Friday, September 22, 2023

A platform for independent news and stories written by,
for and about people living outside Australia’s capital cities

Read the latest digital version of
local independent newspapers and magazines

Topics to watch


Important update on Varroa destructor: Melons Australia

The National Management Group (NMG), of which Melons Australia represents industry on, confirmed at its meeting on 19 September 2023 that eradication of Varroa destructor (varroa mite) is no longer feasible based on technical grounds, following advice from the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP). The response will now enter a transition to management phase.

Red tape

Brewery redevelopment in doubt

The proposed redevelopment of the historic Grafton Brewery is in doubt after council posed over 100 conditions on the business including restrictive operating hours ... But Mr Firth said the development may never be realised due to the onerous and duplicitous requirements that make the development potentially unworkable.

Supply chain

Supply chain inefficiencies hold back Australian grains industry: GrainGrowers

The ability of the Australian grains industry to compete internationally is being seriously hampered by supply chain inefficiencies, with recent record harvests highlighting a need for more capacity in the current network, a GrainGrowers commissioned report has found. The ‘Connecting the Dots: Improving Australian Grain Supply Chain Efficiency’ report was compiled by independent global strategy consultancy LEK. 

Natural capital

New CSIRO handbook to guide businesses towards nature positive future: CSIRO 

A new handbook released by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, will guide businesses – including farmers, forest growers, mining companies and non-governmental organisations – on how to report and account for their natural assets to better protect our environment. Much of the value and growth from our economy is drawn from natural resources as a variety of industries depend on, and profit, from them.

Gambling - NT

Town blows $14m on pokies, not counting Alice’s biggest gambling place

Gamblers playing the pokies in Alice Springs clubs and pubs lost almost $14m in 2022-23. This doesn’t include the poker machines in Lasseters Casino whose data “cannot be provided due to commercial-in-confidence,” according to the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade. That is clearly a huge multiple of the disclosed figure.

Stock agents

Agents cautious about council looking at leasing NRLX out

The NRLX-agent dispute will be a big topic at the Richmond Valley Council meeting at 6pm, Tuesday, September 19. The Casino Auctioneers Association Incorporated (CAAI) released a statement about the council meeting.

Law & order

Ellis trial begins

Rhiannon Koch. The trial of independent Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis began in the Adelaide Magistrates Court ... Mr Ellis has been charged with 23 counts of deception in regards to 78 claims, totalling $18,000, for the Country Members Accommodation Allowance ... He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, the earliest of which occurred just a month after his election.

Council - WA

Asbestos uncovered at illegal dump

Yorke Peninsula Council has isolated two sites on southern Yorke Peninsula after material containing asbestos was found at an unsanctioned Marion Bay dump ... The Marion Bay site has been used as an undocumented and unapproved community dumping area for decades, a practice dating back to before smaller councils amalgamated to form YPC in 1997.

Youth crime

Offers of jobs, not jail for young joy riders

Young car joyriders likened the adrenalin rush from car theft to the effects of drug or alcohol use. Some noted, yet often disregarded, fears of death or injury as the result of a car accident. And the prospect of gaining, or losing, a job is a stronger motivator than incarceration for joyriders.

Burning - WA

EPA calls for burning enquiry

The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended an independent scientific enquiry into prescribed burning practices in WA, particularly in the context of climate change. EPA chair Professor Matthew Tonts said an independent review under the 1986 EPA Act would call on the expertise of independent scientists to consider prescribed burning approaches and implementation. This follows Fire and Air Forum: Biodiversity, Environmental Sustainability and Human Health at WA University in May.

Fire management in WA: The Bushfire Front responds to EPA Report 1745

Claims that prescribed burning will not assist with wildfire control are spurious. ... The EPA report on their review of the FMP failed to mention that a West Australian Parliamentary Committee, after hearing multiple evidence, recently concluded that an additional review of prescribed burning practices by Government was NOT warranted. This is a blatant and serious omission.

Fire - East Gippsland

Are Mallacoota and East Gippsland prepared for another major fire? The Howitt Society

The Howitt Society are concerned at the lack of broadscale fuel management operations in East Gippsland over the past four years post the 2019/20 fires ... A public meeting has been convened at Mallacoota to discuss the issue of the long term protection of the townships and the forests of East Gippsland.


Murray–Darling Basin Authority communique, September 2023

Prior to the Authority meeting, members had a very constructive visit to the Upper Murrumbidgee and were briefed on issues affecting the river ... The Authority also met with the First Nations Leadership Group who had travelled from Country to meet in Canberra. There was a constructive discussion on how to establish long-term productive relationships.


Barley prices rise amid agricultural commodity volatility: NAB

The removal of tariffs on Australian barley by Chinese authorities has seen barley prices trend higher since the start of August, according to NAB’s September Rural Commodities Wrap. The NAB Rural Commodities Index* fell 1.6% in August and is now 30.7% lower compared to when Australian rural commodity prices peaked in June 2022.


Discovery of freshwater plant and algae with methane-reducing properties: Agrifutures

A chance conversation with a landholder interested in the methane-reducing properties of red seaweed prompted a research team led by Deakin University to examine if there were freshwater alternatives. A mix of algae scooped out of a Victorian waterway and a species of amphibious grass plucked from a stream have both been found to reduce methane production by up to 24 per cent...

Carbon sequestration

Innovative ocean platform grows seaweed and sinks carbon: Agrifutures

With a goal of achieving “the three Rs” of reducing emissions, removing greenhouse gases and repairing the climate, the Climate Foundation has developed an innovative technique for cultivating seaweed to regenerate lost kelp forests and sequester carbon in the ocean’s depths for hundreds of years.

Research adoption

Research bodies unite to ramp up ag growth: Hort Innovation

Ten of the nation's leading agricultural research organisations are pooling their powers to bolster on-farm adoption of research outcomes and returns to farmers ... Hort Innovation chief executive officer Brett Fifield said it was crucial for agricultural research organisations to collaborate on cross-industry priorities such as research adoption.


Local Nuffield Scholar seeks a fair energy transition for farmers and regional communities

Sally Higgins (daughter of Sue and Phil Higgins) has been awarded a Nuffield Scholarship for 2024, supported by Agrifutures ... From now until December 2024, Sally will travel across the world, exploring the most effective government, industry and farm business models for prioritizing land uses that meet multiple objectives.


Students get climate-action ready at Horsham

Agriculture Victoria’s Horsham SmartFarm recently provided local students hands-on experience of climate action research, with a focus on preserving important grains and plants for the future. The visit was by a group of students who are currently studying Agricultural and Horticultural Science at Goroke P-12 College.

Regional air

Bonza to turn Northern Territory skies purple with three new routes to Darwin and Alice Springs

In a major boost for domestic tourism, Bonza has revealed Darwin and Alice Springs as the airline’s newest destinations. The airline will add 12 new flights per week to and from the NT with three new routes - Sunshine Coast to Darwin, Gold Coast to Darwin and Melbourne to Alice Springs.


History etched on coin

Have you ever imagined carrying two big things in your pocket—a giant lobster and a fossil cave? Well, you can definitely do that now. Two of Southeast’s most iconic moneymakers—Kingston’s Larry the Lobster and Naracoorte’s Fossil Mammal Reserves—are officially in mint condition, having received a unique new honour last week.


The Big Banana is on a gold coin

In July 2022, The Big Banana received an email from the Royal Australian Mint about exploring the unique opportunity for The Big Banana to be featured on an Australian legal tender coin as part of a collection of ten coins celebrating iconic ‘big’ monuments across Australia. The collection was planned to be made available as part of a nationwide collectable coin program, providing the Australian public with access to these coins through their change.

Great Koala National Park

Will jobs be lost by logging halt?

The Clarence Valley timber industry is still uncertain how many jobs could be lost due to the suspension of logging in the proposed Great Koala National Park as the NSW Government assesses the impact on the endangered marsupials and timber industry jobs ... “They still haven’t actually said what the areas are that they are going to not harvest in and where the actual koala hubs are, so it’s really hard to work out what the ramifications are going to be”: Donna Layton, Marshall Notaras Hardwoods GM and VP of Timber NSW.


Koala dreaming? Too right!: Vic Jurskis

Vic Jurskis. Koala plagues and megafires go together. Koalas are breeding faster than ever on all the soft young growth generated by Black Summer. The scrub development is unprecedented. Our next extreme fire season will kill more people and animals than ever before. But the koala is in no danger of extinction.


Saving koalas. Next steps for the Great Koala National Park: Sharpe, Moriarty

The NSW Government has announced the process to establish the Great Koala National Park, as well as a halt to timber harvesting operations in the 106 koala hubs within the area being assessed for the park ... ARR.News asked some questions of the Minister about koala surveys and research indicating that properly conducted forestry does not adversely impact koala numbers. A departmental spokesperson responded.

The Great Koala National Park is not an extinction panacea: Forestry Australia

The Minns Government’s proposed Great Koala National Park is not an extinction panacea for koalas, says the President of Forestry Australia, Dr Michelle Freeman ... "it is simplistic to suggest that locking away forests is the great panacea for saving koalas from extinction ... In fact, experience shows us that declaring a National Park does not equal koala population growth." 

Fire - Barkly

Emergency meeting allays town’s fears

A public meeting called this week by local emergency services served its purpose to allay the town’s fears after the Barkly was declared an emergency situation on Tuesday. More than 300 people packed the Civic Hall ... More than 1,323,300 hectares have been burnt with the fire active for over two weeks.


River Country Bio Link

51 people gathered at Western Murray Land Improvement Group’s Bio Link field day to hear about the evolution in the way big business views farmland ... With carbon targets already set in the Paris Agreement, the next could come via the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which will also factor in biodiversity (nature).


Downs hosts eastAUSmilk AGM

Dairy farmers from across Queensland and New South Wales converged on Pittsworth a couple of weeks ago for the annual general meeting of the advocacy body eastAUSmilk, which formed in 2021 following the merger of Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation and Dairy Connect.


World-first research suggests natural capital impacts farm performance: NFF

Australian research project, Farming for the Future releases preliminary findings. In a study of global significance and at a scale never previously undertaken, Phase 2 of the Farming for the Future research program has collected financial, ecological and social data from 130 Australian grazing and cropping enterprises...


How’s business? The Kangaroo Hotel

“We took over The Kangaroo Hotel on March the sixth 2020, and we got closed down on March the 28th. And it’s been ‘fluid’ every day since. Every week things change, but that’s business since Covid. You plan something, but it doesn’t go to plan...."


Investors visit solar farm

The Grong Grong Solar Farm team hosted crowd equity investors and other stakeholders onsite last Thursday ... The Grong Grong Solar Farm team showed them through the site, and took time to explain how bifacial solar panels work...


Agsmart expo

The Unit Two Agriculture and Horticulture students as well as the Years Nine and Ten Geography class attended the Agsmart expo in Bendigo ... The expo highlighted the newer technologies available and currently being developed in the Agricultural and Horticultural space.

Bushfire preparation

Meat & Livestock Australia launches new bushfire preparation and recovery manual

Ahead of this year’s summer bushfire season, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) has created a new resource to help livestock producers prepare and recover. The new manual is called: Bushfire preparation and recovery: A manual for livestock producers and it reinforces the fact that bushfire preparation needs to occur more than once a year or just at the start of summer.

Land management

Biodiversity the big winner in three-year project in cotton country: Landcare Australia

Country Road, Landcare Australia and cotton farmers are marking Biodiversity month by celebrating a landmark achievement in their New South Wales Namoi Valley project It’s been three years since ‘The Biodiversity Project’ kicked off in the Namoi Valley and since the first tree was planted, about 60 hectares of cotton farming land has been revegetated.


Mount Isa to host nuclear power forum: Katter

Mount Isa will next month host a first of its kind, community-led event discussing Australia’s energy future, with a particular focus on nuclear power technology. The Mount Isa Nuclear Power Forum: “What if we went nuclear?” is being staged by Katter’s Australian Party Leader (KAP) and Traeger MP Robbie Katter, who has promised a “frank discussion around the possibilities of nuclear power production in outback Australia”.


Lessons from Germany’s industry

Germany's brown coal industry in the famous Rhineland region, which inspired Sir John Monash to build the State Electricity Commission using Latrobe Valley coal, still packs some punch, despite the drive towards more renewables. And the carbon dioxide being produced by the region’s modern brown coal power stations can be redirected into a number of industrial uses.


Farmers welcome new powerline inquiry: NSW Farmers

The state’s peak farming body has welcomed a new Parliamentary Committee to re-examine underground transmission lines following strong community outrage. A recent government-dominated review into undergrounding high-voltage transmission lines ignored community concerns and strong opposition from the farming sector, recommending enormous above-ground towers and powerlines...


Concerns grow around dispensing changes

Michelle Daw. Chemists on Yorke Peninsula are cutting back on opening hours and making other changes to save money in response to the introduction of 60-day dispensing on September 1 ... “The funding cuts as a result of this new model will cost the average pharmacy $180,000 per year in lost gross profit — the profit which pays the bills and keeps the pharmacy open and brings a resident pharmacist to town with pay and accommodation”: Noel Allen.

Planning - WA

Call for public space to retain the spirit of Two Rocks and Atlantis

Residents who successfully campaigned for heritage listing of King Neptune are calling for the spirit of Two Rocks and Atlantis to be retained … Two Rocks residents told Hannah Beazley, who is Parliamentary Secretary to Planning and Lands Minister John Carey, of their concerns the community could lose the public open space east of King Neptune if RAAFA WA is successful in having the public open space shifted.

Council - NSW

Council seeks more powers to stop pet cats roaming and killing

Here kitty, kitty – here’s the thing – there are almost five million cats in Australia. Research by the Invasive Species Council found that 70% of cat owners let their cats roam freely outdoors. An average roaming cat kills 186 animals a year...