Showing posts with label New South Wales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New South Wales. Show all posts

Friday, 29 May 2020

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Will Scotty From Marketing's pet National COVID-19 Coordination Commission recommend lifting the Coal Seam Gas Moratorium in place across the NSW Northern Rivers region?

"Nev Power: The Prime Minister 'rang me ... and said your country needs you.' "  [Financial Review, 3 April 2020]

On 20 March 2020 Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison created the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) to “ coordinate advice to the Australian Government on actions to anticipate and mitigate the economic and social impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic” and “advise the Prime Minister on all non-health aspects of the pandemic response”.

This is a list of NCCC commission members and key staff for the period 23 March to 22 September 2020 with remuneration for their services where known:

Neville Power, Deputy Chairman of Strike Energy Ltd an oil and gas exploration company – remuneration by PM&C contract $294,079.50. Power has announced he is temporarily stepping aside from his position at Strike Energy to avoid perceptions of conflict of interest. However, he appears to be retaining 12,612,885 fully paid Strike Energy shares (worth in the vicinity of $2.4 milllion) & options on 6 million more held by his own Myube discretionary investment trust.

Deputy Chairman
David Thodey, Chairman CSIRO – paid expenses only

Greg Combet, consultant, Chairman of IFM Investors and Industry Super Australia - remuneration by PM&C contract $118,800
Jane Halton, board member ANZ, Clayton Utz, Crown Resorts, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, US Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation and
chairman of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, COTA, Crown Sydney and Vault Systems - remuneration by PM&C contract $118,800
Paul Little, property developer, Chairman and Founder of the Little Group, Chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation and Skalata Ventures - remuneration by PM&C contract $108,000 for 2 days per week
Catherine Tanna, Managing Director of EnergyAustralia, board member Reserve Bank of Australia and Business Council of Australia – remuneration by PM&C contract $54,000 for 1 day per week

Key Staff
Peter Harris, public policy adviser, CEO of NCCC – remuneration N/K
Executive Assistant to Chairman NCCC – remuneration by PM&C contract $73,000 paid into the same Myube discretionary investment trust as the remuneration received by NCCC Chairman.

Andrew N. Liveris, special advisor to NCCC, board member IBM, Worley Parsons, Saudi Aramco, on advisory board of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and NEOM, controversial former Chairman & CEO of Dow Chemical and Trump supporter– remuneration N/K

For the more than $885,479 in taxpayer dollars spent on this commission over a six month period, Australia gets a website of sorts along with a Twitter account NCCCgovau and, what is shaping up to be a lack of transparency and accountability concerning advice this commission gives behind closed doors to government.

According to The Guardian on 21 May 2020:

A leaked draft report by a manufacturing taskforce advising the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC) recommends the Morrison government make sweeping changes to “create the market” for gas and build fossil fuel infrastructure that would operate for decades.

Its vision includes Canberra underwriting an increased national gas supply, government agencies partnering with companies to accelerate development of new fields such as the Northern Territory’s vast Beetaloo Basin, and states introducing subsidy schemes for gas-fired power plants.

It says the federal government should help develop gas pipelines between eastern states and the north, and potentially a $6bn trans-Australian pipeline between the east and west, by either taking an equity position, minority share or underwriting investments.

The taskforce, headed by….Saudi Aramco board member Andrew Liveris, positions lower-cost gas as the answer to building a transformed manufacturing sector that it says could support at least 85,000 direct jobs, and hundreds of thousands more indirectly.

But it does not consider alternatives to gas, or what happens if greenhouse gas emissions are cut as promised under the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Gas is usually described as having half the emissions of coal when burned, though recent studies have suggested it could be more.

The Liveris report does not mention climate change, Australia’s emissions reduction targets or the financial risk, flagged by institutions in Australia and overseas, of investing in fossil fuel as emissions are cut.

While several assessments have found renewable energy backed by storage is now the cheapest option for new electricity generation, the report says gas is “key to driving down electricity cost and improving investment in globally competitive advanced industry”.

Its focus is consistent with the NCCC chairman, Nev Power, a former Fortescue Metals chief and current board member at gas company Strike Energy, who has said in interviews that cheap gas would be critical to Australia’s future. Gas has been strongly backed by the prime minister, Scott Morrison, and the energy and emissions reduction minister, Angus Taylor, who has argued for a gas-fired recovery from the pandemic.

According to Friends of the Earth Australia the leaked document also suggests lifting the coal seam gas moratorium in New South Wales, which is an issue I’m sure the Northern Rivers region will be keeping a close eye on.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Time to fight for the forests in New South Wales

In the 2019-20 bushfire season wild fires ravaged forests across New South Wales.

The 100km deep coastal zone running the length of the state was particularly hard hit, but Nambucca State Forest was spared and is a critical refuge for unique wildlife still struggling after those fires.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 1 May 2020 that; Government logging has resumed in fire-damaged forests in NSW despite warnings that devastated bushland and endangered wildlife are too fragile to withstand further disruption.....about 92 per cent of the area set for logging was burnt in the fires.

On the morning of Friday 15 May 2020, Gumbaynggirr Traditional Owners and the Nambucca community peacefully demonstrated outside the forest and successfully stopped the NSW Forestry Corporation logging for the day. 

This forest is one of the few remaining patches of unburnt koala habitat and critical refuge for wildlife after the recent bushfire season. 

Community action brought a welcome reprieve but the fight is just beginning. 

The people of New South Wales still need to make sure Nambucca State Forest is kept safe for good. 

Support the Gumbaynggirr Traditional Owners on the frontline by calling on your MP to take urgent action to stop this logging destruction.

Join the fight and email your own state MP to save Nambucca and all native forests from the chopping block.

If you live in the Oxley state electorate make sure to email local Nationals MP Melinda Pavey at

At 10am on Tuesday 19 May 2019 logging trucks again entered one of the few unburnt refuges in Nambucca State Forest at Jack Ridge Road, Nambucca. If you live in the region now is the time to protest legally along boundaries of this forest at logging road entrances.

The 'Protect Nambucca Heads State Forest' group have put out a call for assistance.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Just a reminder that although the Australian Parliament is not regularly sitting during the COVID-19 pandemic, the drive to dismantle environmental protections continues apace

The Morrison Coalition Government, aided and abetted by the NSW Coalition Government and industry is pressing ahead with dismantling New South Wales environmental protections by omission & commission.

Here are just five examples.....

The Oops, my bad! Defence

The Age, 10 May 2020:

One of NSW's major thermal coal miners has admitted it submitted inaccurate figures on the carbon emissions impact of its fuel in an environmental declaration to the state government.

Centennial Coal stated in its submission for an extension of its Angus Place coal mine near Lithgow that burning its coal would produce 80 kilograms of carbon dioxide per tonne. Similar mines – including two of its own – actually cause 30 times more emissions, or 2.4 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of coal.

"Absolutely, we stuffed up," Katie Brassil, the company's spokeswoman said. "Our consultants got it wrong and so we got it wrong."

The assessment of emissions resulting from burning fossil fuels has become a sensitive one in NSW after approvals for two projects were rejected because of the impact of so-called Scope 3 or downstream emissions resulting from burning the product……

Don’t Look Here, Look Over There!

Channel 9 News, 9 May 2020:

A controversial plan for a US company to mine coal beneath a Sydney drinking water dam has been approved by the New South Wales state government while focus was on COVID-19.

Woronora reservoir, an hour's drive south of the CBD, is part of a system which supplies water to more than 3.4 million people in Greater Sydney.

The approval will allow Peabody Energy to send long wall mining machines 450 metres below the earth's surface to crawl along coal seams directly below the dam.

Dr Kerryn Phelps says the fact the decision was made "under the cover of coronavirus" is "unfathomable".

NSW has spent 12 of the last 20 years in drought, with record low rainfall plunging much of the state into severe water shortage last year.

"We know about the potential for catastrophe," Dr Phelps told

"We just cannot let this [decision] go unchallenged."…..

Washing Their Hands Of The Problems They Caused

Experts warn the Morrison government is not using its legal powers to protect wildlife from devastating bushfires, which killed billions of animals in the summer.

Under international law the Commonwealth is responsible for maintaining the biodiversity of World Heritage Areas. Under federal law, it’s also responsible for protecting threatened species listed under the Environment Protection Biodiversity Act. But experts say the Commonwealth is yet to fulfil its responsibilities.

A wombat in the charred remains of a Kangaroo Valley bushfire.CREDIT:WOLTER PEETERS

Environment minister Sussan Ley has argued states and territories have "primary" responsibility for wildlife. But environmental law expert, University of Tasmania professor Jan McDonald, said the environment minister is legally obliged to work with states to prevent bushfire damage to threatened species and World Heritage Areas.
A spokesman for Ms Ley said "other than Commonwealth-managed National Parks [such as Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta], natural disaster preparedness and response planning is led by states and territories as part of their role as the primary regulators of Australia’s plants and animals."….

Rigging The Books

The Guardian, 8 May 2020:

The federal government has stopped listing major threats to species under national environment laws, and plans to address listed threats are often years out of date or have not been done at all.

Environment department documents released under freedom of information laws show the government has stopped assessing what are known as “key threatening processes”, which are major threats to the survival of native wildlife.

Conservationists say it highlights the dysfunctional nature of Australia’s environmental framework, which makes aspects of wildlife protection optional for government.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act is being reviewed, a once-a-decade requirement under the legislation, and there are calls for greater accountability rules to be built into Australia’s environmental laws.

It follows longstanding criticism that the act is failing to curb extinction.

An unacceptable excuse’

In a series of reports since 2018, Guardian Australia has uncovered multiple failures including delays in listing threatened species and habitats, threatened species funding being used for projects that do not benefit species, critical habitat not being protected, and recovery actions for species not being adopted or implemented.

The act lists threats such as feral cats, land clearing and climate change as key threatening processes that push native plants and animals towards extinction.

Once a threat is listed, the environment minister decides whether a plan – known as a threat abatement plan – should be adopted to try to reduce the impact of the threat on native species.

But a 2019 briefing document shows the department has stopped recommending the government’s threatened species scientific committee assess new key threatening processes for potential listing.

Addressing threats to nature ... should not be treated as a luxury
Evan Quartermain”

Among its reasons given is that the department has limited resources to support the work.

The document says key threatening processes have “limited regulatory influence” – that they have little effect – and the department has limited capacity to support assessments of them. Because of this, the department did not recommend any of the key threatening processes put forward “as priorities for assessment”….

Quick, Before They Notice!

The Guardian, 23 April 2020:

The environment minister, Sussan Ley, has flagged the government may change Australia’s national environment laws before a review is finished later this year.

Ley said she would introduce “early pieces of legislation” to parliament if she could to “really get moving with reforming and revitalising one of our signature pieces of environmental legislation”.

It follows business groups and the government emphasising the need to cut red tape as part of the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, and comes as the businessman Graeme Samuel chairs an independent statutory review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. An interim report is due in June, followed by a final report in October.

When the review was announced, the government said it would be used to “tackle green tape” and speed up project approvals.

Environmental organisations have stressed the need for tougher environmental protections to stem Australia’s high rate of extinction. Australia has lost more than 50 animal and 60 plant species in the past 200 years and recorded the highest rate of mammalian extinction in the world over that period.

Ley said, with the interim report due by the middle of the year, she expected Samuel would “in the course of the review, identify a range of measures that we can take to prevent unnecessary delays and improve environmental standards”.

Where there are opportunities to make sensible changes ahead of the final EPBC review report, I will be prepared to do so,” she said.

On Thursday, Ley and the prime minister, Scott Morrison, said work was already under way to speed up environmental assessments of projects and that the number of on time “key decisions” in the EPBC process had improved from 19% in the December quarter to 87% in the March quarter…..

An environment department spokesman said key decisions covered three items in the assessment process: the decision on whether a project requires assessment under the act, the decision on what assessment method will be used, and the final decision on whether or not to approve the project.....

Monday, 4 May 2020

By 24 April 2020 there were 1,346,172 unemployed people across Australia, at least 500,000 of whom had lost their jobs due to the pandemic

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in January 2020 there were est. 778,700‬ people of workforce age who were unemployed in Australia and, est. 207,200 (26.6%) of these were New South Wales residents.

By 24 April 2020 there were est. 1,346,172 unemployed people (between the ages of 15 to 64 years) spread across the nation and, it is likely that unemployed people in New South Wales then exceeded est. 224,700 individuals.

The national figure represents an additional 567,472 unemployed people between January and late April - with an est. 500,000 of this number out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Initial results in a Monash Univerity ongoing study suggests that 90% of those who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 public health restrictions/changed economic climate were given less than one week's notice and of those 44.7% received no notice at all.

Processing unemployment benefit applications for over half a million extra Australians in need is taking time and, est. 317,597 applications were still outstanding on 24 April.

Apart from an initial $750 economic support payment for those receiving Jobseeker (previously Newstart), no enhanced unemployment benefits or JobKeeper* subsidised wage payments commenced until after 27 April 2020, with some payments not due to be received until 11 May [See Senate Select Committee on COVID-19, public hearing transcript, 30 April 2020, p.22]. 

Which means that, commencing on 28 February, between est. 20,320 to 249,875 Australian citizens had been without income support** and those single people on unemployment benefits had been struggling to live on as little as est. $18-$40 per day.

According to a Senate estimates hearing on 30 April, est. 400,000 more people are expected to lose their jobs by September 2020, at which time the unemployment rate is predicted to be around 13 per cent.

Goldman Sachs analysts are reportedly predicting an effective unemployment rate*** of 19 per cent by June-July.

Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison is adamant that once the pandemic crisis passes all enhanced unemployment benefit rates will return to pre-pandemic levels - he is less clear about where the est. 1.74 million out of work Australians will be able to find a job.


* As of 28 April 2020 an est. 540,000 businesses have registered for the JobKeeper wage subsidisation scheme. The est. 3.3 million workers in these businesses are considered employed. JobKeeper wage payments to workers are subject to tax which is witheld by employers before payment is made.

** This last figure does not take into consideration unemployed non-citizens on student or work visas who are ineligible to apply for unemployment benefits.

*** An effective unemployment rate takes into consideration those who have had their hours of paid worik reduced, those who have given up looking for work since they lost their jobs and, those receiving JobKeeper payments but whose employer has temporarily ceased operating or is not operating at full capacity and therefore they are not going to work.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

A reminder that in the middle of a pandemic the old problems remain for land & climate

On 24 April 2020 the NSW Dept. of Primary Industries recorded that 64.6 per cent of the NSW North Coast is still in drought, 21 per cent is drought affected and 14.1 per cent no longer in drought.

This is the Clarence Valley showing by sector In Drought (light ochre to dark orche), Drought Affected (light to darker grey) and Non Drought (green tones):

Clarence Valley LGA outlined by sector
Data current to 24/4/2020 (AEST)
Analysis by NASA shows the NSW fires emitted about 195m tonnes of CO2 from 1 August to December 2019.

Permissions for logging in 2019-2020 firegrounds have been granted by NSW Berejiklian Government.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Coastal freighter torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in WWII has been discovered off Crescent Head NSW

During World War Two 19 merchant vessels were sunk in NSW coastal waters.

On 27 April 2020 it was announced that the wreck of one of these ships - sunk by torpedo with only 5 survivors out of a crew 37 - had been found off Cresent Head.

The Wollongbar II was a single screw steamship owned by the North Coast Steam Navigation Company Ltd. At 2239 tons and 87 metres in length, the vessel had been built at Lithgow’s Ltd shipyard at Port Glasgow, Scotland in 1922. Wollongbar II was built to replace an earlier steamer of the same name wrecked at Belongil Beach, Byron Bay in 1921. IMAGE: NSW Government Premier & Cabinet information sheet.

The Daily Examiner, 29 April 2020, p.5:

A coastal freighter torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in WWII has been discovered off Crescent Head. 

Acting Minister for Veterans Geoff Lee said the SS Wollongbar II was confirmed by archaeologists from Heritage NSW after it was reported by the local community. 

“In 1943 a Japanese submarine, the I-180, destroyed the freight vessel with two torpedos killing 32 people on board,” said Mr Lee..... 

Director of Heritage Operations at Heritage NSW Tim Smith OAM said the discovery would reveal some amazing stories. 

“We want relatives of those who sailed on the SS Wollongbar II to get in contact, so we can share findings of the survey conducted by our archaeologists,” Mr Smith said.

Recent changes to COVID-19 gathering & travelling rules

NSW Premier, media release, 28 April 2020:

Update on COVID-19 restrictions

The NSW Government has announced an update on COVID-19 restrictions and how our schools and retail outlets will look for the month of May.

There will be three key changes that will take effect across NSW next month:
  1. From Friday, 1 May up to two adults and their dependent children will be allowed to visit another household.
  2. We will see a return of face-to-face teaching from 11 May, and then will consider accelerating a full return to school as soon as possible.
  3. There have never been restrictions in NSW on what people can and cannot buy, however there may be increased retail activity, with some businesses choosing to re-open. It is important these shops maintain social distancing and hygiene requirements.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said this update on visits to households has been made to reduce social isolation and improve mental health.
“It extends the existing guidelines of being able to leave home for ‘care or medical purposes’,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“The two adults need not be related.
“The last thing any of us want to see is a huge spike in cases.
“We need anyone with even the mildest of symptoms anywhere in NSW to stay home and come forward for testing.”
There is no limit on how far you can travel within NSW so long as you respect the rules and the reason is consistent with one of the four categories for leaving home.
It is important when visiting another household social distancing is maintained and extra hygiene precautions are taken. When visiting, meeting in an outdoor environment such as home garden, backyard or verandah will help reduce the risk.
If you are visiting those aged over 70 or those with underlying health conditions we are urging you to be extra vigilant with social distancing and hygiene measures.
It is also important to remember that you do not visit anyone if you or they are unwell, even if you have mild symptoms like fatigue or a scratchy throat.
The two-person gathering limit still applies to public places.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

People still moving about unnecessarily in NSW Northern Rivers region

NSW Public Site - NEWS, 16 April 2020:

About 6.20pm yesterday (Wednesday 15 April 2020), officers from Tweed/Byron Police District attended Florence Street, Tweed Heads, after receiving information about a man who had arrived in a car acting aggressively. The man returned a positive roadside breath test, before being taken to Tweed Heads Police Station, where he allegedly refused a breath analysis. He was charged with breach of bail, refuse breath analysis, drive unregistered vehicle and unlicensed driver. The man had been issued with a $1000 PIN on 7 April 2020 for failing to comply with a ministerial direction. He was also charged with not comply with noticed direction and refused bail, to appear at Lismore Local Court today (16 April 2020).

Two women have been issued infringement notices after travelling to a caravan park at Broadwater. Officers from Richmond Police District were notified the two women, aged 19 and 29, had travelled to the caravan park from Taree. About 10.20am the pair were spoken to by police and were issued $1000 PINs for non-essential travel.

About 5pm yesterday (Wednesday 15 April 2020), officers from Tweed/Bryon Police District stopped a vehicle at Fawcett Street, Brunswick Heads, and spoke to the three occupants. The 20-year-old driver failed to provide a reasonable excuse for travel, telling officers he answers to a higher authority. He had previously been issued a warning under the Ministerial Direction and was issued with a $1000 PIN. The other two occupants, men aged 46 and 56, were given warnings.

Monday, 20 April 2020

NSW farmers and graziers urged to adopt biosecurity practices to help limit the spread of dieback in sown & native grass pastures

Image: NSW Dept. of Primary Industries

NSW Dept. of Primary Industries, media release, 16 April 2020:

Biosecurity practices help protect pasture from dieback 

Producers can prevent entry, establishment and spread of pasture dieback, which kills summer growing grasses, via their front gate under a ‘Come clean, go clean’ regime. 

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has urged producers and contractors to adopt thorough biosecurity practices to help limit the spread of pasture dieback, which has been identified for the first time in NSW on the North Coast. 

NSW DPI pasture development officer, Sarah Baker, said producers can prevent entry, establishment and spread via their front gate under a ‘Come clean, go clean’ regime. 

“Producers should keep good records and ensure all staff and visitors are instructed to follow their business management hygiene requirements,” Ms Baker said. 

“Regular monitoring of grass pastures and crops and being on the lookout for any changes is important, as there have been additional reports of pasture dieback in northern NSW. 

“Mealybug infestations have also been reported and researchers are exploring an association between the two. 

“However, we believe the cause of dieback is more complex than the relationship with pasture mealybug alone.” 

Both pasture dieback and mealybug infestations threaten agricultural productivity. 

Ms Baker said dieback affected pasture should not be baled or sold and advised producers to regularly check areas where hay and fodder have been stored and fed out for dieback symptoms. 

“If you purchase grass hay from Queensland, where dieback-has affected large areas of pasture, ensure hay is from a reputable source,” she said. 

Pasture dieback kills sown and native summer growing grasses, which first turn yellow and red, become unthrifty and eventually die. 

Land managers who suspect dieback should contact the Exotic Plant Pest hotline, 1800 084 881, or email with a clear photo and contact details. 

More information is available from the NSW DPI website: 

Pasture dieback 

Potential spread of pasture dieback in fodder (PDF, 857.02 KB)

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

NSW Junior Surfing Titles go virtual for 2020 during COVID-19 pandemic

Surfing NSW, 3 April 2020:

Surfing NSW is excited to announce the Ocean and Earth NSW Junior Web Surfing Titles.
The Ocean and Earth NSW Junior Web Surfing Titles which will be powered by Live Heats are an online surf event targeting all surfers in NSW who have existing surfing clips at a beach within NSW from 2020.
The clips will be uploaded to a platform supplied by Surfing NSW for online judging.
Entries into the Ocean and Earth NSW Junior Web Surfing Titles opened today via

Accredited judges will determine the winners of each division, with judges will be scoring each wave from 0-10 based off Judging Criteria in Surfing Australia 2020 Rulebook.

The Ocean and Earth NSW Junior Web Surfing Titles will host divisions for U18 Male, U18 Female, U16 Male, U16 Female, U14 Male, U14 Female, U12 Male, U12 Female.

Competitors will upload one clip of their best wave surfed in NSW in 2020 within the competition period Monday 4th of May to Sunday 10th of May.

Winners for the Ocean and Earth NSW Junior Web Surfing Titles will be announced on Monday 11th May.

For more information, check out or email

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Queensland tightens the lock on its border with New South Wales

Queensland Government, media releases, excerpts, 10 April 2020:

Arrivals to Queensland – from 12.01am Saturday 11 April 2020

  1. A person who arrives in Queensland from another State or Territory of Australia from 12.01 am on Saturday 11 April 2020 will not be allowed to enter Queensland, unless they are an exempt resident or exempt person.
  2. An exempt resident or exempt person who arrives in Queensland must self-quarantine if they have been outside Australia in the last 14 days.
  3. An exempt resident who arrives in Queensland must self-quarantine if:
    1. in the last 14 days, they have been in particular areas of Australia decided by the Chief Health Officer and published on the Queensland Health website (a COVID-19 hotspot), unless the person was in the COVID-19 hotspot for an essential purpose or enters Queensland for an essential purpose; or
    2. they are a person mentioned in paragraph 7 item 1(b) (a person moving to Queensland to make Queensland their principal place of residence).......
From 12.01am on Saturday 11 April 2020 the following Local Government Areas in New South Wales are COVID-19 hotspots:

Central Coast 
Inner West 
Northern Beaches 
Sutherland Shire 

Penalties: A person to whom the direction applies commits an offence if the person fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with the direction.

Unfortunately for the NSW Northern Rivers region the failure of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to close the New South Wales side of the border means that Queensland residents will in all likelihood continue to cross into our region as non-essential travellers, even though they are aware recreational travel is not on the list of exemptions in the NSW Public Health Order.