Tag Archives: Australian News

The latest Australian Coronavirus: a week at a glance Australian News | Instant News

Good evening, here are the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. This is Luke Henriques-Gomes and this is Friday 31st July.

Victoria is in crisis

Victoria is on the verge of implementing further coronavirus restrictions after weeks of horror that saw a few more death and a record 732 new cases on Thursday. Daniel Andrews, the prime minister, announced that face masks are mandatory throughout the state, expanding regulations that make them mandatory in Melbourne. He also acknowledged the government was considering further steps, and that of the country it is not possible to abandon stage three restrictions in three weeks if the trend continues.

The elderly care system is in chaos

The increasing death rate in Victoria is triggered by the spread of the virus in several nursing homes, whisper authorized to take over several facilities. A number of nursing homes are in various countries chaos, said the family, while Victoria and the federal government increasingly fought over the crisis that ensued. Blaming the privatized system, Andrews said he did not want his own mother living in a number of nursing homes.

NSW confidently tracks even though the cluster is growing

New South Wales continues to record new cases of coronavirus, with a growing group on the outskirts of Sydney Potts Point involving two restaurants and a yacht club. Some schools, gymnasiums and other places were forced to close, but the authorities believed that the NSW tracking effort kept the outbreak under control, even though the situation “at the tip of the knife”. The government also issued a suburban stretch watchlist from Potts Point to the west of the city including Prestons, Cabramatta and Bonnyrigg. Queensland also closes its border with people from greater Sydney.

Three women were charged with the Covid case in Queensland

Queensland authorities were very angry after that three women allegedly lied on their border declaration form to avoid quarantine after a trip to Melbourne. Two of the three women went on to test positive for the corona virus, forcing the health department to issue a long list of locations on the south side of Brisbane now connected to Covid-19. The Queensland human rights commission also criticized the decision several media to publish the names and photos of women.

Passenger Ruby Princess released the ship after army officers disrupted flu and coronavirus test results

The document revealed that an officer was an Australian Border Force allowing passengers to descend to Princess Ruby because she mistook the negative flu results for a negative Covid-19 test. Labor called on the federal government to apologize, noting that the ABF chief had previously blamed the NSW government.

Woolworths asks customers to wear face masks

Supermarket giant Woolworths said it would be “very encouraging” customers wearing masks at NSW and ACT stores from monday. Similar recommendations began in several regions of Queensland on Friday. Face masks are mandatory in Victoria and are recommended in parts of Sydney where there is high community transmission. However, Woolworths said it would not reject customers if they did not have masks.

Police arrested demonstrators at BLM carrying out a demonstration in violation of Covid

A peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney continued despite being ruled “illegitimately” by the highest court of NSW after a request from the NSW police. The decision was later upheld by the appellate court. Police arrested and fined six people at the rally on Tuesday. The protesters have promised to cancel the demonstration if the government approves the NSW SafeWork investigation of the death of David Dungay Jr.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert moved to a notorious Iranian desert prison

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian academic who served a 10-year prison sentence in Iran for espionage, was transferred to the Qarchak women’s prison, southeast of Tehran, and was reportedly affected by a coronavirus. He was scared, scared, and unwell in Qarchak before he was forcibly transferred quarantine to the general prison population, said the source.

Senior advisers to the PM are forced to isolate

Nico Louw, senior adviser to Scott Morrison, went to quarantine himself after he was linked to the Covid-19 case. Louw has visited the Greek restaurant Apollo at Potts Points, which is the center of a growing group in the suburbs of Sydney. The PM’s office confirmed the development but said Morrison’s schedule would not be affected, according to health advice.

The ATO crackdown on a super withdrawal

The Australian Tax Office said this week already launch a pilot program aimed at detecting people who have withdrawn their retirement savings when they don’t qualify. It happened after the government allowed an initial super release in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. But the ATO said people who had withdrawn money against the rules could be taxed for withdrawals or face penalties of up to $ 12,600 for misleading statements.

What you need to know: get the most important information from some of our key explainers

Looking for further coverage? Read the latest news from all Guardian global networks


image source

Australia’s trilemma in providing good, fast and cheap energy finally has a clear solution Simon Holmes à Court | Opinion | Instant News

“G.ood, fast, cheap. Choose only two “is a saying that applies to almost all businesses. The idea that was equally energetic dominated the energy discussion a few years ago. The “energy trilemma” states that affordable, reliable and low emission power is practically impossible to obtain.

Released on Thursday from the Integrated System Plan (ISP) by Australia Energy The Market Operator (Aemo) has paid the trilema, at least for Australia, a large country that is blessed with shame about renewable energy resources.

After the panic caused by the blackout caused by a tornado in South Australia in September 2016, our buzzing politicians and commentators say that the country has moved too quickly towards renewable energy. The coal industry reeks of blood and runs a campaign for the magic “clean coal”. When the show was played, Coag engaged the chief scientist, Prof. Alan Finkel, to conduct a thorough review of the national electricity market.

Finkel’s landmark report Blueprint for the Future calling for a major step in the planning of the whole system, a task that was enthusiastically taken by the newly appointed boss of Aemo, Audrey Zibelman. ISP 2020 is the second edition of his team’s plan and the results are undoubtedly the most rigorous economic and engineering study ever carried out in the future of our grid.

This report explores five sensible scenarios for the National Electricity Market (NEM) that cover different economic and population growth rates, technological development (including transportation electrification) and climate policy ambitions. Of all scenarios, the step change scenario is the only way that is close to fulfilling our responsibilities under the Paris agreement, by implementing a carbon budget according to (now date) Analysis of the Climate Change Authority.

The step change scenario produces energy only for a small additional cost over the “business as usual scenario” and, like all scenarios, has been stress tested to ensure that the right lights will remain on. In short, the change step scenario is a blueprint for resolving Australia’s energy trilemma.

Currently coal provides 67% of our power, down from 80% a decade ago. In the step change scenario, coal generation plummeted in half over the next decade. At the end of the 20-year study period, the equivalent of one permanent coal-fired power plant in Queensland, providing only 2.5% of the electricity grid needs. Gas Generation contribution goes down, eventually only 1.5% of generation.

In 2042, the national electricity market will depend on the zero-emission quartet from wind, solar, water and storage for 96% of its energy. Nearly half of all energy comes from the sun, 41% from wind and only 6% from hydro.

To maintain a stable electricity network, the supply must be continually adjusted to precisely meet the demand. Therefore, it is very important that the network includes the generation that can be sent – that is, the generation that can be directed to operate on demand.

Two sources that can be sent, hydro and fast-start gas, currently play a major role in meeting peak night demand (when household loads are at their highest point) and during extreme heat (due to increased air conditioning) and picking up slack in the event of a generator failure the unexpected.

In the Aemo model, almost all shipping capacity lost due to retired coal workers is replaced by storage – network scale batteries, household batteries and hydro pumps.

Until recently, gas would be the choice for a new fast flexible generation but, at the new ISP, Aemo made a strong case that batteries were on track for out-competing gas power plants to peak. Only three years ago this claim would have increased credibility, but it became increasingly clear that gas makers would only be able to compete if the price of fossil gas remained at prices below realistic extraction costs.

Perhaps surprisingly, only about 11% of the generation of a mixture of wind and sun needs to be stored for later use, the rest is consumed when it is produced.

The most amazing metric in the step change scenario concerns emissions. During the 20-year study period, the generation mix produced 720 million tons of carbon dioxide (low cost) emissions savings compared to business as usual.

At present, producing one kilowatt-hour produces slightly above 700 g COg. Under a step change plan, our emissions intensity will drop to only 30g CO₂ for every kilowatt-hour produced, lower than even nuclear-powered France, the benchmark for low emissions.

Over the next 20 years, the plan demands to build almost four times more wind and sun than we have built in the last decade, plus 20 gigawatts of storage projects and several large-scale transmission projects. Australia’s electricity sector is prepared to stimulate jobs and economic activities that are urgently needed as we repair the damage caused by this pandemic.

It is important to understand that this scenario is not an estimate, but the lowest cost plan to navigate a series of assumptions and constraints. If we fail to manage the coal exit carefully, delay the increase in transmission, hinder investment or fail to reform our market structure to match the changing times, we will pay more, emissions will not go down so far and reliability can be easily threatened. Without coordination and cooperation from the two states and the federal government we can find ourselves back to the trilemma horn.

ISP 2020 is a significant leap forward in our planning, but this is the latest in a series. For the release of 2022, Aemo has promised to study the interaction of the grid with the emerging hydrogen economy. New technology, lower technology costs, and opportunities such as heavy industry “flexibility” like a smelter is likely to open new doors to reduce costs and reduce emissions.

On National Press Club in FebruaryFinkel correctly noted that wind and sun must be equipped with transferable power sources, then claimed that “in the short term, as stated by Prime Minister and Minister Angus Taylor, natural gas will play that important role”.

Armed with Aemo’s impeccable economic techniques and analysis – a report finally assigned to him – Finkel now has the opportunity, and I respectfully think he has a duty, to sit down the ministers and explain that Australia’s energy trilemma has a clear solution.

Finkel must inform the ministers that we now know with full confidence that we can have an affordable, reliable and low-emissions power system, and that it requires a transition to more wind and solar power plants, with storage, and less coal and fossil gas.


image source

‘Black summer’ forest fires in Australia show the effects of changing human forging | The Flannery Team | Living environment | Instant News

Australia’s “black summer” megafires are a heavy blow for ecosystems that have been staggered due to adverse impacts for decades. Predators and weed eaters, weeds and unsustainable land and water use have reduced natural resilience in Australia. So when an unprecedented fire comes, they are able to push the species to the brink.

When walking on fire, it is not possible to miss an immediate impact: the body of a scorched snake lies between the rocks, and a dead wallaby floating in a water hole. But some survivors were also seen: small lizards that had been waiting in burrows, and birds that had fled to safety then returned. And with rain, trees and grass quickly returngrow.

In Australia previously, the survivors will begin the process of ecosystem reassembly which will eventually restore the area affected by fire to its original state. But today, because of the great changes that humans have made, the journey to recovery has been shaky. Climate-fueled megafires have swept land that is filled with predators and wild pests – land where vital shelter gives way to forestry or agriculture.

The forest fires that plagued many parts of Australia between July 2019 and February 2020 are unimaginable scale and size. By the end of February, they had burned at least 32,000 square miles (85,000 square km) of Australian forest, an area as large as Ireland.

Nearly 3 billion animals have been killed or displaced by forest fires. The habitat is around 143 million mammals, 180 million birds, 51 million frogs and 2.5 billion reptiles burned.

The fires came during the hottest year in Australia on record and in a country that already has in between highest extinction rate in the world due to non-invasive species such as cats, foxes, deer, horses and various pathogens, along with habitat clearance and fragmentation.

But one year since the beginning of the fire, what is the landscape like today? With the state boundary closed due to Covid-19, the Guardian made a virtual journey through the blackened path of summer forest fires in Australia, talking to those who were investigating the state of the flora and fauna that still live on the continent.

Fires are fed by record-breaking temperatures and drought in southern and eastern Australia. These trends together cause a step change. Before the summer of 2019-20, forest fires burned 2% or less of the country’s temperate forests. But during the black summer, 21% burned. That’s a tenfold increase in one season.

Pine plantations are beginning to show post-fire regeneration on Kangaroo Island. Photo: Quentin Chester / The Guardian

Areas burnt by forest fires have an important influence on post-fire recovery. Larger burnt areas mean that more distant creatures must travel to reunite the restored forest. Koalas are very vulnerable in this case. They live on their own funeral pyre, so that fire kills many people.

If the burnt area is small and sparse, the slow reproduction rate of the koala is enough to enable them to re-colonize the burned area, so that in the long run the population is maintained. But if the bush burns more often than can be bred and spread by koalas, they will become extinct. Distribution of koala habitat through roads, suburbs and land clearing accelerates its extinction.

Megafires threaten many species. Small mammals may survive the initial fires, but they often succumb to predation or starvation after a fire, so the next generation must come from far away. Because reptiles don’t need to eat as often as possible, they have better survival prospects. Even so, the shift from smaller fires to large fires can have a major impact on them, because the level of predation increases in open habitats that dominate after fires and large-area planted areas offer less variable resources.

Even before the fire, introduced predators such as foxes and cats experience severe impact on native species. But fires have increased the impact. Cats can travel tens of kilometers to feast on the edge of fire, where survivors are concentrated and vulnerable. This predation destroys populations that would otherwise equate burning land. Unless the number of foxes and cats is controlled, they can make species extinct.

Kangaroo Island, post-fire regeneration.

New shoots amidst the remains of charred plants on Kangaroo Island. Photo: Quentin Chester / The Guardian

That Kangaroo Island dunnart (carnivorous marsupials the size of mice) are a prime example. It lost 95% of its habitat due to black summer fires, with only a few hundred surviving on isolated vegetation islands. Kangaroo Island has no foxes, but is plagued by wild cats, and after a fire they can easily kill the last of the rabbits. To prevent this, Australian Wildlife Conservation fenced in with critical protection of 13.8 hectares in February. As the population of protected rabbits increases, he plans to create a permanent sanctuary covering an area of ​​150 hectares.

That NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services is making great efforts to control the number of wild animals after the fire. The bait to control the fox has increased fivefold, with particular emphasis on the area burned during the summer. In the largest wild animal control program ever delivered in NSW, 60,000 fox bait will be laid over 2020, giving bandicoots, potoroo, and other native populations the chance to survive. And in June, more than 8,000 wild herbivores – mainly goats, deer, and pigs – have been moved from national parks because their grazing can greatly impact post-fire recovery. This effort will benefit wildlife for many years.

Other threats to biodiversity become apparent after forest fires. Floods that flooded fires in February damaged more endangered species than the fires themselves. Ponds used for breeding by endangered frogs such as the northern corroboree frog are destroyed by filling ashes. And ash, charcoal, and poison flood the waterways, killing fish and other aquatic life. Even the marine environment is affected, with runoff of poison damaging reefs near the coast and other communities around Sydney.

Heidi Groffen and Pat Hodgens from Land for Wildlife in the dunnart habitat.  Kangaroo Island rabbits lose 95% of their habitat due to black summer fires.

Heidi Groffen and Pat Hodgens from Land for Wildlife in the dunnart habitat. That
Kangaroo Island dunnart lost 95% of their habitat due to fire. Photo: Quentin Chester / The Guardian

Recovery will be slow. The fireside was once covered by forests of various ages, with different fire histories. They will be replaced by the growth of uniform age stands, which will be vulnerable to future megafires. It remains to be seen whether we can restore the diversity of age of vegetation and the history of fires to this region. But increasing interest in the management of native fires offers one possible way that mosaics of vegetation of different ages can be made.

In the middle of our black summer, those who care about the nation’s biodiversity have done work that can be credited. But the continuous decline of many species, including koalas, shows that we need to do even more. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas pollution that drives megafires, we need to rethink our emergency response to endangered wildlife. There is an urgent need to protect critical habitats, such as unburnt wetlands and old forests. And we might need to translocate koalas and other endangered species so that they can expand their distribution, and thus be more resilient, in the face of fires.

There is also an urgent need to increase our knowledge. When I read about people who worked to save species from extinction after the fire, I was surprised by how few people knew where the last survivors of various species could be found. In some cases, one doctoral student is the only person who can find it. At this time of accelerating threats to Australia’s biodiversity, we need to increase our knowledge base, and that means greater funding for universities and government institutions which is our first line of defense for endangered species.

Professor Tim Flannery is a writer and scientist and one of Australia’s leading voices on the climate crisis

Find out more age of extinction coverage here, and follow biodiversity journalists Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield on Twitter for all the latest news and features


image source

For all of its breakthroughs, China knows Australia is not only making a US bid Natasha Kassam | Opinion | Instant News

THATver-reaction from Beijing was almost incorporated into Canberra’s foreign policy calculus at this time. Ridicule and sanctions stacked in Australia for requesting an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. But for all its turmoil, Beijing’s response to the joint US-Australian statement to exit the ministerial-level talks in Washington is – in Beijing’s terms – low. US-Australia joint statement including strong language about China that undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy, concerns over the suppression of Uighurs in Xinjiang, support for Taiwan and its inclusion in the international community, and Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea.

True, the government-run tabloids have shouted headlines about Australia facing “unbearable consequences“, But also note that lighter language from the current US position. Censure from both Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chinese Embassy in Canberra is a formula: simple language is more a reflex in the Chinese system than anything that needs attention. While Beijing’s response is far from peaceful, it could show a more nuanced view of US-Australian relations. Can even represent think again from utility has increased conflict in many fields, including with Australia, India, Britain and Sweden.

Is it possible that Beijing heard the Australian foreign minister, Marise Payne, when he was the word“Relations with China are important, and we have no intention of injuring that”? This is not what the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wants to hear, because he has just made a condemning statement “Defaming activities” from the Chinese Communist party, including the Chinese disinformation campaign around Covid-19 and the “destruction” of freedom in Hong Kong. The previous week, Pompeo had given a more moving speech in which he described the previous strategy of constructive engagement with China. failure, and allude – if not directly request – regime change.

Some people might argue that it’s Australia keep away from Pompeo’s comments lost in Beijing, which sees the world in black and white terms – Canberra fully participates Washington back pocket and part of a US-led anti-Chinese coalition. US-China relations can be discussed lowest point in almost half a century. As competition between the two superpowers intensifies, more problems will be captured by this zero-sum logic – you are with us, or you oppose us. To be fair, many in the White House hold this belief too. And the US has left above and beyond to alienate many of his closest partners and allies.

But doubling this special narrative is in line with Chinese interests. It is far easier to blame any action that Beijing dislikes as a US-led plot to contain it The rise of China, not a direct response to China’s own actions. In this selfish reading, the protest in Hong Kong that triggered the ruthless national security law was not a legitimate request from Hong Kong citizens but plot by US to weaken Chinese sovereignty. And Beijing can console itself by believing that Australia’s more muscular tone will bow to the US in its cold war against China, rather than Australia’s concern about a large number of problems, from foreign interference to Huawei, in recent years.

However comfortable it may be to see Canberra’s behavior as such, Beijing might have read between the lines. Instead of appealing to Pompeo’s competitive instincts, Australia’s substantive position regarding Hong Kong, Taiwan or Xinjiang has not changed, and is an expression of Australia’s values ​​and interests.

In the South China Sea, Recent Australian submissions to the United Nations was praised by many as following in the footsteps of US.. Although Canberra’s rhetoric has intensified and the details of its complaints on this issue have become more detailed, Australia’s submission expanded in the existing 2016 position in accordance with international law. Leaving Australia aside because making an offer the United States failed to recognize that Australia’s position in the South China Sea was in harmony with previous delivery provided by Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia for the same legal process. China has been increase its efforts to this Southeast Asian partner court. US not even yet endorsed UN convention where legal action has been taken in the South China Sea.

It would be misleading and dangerous for Beijing – and Washington too, for that matter – to interpret Australia and regional behavior through the lens of a major power competition. There is no doubt that the race to the bottom between Washington and Beijing looks big. But countries in the region have their own agency, and reducing these initiatives to US plots risks creating the false impression for Beijing that Australia’s commitment depends on the commitment of the United States. Lately, Australia has distanced itself from many policies issued by the White House. Likewise, it has staked Beijing’s anger to defend its own values ​​and interests.

The threat of Beijing to date is ineffective in forcing obedience from Canberra. Xi Jinping’s Chinese logic in favor of repression and coercion can lead to a reflexive threat to Australia, because domestic pressure is prioritized over diplomacy. But a quiet position to date may indicate that Beijing recognizes Australia’s joint statement with the US as a change of style rather than substance.

Natasha Kassam is a researcher at the Lowy Institute


image source

Life and death: what readers see in Australia after a forest fire | Living environment | Instant News

Ffrom the absence of green trees to green trees that grow from burning trees, Guardian readers in Australia have shared their stories and natural pictures after the devastating forest fires in the country.

‘Total silence leaves a deep impression’

Tallowa Dam, New South Wales. Photo: Simon Ross / GuardianWitness

I went driving to Tallowa Dam when I heard the fire there was bad. Bad doesn’t even begin to describe total destruction. Road signs are melting, rocks are split, and skeletons tell me that for several days it really was hell on Earth. However, the speed and power used to start regrowth is amazing and the way some buds break through scorched stems reminds me of labor. There are shoots that come from everywhere – and quickly. However, the deepest impression that remains for me is total silence. The Australian bush is usually a noise commotion. I can only hear strange drops of water and insects, and I don’t see marsupial life at all.

Simon Ross, Redfern, Sydney, New South Wales

The forest fires that plagued many parts of Australia between July 2019 and February 2020 are unimaginable scale and size. By the end of February, they had burned at least 32,000 square miles (85,000 square km) of Australian forest, an area as large as Ireland.

Nearly 3 billion animals have been killed or displaced by forest fires. The habitat is around 143 million mammals, 180 million birds, 51 million frogs and 2.5 billion reptiles burned.

The fires came during the hottest year in Australia on record and in a country that already has in between highest extinction rate in the world due to non-invasive species such as cats, foxes, deer, horses and various pathogens, along with habitat clearance and fragmentation.

But one year since the beginning of the fire, what is the landscape like today? With the state boundary closed due to Covid-19, the Guardian made a virtual journey through the blackened path of summer forest fires in Australia, talking to those who were investigating the state of the flora and fauna that still live on the continent.

‘Tragic and beautiful but haunting’

Lake Conjola, New South Wales

Lake Conjola, New South Wales. Photo: Vyvian Wilson / GuardianWitness

At the end of February, we returned to camp at our “special place” on Lake Conjola. It was shocking and I contradicted my response to destruction – the sight of all the dead trees, tragic and lifeless but beautiful but haunting. I’ll never forget the smell – it tastes like toast, only worse. There are signs of life around the lake. The bushes began to grow and most of the trees looked rather disheveled and not the best – as if they were still wearing pajamas, with lacy green buds growing above and below their bodies.

Vyvian Wilson, Wombarra, New South Wales

‘Green shoots appear everywhere’

Peregian Beach, Queensland

Peregian Beach, Queensland. Photo: Ingrid / GuardianWitness

This photo was taken five weeks after the forest fires that began on September 9, forced hundreds of residents to flee. I was amazed at how within a few short weeks and heavy rain, fresh green shoots began to appear everywhere in front of and below the burning forest. I want to capture this particular picture because it tells the story of the power of nature to rejuvenate so quickly after a disaster. When taking this shot, there is still a frightening silence in the burning area, usually full of birdsong.

Ingrid, Peregian Coast, Queensland

‘The ground resembles a giant slag heap’

Blue Mountains, New South Wales

Blue Mountains, New South Wales. Photo: Patrick Manley / GuardianWitness

On my way to Mount Wilson on January 11, I stopped to take a small portion of the damage. It was a cold and foggy morning for January, silent, with no signs of life. My dog ​​Finn trampled embers. A raw smell hurts my nose and makes my eyes water; it must have been a strange experience for him. The ground resembled a giant pile of slag with ghost tree remains. There are no insects or birds. The only color other than black, brown or gray is a faint hint of faint green from the base of the fern where new shoots appear. Regrowth is very good, but science reminds us that diversity will not return.

Patrick Manley, Manly, New South Wales

‘Not even ants or spiders’

Blue Mountains, New South Wales

Blue Mountains, New South Wales. Photo: Patrick / GuardianWitness

A good friend and I recently spent a day in the Blue Mountains, off the beaten track. Small signs of renewal are everywhere – buds in cloaked trees, thick ground cover in ditches and knee-high grass in places – without fires – the most difficult road. We did not see animals or insects. Not even ants or spiders. We only heard a few birds near the stream, although we saw animal tracks on several muddy, thick slopes with decaying and decaying vegetation. Fires have made it possible to see extraordinary distances into very dense bushes. It was very quiet. Spending a few hours in the bush working very well for our mental health, like what 2020 is.

Patrick, Kirrawee, New South Wales

‘It feels sacred here’

Sarsfield, East Gippsland, Victoria

Sarsfield, East Gippsland, Victoria. Photo: Hilary Stripp / GuardianWitness

This is Sarsfield, where I have been for nearly 40 years. Grieving for me is the clash between memories of who I should meet when I leave (lyrebirds, treecreepers, yellow-bellied gliders) and the harsh and silent reality that confuses my senses. Landscapes, hills and ditches, and where water needs to flow, are left open. The silence is difficult to accept. My ears are still ringing with hope but in a secret ditch, rain in the ash allows the most beautiful growth. Ancient plants that grew from spores appeared. It feels sacred here.

Hilary Stripp, East Gippsland, Victoria

‘The view of the baby is very pleasant’

Woodside, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Woodside, Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Photo: Felicia Bulman / GuardianWitness

I almost stepped on two blue female babies in a scorched garden when I started cleaning. They must have hatched around during the Cudlee Creek fire in Adelaide Hills last December and seeing them was the most exciting thing I’ve seen since then. Luckily, I noticed them on time. They and their families survived hell and barren and are now hovering in the garden. They are like little mice with wings – tiny, always alert and mostly moving. Since the fire I have given them food, as well as local crows and firetail finches. Their growth has been reflected in the garden, as much (but not all) has been revived and recovered. It is a privilege and excitement to see the little birds survive into adulthood.

Felicia Bulman, Woodside, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

‘A real demonstration of climate-driven change’

Kings Highway, New South Wales

Kings Highway, New South Wales. Photo: Laurie / GuardianWitness

We drove along the Kings Highway today. After seeing the extent of damage along the coast, we believe we are immune to further shocks. We know that the vast interior has been badly burned but knowing something and seeing it are very different things. Change is eternal. Nobody returned to what it was. How much the return will resemble what was previously unknowable and this is very likely just the beginning. Even after real demonstrations of climate change and the extraordinary difficulties that may occur in future generations, our leaders hold fast to fossil fuels. We are at the beginning of a long era of climate-based change. This is now a simple fact.

Laurie, Ulladulla, New South Wales

‘Echidnas makes our hearts soar’

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Photo: Evan Quartermain / GuardianWitness

In the early weeks of the search and rescue effort the Humane Society International took place Kangaroo Island we see very little wildlife that is alive or healthy. Death and suffering are very confrontational, but every few days we seem to find an echidna that roams the plantation, seemingly careless in the world, and it never fails to make our hearts soar. Echidnas are very well adapted to fires and their aftermath. Their strong limbs and hind legs facing back mean they can dig straight down and handle obstacles quickly. Tolerance to high carbon dioxide and low oxygen levels means they can squat to breathe through the ground until they are safe. They then use torpor to reduce their energy and activity needs in the post-fire landscape.

Evan Quartermain, Sydney, New South Wales

‘Less parrots and owls are gone’

Newnes Plateau, New South Wales

Newnes Plateau, New South Wales. Photo: Gina Richter / GuardianWitness

Fire rages in this beautiful valley at the southern end of the Newnes Plateau near Lithgow in December. We have been visiting this place for 30 years and are very sad to see it so diminished from its original state. The bushes are struggling to recover – it’s mainly ferns, grass and ferns are growing back. We have experienced two hot fires in six years, and have lost all old trees. What I noticed the most was that many birds left and slowly returned when the tree canopy disappeared. There are still white cockatoos and sometimes black cockatoos, but fewer parrots and owls have left. Smaller birds such as wren and honeyeaters also left, because the place where they usually shot off had disappeared. The last time we visited, there were many kangaroos on the way to the valley because grass is now abundant. I think there are wombats too because I have seen their poop. That’s good to see.

Gina Richter, Sydney, New South Wales

‘The color scheme slowly shifts from gray’

Club Terrace, East Gippsland, Victoria

Club Terrace, East Gippsland, Victoria. Photo: George Boyer / GuardianWitness

I passed Club Terrace, in Victoria, four to five weeks after the fire, when the road was opened, and the view looked like empty land. Canopies and bushes have all disappeared, and you can see for miles through the husks of trees that seem to die. Six months later, the landscape cannot be recognized. In a good way. The fern returned, growing out of the soil and blackened stems and the ground was once again shrouded in moss, bushes and native grass. These shoots (above) are called male fern. The color scheme slowly shifts from gray, black and brown to the full spectrum of green that I always associate with that part of the world. It’s amazing how quickly it gets back up – a testament to the resilience of nature. Although I’m sure a lot of it is shallow. It takes years for the ecosystem to completely recover.

George Boyer, Melbourne, Victoria

Find out more age of extinction coverage here, and follow biodiversity journalists Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield on Twitter for all the latest news and features


image source

The Australian tax office moves to track people who make undue withdrawals Australian News | Instant News

The Australian Taxation Office has launched a pilot program to track workers who are believed to be unfit to withdraw up to $ 20,000 in retirement savings from their pensions.

ATO officials told Senate Covid-19 inquiry on Thursday that those who access super improperly could be taxed on withdrawals or face penalties of up to $ 12,600 for misleading statements.

Officials also tried to calm worries A a program to recover employer wage subsidies from 8,000 businesses, revealing that most had been severed but would not be further convicted of “honest misconduct”.

Scott Morrison defended the early retirement release program, saying the government “did not give people lectures on how they should spend their money” after reporting that many workers rescued a super-drawn or paid mortgage with it.

The finance ministry official told the committee the $ 32 billion for superannuation was released to 2.46 million people, expected to grow to $ 42 billion in December – $ 13 billion more than the first estimate in March.

Workers are eligible to withdraw $ 10,000 in financial year 2019-20 and again in 2020-21 if, based on their own judgment, they are “financially negatively affected by Covid-19”.

Jeremy Hirschhorn, ATO’s second commissioner for client involvement, said in the investigation that the self-assessment “depended on the assumption that most Australians were honest” but after withdrawal, information such as one-touch payroll data suggested some workers “did not meet these requirements. criteria”.

The ATO has written to hundreds of unbelievers eligible under the pilot program to “determine the level of disability” and design a compliance program.

“We will not force people to return money to their pensions,” Hirschhorn said.

The ATO will consider “various possible outcomes” – from not taking action in which workers “voluntarily disclose” that they have withdrawn funds because of “honest mistakes” about their eligibility, to impose a $ 12,600 sentence for misleading statements.

The ATO can also withdraw the declaration that the funds are tax free, forcing those who access super improperly to pay taxes at the marginal level. There are no fines or decisions that force tax to be paid at the time of withdrawal made at this stage.

The ATO has no plans to check the feasibility before releasing the Super, so it’s not possible to get information to assess the application quickly, Hirschhorn said.

Labour’s assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, said the explosion of $ 13 billion in the program “would burden taxpayers and retirees” because around 560,000 retirement accounts have now been cleared to zero balance.

He said a 25-year-old worker could lose “pension income of $ 100,000” and argued that people “must be supported so they don’t have to make this difficult choice” to access their retirement savings.

Morrison told reporters in Canberra that program rules stipulate that money is only available “in case of difficulties” – a concept that was already built into the super system – but expanded “given the difficulties people face” in the pandemic.

Morrison said “a large majority” of people have used it to “restructure their personal balance sheets” such as paying mortgages, which is a “good opportunity” to reduce risk and increase financial security.

“So no, I don’t have that problem, but I think it’s very important to note, we are not a government that tells people how they should spend their own money,” he said.

Hirschhorn said the ATO had been detected fraud from third parties accessing superhuman workers in “hundreds” of instances throughout the scheme, or about one in 5,000 applicants.

Hirschhorn said the level of fraud in the work guard program was “very low”, but six cases had been referred from a serious financial crime task force, chaired by the tax office, to the police.

Officials say this is related to cases of “conscious, intentional behavior” such as pretending to have employees who are not employed by the business, “overt manipulation of turnover” and someone who has claimed $ 1,500 biweekly subsidies from five related businesses.

In july Australian Guardian reports that 8,000 businesses have received correspondence from the ATO who questioned the basis for accessing the guardianship scheme and warned that they might have to pay back wage subsidies.

Hirschhorn revealed that about half of the businesses did not respond to requests for more information, and a further 2,000 were found to be ineligible – both resulting in them being cut off from the program, without any additional subsidies paid.

Hirschhorn said businesses that make “honest mistakes” that meet “spouses but not all eligibility tests” will face no further penalties, but the ATO has asked for subsidized workers’ wages to be returned from an unspecified amount.

8,000 businesses that claim less than $ 100 million of them. Hirschhorn noticed how much the ATO was asked to pay back.


image source

Fledgling 0601: parrot baby that rises from the ashes of an Australian forest fire | Living environment | Instant News

Somewhere on Australia’s Kangaroo Island, a shiny new black parrot with identity number 0601 is composing a new chapter in an extraordinary survival story.

In early January this year, panicked parents fled their nests in the gum tree on the edge of the park Carol and John Stanton to avoid smoke and fire from wildfires sweep a third island.

The Stanton family lost their home to a fire, but the tree – and its nest – survived.

The forest fires that plagued many parts of Australia between July 2019 and February 2020 are unimaginable scale and size. By the end of February, they had burned at least 32,000 square miles (85,000 square km) of Australian forest, an area as large as Ireland.

Nearly 3 billion animals have been killed or displaced by forest fires. The habitat is around 143 million mammals, 180 million birds, 51 million frogs and 2.5 billion reptiles burned.

The fires came during the hottest year in Australia on record and in a country that already has in between highest extinction rate in the world due to non-invasive species such as cats, foxes, deer, horses and various pathogens, along with habitat clearance and fragmentation.

But one year since the beginning of the fire, what is the landscape like today? With the state boundary closed due to Covid-19, the Guardian made a virtual journey through the blackened path of summer forest fires in Australia, talking to those who were investigating the state of the flora and fauna that still live on the continent.

In the following weeks, when the couple began cleaning, they were amazed to find that the couple not only returned but were also accompanied by a loud grip from the nest.

“It’s really special and it makes you grateful they are safe. That gave us a lift, “Carol said.

Remains new 0601 after being marked with a stainless steel band. Photo: Mike Barth

Glossi, as they call it, are lifelong mates and Stantons have watched the two birds visit an artificial nest made of a customized storm drain at the edge of their garden, a tourist attraction on an island outside the state of South Australia, for years.

“There’s a path under a tree,” Carol said. “They are very gentle birds – you are indeed attached to them. They will come out and see us – they will become accustomed to our presence there. For the same couple using the same nest year after year, it is a real pleasure for us. “

The glossary of the island is a unique subtype that conservation has worked for 25 years to save. They only feed on one tree cone seeds – drooping sheoaks – and only lay eggs one year. For Stanton, it was incredible that their glossy not only produced eggs but also developed to 0601.

Even when the fire blazes, “the couple will be there through a dating ritual,” said Mike Barth, who manages the island’s conservation program to save birds from extinction.

As fire authorities continued to issue new maps of the burned area on the island, Barth said he “would be horrified because we had just lost another nesting site”.

But on February 11, when Barth observed damage and inspected the remaining nests, he saw a woman in the Stanton family garden sitting on an egg. On April 29, when the parents were looking for food for their newest family member, he climbed into the nest and attached a stainless steel tape with number 0601 on it to the feet of the nestling bird.

Apart from this success story, Barth said: “We don’t really know at this stage how many birds are lost. We think we lost some directly in the fire. “Barth will help take a bird census later this year.

In the mid-90s, there were only 158 glossies left. Land clearing for development and agriculture has increased the number of native possums who like to attack parrot nests and steal eggs.

But conservation efforts to keep the gap from the possum robber, put up artificial nests and plant more sheoaks seeing the number reach 400 before the fire broke out.

Carol and John Stanton

Carol and John Stanton at Stokes Bay Bush Garden after the fire. Photo: Quentin Chester / The Guardian

“It’s shocking, the extent of the area is burning,” Barth said. “Just drive on and on west and see all these places and it’s not just shiny black habitat, but everyone I know who has lost their homes. It’s heartbreaking to see it.

“I was astonished how many large old trees were lost. The fire had entered the base and had just dropped them. “

Number 0601 is hopefully out there with 33 new mothers counted since the fire, avoiding birds of prey and finding strange, unburned sheoak trees here and there.

“We lost a lot of feed trees in the west,” Barth said. “Every green tree is important, that’s what I’m saying.”

Although sheoaks can overcome fire and some are uprooted, it takes five to 15 years before there are seeds that grow again for birds to eat.

West River Cove

Western River Cove, a shiny black parrot nesting area, began regenerating after the fire. Photo: Quentin Chester / The Guardian

But Barth hopes. “They are intelligent birds and in my view, they have a little mind map to feed the tree and once they find it, they will continue to return there year after year.

“We have planting [of sheoaks] near Stokes Bay who survived the fire. The trees are only four or five years old so in two years they will have seeds. “

In the back of everyone’s mind on the island, Barth said, is the threat of more fires in the coming years. “Next year it could be the eastern end of the island – we don’t know,” he said.

“Humans have given balance to many species and it is our responsibility to do something to help them. We create conditions. I am glad to be able to help out there. “

Find out more age of extinction coverage here, and follow biodiversity journalists Phoebe Weston and Patrick Greenfield on Twitter for all the latest news and features


image source

| Throughout Australia people lose their jobs, and older workers suffer the most Greg Jericho | Business | Instant News

The latest payroll job number released this week shows that, as expected, the closure of Melbourne has caused a sharp decline in employment in Victoria. But lack of employment is present throughout the country and, unlike in previous crises, older workers suffer the most.

Even before the second major outbreak occurred in Melbourne, job increases that occurred in May and early June due to the reopening of retail and some restaurants, faltering. That means that there is little good news to look forward to, and the latest payroll employment figures released on Tuesday by the Statistics Bureau confirm our fears.

In the first two weeks of this month the number of jobs in Australia fell by 1.2%. The number of jobs fell in all states except Western Australia, where they only grew 0.04%:

The great fall was not surprising Victoria where there are now 2.7% fewer jobs than in mid-June.

And while we can’t translate those numbers to work perfectly, that number is roughly the same as the 90,000 people in Victoria who are working now than a month ago.

Victoria is now the country hardest hit by coronavirus – although honestly, the number of jobs lost in the state is among the worst in the country during the crisis:

Even in May, which was the month in which the number of jobs increased in all states, Victoria was the worst performer. Therefore, since the closure first took place in mid-March, the number of jobs in Victoria has fallen by 7.3% – the worst in the country and far below the 5.3% decline in jobs in New South Wales:

But we must not begin to think that this means everything is fine anywhere except Victoria. That more than 5% of jobs have been lost in NSW in four months remains an amazing job loss – far beyond anything anyone has experienced on this side of the Great Depression:

But the recent job downturn is a different story from what we saw in previous months.

While the main story of job losses to date has been in the accommodation and food service industries as well as arts and recreation, this did not happen in the first two weeks of July:

This month’s major job losses occurred on agriculture (which is likely due to seasonal factors such as coronavirus) and in health care and social assistance.

Likewise, while younger workers are the hardest hit, this is clearly not the case this time – older workers have lost a large number of jobs, with women losing more jobs than men:

And we see this impact playing a role in the health industry itself.

While 5.2% of jobs in the industry were lost in the first two weeks of this month, 7.4% of workers over 70 years in the industry lost their jobs as did 6.5% of those in their 60s:

And here we see the reason why older women and workers have lost a larger share of their work in the last few weeks.

Workers over the age of 60 are more likely to work in health services and social assistance and agriculture than those under 60:

Just under a quarter of all jobs held by people over 60 are in agriculture and health compared to 16% of jobs under 60 years.

So it is not surprising that when both industries – one for seasonal reasons and the other because of closure – lost their jobs, older workers were most injured.

The reason why women see greater job loss than men is also clear from the data. Women in the health care and social assistance industries are more likely than men to work in home care or social assistance work than in hospitals or in the medical sector.

So when we hear that work in elderly care facilities is limited because of a virus outbreak, it will increasingly afflict older workers and women.

And once again we are waiting for better news to come. The impact of the second major outbreak was such that one third of the increase in work that occurred in May and June has been canceled over the past month.

We remain at the point where around 650,000 people have fewer jobs now than they did four months ago.

Greg Jericho writes about economics for the Australian Guardian


image source

Green Recovery: how to put more electric vehicles on Australian roads – video | Australian News | Instant News

Electric cars are quieter, cheaper to run, more reliable and better for the environment than gasoline cars. So why don’t we all drive it? Well, it’s expensive for beginners. Most Australians also worry that electric vehicles will not take them where they want to go. What happens if you run out of expenses on a busy highway, or halfway to work? The government can easily overcome this problem. This is how you do it

  • Find all our coverage of the Green Recovery here


image source

The Australian PM Department refuses to issue Covid-19 commission documents Australian News | Instant News

The prime minister’s department refused to publicly release 1,100 documents related to Covid-19 discussions about gas projects and 690 documents about potential conflicts of interest, while also reducing the minutes of his meetings on economic and national security grounds.

The government has faced ongoing criticism about the lack of transparency around the Covid-19 National Coordinating Commission, a body designed to guide Australia’s economic recovery.

The leak shows that the NCCC has encourage government support new gas projects as a way of driving economic growth, and that a interim report from the NCCC manufacturing task force recommending greater support from the gas industry.

The taxpayer-funded commission is stacked with directors of high-powered companies and is chaired by the former head of Fortescue Metal Nev Power, who move aside from his position as vice chairman of the gas company Strike Energy in May.

A series of requests for freedom of information – including from the Guardian, Australia’s 350 environmental groups, the Australian Institute, and journalist Hannah Ryan – have requested documents that are likely to reveal how potential conflicts of interest are handled by the commission.

Requests so far have been rejected for practical reasons or have been severely removed by the Prime Minister’s Department and Cabinet.

The Guardian requests a declaration of conflict of interest made by the commissioner, and related internal correspondence, notes, internal notes, briefings, or external correspondence. The department said it had identified 690 relevant documents and refused the request on the grounds it would be too heavy to process. Now processing a revised request.

350 Australia requests documents and correspondence held by DNPI regarding existing or proposed gas projects. Activist groups were told the department had identified 1,100 relevant documents. The request was rejected due to overwork.

Ryan makes similar request for minutes of meetings and agendas. The documents were released but very deleted.

In one example, department ask for part of the Freedom of Information Act which prevents release if information will “cause damage to the security of the Commonwealth”.

Meanwhile, the Australian Agency requested all policy documents and procedures governing NCCC operations. Was told there were no such documents. The Department said that the DNPI was under its authority and subject to its policies and procedures.

Critics say that the demand for free information shows two things: a significant lack of transparency around commission considerations, and significant gaps in governance, policies and procedures commonly used by public servants.

Richie Merzian, director of the Australia Institute for Climate and Energy, said the Institute’s FOI revealed that the normal governance, processes and expertise involved in public services were completely absent at the NCCC.

“This is cause for concern because the commission is composed of business people who use, in the words of the chairman himself, their ‘contact list’ for ‘problem solving’ without ‘being managed from the center’,” Merzian said.

He said the lack of transparency around the conflict made the public a little confident that the problem was handled well.

“The Commission also refused to issue minutes of its meetings, including references to enthusiastic support for more gas projects. Strangely, the commission claims to deal with information that threatens the whole Australian economy and even national security. “

The public relies heavily on leaks to understand what DNPI is doing, including leakage of Wednesday’s interim report proposing taxpayer support for the gas industry.

350 Senior Australian campaigner, Shani Tager, said such proposals had to be rejected, and again showed the danger of secrecy.

“This is another example of the lack of transparency with the NCCC, with the government sitting in this report since the end of May without releasing it,” Tager said. “The prime minister must release a report and reject the recommendation to subsidize the gas industry.”


image source