Monday, June 21, 2021

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

Sign up for the Australian Rural & Regional News newsletter and keep in touch.      It’s free


Farmgate value hits new record $66 billion

Australian farmgate production is on track for a record-breaking $66.3 billion year. ABARES’ June quarter 2021 Agriculture Commodities report shows how the sector has navigated the uncertainties and challenges posed by COVID-19 and changes in the international trade landscape.


Economic reboot

A total of 25 civil and $7.2 million in residential and commercial projects in the Narrandera Shire have given employment and service providers a massive boost. The civil projects undertaken with government and Council funds include: the Narrandera sportsground, the Narrandera sports stadium, Narrandera Destination and Discovery Hub and the realignment of Kamarah Road.

Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Reflect on this

Last week, Griffith hosted the first annual Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) River Reflections conference. It was with much reluctance that I headed up to the event, but I am glad I did because the gospel, according to the MDBA, appears to be more rooted in propaganda than guiding the whole basin to a prosperous future ... The high ranking officials included MDBA Chair, Sir Angus Houston; Federal Environment Minister and Member for Farrer, Sussan Ley; Minister for Water, Keith Pitt; MDBA Chief Executive, Phillip Glyde; MDBA River Operations, Andrew Reynolds; and Acting Head of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, Hilton Taylor.

Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement

New free trade agreement to deliver jobs and business opportunities in Australia and the United Kingdom

[Government statement] A new free trade agreement with the UK will deliver more Australian jobs and business opportunities for exporters, bringing both countries closer together in a changing strategic environment. Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson have agreed on the broad outlines of an Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Labor welcomes proposed UK trade deal

[ALP] Labor welcomes the in-principle deal announced last night to progress a free-trade agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom. Trade is an important aspect of the close relationship between Australia and the UK, and we will wait to see the details of this proposed agreement.

UK-Australia trade agreement a new beginning

[National Farmers' Federation] Australian farmers are applauding the ‘in-principle’ trade deal between Australia and the United Kingdom announced by prime ministers Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson in London overnight. The proposed deal is the first trade agreement reached by the United Kingdom following its separation from the European Union last year, and will guarantee tariff-free, quota-free access to the UK market for all agricultural products, after phase in periods of up to 15 years.

A-UK FTA: A quality outcome with a long-term partner

[Meat & Livestock Australia] The Australian red meat industry today welcomed the announcement in London by Prime Ministers Morrison and Johnson of agreement in-principle regarding the parameters of the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement. The agreement will see Australian beef and sheepmeat access to the UK liberalised over a 10 year transition period.

From NSW farms to the UK

[NSW Farmers] Farmers in NSW will benefit from the ‘in-principle’ trade deal between Australia and one of its oldest trading partners. The proposed deal with the United Kingdom includes the introduction of Ag Visa for UK backpackers and tariff and quota free access for a range of produce grown in NSW.

Art & Environment

Artwork featured in France

Visitors at the Le Harvre Natural History Museum in France will get to witness artwork from Erub (Darnley) Island in the Torres Strait after last week’s exhibition opening. Erub artists were pleased to once again work with curator Geraldine Le Roux on an ambitious ghost net project.


Lockhart River draws MP’s praise

The Queensland Minister for Main Roads and Transport, Mark Bailey, says he is blown away with the progress of the Lockhart River community every time he visits the place. “What they are doing there is absolutely trailblazing,” he said on Friday after his visit. “They are the leading community in the Cape in what they are doing in terms of having a vision and getting it done.”


Groundbreaking translocation of WA’s rarest bird

In an effort to boost numbers of the Western Ground Parrot, a critically endangered bird now only found in areas near Esperance, scientists and volunteers have taken the bold step in translocating a number of birds with the hopes of establishing a new mainland population ... The delicate operation involved locating and capturing the birds, with a vet and zoologist from Perth Zoo on-site to assess the birds in preparation for travel.

Torres Strait turtle released after four long years

A turtle that was found trapped in a crab pot in the Torres Strait has been rehabilitated and released back into the wild. After four long years, a group of wildlife carers were overwhelmed with emotion as they finally released a turtle which had been found as a juvenile.

Law & order

Crime on the rise

Kirstin Nicholson. Locals are rattled over the number of thefts occurring in the district. Over the past few years, thefts from private residences and businesses seem to be more frequent and victims are urging people to make security a priority and to be vigilant ... “As a smaller community we’ve just got to find a way. People say this shouldn’t happen in this sort of small community. It shouldn’t because we’ve got each other to lean on. We should be eyes and ears for each other. You don’t want to hear about this happening. In Melbourne this happens every day. We moved back to the country to get away from that sort of lifestyle.”


Good food feeds a feeling of affection

If 20 people walked through the door looking for a feed, it wouldn't faze Terrell Lohman. Margaret Davidson started the Casino Community Kitchen four years ago and is thrilled about the enthusiasm and cooking skills of the kitchen's new president ... "Making food is a way of showing affection," says Terrell.

Industrial action

Health turmoil in MIA

Nicholas Rupolo. Health Services Union paramedics across the Riverina will only attend to serious emergencies today following NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet’s wage increase offer the union describes as “humiliating and insulting” ... Health Services Union Riverina organiser Mick Grayson said regional paramedics were at a significant disadvantage from lower pay and costly work practices.


Volunteers ‘devastated’ by Iluka Meals on Wheels changes

Geoff Helisma. The decision to cease producing hot and/or locally prepared meals at the Iluka Meals on Wheels (IMoW) kitchen has drawn pleas from volunteers to “reverse this decision”. In a letter to Page MP Kevin Hogan, a volunteer writes, “I would like to make you aware, if you're not already, of the above devastating decision which will affect many residents of the Lower Clarence community.”

Community action

A safe place to stay

Two Kyogle women are united in doing something about how the housing crisis is impacting women. Lynda Clark and Wendy Bolden are not waiting for the state government to act, for funding policies to change or for more refuges to be built. They see the crisis and they are taking action to be part of a solution.

Law & order

Epenarra man jailed for bashing wife

A 35-year-old Epenerra man has been handed a 32 month prison sentence for bashing the wife and mother of his five children ... Justice Jenny Blokland said it was just another example of violent treatment of women in Tennant Creek.


Rotary awards Mayor the Paul Harris Fellow

Barkly Mayor Jeffrey McLaughlin has been awarded this year’s Paul Harris Fellow by the local Rotary Club. The event was also an opportunity to meet Rotary’s Area Governor, Ray Fauntleroy, who gave a presentation on some of the important projects Rotary is involved in, and his experience with Rotary’s work in Timor.


Lyttle Eat Street food precinct launches global street food

Bendigo’s newest food precinct, Lyttle Eat Street, has been launched on the footpaths at Lyttleton Terrace in the city centre to celebrate and indulge in delicious global street food. Fourteen local businesses from Lyttleton Terrace have joined forces to create Lyttle Eat Street, an initiative to create a new ‘street food vibe and neighbourhood’ in the city centre. It is the first in a winter-long series, Slow Smoking Saturdays, to entice more people to visit the area on weekends to enjoy unique dishes and drinks.

Wine tourism

The Wine Adventurer – new WA wine tourism guide

The first of its kind in Australia, a new online and interactive wine tourism guide called The Wine Adventurer has been published designed to inspire and inform international and domestic visitors to help them plan their trips into WA’s wine regions. Eight wine regions are featured in the e-brochure that includes each region’s unique wine tourism experiences and hero wine varieties.

Smart agriculture

Yamaha tech revolutionising global farming

Yamaha Motor Australia Director Tom Okamoto today announced the Yamaha Motor group has entered into a joint development agreement with Australian smart agriculture technology company The Yield. The development partnership will see Yamaha and The Yield working towards a goal of improved global agricultural productivity through the utilisation of digital technology and robotics.


Glenn Innes Council supports CVC’s anti-mining stance

Geoff Helisma. Glen Innes Severn Council (GISC) has voted to “support Clarence Valley Council (CVC) in seeking a moratorium on future mining and mining exploration in the Clarence Valley catchment”. Mayor Carol Sparks tabled a mayoral minute at the May 27 GISC meeting, outlining her motivation to table the minute.

Land & Environment

Aerial survey highlights problem

A helicopter survey along the east coast of Cape York has revealed the extent of plastic pollution in the region. Commissioned by the Tangaroa Blue Foundation as part of the ReefClean program, the survey identified 2882 plastic floats, 211 ghost nets, 147 long line beacons and 234 fish attracting devices among thousands of items of plastic pollution.


Mice madness

The Murrumbidgee valley’s multi-million dollar winter cereal crop has dodged a bullet with minimal mouse damage and recent rain lifting grower’s spirits ... The promising cropping outlook and buoyant land values have resulted in three blue-ribbon corporate holdings in the region hitting the market in the same week.


Catholic Church, graves, bad government, and possibly no redemption!

Readers may have noticed stories concerning Minister Pavey handing the operation of graveyards to the NSW Public Service ... The Jewish faith and the Islamic faith are supporting the Roman Catholic Church which is in Court with the Government. The People of the Book have united in the issue of looking after the dead.


Sheep flock to increase to over 68 million

Favourable seasonal conditions for the first half of 2021 coupled with a positive outlook will result in a faster national flock rebuild, according to Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) 2021 sheep industry projections half year update.


New outback reserve to protect diverse Western wilderness

Environment Minister, Matt Kean has today announced the second largest land acquisition for national parks in the last 10 years with the purchase of the neighbouring Langidoon and Metford stations, 65km east of Broken Hill. The plan for the two properties, totaling 60,468 hectares, is to create a new outback reserve conserving significant biodiversity and Aboriginal heritage in the region ... The purchase follows on from the recent creation of another outback reserve - Narriearra Caryapundy Swamp National Park which was the largest purchase of private land for the national parks estate.

Land purchase creates region’s largest environment reserve

Doonan Creek Environment Reserve in Peregian Springs is now the largest reserve in Sunshine Coast Council’s conservation estate thanks to the acquisition of an additional property. The latest purchase adds 94 hectares to the existing reserve and brings it to an impressive 474 hectares in total.


NT pastoralists offload central Australian farm

Northern Territory pastoralists Roy and Janet Chisholm have sold a central Australian farm for $6.1 million to Caason Group. The 1,047-hectare Oolloo Farm, which produces irrigated hay, sits 200kms north of Alice Springs and included a 1,000-megalitre per year water extraction licence, as well as six centre pivots.


The great Kyogle disconnect

The greatest black hole in the universe is how Michael Donnelley describes mobile phone connection at the Country Inn Motel in Kyogle ... Kyogle mayor Danielle Mulholland said reliable and affordable high-speed internet was vital, “this is just as important in terms of infrastructure as some of the more traditional kinds like roads, bridges, footpaths and so on. People are making real estate purchasing decisions on a range of factors important to them and telecommunications connectivity is now one of them.”


Williams acquires 718ha Sorell Creek

Agribusiness identity David Williams has added to his rural portfolio with the $3 million acquisition of Sorell Creek, spanning 718 hectares on the Derwent River north of Hobart. About 19 kilometres from the capital, the property reportedly may be used by Williams for sheep or salmon farming, and as a future land bank play. It previously held a permit for a 43 lot subdivision. About 241 hectares is zoned for rural living.

Regional airport

PHI International settle into residence at Onslow Airport

The Shire of Ashburton is pleased to welcome PHI International to Onslow Airport. PHI International are leaders in high quality helicopter services and boast an advanced and varied fleet of helicopters that supports a range of international businesses across Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Ghana, Cyprus and Saudi Arabia.


Food artisan back on the winner’s list

Geoff Helisma. Multi award-winning, Yamba fine food manufacturer Peter Nicholson hasn’t entered his creations in shows around Australia for about four years – but that changed recently when his Spiced Beetroot Finishing Vinegar took out the champion trophy at the recent Royal Tasmanian Fine Food Awards ... "What food would I put it on?" "Vanilla bean ice cream, and I implore you to try it."


Finding Nemo: monitoring the McCullochs Anemonefish

The McCullochs anemonefish (Amphiprion mccullochi) is an endemic species which only occurs in waters around Lord Howe Island, Elizabeth Reef and Middleton Reef. The Lord Howe Island lagoon supports the world’s largest population - approximately 75% of all McCullochs anemonefish – and is therefore a critical area for monitoring this species.


Alpaca jumper for a Chile journey

Australia's alpaca producers are well positioned to develop new export markets following the opening of trade in alpacas with Chile ... "Health certification requirements are the foundation for trade in animals and this agreement means we can continue to build on trade opportunities as we work to revitalise our primary industries."


Shannon Creek Dam on track to reach maximum storage

Water extraction from the Nymboida River is on track to see Shannon Creek Dam reach its maximum storage capacity ... “Frequent heavy rainfall events in the Nymboida catchment throughout the summer continued to cause issues with river water quality and delayed the refilling of Shannon Creek Dam. We also experienced issues with extraction infrastructure which further limited the amount of clean water which could be taken from the Nymboida River to replenish water levels in the dam,” says Greg Mashiah, Manager for Water Cycle at Clarence Valley Council.

Mayor Otto welcomes water funding – State Budget

South Burnett Regional Council Mayor Brett Otto has welcomed the State Budget announcement regarding funding availability for local water infrastructure, saying it is the first step in protecting the community from an impending water crisis ... “We are seeking meetings with Minister Keith Pitt to highlight the importance of water infrastructure for our region. I think when it comes to water infrastructure and protecting and growing our communities, we need a holistic approach which involves all levels and all sides of government,” he said.


ESG governance – Australia’s competitive advantage

[Agribusiness Australia] "Rather than wait for test cases to set the benchmarks, we can choose now to adopt more self-regulation and work with regulators to co-create frameworks and accountability that customers can understand and trust. This is an opportunity for Australia, as a developed, mature, food-producing and export-dependent country to differentiate from its peers and create new sustainable competitive advantage," says Mark Barber.

Climate action

New analysis: Australia doing less than other countries on climate

New research from the Australia Institute reveals that, contrary to claims by the Australian Government of falling emissions, Australia’s national emissions (excluding land use) have risen by 7 per cent from 2005 ... “The Australian government is taking credit for changes in the land sector, that have not been impacted by any federal climate policy. By contrast, key allies like the United Kingdom and United States have decreased their net emissions and are exercising real credible climate leadership," said Richie Merzian.

Why so negative, Australia Institute?

NFF CEO Tony Mahar has called the Australia Institute's latest report a PR stunt and questioned the think tank’s motives in continually ignoring agriculture's achievements in stemming the impacts of climate change. "In fact, Australian farmers are leading the world in reducing emissions, all while continuing to increase productivity."

The Australia Institute responds to criticism from the National Farmers’ Federation

“It is disappointing the National Farmers' Federation has chosen to interpret the Australia Institute’s report Banking on Australia’s Emissions as a criticism of the agriculture sector,” said Richie Merzian, climate & energy program director at the Australia Institute. “The Australia Institute recognises that Australia’s farmers are experiencing first-hand the impacts of climate change, and similarly recognises their contribution to reducing emissions in the land sector."

Land & Environment

Record program to replant North Coast State forest plantations

Forestry Corporation had targeted its plantation forests for harvesting over the last 12 months to help keep up with strong demands in the building industry, setting the scene for the record 2021 planting season, said Roading and Plantations Manager, Craig Busby ... The IPCC recognises that sustainably managed production forests that maintain carbon in growing trees while producing an annual yield of timber deliver a large, sustained climate change mitigation benefit.


The future of honey: from a pantry staple to the medicine cabinet

Research led by the University of Technology Sydney and funded by AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program aims to provide evidence required by modern medicine to reposition honey from a staple in the pantry to a health food. The work seeks to use honey as a prebiotic to promote good digestive health and to help combat the onset and progression of gut related disease.