suggests that several fishing communities developed the same technology separately, rather than learning from each other through contact.

"The Alor hooks bear an uncanny resemblance to rotating hooks used in Japan, Australia, Arabia, California, Chile, Mexico and Oceania," she said.

"We argue that the same sort of artefact was developed independently because it was the most fitting form to suit the ecology, rather than through cultural diffusion."

Sue O'Connor, Mahirta, Sofía C. Samper Carro, Stuart Hawkins, Shimona Kealy, Julien Louys, Rachel Wood. Fishing in life and death: Pleistocene fish-hooks from a burial context on Alor Island, Indonesia. Antiquity, 2017; 91 (360): 1451 DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2017.186

These are skeletal remains and fish hooks on Alor. Credit: ANU

Lyme Bacteria Survive 28-Day Course Of Antibiotics Months After Infection

December 13, 2017
Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced results of two papers published in the peer-reviewed journals PLOS ONE and American Journal of Pathology, that seem to support claims of lingering symptoms reported by many patients who have already received antibiotic treatment for the disease.

Based on a single, extensive study of Lyme disease designed by Tulane University researchers, the study employed multiple methods to evaluate the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, before and after antibiotic treatment in primates. The study also measured the antibody immune response to the bacteria both pre- and post- treatment, as this is how current diagnostics typically evaluate Lyme disease in humans.

The data show that living B. burgdorferi spirochetes were found in ticks that fed upon the primates and in multiple organs after treatment with 28 days of oral doxycycline. The results also indicated that the immune response to the bacteria varied widely in both treated and untreated subjects.

"It is apparent from these data that B. burgdorferi bacteria, which have had time to adapt to their host, have the ability to escape immune recognition,tolerate the antibiotic doxycycline and invade vital organs such as the brain and heart," said lead author Monica Embers, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine.

"In this study, we were able to observe the existence of microscopic disease and low numbers of bacteria, which would be difficult to 'see' in humans but could possibly be the cause of the variable and nonspecific symptoms that are characteristic of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. Although current antibiotic regimens may cure most patients who are treated early, if the infection is allowed to progress, the 28-day treatment may be insufficient, based on these findings," Embers said.

The findings also demonstrated:
  • All subjects treated with antibiotics were found to have some level of infection 7 -- 12 months post treatment.
  • Despite testing negative by antibody tests for Lyme disease, two of 10 subjects were still infected with Lyme bacteria in heart and bladder.
  • Lyme bacteria which persist are still viable.
To better elucidate previous animal studies demonstrating that some B. burgdorferi bacteria survive antibiotics, the study explored Lyme disease infection in rhesus macaque primates treated with antibiotics and a control group who were also infected but not treated. This species has been shown to demonstrate a progression of Lyme disease most similar to humans, particularly related to erythema migrans, carditis, arthritis, and neuropathy of the peripheral and central nervous systems.

"Clearly, some medical practices governing diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease should be reconsidered in light of this study. This study shows that we must reevaluate the current paradigm of antibody response tests for diagnosis and move away from the one size fits all approach to Lyme treatment," said Wendy Adams, Research Grant Director, Bay Area Lyme Foundation. "Every day, patients with Lyme disease are told their symptoms cannot be caused by Lyme, because they test negative on antibody tests or because they have received a single course of antibiotics. More research and funding are imperative."

In the study, ticks carrying B. burgdorferi spirochetes fed on ten primates. Four months post infection, half of the primates (five) received the antibiotic doxycycline orally for 28 days at a proportional dose to that used in human treatment. Five subjects were treated with placebo and all ten were evaluated by more than five different diagnostic methods to characterize any remaining infection. The researchers used several important techniques, including xenodiagnoses, to determine if the spirochete bacteria persisted.

The results show:
  • Few subjects displayed a rash. Although all subjects were infected, only one of the 10 displayed a rash with central clearing, the classical "bulls-eye" rash. The subject that developed this rash, interestingly, never mounted an immune response to five borrelia antigens throughout the study period, prior to and following treatment.
  • Organs may be infected even if antibody tests are negative. One subject which tested negative for B. burgdorferi by skin biopsy cultures, PCR and in vivo cultures, was found to have B. burgdorferi infecting the heart. Another untreated subject, who was ultimately shown to have residual Lyme bacteria inthe bladder, showed a decrease in immune response over the course of infection, with a negative xenodiagnosis test in the late stage, which would signal that the animal self-cured.
  • Intact spirochetes were found in three of five treated and four of five untreated subjects based on xenodiagnosis results 12 months after the tick bite.
  • Immune responses to B. burgdorferi varied greatly post-treatment, with one subject's antibody levels dropping to pre-bite levels for three antigens while another subject experienced elevated antibodies for the same antigens throughout the study period. This is significant because it demonstrates that subjects infected with the same strain of B. burgdorferi may have different immune responses to the same antigen. And, because humans, like primates, are genetically diverse, it underscores that testing antibody responses may be inherently unreliable as a singular diagnostic modality for Lyme disease.
  • Widespread and variable microscopic disease was observed in all infected subjects, despite antibiotic treatment. Compared to uninfected subjects of the same age, infected subjects in this study (treated and untreated) demonstrated Inflammation in and around the heart, in skeletal muscles, joints, and the protective sheath that covers the brain, and near peripheral nerves.
  • Rare, but intact B. burgdorferi spirochetes were found in the tissues of both the treated and untreated subjects. In two subjects treated with doxycycline, multiple Lyme bacteria were observed in the brain tissue. Others organs in which the spirochetes were observed included the heart, joints, bladder, skeletal muscle and adjacent to peripheral nerves.
Journal References:
  1. Monica E. Embers, Nicole R. Hasenkampf, Mary B. Jacobs, Amanda C. Tardo, Lara A. Doyle-Meyers, Mario T. Philipp, Emir Hodzic.Variable manifestations, diverse seroreactivity and post-treatment persistence in non-human primates exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi by tick feeding. PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (12): e0189071 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0189071
  2. Nicholas A. Crossland, Xavier Alvarez, Monica E. Embers. Late Disseminated Lyme Disease: Associated Pathology and Spirochete Persistence Post-Treatment in Rhesus Macaques. The American Journal of Pathology, 2017; DOI:10.1016/j.ajpath.2017.11.005

Nine In 10 NSW Homes Now Smoke-Free

15 December 2017: NSW Health
Nine out of 10 adults now live in smoke-free homes thanks to better support in helping people quit, according to the NSW Tobacco Snapshot 2017. 
NSW Health’s Executive Director of Population Health Dr Jo Mitchell said the NSW Government’s efforts to curb smoking, the leading cause of disease and premature death across the state, are working.
The NSW Government has invested $4.4 million in the 2017-18 State Budget into services that target chronic health issues, including tobacco control, and $1.8 million into the Cancer Institute NSW’s Quitline and iCanQuit services.
“Smoking is a dangerous habit, not just to smokers but those around them, and we are committed to reducing its impact on our lives,” Dr Mitchell said. 
“That’s why I’m pleased to see our efforts result in a continued drop in smoking across NSW, from around 20 per cent in 2007 down to 15 per cent in 2016. Importantly, we’ve also seen the smoking rate in Aboriginal populations drop from around 43 per cent in 2008 to 40 per cent in 2016, but we would like to see this rate fall much further.
NSW Health is investing in a number of grants and programs that target Aboriginal and multicultural communities. 
“Enforcement and tough laws have also played a key role in these results, with more than 3,200 tobacco retailers inspected from July 2016 to June 2017,” Dr Mitchell said.
During more than 2,200 inspections of smoke-free outdoor areas conducted between July 2016 and June 2017, 99 per cent of people in those areas complied with tough anti-smoking laws.
Businesses are also complying with laws at a consistently high level. Of the 900 tobacco retailers inspected in the same period, 94 per cent complied with laws restricting tobacco sales to minors.
NSW Health will continue to explore more ways to reduce smoking rates.
The NSW Tobacco Snapshot 2017 can be accessed on the NSW Health website:

$10 Million Funding Boost For Tokyo 2020 Athletes

December 13, 2017: Media Release - The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, Minister for Sport
The Turnbull Government will boost high performance sport funding with an additional $10 million as part of a targeted drive towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The extra investment will be injected across 18 Olympic and Paralympic sporting disciplines, supporting hundreds of athletes bound for Tokyo 2020.

The Turnbull Government has previously boosted funding towards the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, as well as the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

We’ve announced more than $101 million in direct high performance sport funding for the 2017-18 financial year.

The $10 million boost announced today will help ensure our Australian sports and athletes have the best support to reach their potential at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

It will help some exciting new and returning sports to get a head start on their Olympic preparations, including Surfing, Skate, Triathlon Mixed Team Relay and Softball.

Australian athletes show great promise in these sports, with Aussie women recently claiming all three podium spots on the World Surf League and Australia winning the Mixed Relay Triathlon world championships.

Support to team sports will be increased, with a focus on women’s teams. Australia’s Olympic gold medal-winning Women’s Rugby Sevens team will share in extra funding, along with women’s Football, Water Polo and Softball. 

Australia’s Paralympians will be supported, who as a team have been consistent performers on the international stage, finishing top five on the medal table for seven consecutive Summer Paralympics, since 1992. 

The funding will provide support to some of Australia’s best Paralympic prospects, including Wheelchair Rugby and Para-Canoeing as well as integrated and multi-medal programs such as Swimming, Cycling and Rowing.

Smaller combat sports such as boxing, judo, taekwondo and fencing will also benefit.

The AIS will be responsible for this funding and provide advice to monitor the ongoing distribution of these funds. It will be invested in the areas of coaching, training environments, sport science, and competition.

I also want to congratulate all the winners from AIS Sport Performance Awards last night, including Australia’s women’s football team the Matildas who won the Public Choice Team of the Year, with star striker Sam Kerr awarded Sports Personality of the Year and Matildas coach, Alen Stajcic, recognised as Coach of the Year. 

The Winter Olympics and Paralympics and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will be benchmark events next and it’s promising to see our best athletes in superb form, led by Female Athlete of the Year, hurdler Sally Pearson, and Male Athlete of the Year, snowboarder Scott James.

The Turnbull Government is committed to supporting Australia’s sporting ambitions, from grassroots participation through our elite international representatives. 

We want more Australians to play sport and for our professional teams and athletes to inspire even more to get involved. 

The full list of sports to benefit from additional $10 million funding includes: Boxing; Canoe and para-canoe; Cycling; Diving; Fencing; Football women’s; Judo; Rowing; Rugby Sevens men’s and women’s teams; Sailing; Skate; Softball; Surfing; Swimming; Taekwondo; Triathlon; Water Polo women’s; Wheelchair rugby.

NSW Government Launches $110 Million Summer School Maintenance Blitz

December 13, 2017: NSW Government
Schools across NSW will benefit from a $110 million maintenance blitz over the summer holidays so students can return to refreshed buildings for the new school year, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes announced today.

The summer holiday blitz is part of the NSW Government’s record $747 million school maintenance investment over the next four years announced in the 2017 Budget, allowing each and every school across the State to have their maintenance project lists slashed by December 2018.

“We are making good use of the summer break to carry out important projects while students are off enjoying their holidays,” Ms Berejiklian said. “This includes important roof works, new floor coverings, drainage and painting.”

Mr Stokes said this investment is another example of the Government’s commitment to public education and on delivering local infrastructure across NSW.

“Just like your family home, there are always jobs to be done to keep our schools in top condition,” Mr Stokes said. “With a $25 billion property portfolio of 2,200 schools there will always be maintenance to be done, but good management will keep the list as short as possible, and we are here doing just that.”

The NSW Government also announced as part of its 2017-18 Budget a record $4.2 billion over the next four years on capital expenditure to cater for rising enrolments. This represented a 61 per cent increase on the previous year’s capital program.

3 Reasons Not To Feed Your Dog The Christmas Ham

Published on 3 Dec 2017: The University of Sydney
Christmas is a time of feasting for our 2-legged family members but care needs to be taken with our 4-legged friends. Your dog is relying on you to decide what foods are naughty or nice. Staff at the Sydney School of Veterinary Science are providing a reminder to be pet-food aware over the holiday season. Find out what festive treats your dog should never eat.

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Matildas & Kerr Australia’s Fan Favourites At AIS Awards 2017

December 12, 2017 Australian Institute of Sport
Australia’s women’s football team the Matildas and superstar striker Sam Kerr were the big winners with fans at the AIS Sport Performance Awards in Sydney tonight.

Kerr was awarded ABC Sports Personality of the Year, voted on by the Australian public, ahead of Australian Kangaroos rugby league skipper Cameron Smith, AFL star Dustin Martin and Paralympic champion Curtis McGrath.

Proving the soaring popularity of the Matildas, Australian sport fans also voted them Public Choice Team of the Year ahead of NRL premiers the Melbourne Storm, AFL champions the Richmond Tigers and the Australian Diamonds netball team. The online poll, run in partnership between the AIS and ABC Grandstand, attracted almost 19,000 votes from fans.

Completing a trifecta of awards for the Matildas, Alen Stajcic was recognised by an AIS panel of experts as Coach of the Year.

The Matildas were finalists in six award categories, including Best Sporting Moment of the Year for their historic victory at the Tournament of Nations. The Best Sporting Moment, voted on by national media, was taken out by world champion boxer Jeff Horn for his underdog victory against Manny Pacquiao.

Almost 400 guests gathered at The Star in Sydney for the black tie function to celebrate the year in Australian sport, also highlighted by achievements in winter sport and women’s sport.

Australia’s form is building ahead of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in South Korea next year, winter sports taking out three major awards. World champion snowboarder Scott James claimed Male Athlete of the Year and Australian Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard was named Team of the Year after a record-breaking 2016-17 season. Alpine skier Mitchell Gourley produced Para Performance of the Year with a world championship victory.

Olympic gold medalist and hurdler Sally Pearson (pictured at the awards, above) was named Female Athlete of the Year for her inspirational world championship victory in the 100m hurdles in London. Young track cyclist Kelland O’Brien was named Emerging Athlete of the Year as a prominent member of Australia’s Men’s Track Pursuit team.

The inaugural AFL Women’s competition was another major milestone for women’s sport in 2017 and Susan Alberti was presented with the Award for Leadership for her vision and influence in driving the competition’s launch. President of the Australian Paralympic Committee Glenn Tasker was honoured for his long Service to Sport, particularly his dedication to increasing opportunity for athletes with a disability.

AIS Director Peter Conde said: “The AIS Sport Performance Awards are a wonderful chance to gather and celebrate world-class achievements. As new AIS Director I look forward to working with our Australian sporting partners in 2018 to deliver more success, including at the PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.”

AIS Sport Performance Awards winners

ABC Sports Personality of the Year (presented by ABC)
Sam Kerr (Football)

Female Athlete of the Year (presented by Berlei)
Sally Pearson (Athletics)

Male Athlete of the Year (presented by The Complete Dairy)
Scott James (Winter Sport)

Public Choice Team of the Year (presented by A.H. Beard)
Matildas (Football)

Best Sporting Moment (presented by 2XU)
Jeff Horn’s world boxing title (Boxing)

Coach of the Year (presented by Melbourne Business School)
Alen Stajcic (Football)

Para Performance of the Year (presented by Nestle)
Mitchell Gourley (Winter Sport)

Emerging Athlete of the Year (presented by Commonwealth Games Australia)
Kelland O’Brien (Cycling)

Team of the Year (presented by Gatorade)
Australian Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard (Winter Sport)

Award for Leadership (presented by Melbourne Business School)
Susan Alberti (Australian Football)

Service to Sport
Glenn Tasker (Australian Paralympic Committee)

Appointments To The Federal Courts

14 December 2017: Media release-  Attorney-General for Australia, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC
Today I announce a number of appointments to the federal courts, bringing a wealth of experience across a range of practice areas to the Federal Court of Australia, the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

On behalf of the Government, I congratulate all new federal court judges on their appointments and thank them for their willingness to serve the people of Australia. I wish each of them well in their judicial service.

Appointment of Deputy Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia
The Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the Hon William Alstergren, has also been appointed Deputy Chief Justice of the Family Court. He will continue to hold a dual commission as Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court. Chief Judge Alstergren completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Melbourne in 1989. He practised as a barrister in Melbourne from 1991, and took silk in 2012. During this time he was also elected President of the Australian Bar Association and Chairman of the Victorian Bar.

Appointments to the Federal Court of Australia
Perth Registry
The Hon Justice Katrina Banks-Smith and Mr Craig Colvin SC will commence in the Perth Registry on 12 and 13 February 2018, respectively.
The Hon Justice Katrina Banks-Smith is currently a Judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia. She completed a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Tasmania in 1988 and a Master of Laws from Cambridge in 1993. Her Honour signed the Bar Roll in 2009 and was appointed as Senior Counsel in 2013.

Mr Colvin completed a Bachelor of Jurisprudence in 1982 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1983 at the University of Western Australia. He signed the Bar Roll in 1995 and was appointed as Senior Counsel in 2001. He is widely regarded as one of the leaders of the Perth Bar. Mr Colvin’s principal areas of practice include administrative law, competition law, mining and petroleum, corporations law, equity and property.

Sydney Registry
Mr Thomas Thawley SC will commence in the Sydney Registry on 14 February 2018. Mr Thawley completed a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts at the Australian National University in 1995 and a Master of Laws at the University of Sydney in 2015. He signed the Bar Roll in 1998 and was appointed as Senior Counsel in 2012. He is a leading commercial silk, specialising in revenue law. Mr Thawley’s principal areas of practice include banking and financial services, bankruptcy and insolvency, commercial law, taxation and revenue, equity, trusts, administrative law and corporations law.

Appointments to the Family Court of Australia
Brisbane Registry
Judge Michael Baumann, who is currently a Judge of the Federal Circuit Court, has been promoted to the position of Judge at the Family Court, based in Brisbane. Judge Baumann was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1979 after completing Articles at the Solicitors Board Queensland. He completed a Master of Laws from the Queensland University of Technology in 2000.

Appointments to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia
Perth Registry
Dr Christopher Kendall will commence in the Perth Registry on 29 January 2018. Dr Kendall completed a Bachelor of Arts (Political Studies) (Honours) in 1988 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1991 from Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada. He signed the Bar Roll in Australia in 2001 and completed his Doctorate of Law at the University of Michigan that same year. Dr Kendall was appointed the Deputy President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in 2015. Dr Kendall’s principal areas of practice include administrative law, intellectual property law, trade practices law, immigration law, and constitutional law.

Melbourne Registry
Ms Caroline Kirton QC will commence in the Melbourne Registry on 29 January 2018. Ms Kirton completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and Bachelor of Laws in 1986 from the University of Melbourne, and a Master of Law from Monash University in 1994. She commenced as a barrister in 1990 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2011. Ms Kirton’s principal areas of practice include family law, construction law, arbitration, criminal law, property law, banking and finance law, equity and trusts, trade practices law and commercial litigation.

Sydney Registry
Ms Julia Baird SC will commence in the Sydney Registry on 20 February 2018. Ms Baird completed a Bachelor of Arts in 1981 and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) in 1983 from the University of Sydney. Ms Baird commenced as a barrister in 1992 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2008. Ms Baird’s principal areas of practice include commercial law, competition and consumer law, trade practices law, contract law, equity and intellectual property law.

Brisbane Registry
Mr Gregory Egan will commence in the Brisbane Registry on 18 December 2017. Mr Egan completed a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Queensland in 1980 and signed the Bar Roll in 1984. He has had an extensive practice at the Bar in both Queensland and New Guinea, where he has appeared as Counsel in many significant constitutional cases. He has also appeared in court martial proceedings in his capacity as a Commissioned Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. Mr Egan’s principal areas of practice include commercial law, maritime law, mining and mineral exploration and company law.

Appointment of Chief Executive and Principal Registrar of the High Court of Australia
I also announce the appointment of Ms Philippa Lynch PSM as the Chief Executive and Principal Registrar of the High Court of Australia. Ms Lynch is currently the First Assistant Secretary of Government Division in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Her term is for five years and commences on 10 February 2018.

Window Safety Device Requirements In Strata Schemes By March 13, 2018

To prevent children falling from windows, all strata buildings in NSW must be fitted with devices that enable the maximum window openings to be less than 12.5cm. Owners corporations must have devices installed on all common property windows above the ground floor by 13 March 2018. The safety devices must be robust and childproof.

Residents will still be able to open their windows. However, they will have the security of knowing that when the devices are engaged, children will be protected.

Details and answers to the below questions are available on the NSW Department of Fair Trading Page HERE
Which windows does this apply to?
Are there any alternatives to locks?
When do the window safety devices need to be installed?
Will this mean the windows will never be able to open?
How can we arrange for window safety devices in our scheme that won't cost a fortune?
If the windows have grills over them, do they still need locks?
How do I know if a window safety device is compliant?
Do I need a certified professional to install the window safety device?
As a lot owner, do I need to obtain permission to install a window safety device in my own lot?
Can the installation of window safety devices be delegated to each individual lot owner?

Information for manufacturers and suppliers
Information for building professionals
Are window safety devices included in the Tenancy Condition Report?
Is an owners corporation required to monitor the use of the window safety devices?
My window forms part of a swimming pool barrier, do the window safety requirements still apply?
Where can I get more information?
Which windows does this apply to?  

The laws apply to openable windows where the internal floor is more than 2m above the ground surface outside and within a child's reach (less than 1.7m above the inside floor) - see the diagram below.

Further details are explained in the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016.

The window safety requirements in NSW are based on the Deem-to-Satisfy provisions D2.24 of the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The BCA is part of the National Construction Code of Australia (NCC). For more information on the BCA or the NCC, visit the Australian Building Codes Board website.

Are there any alternatives to locks?  
The alternative is security screens, such as bars or grills on the windows so long as they have gaps less than 12.5cm. Flyscreens do not comply unless they are the reinforced security type and capable of resisting the very strong outward pressure which would prevent a child falling through.
For a handy window safety product guide, visit the Kids Don't Fly page on the NSW Health website. Information is provided in 11 languages.

When do the window safety devices need to be installed?  
If the window safety requirements are not met by 13 March 2018, owners corporations may face fines. Leaving it to the last minute places your scheme at risk of not complying by the due date and leaves young children vulnerable to falls from windows in your scheme.

Lot owners may install a window safety device in their property at any time, letting the owners corporation know. Tenants must get written permission from their landlord before installing locks that require drilling. Landlords cannot refuse a tenant's request unless they have a very good reason.

First Summer Heatwave: Stay Cool And Hydrated

14 December 2017: NSW Health
​Stay cool and hydrated is the message from NSW Health today, as the first heatwave for summer is set to sweep through much of the state.

Dr Ben Scalley, Director of Environmental Health, said temperatures are forecast to hit the high thirties and low forties throughout NSW, so it was important people took precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses.

A NSW Health study published this year found extreme heatwaves lead to a more than 10 per cent increase in both deaths and ambulance callouts.

“People can be unprepared for the first heat spike of summer, so we are reminding them to take safety measures against the effects of overheating and sun exposure,” Dr Scalley said.

“It’s important people keep up their water intake, stay cool and avoid strenuous physical activity in the heat of the day.

“Heat places a lot of strain on the body and can interfere with blood circulation and cause dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

Signs of heat-related illness may include nausea, vomiting, faintness and dizziness, loss of appetite, weakness, headaches, loss of sweating and reduced urine output.

People showing severe signs of heat-related illness should seek urgent medical attention through their GP or the emergency department at their nearest hospital.

To avoid heat-related illnesses people should take these precautions:
  • drink plenty of water, and remember to carry some with you when out and about.
  • avoid alcoholic, hot or sugary drinks.
  • plan your day around the heat, particularly in the middle of the day, and minimise physical activity.
  • keep the sun out by shading windows with curtains, blinds or closing shutters.
  • keep windows closed during the day until it cools down and shut again in the early morning.
  • try to spend time in an air-conditioned place like a shopping centre, library or cinema.
  • wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • when outdoors, stay protected from the sun by wearing a hat and sunscreen.
  • check on elderly neighbours and relatives.
“Some groups of people are mostly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, including older people, infants and children, people with a chronic medical condition and those who live alone,” Dr Scalley said.

“During hot weather, it’s important to stay in regular contact with elderly neighbours, friends and relatives and to look out for other vulnerable members of their community.”

More information can be found at the NSW Health website Beat the heat.

Registrations Open For The ABC’s First Annual Public Meeting

December 14, 2017: ABC
The ABC will stage its first Annual Public Meeting on 9 February, 2018, giving the community an opportunity to hear how the ABC is adapting to the future and delivering value for all Australians.

The public are invited to register their interest in attending this important event to learn about ABC strategy and to pose questions to the ABC Board and Leadership Team.

The national broadcaster will ensure that all Australians get a chance to participate via a live stream online.  The central hub will be one of the ABC’s television studios in Sydney, with live crosses to community events in Rockhampton in Queensland and Launceston in Tasmania.

ABC Chairman, Justin Milne, said the public meeting would provide a way for the ABC to demonstrate accountability and inform the community about its strategic direction in a similar way that companies do with their annual meetings.

“I think this is an important innovation for the ABC.  The Board is aware of the many challenges that confront the national broadcaster in the new digital landscape and it is important that we have a meaningful conversation with our audiences about the journey we are on,” Mr Milne said.

Australians are being encouraged to use the forum to ask questions of the ABC Board and management. Those interested can submit their questions online, ahead of the meeting.

The Annual Public Meeting will include:
  • Key-note addresses from the Chairman, Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer
  • Updates and information about programming and content
  • A Q&A session
Mr Milne said the ABC will demonstrate that in a time of unprecedented disruption in the media sector, its role in informing, entertaining and educating the community is more important than ever.

“Only the ABC is providing the depth and breadth of investigative journalism that Australians need in an increasingly complex world. Only the ABC can give the degree of commitment to local storytelling, to connecting our far-flung regions, and to showcase the best of Australian arts, music and science.”

For more information about how to register for the live stream, studio event or regional events please visit

Tasmania Confirms Status As National Forest Innovation Leader

14 December 2017: Media Release - Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources and Tasmanian Minister for Resources, Guy Barnett
Tasmania's status as a national leader in forestry practices and innovation has been further cemented with the official launch of a new National Institute for Forest Products Innovation hub in Launceston today.

The Institute is backed by $4 million funding from the Australian and Tasmanian Governments, which will be matched by industry contributions. It will be hosted by the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Tasmania's Launceston campus and led by a panel of industry experts.

Federal Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Senator Anne Ruston, said the new national institute will play a vital role in fostering collaboration, supporting cutting edge research, boosting innovation, maintaining jobs and securing Tasmania's place as the centre for research into hardwood forestry in Australia.

"The institute will ensure the use of Tasmania's sustainably managed wood production provides the highest possible return to the local economy and creates new local jobs, as well as developing new ideas and innovations that can be applied more widely," Minister Ruston said.

Tasmania's Minister for Resources, Guy Barnett, said the island state had a long history of forest products innovation dating back to the development of the hardwood pulp and paper industry in the 1920s.

"By making the most of local knowledge and our long-established and widely-recognised research and innovation capacity, the institute can build on this outstanding history to once again make us a world-leader in the next generation of wood products," Minister Barnett said.

An industry-driven regional committee has been established as part of the new institute to determine priority research projects for the forest and wood products industry.

Industry members of the committee are Shawn Britton, Tom Fisk, Suzette Weeding, Andrew Jacobs, James Neville Smith, Des Richardson and Les Walkden.  The Committee will also include Dr Libby Pinkard from the CSIRO, Professor Mark Hunt from the University of Tasmania, and representatives of the Australian and Tasmanian Governments.

Fast Facts:
  • Minister Ruston and Minister Barnett officially opened the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation hub in Launceston today.
  • More than 3650 people were employed (monthly average) in forest harvest, processing and manufacturing in Tasmania in 2016.
  • ABARES Australian forest and wood products statistics: March and June quarters 2017 released on 7/11 shows the forestry industry is now in its fourth consecutive year of growth. Exports of Australia's wood products reached a record $3.4 billion.
  • The volume of logs harvested is estimated to have reached record levels, increasing by 9 per cent to nearly 33 million cubic metres.​

10 Best Sydney Science Discoveries In 2017

December 15, 2017: University of Sydney
It's been a bumper year for scientific findings
From squirtable surgical glue to gravitational waves, University of Sydney scientists have been hitting the headlines in 2017.

1. Squirtable surgical glue
Biomedical engineers at the University of Sydney working with scientists in Boston, USA, developed potentially life-saving glue.

Named MeTro, the revolutionary product sets in just 60 seconds once treated with UV light. It also a built-in degrading enzyme which can be modified to determine how long the sealant lasts – from hours to months, in order to allow adequate time for the wound to heal.

University of Sydney McCaughey Chair in Biochemistry Professor Anthony Weiss said: "The potential applications are powerful – from treating serious internal wounds at emergency sites such as following car accidents and in war zones, as well as improving hospital surgeries."

2. How seasnakes lost their stripes
Professor Rick Shine, working with researchers in New Caledonia, found that industrial pollution was having an evolutionary impact on turtle-headed seasnakes living on coral reefs.

Professor Shine says that the findings are yet another example of rapid adaptive evolutionary change in action. For him, it’s also a more sinister reminder that “even on an apparently pristine coral reef, human activities can pose very real problems for the animals that live there”.

Claire Goiran, the study’s lead author, from Labex Corail & Université de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, got the idea that blacker skin might be related to pollutant exposure after learning that the darker feathers of urban pigeons in Paris store more zinc than lighter feathers.

3. Neutron stars collide
A University of Sydney team was the first in the world to confirm radio wave emissions emanating from the collision of two neutron stars 130 million light years away that produced measureable gravitational waves.

University of Sydney Associate Professor Tara Murphy was in the US when the announcement of the gravitational wave event occurred. 

“We immediately rang our team in Australia and told them to get onto the CSIRO telescope as soon as possible,” she said. “We were lucky in a sense in that it was perfect timing but you have to be at the top of your game to play in this space. It is intense, time-critical science.”

4. Brains don't stream, they strobe
An Australian-Italian collaboration found that our brains most likely process data from our environment as oscillations.

While our conscious experience appears to be continuous, the University of Sydney and Italian universities study suggests that perception and attention are intrinsically rhythmic in nature.

“These findings that auditory perception also goes through peaks and troughs supports the theory that perception is not passive but in fact our understanding of the world goes through cycles,” said Professor David Alais.

5. Babies' lives saved by later clamping
Thousands of preterm babies could be saved by waiting 60 seconds before clamping the umbilical cord after birth instead of clamping it immediately - according to two international studies coordinated by the University of Sydney’s National Health and Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Centre.

“We estimate that for every thousand very preterm babies born more than 10 weeks early, delayed clamping will save up to 100 additional lives compared with immediate clamping,” said the University of Sydney’s Associate Professor David Osborn, the review’s lead author and a neonatal specialist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

6. Storing 'lightning inside thunder'
A team at Sydney Nano developed a world-first prototype microchip that allows photonic - or light - information to be stored as acoustic waves. The design will help develop photonic chips, which can process data without producing the heat in typical chips.

“The information in our chip in acoustic form travels five orders of magnitude slower than in the optical domain,” said Dr Birgit Stiller, research fellow at the University of Sydney and supervisor of the project. “It is like the difference between thunder and lightning,” she said.

7. 'Bin chickens' like to carb load
Australian white ibis - loved or loathed as Sydney's 'bin chicken' - prefer acarbohydrate-rich diet in their adopted urban environment.

The research, by PhD student Sean Coogan, shows the ibis abandoning its traditional low-carb, high-protein diet from its western NSW wetland environment when it reaches the city.

“Urban Australian white ibis seem to be taking advantage of the abundance of high-carb human foods available in the city,” Mr Coogan said.

8. Ferals a big threat in the bush
Feral foxes and cats pose a bigger threat to native rodents than climate change, research from the University's School of Life and Environmental Sciences found.

Lead author Dr Aaron Greenville said removing introduced cats and foxes could increase rodent population by almost one in 10 in the study area within the Simpson Desert.

In earlier research this year, Dr Thomas Newsome, found that reintroducing dingoes and other apex predators could help control the feral pests.

“Humans need a greater tolerance of apex predators if we want to enjoy the environmental benefits they can provide”, said Dr Newsome.

9. Coffee + nap = zip!
Associate Professor Chin Moi Chow has been reviewing the relationship between sleep and caffeine and says that combining the two can give people an extra zing during the day.

She says that while coffee naps will power you for a couple of hours, they’re not the best way to pay back your sleep debt.

Getting enough sleep on most days is a better solution for alertness, performance and productivity. That’s because sleeping is vital for a range of brain and body functions.

10. Quantum component invented
A team led by Professor David Reilly in collaboration with Stanford University has invented a microcomponent important for the scaling up of quantum computers.

Invention of the microwave circulator is part of the device engineering needed to build a large-scale quantum computer.

“It is not just about qubits, the fundamental building blocks for quantum machines. Building a large-scale quantum computer will also need a revolution in classical computing and device engineering,” Professor Reilly said. 

Lead author of the research,and PhD candidate Alice Mahoney said: “Such compact circulators could be implemented in a variety of quantum hardware platforms, irrespective of the particular quantum system used."

Morning Star Tapestry To Shine In France

December 13, 2017: Media Release - Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield MP, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts , Manager of Government Business in the Senate and The Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security , Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

An Australian-made tapestry created to hang in the Sir John Monash Centre in France was cut from its loom today.

The Morning Star tapestry was designed by prominent Australian war artists Lyndell Brown and Charles Green and depicts winter dawn light illuminating a pathway through eucalypt trees and bush towards sunlight, with inset images of young soldiers departing for war.

The tapestry took close to 4,000 weaving hours to complete, with wool sourced from sustainable producers in Australia.

It will be permanently displayed in the Sir John Monash Centre, which opens in Villers-Bretonneux, France in April 2018.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said the tapestry was a moving tribute to the men and women who served on the Western Front.

“The Morning Star tapestry is a powerful tribute to the brave Anzacs who fought on the Western Front battlefields of the First World War,” Mr Tehan said.

“It is also a clear demonstration of the extraordinary talent of Australian weavers who have undertaken thousands of hours of painstaking work to produce this meaningful artwork.”

Minister for the Arts Mitch Fifield said the Morning Star tapestry was one of several projects to receive funding through the Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund, which was part of the Australian Government’s national Anzac Centenary program.

“The Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund is providing $4 million over four years for arts and culture projects that contribute to the Anzac legacy,” Mr Fifield said.

“The Morning Star tapestry will help visitors understand what Australians fought for and the places they kept in their hearts as they endured unimaginable hardship.”

The Sir John Monash Centre will be the focal point of the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front, which links First World War sites of significance to Australia, including museums, battlefields, memorials and cemeteries. 

Entry to the Centre is free, and bookings are strongly encouraged for peak periods around Anzac Day, the Centenary of the Battle of Hamel and Remembrance Day 2018.

For more information visit the Sir John Monash Centre website.

For more information on the Morning Star Tapestry visit the Australian Tapestry Workshop

Morning Star: Artist Statement - Lyndell Brown and Charles Green
This tapestry seeks to evoke the experience of arrival at a war, and in particular of Australians at the Western Front. With them on their arrival were their memories of Australia and their departure from home. These are the subjects of the tapestry. This tapestry aims to evoke the soldiers’ pathway from home to the Front, and emphasizes the incongruity between the Australia that they imagined as they journeyed further and further towards the Front. Just as the Centre provides both Australian and non-Australian visitors with an understanding of the impact of Australia’s involvement on the Western Front through an engagement with the places in which the Australians fought and the experiences of those who were there, so this tapestry aims to communicate to non-Australians and to Australian pilgrims an understanding of the places for which the Australians fought and the imaginary spaces that they carried with them. We know this is the case: Charles Green’s grandfather was one of those WW1 Australian soldiers at the Western Front, badly wounded and invalided on these precise battlefields, and we have his letters to home.

It therefore seems to us that it is absolutely essential, first, to evoke a mental place of Australian freedom and clear light; and, second, to evoke the sea-borne passage towards the soldiers’ arrival at the Front. The tapestry emphasises the disjunction between the terrible experiences that the museum describes rather than repeats them. It seems to us very important to present images such as soldiers might have carried in their hearts and imaginations as they arrived at the Western Front. If the Centre had been located in Australia, we would have chosen the reverse, to evoke the Front.

There are two personal contexts that we offer to illuminate our work. Charles Green’s grandfather served as an Australian soldier on the Western Front. He was gassed and lived the rest of his life as an invalid, as a deeply disturbed shadow. Although he died decades before Green was born, that WW1 tragedy was very present in his family and especially with his grandmother, by then a war widow. And interestingly, she spoke often about the soldiers’ love of Sir John Monash, describing him to us with great devotion. Second, in 2007 we were Australia’s Official War Artists, deployed into Iraq and Afghanistan for a period longer than any War Artist since the program was reinstituted in 1996, and during those deployments we spent all our time amongst soldiers on active duty, surprised by their complete support for war artists and humbled by their sense of public service. Ever since, our art has been dominated by reflections on the aftermath of war and the survival of the past into the present.

The imagery:
The overall image is dawn light during winter illuminating a pathway through eucalypt trees and bush towards sunlight. The inset images are a combination of departures to war by ship from Australia punctuated by visual comments (snaps of these young men, those who were about to enlist). We have deliberately chosen to make these images almost monochromatic—very tonal with a subtle but definite minimum of colour—since it seems to us, counter-intuitive though that seems, that the weavers at ATW have repeatedly demonstrated enormous, subtle virtuosity in translating very tonal images with precise grey ranges into tapestry (we are thinking of the remarkable Brook Andrew and David Noonan commissions of recent years).

Telescopes Team Up To Study Giant Galaxy

December 12, 2017: International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research
Astronomers have used two Australian radio telescopes and several optical telescopes to study complex mechanisms that are fuelling jets of material blasting away from a black hole 55 million times more massive than the Sun.

In research published today, the international team of scientists used the telescopes to observe a nearby radio galaxy known as Centaurus A.

"As the closest radio galaxy to Earth, Centaurus A is the perfect 'cosmic laboratory' to study the physical processes responsible for moving material and energy away from the galaxy's core," said Dr Ben McKinley from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) and Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia.

Centaurus A is 12 million light-years away from Earth -- just down the road in astronomical terms -- and is a popular target for amateur and professional astronomers in the Southern Hemisphere due to its size, elegant dust lanes, and prominent plumes of material.

The giant radio galaxy Centaurus A as observed by the Murchison Widefield Array telescope. Credit ICRAR/Curtin.

"Being so close to Earth and so big actually makes studying this galaxy a real challenge because most of the telescopes capable of resolving the detail we need for this type of work have fields of view that are smaller than the area of sky Centaurus A takes up," said Dr McKinley.

"We used the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) and Parkes -- these radio telescopes both have large fields of view, allowing them to image a large portion of sky and see all of Centaurus A at once. The MWA also has superb sensitivity allowing the large-scale structure of Centaurus A to be imaged in great detail," he said.

A ‘radio colour’ view of the sky above a ‘tile’ of the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope, located in outback Western Australia. The Milky Way is visible as a band across the sky and the dots beyond are some of the 300,000 galaxies observed by the telescope for the GLEAM survey. The Centaurus A radio galaxy is visible to the right of the image. Red indicates the lowest frequencies, green the middle frequencies and blue the highest frequencies. Credit: Radio image by Natasha Hurley-Walker (ICRAR/Curtin) and the GLEAM Team. MWA tile and landscape by Dr John Goldsmith / Celestial Visions.

The MWA is a low frequency radio telescope located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia's Mid West, operated by Curtin University on behalf of an international consortium. The Parkes Observatory is 64-metre radio telescope commonly known as "the Dish" located in New South Wales and operated by CSIRO.

Observations from several optical telescopes were also used for this work -- the Magellan Telescope in Chile, Terroux Observatory in Canberra, and High View Observatory in Auckland.

"If we can figure out what's going in Centaurus A, we can apply this knowledge to our theories and simulations for how galaxies evolve throughout the entire Universe," said co-author Professor Steven Tingay from Curtin University and ICRAR.

"As well as the plasma that's fuelling the large plumes of material the galaxy is famous for, we found evidence of a galactic wind that's never been seen -- this is basically a high speed stream of particles moving away from the galaxy's core, taking energy and material with it as it impacts the surrounding environment," he said.

By comparing the radio and optical observations of the galaxy the team also found evidence that stars belonging to Centaurus A existed further out than previously thought and were possibly being affected by the winds and jets emanating from the galaxy.

B. McKinley, S. J. Tingay, E. Carretti, S. Ellis, J. Bland-Hawthorn, R. Morganti, J. Line, M. McDonald, S. Veilleux, R. Wahl Olsen, M. Sidonio, R. Ekers, A. R. Offringa, P. Procopio, B. Pindor, R. B. Wayth, N. Hurley-Walker, G. Bernardi, B.M. Gaensler, M. Haverkorn, M. Kesteven, S. Poppi, L. Staveley-Smith.The jet/wind outflow in Centaurus A: a local laboratory for AGN feedback. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2017; DOI:10.1093/mnras/stx2890

Floating Sculpture Of Heritage Escalators Unveiled At Wynyard

December 2017: By University of Sydney
Public art project evokes past histories and future journeys
University of Sydney lecturer, artist and sculptor Chris Fox has unveiled a major site-specific installation suspended from the ceiling above a bank of escalators inside Wynyard Station in Sydney's CBD.

Chris Fox (centre) with his new installation Interloop at Wynyard Station. Photo: Josh Raymond.

The historic wooden escalators that served Sydney commuters at Wynyard Station for more than eight decades were removed this year. Now the iconic timber-structure has been reborn as part of a five-tonne floating sculpture titled Interloop.

Chris Fox, a senior lecturer in art processes and architecture in the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning commented: “Connecting yesterday and tomorrow, ‘Interloop’ interrogates the conceptual and material boundaries between art and architecture. It is a physical re-interpretation of the historic wooden-stepped Wynyard escalators initially built in 1931, that re-purposes the hardwood from the heritage treads of now retired escalators, into a sculpture weighing over five tonnes.”

The hovering sculpture at Wynyard loops together two pairs of reconfigured heritage escalators measuring more than 50 metres in length and incorporating 244 wooden escalator treads and 4 escalator combs.

Taking six months to design and engineer, the sculpture took 12 weeks to fabricate with over a kilometre of welding, before an intensive 48-hour installation period. Interloop is built from high strength marine grade aluminium and suspended via new steel beams installed into Wynyard Station. The wooden treads from the original escalators have been refastened to the accordion like aluminium surface.

Interloop floats above the heads of commuters as they travel on the escalators linking York Street to the main concourse level of Wynyard Station.

With the re-purposing of the wooden treads the sculpture aims to evoke memories of passengers and modes of travel from the past while conjuring complimentary ideas of journey and travel, start and finish, here and there, as well as past and future.

Chris Fox’s past works have playfully explored the technical and conceptual grammar of architecture and construction by altering sites through installation, object and drawing. He has exhibited in numerous solo, group and collaborative exhibitions in Australia, the USA and Europe, with an established sculptural practice of large-scale public and private commissioned artworks. Chris has recently completed a Master of Fine Arts at Sydney College of the Arts.