Monday 20 May 2024

North Coast Voices Notice to Readers, 20 May 2024


North Coast Voices will not be posting between Monday, 20 May and Thursday, 23 May 2024.

Apologies to readers and browsers.


Sunday 19 May 2024

For around 43 years the invasive Fire Ant has been expanding its territory on the Australian east coast and the federal & state governments have still not eradicated this dangerous menace - in fact they appear to be losing the battle

Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) nests have been surfacing on the Australian east coast from Port of Brisbane, Qld to Port Botany, NSW beginning in February 2001 but are believed to have actually arrived on the Australian east coast up to 20 years earlier, given the initial Port of Brisbane discovery uncovered 470 known colonies spread over 8,300 hectares.

The most recent NSW infestation was found in northern NSW at Wardell, near Ballina, on 19 January 2024.

Approximately 99 per cent of the Australian mainland is vulnerable to this invasive species which according to the National Fire Ant Eradication Program has the capacity to surpass the combined damage done each year by our worst pests: feral cats, wild dogs, foxes, camels, rabbits and cane toads.

Image courtesy of Invasive Species Council under creative commons licence 4.0

On the 18 October 2023, the Fire Ant situation was referred to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee for inquiry and report by 18 April 2024.

The 96-page report was published on 13 May 2024 under the title "Red imported fire ants in Australia: Don't Let This Come Back to Bite Us".

The report made ten recommendations which, in diplomatic language, pointed to the fact there is no statutory body overseeing the current eradication plan. 

While the Queensland-focussed 10 year plan itself, now morphed into a broader 5 year plan struggling under the need for expanded expertise, is still significantly underfunded and hampered by past poor execution starting from the federal-states decision making right down to regional level response. With the most notable blunder occurring during the federal Howard Liberal Government years when funding was permanently withdrawn around four years into the original eradication response. This was followed in 2012 by a Qld Newman Liberal Government reduced both funding and staff numbers in that state's fire ant eradication response. Both these events at various points in time have (not without a degree of justification) been blamed for the current failure to either eradicate or contain the spread of fire ants in the eastern half of the country.

So perhaps the following news article should come as no surprise.

ABC News, 18 May 2024:

When Amanda King and her mother Leanne Williams were bitten by fire ants, they were not prepared to become frontline recruits in the federal government's battle with the pest.

The pair were last year bitten multiple times at their Kleinton home, north of Toowoomba, resulting in painful pustules on their legs and arms.

They reported the suspicious nests to the state and federally funded National Fire Ant Eradication Program (NFAEP) in April last year and it took 67 days for a program officer to inspect and subsequently eradicate the pests.

What happened during that time, Ms King said, were repeated requests for them to collect photographic and physical evidence before inspectors would visit their home.

"He basically said, 'No. You need to send photos first,' and then he sent an email with specifications of what to send," Ms King said.

"I rang back and said, 'I can't get photos.'"

What are fire ants and why do they pose such a threat?

There are fears the spread of fires ants could change the outdoor lifestyle Australians know and love.

Ms King, a veterinary nurse who often works 6am to 6pm, said it was difficult to take accurate photos in the dark and that the program was putting too much of the surveillance burden on the public.

"What happens if it's some 70-year-old lady who thinks she has [them]?" she said.

"She's probably not going to have an iPhone that's going to take a proper photo. I think it's unfair for them to do that, so that needs to change."

Her mother agrees....

The ants, which were first detected in 2001 in Brisbane, have spread to south east Queensland and northern New South Wales, with concerns they could enter the Murray-Darling river system after being found at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre in April [78 nests].

Biosecurity zone to be set up

A biosecurity zone will be set up within a 5-kilometre radius of the Oakey base on Monday, placing further legal requirements on those in the zone.

Yesterday, 4 kilometres from Amanda and Leanne's home, fire ants were also officially detected in Meringandan West for the first time.

NFAEP said public help was vital to the program.

"Reports from the public are vital to our national eradication effort and we thank Ms King for her vigilance in notifying us about this sighting," the spokesperson said.

But with 36,945 suspected fire ant reports made since May 2023, and 13,786 of them confirmed as positive, testing is a mammoth task for the governments and departments involved..... [my yellow highlighting]

Read the full article at

Saturday 18 May 2024

Quotes of the Week

"'Repetition, cliché, malapropism, daft diction, plodding syntax, more cliché, and bucketloads of sentimentality? This book has got it all.'.....I suspect that Plans For Your Good will deliver unto posterity the portrait of a leader driven by profound faith, yes, but a leader who allowed that faith to licence a political career characterised by evasions, refusals and shockingly little care for the lives of the poor, the suffering and the vulnerable."

[Writer & editor Catriona Menzies-Pike reviewing former Australian prime minister & retired Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison's meagre memoir, "Plans For Your Good: A Prime Minister’s Testimony of God’s Faithfulness" in Crikey on 14 May 2024]

"Reliable industry source says #ScottyFromGilead’s book has sold 1,003 copies so far… #auspol"

[Chris Wallace posting on X/Twitter on 14 May 2024]

Meme of the Week


via @L_DeWeaver

Friday 17 May 2024

State of Play in the Occupied Palestinian Territory of Gaza Strip, Day 214 on 17 May 2025


According to the United Nations by Day 214 (08.05.24) there were 34,622 recorded Palestinian fatalities in Israel's War on Gaza, 24,686 of which have been fully identified and of those identified 7,797 were children, 4,959 women, 1,924 elderly, and 10,006 men.

Today is Day 223, there is still no ceasefire and est. 1.7 million Palestinian men, women and children have been internally displaced by Israel's ongoing punitive war.

Of these internally displaced persons tens of thousands have had to flee the Jabilia refugee camp in northern Gaza since 11 May 2024 due to an sustained IDF assault and another est. 600,000 people have been part of a forced evacuation from Rafah and it refugee camp since 6-8 May, as Israeli forces completely closed the border crossing bringing humanitarian aid to southern Gaza and continued to target the city.

Internally displaced Palestinians arrive to Khan Younis after leaving Rafah following an evacuation order issued by the Israeli army, southern Gaza Strip, 11 May 2024. EFE-EPA/MOHAMMED SABER


The Israeli Defence Force killing of civilians continues across the Gaza Strip.

On 13 May 2024 Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the country intends to file a declaration of intervention in South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in light of Israel’s increasing aggression against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, as well as the systematic practices perpetrated against the Palestinian people, such as the targeting of civilians and the destruction of infrastructure. Egypt’s announcement follows Columbia and Libya's requests to intervene in the case.

On 15 May the bloc of 27 nations comprising the European Union issued a statement titled "Gaza: Statement by the High Representative on Israel’s operation in Rafah" calling on Israel to refrain from further exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and reopen the crossing point of Rafah and warning that should Israel continue its military operation in Rafah, it would inevitably put a heavy strain on the EU’s relationship with Israel.

Yesterday,16 May 2024 and again today 17 May the International Court of Justice scheduled public hearings in the matter of Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel) having received an urgent request for the indication of additional provisional measures and the modification of previous provisional measures from the Republic of South Africa.

Thursday 16 May 2024

Former Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison exceeding his authority and expertise while in the US this week


In the U.S. this week in an attempt to drum up sales of his meagre memoir, Scott Morrison meets with Donald Trump in New York in between Trump's criminal trial hearings. 

Heaven knows how indiscrete Morrison has been during this conversation. His own party was worried about the national security risk he may have represented in 2021 in relation to this AUKUS submarine deal.

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Is this going to be one of the shorter 'neutral' periods in that dance Australia's weather conditions do between El Niño and La Niña climate patterns - approximately 44 days before the pointer swung towards "La Niña Watch"


It appears that Australia has a 50-50 chance of entering a La Niña event in the second half of 2024.

La Niña typically means:

  • Increased rainfall across much of Australia

  • Cooler daytime temperatures (south of the tropics)

  • Warmer overnight temperatures (in the north)

  • Shift in temperature extremes

  • Decreased frost risk

  • Greater tropical cyclone numbers

  • Earlier monsoon onset

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology: In eastern Australia, the average December-March rainfall during La Niña years is 20% higher than the long-term average, with eight of the ten wettest such periods occurring during La Niña years. This is particularly notable for the east coast, which tends to be less affected by La Niña during the winter months but can experience severe flooding during La Niña summers.

The record breaking NSW Northern Rivers floods of February-March 2022 occurred in a La Niña event - part of the 'triple dip' La Niña which occurred in 2020-2022.

Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Climate Driver Update: Climate drivers in the Pacific, Indian and Southern oceans and the Tropics

14 May 2024


La Niña Watch—some signs of La Niña formation later in 2024

La Niña Watch

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently neutral. There are some early signs that a La Niña might form in the Pacific Ocean later in 2024. As a result, the Bureau's ENSO Outlook has shifted to La Niña Watch. When La Niña Watch criteria have been met in the past, a La Niña event has subsequently developed around 50% of the time. There is about an equal chance of neutral ENSO conditions in the same outlook period.

Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the central Pacific have been steadily cooling since December 2023. This surface cooling is supported by a significant amount of sub-surface cooling in the central and eastern Pacific. Recent cloud and surface pressure patterns are ENSO-neutral.

The Bureau's modelling suggests that ENSO will likely remain neutral until at least July 2024. It is important to emphasise that early signs of La Niña are most relevant to the climate of the tropical Pacific, and that the long-range forecast for Australian rainfall and temperature provides better guidance for local climate.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is currently neutral. The most recent 2 weeks have seen the IOD index within neutral thresholds, and follow 7 weeks of the index being above the positive IOD threshold (+0.40 °C). The current SST observations suggest that recent development of a positive IOD may have stalled. If a positive IOD eventually develops, it would be earlier in the calendar year than is typical historically.

Global sea surface temperatures (SSTs) have been the warmest on record for each month between April 2023 and April 2024, with April 2024 SSTs warmer than April 2023. The global pattern of warmth is affecting the typical historical global pattern of sea surface temperatures associated with ENSO and IOD variability. As the current global ocean conditions have not been observed before, inferences of how ENSO or IOD may develop in 2024 that are based on past events may not be reliable.

The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) is currently neutral (as at 13 May). Forecasts indicate the index is mostly likely to remain neutral or become positive in the coming fortnight.

The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) is currently weak. Most models forecast indicate that the MJO will remain weak before re-strengthening over the eastern Indian Ocean or Maritime Continent region from mid- to late-May.