Airservices results of PFAS investigation at Adelaide Airport

Airservices Australia has completed a Preliminary Site Investigation (PSI) for PFAS contamination at Adelaide Airport related to the historic operations of Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service (ARFFS). The PSI is part of a National PFAS Management Program and was conducted by independent consultants GHD.

The PSI detected PFAS on the airport in close proximity to where fire fighting training activities were carried out. Results were generally low on the airport away from where firefighting training historically occurred.

Following the PSI, further targeted sampling was conducted and a higher level of PFAS was detected at the western boundary of the airport. SA Water has advised that this area is not a catchment area for drinking water and that mains drinking water is not affected.

Further groundwater sampling from public land adjacent to the western boundary of the airport, stormwater testing and a survey of bore water usage will now be carried out. Airservices is consulting the community about the results and the additional investigations through the Adelaide Airport Community Aviation Consultation Group (CACG).

Airservices is working closely with Adelaide Airport, the South Australian Environmental Protection Authority (SA EPA) and SA Health including sharing all testing results. Airservices is also currently in the planning phase for a stormwater treatment trial to capture and treat runoff before it enters the stormwater system.

Airservices does not use fire fighting foam containing PFAS at Adelaide Airport. Airservices has been using PFAS free fire fighting foam at Adelaide Airport since 2010.

The investigation report is available here: http://www.airservicesaustralia.com/environment/national-pfas-management-program/

Remembering Veterans’ Service and Sacrifice focus of Grants

LOCAL communities are set to receive more than $130,000 in Saluting Their Service grants which deliver projects commemorating Australia’s wartime history and reflect our gratitude to all those who have served our country.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the 55 community projects were a fitting way to recognise Australian military service as the Anzac Centenary program and the Century of Service draws to close.

“I offer my congratulations to these communities which will use this funding to deliver a range of thoughtful and meaningful projects, including commemorative books, artworks, services, and refurbishment of memorials,” Mr Chester said.

“In a fitting tribute to the centenary of the First World War Armistice, Penshurst RSL Sub-Branch in Victoria will use the Saluting Their Service grant to add additional lettering and a poppy graphic to a memorial commemorating veterans of the First World War.

“As we look to the next 100 years of service, the Honouring Indigenous War Graves group of Western Australia will commemorate veterans of more recent conflicts, including Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Timor.”

The Community Commemorative Grants category of the Saluting Their Service program provides up to $4000 for each project and applications can now be made through the Community Grants Hub.

Applicants requiring support in submitting their application are encouraged to phone 1800 020 283 or email support@communitygrants.gov.au

A list of the 55 projects receiving funding follows. All funding listed is GST exclusive.

Census statement

I welcome the announcement by the Australian Bureau of Statistics that a veteran identifier question is being considered for inclusion in the 2021 Census.

This is an important initiative that will provide invaluable further information about Australia’s veteran community.

Veterans’ Affairs Ministers from across Australia recognised the importance of this issue at a Veterans Ministers’ Round Table (VMRT) on 8 November 2017, unanimously agreeing to a motion that ‘a question about veterans should be included in the next Australian Census’.

This call was reinforced at the 27 October 2018 VMRT, where Ministers recognised the need for robust data on veterans’ issues and strongly endorsed the need for a veteran indicator to be included in the 2021 Census.

The inclusion of this question will help in providing a definitive answer on how many veterans there are in Australia, and where they live.

The Census data has the potential to help the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and Ex-Service Organisations to better target and improve the services and support provided to veterans and their families – particularly the large proportion of veterans who are currently unknown to DVA.

Indian sugar subsidies

The Liberal-National Government is standing up for the right of Australia’s sugar industry to a competitive environment by taking action in the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding India’s use of sugar subsidies.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said the use of domestic subsidies by India had contributed to a significant downturn in world sugar prices that was impacting our local sugar industry.

​”We will support the right of our sugar industry to compete on equal terms and will utilise well established global trading rules to defend the interests of our farmers,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Whilst we support efforts by countries to develop their agricultural industries, these efforts need to be consistent with their WTO obligations and applied in a manner that doesn’t distort global trade.

“We have raised our industry’s deeply held concerns on numerous occasions with senior levels of the Indian Government. We are disappointed our concerns haven’t been addressed and now see little choice other than to ramp up our efforts to stand up for the rights of our cane farmers and sugar millers.

“We will now engage in formal discussions with India and other WTO members regarding this issue at the upcoming WTO Committee of Agriculture meeting later this month. We continue to be willing to engage in any and all discussions that may resolve this issue.

“Despite our concerns on sugar subsidies, our relationship with India is far stronger than this one particular issue and I’m confident Australia and India will build on their already vibrant economic and strategic relationship well into the future.”

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said distortions to the global sugar market had impacted Australia’s 4,000 cane farms and 24 sugar mills.

“I want our farmers to be fairly rewarded for their effort,” Minister Littleproud said.

“We’re in there fighting for our sugar farmers. They deserve someone in their corner who isn’t afraid to use the options available to them.

“We’ll continue to support our farmers and producers, and make sure their interests are protected.”

Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Mark Coulton said this action was about standing up for our regional producers and the $2 billion sugar industry.

“This is about protecting 40,000 direct and indirect jobs and the health of regional communities,” Assistant Minister Coulton said.

New Test a Sound Scout for Hearing Loss in Australian Children

Hundreds of thousands of school aged children will benefit from an Australian-developed app that delivers a user-friendly hearing test, with the Morrison Government funding a $4 million national rollout.

In an innovative and cost-effective approach, the free tests will be conducted online using Sound Scouts, a fun, tablet-based game that detects hearing issues in children.

The new tests were announced today by the Minister responsible for hearing services policy, Ken Wyatt AM, Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan and Trent Zimmerman, Member for North Sydney.

Minister Wyatt said that last year, 600 five to seven year olds received hearing aids for the first time and our Government was determined to ensure children with hearing loss were identified and helped earlier.

“The Sound Scouts program is engaging and fun, but with some serious benefits for our nation’s children,” said Minister Wyatt.

“A recent study found that up to 1.3 million Australians are living with hearing conditions that could have been prevented.

“We know that delays in recognising and treating hearing loss in children’s first few years of school can be profound and long lasting, undermining their future prospects.”

A Macquarie University study analysed the Sound Scouts system, finding it delivered a $10 return in benefits for children and the community, for every $1 spent on the app.

“Children with hearing problems may be unable to hear their teacher or understand their friends talking to them in a noisy classroom,” said Minister Keenan.

“They are more likely to struggle to meet learning milestones or develop social skills and can quickly fall behind their peers.

“Once identified through the Sound Scouts system, these young children can be referred for further testing and appropriate support and have the best chance of reaching their full potential.”

Mr Zimmerman chaired the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport which wrote the report Still waiting to be heard – report on the Inquiry into the Hearing Health and Wellbeing of Australia.

“I’m proud that our Government has acted on the Committee’s recommendation to start the ball rolling on a universal hearing screening program for schoolchildren,” he said.

“I’ve heard first-hand the impact of undetected hearing loss, how it affects not only schooling but also children’s ability to make friends and develop healthy self-esteem.”

The program will start in 2019 and will run for up to five years, ensuring that up to 600,000 Australian children age 4-17 have their hearing checked using the Sound Scout test.

Australian Hearing has been provided a grant of $4 million through the Department of Health to deliver these online hearing tests through the Sound Scouts app.

Sound Scouts is currently the only tool of its kind available in Australia validated by the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), the research arm of Australian Hearing.

For more information on Sound Scouts, visit the Sound Scouts website.

Media Hub / Federal Funding Keeps Good Ideas Van on the Road

First Australians living in regional areas and on country in Queensland have greater access to blindness prevention services, thanks to an $860,000 investment from the Morrison Government to keep the Indigenous Diabetes Eyes and Screening (IDEAS) Van on the road.

The IDEAS Van is a fully equipped, mobile specialist treatment clinic offering optometry and ophthalmology to complement expanded Government-funded eye health outreach services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Eye degeneration from diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness among First Australians, with the latest data revealing 11 percent of adults have diabetes, three times the rate for other Australians.

The good news is that diabetic retinopathy it can be treated if diagnosed early, through injections and surgery. Earlier detection means more effective treatment and better results.

It is critical to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have their eyes checked as it is estimated a third of our First Australians who have diabetes have not had eye examinations for at least a year.

Our Government has acted on this by introducing a new Medicare Benefits Schedule item for diabetic retinopathy screening that provides annual retinal examinations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with diabetes.

The IDEAS van will make it easier for First Australians in Queensland to have their annual retinal check-ups and necessary treatments.

The $860,000 investment is in addition to the $5.7 million our Government has allocated over two years, from 2017–18, to provide up to 160 retinal cameras to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, including 105 in Queensland.

The rollout of retinal cameras and training began in August last year, allowing health services to detect vision loss associated with diabetes at an earlier stage.

This multimillion-dollar investment in retinal health, including funding for the IDEAS Van, reflects our Government’s absolute commitment to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Closing the Gap in health equality.

First Nations people aged over 40 are six to 10 times more likely to suffer blindness than other Australians, yet 94 per cent of this vision loss is preventable or treatable.

Since the IDEAS Van began its work in 2013, it has travelled more than 233,000 kilometres across Queensland and treated 3,583 patients in its mobile clinic. Almost 6,000 predominantly diabetes patients have also been screened using retinal cameras in local communities.

For more information on the IDEAS Van see https://www.ideasvan.org/

World Game Partnership to Kick Goals for First Nations Health

The health, wellbeing and future prospects for children in remote communities will be winners, through a major extension of the successful John Moriarty Football program to 12 centres across New South Wales and Queensland.

The Liberal National Government is committing up to $4.5 million for the expansion, to be driven through a partnership between the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) and John Moriarty Football (JMF).

JMF and FFA will work together to provide senior coaching staff, mentoring, training and education for children involved in the program. FFA will also identify and support pathways to national football programs.

“This is a game-changing move for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, designed to help children between two and 16 to reach their full potential in football, in education and in life,” said Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt AM.

“We have seen the success in the remote Northern Territory centres of Borroloola and Robinson River which have been involved in the program since it was established in 2012, with more than 90 per cent of children in Borroloola now participating.

“Two hundred children have enrolled each year, including Shay Evans who is now playing with the Westfield Young Matildas.

“I congratulate Shay and her fellow JMF scholarship winners but scores of other participants are also continuing to kick personal and life goals, both on and off the field.”

The JMF program is community driven, with children are supported to attend school and make healthier lifestyle choices.

The expanded program will focus on primary health through:

    • Nutrition programs, with meal plans developed by a sports dietician
    • Mental wellbeing, through emotional self-regulation training, with coaches focussing on building resilience
    • Community cohesion, through gatherings to support tournaments and holiday clinics encouraging community interest and participation
    • Parental involvement to enable families to improve health through physical activity

“JMF is extremely grateful for this very significant funding commitment,” said Moriarty Foundation Managing Director Ros Moriarty. “We look forward to replicating our model of football as a powerful tool for wellbeing, supporting resilient, healthier outcomes for young players, their families and communities.”

NSW and Queensland communities to participate will be selected on the basis of evidence of strong local interest and intention to embrace the program.

“Our game has a deep history of Indigenous participation, and this step will allow us to do so much more to improve health outcomes for Indigenous children,” said Moriarty Foundation Board Member and FFA Board nominee Craig Foster.

“Football has the power to unite the whole community to support opportunity for all young Australians.”

FFA Chief Executive David Gallop said FFA had been a keen supporter of John Moriarty Football for several years.

“Matildas Head Coach Alen Stajcic has visited Borroloola on a number of occasions and scouted Shay Evans back in 2014,” he said. “This announcement will help achieve our vision of involving more Indigenous Australians in football, as players, coaches, referees and administrators.

“We look forward to working closely with John Moriarty Football to generate significant health and community benefits while offering a pathway for Indigenous footballers to emulate the success of Young Matilda Shay.”

Regular sport and physical activity, particularly for young children, has documented and far reaching health benefits.

“It reduces the risk of obesity, increases cardiovascular fitness, promotes healthy growth of bones and muscles, improves coordination and balance, and gives children a greater self-confidence and belief in their abilities, on and off the sporting field,” said Minister Wyatt.

“The JMF program has the potential to contribute to Closing the Gap in health equality, education and employment, and positively impact on the high chronic disease prevalence rates among First Nations people.”

The three-year funding will be provided through the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme over 2018–19 and 2020–21. For more information on John Moriarty Football visit the website.

DonateLife Thank You Day – every organ and tissue donor makes a difference

Today, on DonateLife Thank You Day, we honour organ and tissue donors and their families across the nation, for the thousands of lives they have saved and transformed.

DonateLife Thank You Day is important because organ and tissue donation is important. Approximately 1,400 Australians are currently on transplant waiting lists, and a further 11,000 people are receiving renal dialysis, many who could benefit from a kidney donation.

Today and every day, we should recognise the selfless and generous people who make organ and tissue donation possible. This includes families, who play a crucial role by confirming their loved one wanted to be a donor.

So far this year there have been 1,296 organ donor recipients, an increase of 10 per cent on this time last year. Many thousands more have benefited from eye and tissue transplants.

Thanks to both deceased and living organ and tissue donors, recipients are given a second chance, enabling them to resume an active role within their families, to return to work, to plan for a future and live life to the full.

I encourage all Australians to show their support by attending local Thank You Day events, sharing a thank you message on social media and acknowledging organ and tissue donors, as well as their families, with the hash tags #DonateLife and #ThankYouDay.

Since January this year, there have been 172,993 new registrations on the Australian Organ Donor Register, up more than 16 percent on 2017.

Thank You Day is a good time to consider becoming an organ and tissue donor, too.

Talk to your family and loved ones, then go to donatelife.gov.au – you can register instantly on your phone, tablet or computer. All you need is your Medicare card.

It takes just a minute but remember – that minute could make a lifetime of difference for the people in need of organ or tissue donation.

For more information about DonateLife Thank You Day, visit donatelife.gov.au/tyd

ACCC will not oppose Santos’ acquisition of Quadrant

The ACCC has decided not to oppose Santos Limited’s (ASX: STO) proposed acquisition of Quadrant Energy Holdings Pty Ltd.

Santos and Quadrant are active in the production and supply of natural gas (and related condensate by-products) and crude oil in Western Australia. The parties also jointly own domestic gas processing facilities and associated fields at Varanus Island and Devil Creek.

The ACCC found after detailed investigation that it is unlikely that the proposed acquisition will result in a substantial lessening of competition in the supply of gas to domestic customers in Western Australia.

“The ACCC considers that a combined Santos/Quadrant will continue to face strong competition from a range of suppliers, including large LNG producers such as Chevron and Woodside,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“Most market participants believe the Western Australian domestic gas market is currently oversupplied. While the demand-supply balance could tighten in future, the ACCC considers that the proposed acquisition will not have a significant impact on future gas prices.”

“In Western Australia, gas exporters are required to reserve 15 per cent of their gas for the domestic market, so this should ensure that gas available for domestic customers continues to grow, and from a range of players,” Mr Sims said.

In addition, the ACCC approached the relevant WA government departments and no concerns were expressed about the proposed acquisition.

Many market participants also did not express competition concerns, but some customers did and the ACCC investigated those concerns and took them into account in its assessment of the proposed acquisition.

Further information is available at Santos Ltd – proposed acquisition of Quadrant Energy.

Background

Santos is an ASX-listed company that produces oil and gas in Australia and Papua New Guinea. In Western Australia, aside from interests held jointly with Quadrant, it has interests in exploration and undeveloped gas assets in the Browse, Bonaparte and Carnarvon Basin.

Quadrant is an oil and gas company with a primary focus on activities in the Exmouth and Carnarvon Basins in Western Australia. Aside from interests held together with Santos, it jointly owns the Macedon domestic gas processing plant with BHP, and has interests in various oil joint ventures and exploration permits, including in the Bedout Basin.

Honey investigation concludes due to testing uncertainty

The ACCC has concluded its investigation into allegations Capilano Honey Limited (Capilano) breached the Australian Consumer Law in relation to representations about its ‘Allowrie’ honey and other products.

The investigation followed allegations in the media that a number of honey products including Capilano’s ‘Allowrie’ honey, labelled ‘pure’ and ‘100% honey’ were adulterated with sugar syrup.

The allegations were based on results arising from a testing process known as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) testing. NMR testing can be used for a variety of applications, but has only recently emerged as a testing method for honey adulteration.

The ACCC is advised NMR testing is not yet reliable enough to determine whether honey is adulterated and therefore should not be used as a basis to support legal action. This is consistent with the approach of regulators in the UK, US and the EU.

The ACCC’s investigation found Capilano had taken steps to provide assurance, and did not uncover any other evidence that supported the allegation Capilano’s ‘Allowrie’ honey was adulterated with sugar syrup.

“During the course of our investigation however, it also became evident that there is low confidence in the current test method (the C4 test) used to detect adulterated honey.

“Governments and research agencies around the world are investigating alternative testing methods, including NMR, but these are not yet developed to the point they can be used with sufficient confidence,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.

Since 2015, the Department of Agriculture has tested imported honey using the C4 test, which did not detect adulteration in ‘Allowrie’ honey or some supermarket private-label products.

“The ACCC understands that where there are different tests for honey products that produce different results, it can cause significant frustration among consumers and industry,” Mr Keogh said.

“We understand the Department of Agriculture, which is best placed to determine the most appropriate form of honey testing, is reviewing testing standards.”

“It’s important that consumers have confidence in the claims made about the foods they purchase, including honey. The ACCC urges the honey industry and the Department of Agriculture develop an agreed approach to testing, and implement more robust programs to provide greater assurance about the integrity of their products,” said Mr Keogh.

Background

The allegations raised with the ACCC in September 2018 related to blended Australian and imported honey and not Capilano’s Australian honey range. Consequently, the ACCC’s investigation only focused on Capilano’s blended imported and Australian honey product under the Allowrie and certain supermarket private label brands.

The inspection of imported honey is the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture.

The Department of Agriculture does not use NMR testing to test honey for adulteration.