Greens say Call for shark cull no solution

Calls for mass shark culls by conservative politicians would be an ineffective and irresponsible response to recent attacks in Queensland, according to the Australian Greens.

Queensland Senator Larissa Waters said a calm and sensible approach is needed and welcomed tomorrow’s roundtable on the issue in Airlie Beach.

“Our hearts go out to the families affected by recent shark attacks, but calls for mass shark culls are irresponsible, won’t work, and would not be supported by a majority of Queenslanders,” Senator Waters said.

“Tomorrow’s roundtable needs to look at all of the non-lethal options including shark shield personal deterrent devices, shark spotter programs, eco-shark barriers and increased public education.

“There must also be scientists at the table so facts inform decision making.

“We cannot turn our ocean into a shark killing field because of political hyperbole. Lethal mitigation measures give a false sense of security and do not deter sharks or adequately protect swimmers.

“Drumlines and nets are indiscriminate killers of protected wildlife, and the evidence shows non-lethal measures are more effective.”

Senator Waters said the Queensland Government’s Great Barrier Reef shark control program was more than 50 years old and has killed more than 85,000 marine animals including sharks, turtles and dolphins.

“Queensland’s shark control program is completely out of date and isn’t in line with community expectations for protecting swimmers without harming marine life,” Senator Waters said.

“There are plenty of non-lethal options that should be considered and will do much more for people’s safety, marine life and tourism.”

A recent Senate Inquiry into shark mitigation, established by Greens spokesperson for Healthy Oceans, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, has already outlined better ways to manage risks to both humans and wildlife.

Greens Announce Plan for Federal Funding of Rail Tunnel in Illawarra

Australian Greens Senator for NSW, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, has announced that the Australian Greens will set aside $1.5 billion to start construction of the Thirroul Tunnel to slash rail travel times to Sydney for the people of the Illawarra as part of their Federal Election platform.

Senator Faruqi, who is also a civil and environmental engineer, said:

“We know that thousands of people travel between the Illawarra and Sydney every day and face overcrowded trains, long commutes and a lack of seating . It doesn’t have to be this way, the Illawarra deserves world class, 21st Century public transport.

“As a civil engineeer it is frustrating to see Government’s commit to building multibillion dollar toll roads, like the F6, rather than invest in real solutions at a fraction of the cost, like the Thirroul tunnel.

“The Greens will set aside $1.5 billion dollars of Federal Funding to go towards the Thirroul Tunnel. This will cover almost half the expected price tag and shave nearly 25 minutes off each trip.

“This will have a huge impact on the thousands of people who commute to Sydney. We can deliver a faster, more frequent and comfortable train journey.  This means more time to enjoy with family, friends and loved ones. The Illawarra deserves nothing less.

“We know that the only way to reduce the commute time between Sydney and the Illawarra is to build the Thirroul Tunnel. So we just need to get on and do it. People have been waiting for too long already” she concluded.

Senator Rice said:

“The Thirroul rail tunnel would be a game changer for people living on the South Coast and cost a lot less than the F6 toll road. The Federal Government should be putting $1.5 billion towards this critical rail project, not toll roads that will only add more pressure to family budgets and won’t do anything to solve congestion”.

Background:

The Greens will cancel wasteful federal spending on dirty toll roads across the country and redirect the money into public transport projects. We will set aside $1.5 billion of that funding to go towards the Thirroul Tunnel. This will cover almost half the expected price tag and will shave 22 minutes of each trip.

Greens say ABC is the answer to soft-diplomacy in Asia-Pacific

The Greens will move for responsibility and funding to be restored to the ABC to share content with the Asia-Pacific region in the Senate next week.

“It is high time the Morrison Government gave the ABC back its job, sharing its world-class content and journalism in our region. Next week in the Senate, I will call on the Government to do so,” Greens media spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“The ABC is creating high-quality Australian drama and kids TV that audiences love. If that wasn’t enough, we know it is also our most trusted news source.

“Commercial networks are fighting tooth and nail to shirk their responsibility to create Australian drama for Australian audiences. If they aren’t going to make it for Australian audiences, it is baffling to suggest they would make it to share with the Asia-Pacific.

“Despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s berating of its journalists for doing their job and holding him to account, Australians know the value of the ABC, and its potential.

“It was a mistake by the Abbott Government to end the ABC’s responsibility to foster soft diplomacy by sharing our news and television with our neighbours.

“Handing the responsibility to commercial networks is not the solution – I’m not sure how far the Bachelor can go in helping build international relationships in the Asia-Pacific.

“It’s time the Liberals ended ideological attacks on the ABC. It is better for our people, our democracy, and diplomacy in the region, if the ABC has the ability to create strong Australian content and continue to produce independent journalism.”

Federal Court appointment

Mr Paul Anastassiou QC has been appointed as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia and will commence in the Melbourne Registry on 1 February 2019.

Mr Anastassiou graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Melbourne in 1982.  He was admitted as a practitioner of the Supreme Court of Victoria in 1985.

He began his career as a solicitor with Phillips Fox and Masel before being called to the Victorian Bar in 1987, and was appointed silk in 2002.

Mr Anastassiou has extensive experience in a wide range of complex commercial disputes, focusing on corporations’ matters and class actions.

Mr Anastassiou has also served in many leadership roles over his 30 year career at the Victorian Bar, including as President in 2016.

On behalf of the Government, I congratulate Mr Anastassiou on his appointment and thank him for his willingness to serve the people of Australia as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia.

Royal Australian Navy Minehunters exercise with regional partners in North East

Two Royal Australian Navy Minehunters, HMA Ships Gascoyne and Huon, have completed a successful visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK), in their first deployment to the region in more than 70 years.

Participating in multi-national Mine Countermeasure Warfare activities, Gascoyne and Huon joined ships and contingents from 13 nations to share knowledge and improve cooperation between participating navies.

Australia’s Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, AO, RAN, was in the ROK for the Minehunters’ arrival and said Australia’s participation in this activity highlighted the valued working relationship between Australia and the ROK.

“The inclusion of the Navy Minehunters in Australian Defence Force activities with the ROK complements the experience gained earlier this year at the mine countermeasures exercise conducted at Jervis Bay in New South Wales,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“This is also the first time in more than 70 years that Australian Navy vessels of this type have deployed this far north, providing a unique opportunity for this important capability.”

HMAS Gascoyne’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Richard Brickacek, said the deployment tested the skills and experience of both the Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving departments.

“The local environment was significantly different from what we typically experience in Australian waters, including minimal underwater visibility, deep mud and varying weather,” Lieutenant Commander Brickacek said.

“Working in these unfamiliar conditions demonstrated the value of bringing all nations together to better understand each other’s capabilities and limitations in new and varying environments.”

Both Gascoyne and Huon will continue their deployment over the coming weeks, conducting bilateral exercises and international engagement with regional nations.

3000 Takata airbags a day replaced in Australian cars

Australia’s largest ever recall is now well underway with new figures released today detailing the first quarter of compulsory Takata airbag replacements under the Mandatory Recall Notice issued by the Australian Government.

More than 350,000 faulty Takata airbags were replaced in the quarter following 1 July 2018, equal to more than 3,000 replacements each day.

Some 2.5 million faulty Takata airbags have already been replaced in around 1.6 million vehicles to date, since the start of voluntary recalls in 2009.

The Government put manufacturers on notice in February when they were forced to comply with strict deadlines to replace potentially deadly Takata airbags by the end of 2020.

“We are pleased to see that car manufacturers are taking their responsibilities seriously and working hard to replace faulty airbags from customers’ cars. The safety of drivers is our highest priority and we must ensure these dangerous airbags are off our roads,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

“Consumers who have been contacted by their manufacturer to have their car’s airbag replaced are urged to book in their cars for a free replacement before the Christmas holiday period. Don’t delay taking action when you get a recall notification letter.”

Affected airbags are being replaced according to a determined schedule that considers a number of risk factors, including airbags in older vehicles and vehicles in hot and humid conditions.

This means that the recalls for some affected cars aren’t scheduled until later, however, all bags, including ‘like for like’ bags will need to be replaced by December 2020.

In July car manufacturers launched a national awareness campaign asking consumers to check whether their vehicle is fitted with one of these dangerous inflators.

Consumers are reminded to check if their vehicle is affected by the recall by visiting www.ismyairbagsafe.com.au(link is external) or texting “Takata” to 0487 AIRBAG (247 224).

Key figures

  • 350,000 airbags have been replaced in the three months since 1 July 2018
  • 1.4 million airbags still need replacing in around 1.2 million cars
  • 12,000 alpha airbags are still outstanding

For more information visit the Product Safety Australia(link is external) website or speak to your car manufacturer.

Austrade leverages WeChat to boost Australian exporters

Austrade CEO, Dr Stephanie Fahey, today launched a new digital platform designed to support Australian businesses engaging with China.

The “mini-program” housed within China’s most popular social media platform, WeChat, will be a tool for Australian companies attending the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) which opens next week in Shanghai.

The Expo is expected to attract some 180,000 Chinese buyers and more than 200 Australian brands will be represented.

The Austrade Mini-Program is the first to be developed by a non-Chinese government trade and investment promotion agency and gives Australian businesses a significant marketing channel to reach potential partners as well as consumers.

WeChat’s mini-programs are applications that operate within the WeChat ecosystem and resemble a normal application or app but are not downloaded.

The program will be a permanent channel for Australian businesses looking to export – or grow their existing businesses – in China.

It provides information on Australian products and services, promotional and trade events, commercial and investment opportunities and industry specific insights. It will also support the education and tourism sectors.

“Building the Australia brand by collaborating with the foremost digital and social media environment in China is very exciting. We need to reach out to both business and the consumer. This is an innovative way of achieving both aims,” said Dr Stephanie Fahey, Austrade CEO.

The program makes it easier for users to access information on Australia, receive notifications of new stories and insights and register for Austrade business events.

It will also feature content in English. It builds on Austrade’s public account launched in 2014 which now boasts more than 40,000 subscribers.

“We will always look for cost-effective and creative ways to increase Australia’s share of digital trade, and this program helps us deliver even better service to Australian exporters,” said Dr Fahey.

WeChat is currently one of the world’s largest standalone mobile apps by users, with more than 1 billion active monthly users.

LABOR’S PLAN TO UPGRADE THE BENTLEY HEALTH SERVICE

A Shorten Labor Government will deliver better mental health, aged care, rehabilitation and maternity services for the people of Perth by investing in a major redevelopment of the Bentley Health Service.

Labor will invest $10.9 million to renovate and refurbish the ageing specialist hospital to ensure the growing local community in Perth’s south is getting the best possible care.

The 199-bed facility was built in the 1960s and the majority of hospital buildings remain in their original condition. As a result, the campus requires a major upgrade to ensure the safety and comfort of both patients and staff.

The hospital is already struggling with the impacts of increased population and activity – and the area is projected to grow rapidly over the coming decade.

A Shorten Labor Government’s investment will deliver:

  • Upgrades to Maternity Services to reduce wait times, improve pain management services and increase patient privacy;
  • Major improvements to Mental Health Services to improve security and amenity for patients, including outpatients;
  •  Upgraded facilities for rehabilitation patients;
  • Better patient and visitor access through renovations of the entrance and waiting areas; and
  • Better facilities for doctors, nurses and other hospital staff, including upgrades to the staff dining room.

Labor believes that Western Australia deserves its fair share of health funding. Every WA resident is entitled to quality and affordable health care when they need it. That’s why will improve local health services through our $2.8 billion Better Hospitals Fund.

Labor believes in a fair go for WA. We fought to make sure WA receives its fair share of GST funding, but a fair share doesn’t end with the GST.

Western Australia deserves its fair share of funding for Medicare and hospitals – not Scott Morrison’s cuts to Medicare and hospitals.

When he was Treasurer, Scott Morrison extended the Liberals’ Medicare freeze, which has forced up health care costs for all Australians.

And Morrison cut $77 million from WA’s public hospitals – which means fewer doctors and nurses, and longer waiting times for patients.

A Shorten Labor Government will reverse Morrison’s cuts to WA’s public hospitals, ensuring our emergency departments and hospital wards have the doctors, nurses and hospital staff to keep up with record demand.

Unlike Morrison and the Liberals, who are only for the top end of town, Labor will deliver a fair go for Western Australia by giving WA it’s fair share of health funding.

Government could be sued for ignoring water laws for Adani

Greens mining spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters says the Government should be sued for ignoring water laws for Adani’s 12.5 billion litre water pipeline, unless the Environment Minister intervenes today and requires a full environmental impact assessment.

“We learned three weeks ago that this Government had done yet another special deal for Adani, exempting them from water laws despite their plans to suck out almost as much water as all the other users combined, from a drought-stricken region,” Senator Waters said.

“Today we learn that even the Water Department thought the water impacts were significant and required assessment – but the so-called Environment Department ignored this advice in favour of Liberal Party donors.

“The Environment Minister didn’t even put her name to the decision – but she must now intervene and require the water impacts of sucking out 12.5billion litres of water to undergo a full environmental assessment.

“If she won’t step in, the decision should be challenged in Court – and as a former environmental lawyer, I will support anyone who wants to do so.

“This Government shows wanton neglect of our water, environment and climate in favour of Big Coal. Why don’t they just abolish parliament and have the Prime Minister report directly to the mining industry?

“The Government has once again demonstrated why corporate donations to political parties must be banned.

“Between 2014 and 2017, the LNP and Labor accepted $3.94 million from the Big Mining and Gas.

“Until we get donations reform, the major parties will keep propping up the coal industry and their corporate donor mates at the expense of protecting our precious water resources.

“Nevertheless, people power will stop Adani – and the Greens proudly stand with the community working for a safe climate future for us all.”

An Antarctic silk-and-plankton sandwich

Australia’s icebreaker RSV Aurora Australis is steaming south to Antarctica and over the last week has been towing an ingenious plankton sampling device.

The Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) traps plankton swimming in the ocean between moving sheets of silk.

The silk-and-plankton sandwich is wound up in a removable cassette, driven by the passing water turning a propeller, at a constant rate of 1cm for each nautical mile travelled.

Each tow lasts about 450 nautical miles, and also records ocean and climate data at the same time.

CPR surveys have been run by the Australian Antarctic Program in the Southern Ocean since 1991, involving ships from several nations.

A staggering amount of data has been amassed – around 47,000 samples analysed from more than 1000 CPR tows for a total of approximately 240,000 nautical miles.

This long-term monitoring (supported by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) is crucial to map the shifting patterns of plankton biodiversity in the Southern Ocean, and provide early warning signs of its changing health.