Shenhua coalmine scaled back as NSW government buys back part of licence

Resources minister says 51.4% of exploration licence in Liverpool plains would be handed back, in exchange for a refund of $262m

 A Liverpool plains farmer, Andrew Pursehouse, whose farm in Breeza, New South Wales, adjoins the proposed Shenhua coalmine.
 A Liverpool plains farmer, Andrew Pursehouse, whose farm in Breeza, New South Wales, adjoins the proposed Shenhua coalmine. Photograph: Gay Alcorn for the GuardianShares

The controversial Shenhua Watermark coalmine in NSW will be scaled back to avoid mining land marked as “strategic” agricultural lands, after a partial buy-back of the mining licence by the state government.

The government indicated it was in discussions with Shenhua in August, when it announced a similar buyback of BHP’s planned underground mine in nearby Caroona, also on the Liverpool plains. There has been continued speculation that the mine was not financially viable, given declining Chinese coal imports and Shenhua’s failure to apply for a mining licence, instead extending its cheaper exploration licence.

On Wednesday the NSW minister for resources, Don Harwin, said 51.4% of the company’s exploration licence would be handed back under the agreement, with the government refunding about $262m from the original amount received from Shenhua.

The Shenhua exploration licence was granted for about $300m in 2008 by the disgraced former NSW Labor resources minister Ian Macdonald. The open-cut mine was planned to cover 35 sq km in rich farming land in the state’s north.

“While the previous Labor government granted the original exploration licence, this government has determined there should be no mining on the fertile black soils of the Liverpool plains,” Harwin said.

“In August 2016 the NSW government also secured an agreement to buy back the licence for BHP’s Caroona project, another exploration licence issued by the previous Labor government on the Liverpool plains.”

“We’ve been betrayed by the NSW government,” said a Breeza farmer, Andrew Pursehouse, whose property adjoins the proposed coalmine.

“If it was serious about protecting farmland, it would have cancelled the coal licence outright and stopped this coalmine.

The NSW Greens’ resources spokesman, Jeremy Buckingham, said the buy-back did not go far enough and he called on the premier to cancel the project.

“Today’s announcement is a recognition that building a giant coalmine in Australia’s best agricultural area is a terrible idea, but anything less than full cancellation does not lift the threat,” he said.

“Anyone who has visited the area knows how interconnected the ridges are to the plains. The idea that you can dig a 300-metre deep pit next to a flood plain and it will not impact on the water table is ridiculous. It is certainly not worth taking the risk.

“There is no ‘safe’ size for the Shenhua coalmine. It is the wrong mine, in the wrong place, at the wrong time as we confront dangerous climate change.”

Malcolm Turnbull meets the Queen

M who co-founded Australian Republican Movement pays tribute to monarch’s ‘selfless public service, dignity, wisdom and leadership’

 Malcolm Turnbull with the Queen
 Malcolm Turnbull, a staunch republican, had an audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace in his last official event on his visit to Europe. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

Staunch republican Malcolm Turnbull says 20 years ago he would have never imagined that he would meet the Queen as prime minister of Australia.

The final official event for Turnbull before heading back to Australia after a trip to Germany, France and the UK was an audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Speaking to reporters before the meeting, Turnbull, who co-founded the Australian Republican Movement, said politics is “full of unpredictable events”.

The prime minister paid tribute to the 91-year-old monarch as having embodied “selfless public service, dignity, wisdom and leadership for longer and more magnificently than anyone alive today”.

The Queen wore a diamond-encrusted wattle brooch while receiving Turnbull on Tuesday. The Queen has worn the yellow and blue diamond item many times, which was given to her early in her reign during the 1954 Commonwealth tour.

The monarch has been invited to open the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.

Asked whether he expected confirmation of which royal might attend, Turnbull said: “I may be better informed this afternoon.”

Turnbull has advocated for a republic but believes such a change would not be supported by Australians during the Queen’s reign.

ARM is pressing for a national vote in 2020 on whether people want an Australian head of state and how one should be chosen. This would be followed by a full referendum in 2022 to change the constitution.

Turnbull said in a speech in December his preferred model was an advisory plebiscite offering a choice between two republican models – most likely direct election and parliamentary appointment.

Once the model is chosen at the plebiscite, the parliament would formulate the terms of the amendment in line with the people’s choice and present it at a referendum.

ARM called on the the prime minister to make clear to the Queen Australia would still be a Commonwealth country if Australians voted to become a republic.

Labor, meanwhile, wants Turnbull to ask the Queen how she might help Australia transition to a republic.

“But I’ve got no real hope that he’s going to do that,” the frontbencher Mark Dreyfus told ABC radio.

Turnbull had breakfast with UK corporate chiefs, where they discussed greater investment in Australia. He then met with university representatives to discuss ways to link researchers with industry and address fears that Brexit could have an impact on innovative business.

He said “a lot of people” were downcast about the Brexit decision and thought it was a mistake.

“But British people should see this from an optimistic point of view. They should be able to say, ‘We’ve made that decision, we are part of a global economy and we should embrace it’ – and Australia will be part of it.”

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Nations worst slowdown tipped for Coffs

THE Coffs Harbour boom might be over with a new report predicting the region will grow at less than the national average over the coming 14 years.

Regional Australia Institute has predicted Coffs Harbour’s compound annual growth rate between 2013 and 2031 will be 2.3% – below the national average of 2.9% and equal lowest in the nation.

In contrast, between 2001 and 2013 the region grew at 3.1% and was just outside the 10 fastest growing regions.

Geoff Egan

 

A PLAN A MISS

The reginal capitals report released recently paints a worrying picture for those in COFFS HARBOUR. The Chair of the committee was quoted as saying “the idea that regional cities are and will continue to be in a regional centre will be 2.9% during the period 2013 to 2031.  Coffs  Harbour is below the national average and at 2.3% is equal lowest in the  nation.

This ” disappointing” result reflected a missed opportunity to get people into the workforce. There was also a need to have a surge in start up businesses.

So, given the extraordinary effort of Council   our region  fell out of the top ten to equal lowest.

Does this suggest Council is unable to plan properly? We were told we are to grow   of what of what promotes growth judgingit is clear Council has no ideapolicies they have put in place.ere told we are to grow but it is clear Council has no idea of what promotes growth judging from the policies they have put in place.

Growth comes about when the community is prepared to spend within the  community generates income.   and more opportunities; these in turn lead to growth.    GROWTH  IS NOT ACHIEVED BY POLICIES AIMED AT; 

Gouging over $200m out of the community under rate increases or

Setting up in competition against local business such as Coastal Works is doing or

 Contracting outside the region for services when local resources are available (swimming pool tenders).

But do not fear, the chair of the Chamber of Commerce told us agriculture was ramping up. This will be our most important industry followed by aged care, education and tourism. It is a shame the Council were opposed to the development of:

O  The old Catholic Club site and

O  The development of packing facilities for the blueberry industry at the old BUNNINGS  site.

Both of these ventures, no doubt, would have created employment opportunities. Bot-h projects would have been ‘start up‘ businesses.

Rest assured the General Manager has a plan, a strategic plan no less. It is a plan to relegate Coffs Harbour to the bottom of the pack and it is long term because the outlook is for the next fourteen years.

It makes one wonder if agriculture, aged care and education are the growth areas why concentrate on the C B D? It is true funding comes from businesses within that precinct. It is also true these businesses have an agreement with Council to direct where expenditure is to occur. {If only that were true.}

So given this why has Council ignored the areas where agriculture,f aged care and education are, or will be, centred?

Silly me, I forgot the 2030 photographic display will take care of that!

Submitted by COB

More than 70 Firefighters battle large blaze in London

Firefighters have brought a large blaze at Camden Lock Market in north Londonunder control.

The London fire brigade said on Monday morning that 10 fire engines had been dispatched to reports of a fire at the popular tourist spot after midnight.

The brigade asked people to avoid the area and said the cause of the fire was not yet known. By 3.20am the brigade said the blaze was under control.

We now have ten fire engines and over 70 firefighters dealing with the  Lock Market fire. Please avoid the area © @CamdenJohnny

Footage posted on social media showed firefighters dousing a significant fire. The blaze appears to have started in a guitar shop near the market.

The Metropolitan police said: “Police were called on Monday at 12.10am to Camden Lock Market to reports of a fire. London fire brigade were already at the scene when officers arrived. It is unknown at this stage if any persons are injured, we await update.”

A London ambulance service spokeswoman said no one had been treated at the scene.

“We were called at 00.07 today (10th July) to reports of a fire at Camden Lock Market,” she said.

“We sent a clinical team leader and our hazardous area response team (HART) to the scene. We have not treated any patients, and we remain at the scene.”

Billy Dunmore, 22, from north London, told the Guardian: “I was walking past the market with friends when I saw the smoke coming out up the road. We saw flames coming out the window above Honest Burger, but through a reflection we could see lots of flames in the market.”

The drama student said the area appeared to be deserted.

One witness tweeted: “On a night bus I just passed the start of a big fire in Camden, now at Euston I’ve seen lots of ambulances head north.”

Another said: “Just drove past Camden market and there’s a huge fire on top a building, close to the Lock Bridge! Crazy crazy scenes.”

Tim Hobern, 27, a bar manager who works near Camden market, became aware of the blaze when the fire alarm went off at Lockside Lounge.

“Some of the bar staff from around the corner came running into our place saying there was a fire. We ran up the road and could see the fire in the guitar shop.”

Hobern said the market was empty when the blaze broke out.

“Nobody was there. The market closed around 7pm. I told my staff to get back as it’s not worth risking their lives.”

A huge fire destroyed a large section of London’s famous Camden market in 2008.

Camden Lock is a mecca for teenagers and tourists and 28 million visitors flock to its second-hand clothes and record stalls each year.

The area was part of the first wave of London gentrification, starting in the 1960s, with the opening of the Roundhouse as a performance venue, followed swiftly by the arrival of Compendium Books, which sold political and avant garde literature.

An old timber yard by the canal was taken over in 1972 by a group of craftspeople, and on 30 March 1974 they opened the first Camden Lock market, with 16 stalls.

The markets rapidly expanded as Camden’s new arrivals began decking out their Victorian homes with antiques and crafts. The area became increasingly fashionable during the punk era.

Firefighters have brought a large blaze at Camden Lock Market in north Londonunder control.

The London fire brigade said on Monday morning that 10 fire engines had been dispatched to reports of a fire at the popular tourist spot after midnight.

The brigade asked people to avoid the area and said the cause of the fire was not yet known. By 3.20am the brigade said the blaze was under control.

We now have ten fire engines and over 70 firefighters dealing with the  Lock Market fire. Please avoid

Footage posted on social media showed firefighters dousing a significant fire. The blaze appears to have started in a guitar shop near the market.

A London ambulance service spokeswoman said no one had been treated at the scene.

“We were called at 00.07 today (10th July) to reports of a fire at Camden Lock Market,” she said.

“We sent a clinical team leader and our hazardous area response team (HART) to the scene. We have not treated any patients, and we remain at the scene.”

 fire update: the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors, plus the roof, of a building within the market are alight © @CamdenJohnny

Billy Dunmore, 22, from north London, told the Guardian: “I was walking past the market with friends when I saw the smoke coming out up the road. We saw flames coming out the window above Honest Burger, but through a reflection we could see lots of flames in the market.”

The drama student said the area appeared to be deserted.

One witness tweeted: “On a night bus I just passed the start of a big fire in Camden, now at Euston I’ve seen lots of ambulances head north.”

Another said: “Just drove past Camden market and there’s a huge fire on top a building, close to the Lock Bridge! Crazy crazy scenes.”

Tim Hobern, 27, a bar manager who works near Camden market, became aware of the blaze when the fire alarm went off at Lockside Lounge.

“Some of the bar staff from around the corner came running into our place saying there was a fire. We ran up the road and could see the fire in the guitar shop.”

Hobern said the market was empty when the blaze broke out.

“Nobody was there. The market closed around 7pm. I told my staff to get back as it’s not worth risking their lives.”

A huge fire destroyed a large section of London’s famous Camden market in 2008.

Camden Lock is a mecca for teenagers and tourists and 28 million visitors flock to its second-hand clothes and record stalls each year.

The area was part of the first wave of London gentrification, starting in the 1960s, with the opening of the Roundhouse as a performance venue, followed swiftly by the arrival of Compendium Books, which sold political and avant garde literature.

An old timber yard by the canal was taken over in 1972 by a group of craftspeople, and on 30 March 1974 they opened the first Camden Lock market, with 16 stalls.

The markets rapidly expanded as Camden’s new arrivals began decking out their Victorian homes with antiques and crafts. The area became increasingly fashionable during the punk era.

Malcolm Turnbull to be awawarded UK prize for immigration program

British thinktank praises prime minister for ‘non-discriminatory’ policies helping to make Australia a ‘land of opportunity’

 Malcolm Turnbull in Hamburg on Thursday
 Malcolm Turnbull in Hamburg on Thursday. He will be awarded the Disraeli prize in London next week. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Malcolm Turnbull will be awarded a prize for maintaining Australia’s non-discriminatory immigration program.

The Disraeli prize, awarded by the British centre-right thinktank Policy Exchange, is named for Britain’s first prime minister from a minority background, Benjamin Disraeli.

sea urchin research

Symon Dworjanyn and Luke HartsuykerA ground-breaking sea urchin aquaculture program, developed by researchers at Southern Cross University, will help tap into the lucrative Japanese export market, worth around $US200 million a year.

Associate Professor Symon Dworjanyn, based at the University’s National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour, is leading the program, which is funded by the federal government’s Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.

The three-year project is identifying ways to improve the production of commercial quantities of sea urchins. It will help develop a vibrant new Australian aquaculture industry that will supply the Asian sushi market.

Nationals Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker believes the research and innovation has the potential to grow our region.

“The team at Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre is doing some really exciting work,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“With the potential for growth in this export market, improving efficiency and industry standards could mean a tangible benefit to our region in terms of job creation and the economic flow-on effect.

“I’m so pleased that Australian Government funds are being put to good use, by a well-qualified team, always looking to improve their methods.”

The team has had early success, sending its first shipment of baby sea urchins to Japan in July in a venture that is hoped will foster co-operation between the Australian and Japanese industries.

“Increasing demand and reduced supply from collapsing wild fisheries are creating opportunities for commercial sea urchin culture in Australia. The tropical sea urchin, Tripneustes gratilla, has great aquaculture potential as it is fast growing and native to both Australia and Japan,” Professor Dworjanyn said.

“The innovative technology we have developed here to produce baby sea urchins is world beating in its efficiency. Sea urchin roe for sushi and even pasta dishes in Japan and other parts of Asia is a favourite, but as the wild fish stock is being depleted the price is going up about 10 per cent each year,” he said.

“The market is massive and this will create an unexpected and exciting link between Australian and Japanese aquaculture.”

The species being bred in Coffs Harbour is the same as the species that is native to the Japanese island of Okinawa, where the wild harvest is in the doldrums because of overfishing.

“There is a huge demand from domestic tourists visiting Okinawa, and also through the central Japanese fish market,” Professor Dworjanyn said.

Sea urchin gonads – ‘uni’ – are prized by chefs the world over for their rich and delicate flavour. In the Japanese market, ‘uni’ is a high value product. The current market value for live sea urchins is approximately $9 per individual, or up to $1000 per kilogram for ‘uni’.

“Australia has an excellent opportunity to take advantage of our native sea urchin, with access to high quality, warm water aquaculture sites and a clean green image,” said Professor Dworjanyn.

“This is a great example of how research innovation, combined with Australia’s natural competitive advantages can open up a new potentially lucrative rural export industries.”

Photo: Associate Professor Symon Dworjanyn and federal Member for Cowper Mr Luke Hartsuyker.

Medicare breach: it just got a whole lot harder to trust government with our data

Medicare data breach: tax office suspends cards as ID before U-turn

 

A Medicare card
 The Australian Tax Office temporarily suspended Medicare cards from use as proof of identification before backtracking. Photograph: AAP

The Australian Tax Office temporarily suspended Medicare cards from use as proof of identification documents but quickly withdrew their suspension, signalling confusion within the federal government over how to respond to the sale of Medicare details on the darknet.

An investigation by the Guardian revealed on Tuesday that a darknet vendor on a popular auction site for illegal products claimed to have access to any Australian’s Medicare card details and could supply them on request.

At least 75 Australians’ personal details appear to have been sold on the site. The Department of Human Services has referred the matter to the Australian federal police for investigation.

But the ATO issued a brief advisory to staff on Wednesday that said it had suspended the use of Medicare cards for the purposes of identification verification for Australians’ tax matters.

The move suggested the ATO held concerns about the integrity of Medicare cards as a valid form of identification for Australians.

An internal memo circulated to ATO staff on Wednesday said: “As a result of recent media coverage on Medicare card details being sold on the ‘dark web’, the Medicare card has been removed from the list of DVS (document verification service) documents until further notice.

“Effective immediately, do not accept this item of proof as of the PORO (proof of record ownership) process.”

The DVS process is managed by the attorney general’s department and would have affected a range of different government agencies if it were implemented.

But, later on Wednesday, the ATO withdrew the advisory without explanation, instead telling staff that Medicare cards could continue to be used for identity checks. They were told a further formal communique would be released in coming days.

When contacted by the Guardian about the change in policy, Tudge said: “I’ve had assurances from the Australian Tax Office and the attorney general’s department that Medicare cards will continue to be accepted as proof of identification through the document verification service.

“Medicare cards remain part of the range of documents that can be verified by the document verification service.

“Users can continue to use the system to verify information on Medicare cards to help prevent identity crime.

“As is standard practice, the attorney general’s department assists users of the DVS to ensure the ongoing integrity of their operations.”

As part of the ATO – and many other government agencies – identification checks, Medicare cards can be used towards 100 ID points. Many Australians who engage with the ATO as part of identification checks use Medicare cards, which can be used for 25 points.

Guardian Australia contacted the ATO and DHS to ask them about the basis for the change but both declined to comment.

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The government is continuing to face pressure over the breach. Tudge was forced to acknowledge on Wednesdaythat his department only became aware of the breach when contacted by the Guardian, despite the information being available for sale on the darknet since October 2016.

It has also emerged an Australian National Audit Office from three years ago warned the department about flaws in the handling of Medicare information and the ease with which customer data could be accessed. It said: “Human services can significantly improve its management and monitoring of access to a key Medicare database that holds the personal Medicare details of Australians.”

The Department of Human Services declined to comment on the audit. At the time they said they had adopted all the recommendations in the report.

Catherine King, the shadow minister for health, and Linda Burney, the shadow minister for human services, previously said the breach was “incomprehensible” and have called for Tudge to explain the full circumstances that led up to the breach.

Contact Paul Farrell securely using the Signal messaging app on +61 457 262 172

SAFETY UPGRADE FOR COFFS HARBOUR SOCIAL HOUSING

Tenants at a social housing complex in Coffs Harbour can feel reassured after safety and security improvements were made through funding from Mission Australia and the NSW Government’s Social Housing Community Improvement Fund (SHCIF).

Improvements to the complex included the installation of CCTV, sensor lights in the common area, shade sails and garden upgrades.

Tenants were also provided with information packs about keeping safe and connecting with the local community.

“The NSW Government is proud to partner with local organisations to support local projects,” Minister for Social Housing, Pru Goward said.

Local Member Andrew Fraser said upgrades to the garden had improved tenant engagement and increased the number of regular tenant meetings.

“Isolation is an unfortunate reality for many of our older residents. This project is a wonderful reminder of how important it is to engage with your neighbours,” Mr Fraser said.

Tenants at the complex are also hosting regular morning teas with local support services, Police and the Council to share information and link-in with vital supports.

SHCIF provides one-off grants of up to $50,000 to local councils, non-government organisations and private sector organisations to construct new capital works or refurbish, upgrade or repair existing facilities on or near social housing communities.

In total, $205,901 of funding from the SHCIF has been allocated to seven projects in the Coffs Harbour electorate.

Fo general information about the SHCIF program visit www.facs.nsw.gov.au/SHCIF