Canberra housing approvals slump

While approvals for construction of new homes jumped nationally, defying expectations of a downturn, Canberra approvals slumped.
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The Australian Bureau of Statistics’s latest data shows dwelling approvals rose 11.7 per cent in November in seasonally adjusted terms, up from 0.9 per cent, above the market expectations of a 1 per cent decline.

Approvals for apartment construction were up 5.6 per cent in Victoria but they plunged by nearly 22 per cent in the capital.

The ABS’s director of construction statistics, Justin Lokhorst, said the rise in approvals was driven by the renewed strength in approvals for apartments.

“Approvals for private sector houses have remained stable, with just under 10,000 houses approved in November 2017,” Mr Lokhorst said.

Masters Builders ACT chief executive Michael Hopkins said the figures reflected a general trend of declining building approvals in the territory, with an increasing amount of demand for new housing being met by surrounding regions beyond the ACT borders.

“Monthly building approval statistics for a small market like Canberra need to be interpreted with some level of caution because of the high degree of volatility,” Mr Hopkins said.

“The decline in the November building approvals are driven mostly by a drop in apartment and unit approvals, which have fallen from 611 in August to 38 in November. Apartment and unit approvals are now around the February 2015 levels.”

He said approvals for single housing have performed better in recent months, with 103 new housing approvals recorded in November, slightly under the 10-year average of about 120 single housing approvals.

“What the ABS data doesn’t show is how much demand for new housing in Canberra is being serviced by regional areas beyond the ACT borders,” he said.

“Feedback from Master Builders members indicates that an increasing amount of new housing is now being supplied in areas like Googong, Queanbeyan and Murrumbateman to service demand from Canberra.

“Master Builders ACT expects that with the current tax and land release settings this trend will continue.”

Dwelling approvals also increased in Tasmania by 3.1 per cent and South Australia by 0.1 per cent, but for the rest of the country it decreased. In the ACT it dropped 21.9 per cent, followed by Northern Territory by 3.8 per cent, Queensland by 1.2 per cent, NSW by 0.9 per cent and Western Australia by 0.6 per cent in trend terms.

Nationally, approvals for apartments, or private dwellings excluding houses, rose 30.6 per cent month on month while private house approvals fell 2 per cent.

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Union to appeal Fair Work’s ATO hot-desking decision

A union for tax officials is appealing an industrial umpire decision letting the Australian Taxation Office roll out hot-desking across the agency.
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After the Fair Work Commission last month found the latest ATO workplace deal let it move all staff onto hot desks, the Australian Services Union has lodged an appeal saying the umpire erred and that the agreement prohibited the office fit-outs for non-fieldwork public servants.

ASU official Jeff Lapidos said hot-desking, a controversial workplace trend, was a dramatic change to staff’s conditions of employment.

The Australian Services Union is appealing a Fair Work decision about hot-desking at the Tax Office. Photo: Louie Douvis

“This type of change needs to be negotiated by the unions and approved by a majority of ATO staff through the enterprise bargaining process. This has not occurred,” he said.

“Many types of ATO work are definitely not suitable for hot-desking. If the ATO wants to utilise hot-desking it needs to reach agreement with the unions and its staff about what types of work are appropriate for hot-desking and how it could be implemented.

“There are also issues of inconvenience, hygiene, uncertainty, inability to personalise your desk and many others.”

The union would also want to reach agreement with the ATO on the types of desks to be used and the facilities needed to support hot-desking.

Mr Lapidos said it wanted the ATO to negotiate all accommodation measures with unions as part of the 2020 enterprise agreement, so staff could decide whether to support hot-desking, and that if the ASU lost its Fair Work appeal the agency would introduce the new fit-outs to other offices.

Despite arguments from the ASU and the Community and Public Sector Union, Fair Work last month found the enterprise agreement let the ATO move all of its public servants into hot-desking, an office set-up whereby staff find new desks each day and pack up their belongings before finishing.

But the Tax Office, which wants to adopt hot-desking at its new Gosford office and has trialled it at Docklands, said after the decision it had no plans to roll it out in all workplaces.

“Where there is the opportunity in the fit-out of new buildings or refurbishments the ATO will consider how to design spaces in a way that creates a healthy working environment that improves flexibility, agility, collaboration and productivity,” a spokeswoman said last month.

The ATO in December said its pilot site for “activity-based working” in Docklands had a waiting list of staff wanting to work there.

“We have many staff across other locations asking for similar work spaces to be installed so we have the type of professional and modern workplaces they see in a large and growing number of other organisations,” it said.

The Docklands trial and staff consultation had made the ATO more adaptable to business and staff needs.

“Staff working in this environment have told us they have spent more time sharing their ideas and knowledge and believe they have increased their individual and team productivity.”

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Fresh or frozen? When it comes to IVF it doesn’t matter, study says

WORLD NOV 2 – GENERIC – culture, inside, microscope, petri dish, science, scientific, small, sterile, sterile environment, technician, technology, transferring egg, treatment, under microscope, woman, working, young adult, young woman, physician, pipette, pregnancy, research, sample, 20s, 25-30 years, adult, caucasian, clinic, color, colour, microscopic, mid-adult, mid-adult woman, modern, one person, one person only, person, interior, ivf, lab, lab worker, laboratory, laboratory equipment, medical, medical procedure, dish, doctor, egg transfer, embryologist, embryology, equipment, ethnicity, examining, female, fertility, hands, horizontal, image, in vitro fertilization, indoor, indoors, infertility mark image as offensiveTwenty-two years ago Li Peng Monroe and her then husband, were having trouble getting pregnant. Like many couples with fertility problems, they turned to in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
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“It’s not an easy process to go through ??? the probability of falling pregnant was quite low back then through IVF, for me certainly,” Ms Monroe, 51, said.

“There’s a perception that fresh is better so you start with the fresh ones, and then if the fresh ones don’t take, you’ve got embryos that are frozen that you can use,” she said.

It was her frozen embryos that gifted her two daughters, Melissa, now 20 years old, and Ashley, 17. Frozen embryo transfer has come a long way in the past few years.

A new study now gives couples trying IVF peace of mind whichever method they choose, showing both fresh and frozen embryo transfers offer an equal chance of having a child.

In women without polycystic ovaries, the pregnancy rates and live births were comparable when implanted with either fresh or frozen embryos, according to the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday.

Rates of ongoing pregnancy occurred in 36 per cent of the frozen-embryo group and 34.5 per cent in the fresh-embryo group, according to the study.

Live births were recorded in 33.8 per cent of the frozen-embryo group and 31.5 per cent of women in the fresh-embryo group.

The study included almost 800 couples undertaking IVF in Vietnam, who received either fresh or frozen embryo transfers on a randomised basis and was completed in under a year.

Michael Chapman, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UNSW and President of the Fertility Society of Australia – who was not involved in the study – said the slight percentage difference in groups is not significant.

“Even with 800 odd patients in the study … [frozen-embryo transfer] may turn out to give an extra one or two pregnancies,” Professor Chapman, who is also a consultant at IVF Australia, said.

“It’s good that [clinicians] will be able to advise patients that frozen-embryo transfer is as good as fresh, because historically frozen has not been as good.”

Co-author Ben Mol, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute, said the study was done after the development of a ‘quick-freeze’ vitrification method in recent years resulted in an increased uptake of frozen-embryo transfers.

But the study suggests it may not increase the chances of a live birth compared to fresh embryos in the study population.

“There are many examples in medical history where people jump to innovation and new things, and then after a while it turns out that the new thing is not necessarily so much better,” Professor Mol said.

Previous research conducted on women undergoing IVF with infertility problems linked to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), found frozen-embryo transfer led to more live births.

But until now, it was not known whether this was also the case for women confronted with fertility problems due to other reasons.

Professor Mol said going down the path of frozen-embryo transfer can come at a cost.

“It’s not a lot, but it’s a couple of hundred of dollars that you’re talking about, so obviously that could be part of the choice [for patients],” he said.

“The other thing is that people want to have their baby as soon as possible, and frozen transfer means a delay of at least one month, so there are arguments for fresh transfer.”

Professor Chapman said one limitation of the study was applying the results to Australia.

“They only looked at day-three embryos, whereas the general practice in Australia today is day-five transfers,” he said.

But the research was the first of its kind to study fresh versus frozen-embryo transfers in such a large number of non-PCOS patients.

“It’s fantastic that Australian researchers are collaborating with other countries to get high class research coming out of Asia,” Professor Chapman said.

“Health systems in other countries make it more possible to do proper randomised control trials, so it’s excellent that we are getting those relationships built up.”

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Man, 24, dies after snake bite in backyard

Tragic passing: The 24-year-old was rushed to Tamworth hospital on Wednesday night but died a short time later.A TAMWORTH man has died in hospital after being bitten by a what is believed to be a brown snake.
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The 24-year-old passed away in Tamworth hospital late on Wednesday night, despite the frantic efforts of emergency staff to save him.

It is understoodthe man was bitten by the snake in the backyard of a Cole Rd home in West Tamworth, shortly before 10pmas he tried to move the snake away from a family pet.

He was rushed to Tamworth hospital by family, but passed away within an hour of the bite.

The shock passingwill now be referred to the coroner, who will rule on the official cause of death.

On Thursday, Tamworth police were unable to comment on the matter but said a report was being prepared for the coroner.

A spokesperson for Hunter New England Health declined to comment on any admission and said it was a police matter.

The death of the man has shocked the local community, as well as friends and colleagues, and cameas the New England North West swelteredthrough another day of temperatures above 35 degrees.

WIRES volunteer Jacob McGoldrick, one of the group’s reptile handlers, said he was very saddened to hear of the young man’s death in Tamworth.

Deadly: The Easter brown snake. File photo

The local branch had had about 20 call-outs to snake sightings this warm season.

WIRES volunteer Jacob McGoldrickThe Leader.

Mr McGoldrick said Eastern brown snakes were the most frequently sighted, but red-bellied black snakes and yellow-faced whip snakes were also pretty common.

He said if someone came across a snake, they should stand still until it moves away, call WIRES on 1300 094 737 and, if possible, keep an eye on it.

WIRES volunteer Jacob McGoldrick

“Snakes aren’t out to get us, and the best thing people can do is educate themselves about snakes,”he said.

“They aren’t an aggressive animal, they’re just defensive.”

Mr McGoldrick said that, in the event of a bite, it was important to stay calm, use a compression bandage, stay still and call Triple-0.

It’s believed there havebeen fewer than 40 deaths from snake bitesin Australia since 2000, with the brown snake considered to be one of the deadliest in the country.

Northern Daily Leader

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Foreign buyers dropping out of property race, data shows

Soaring demand from foreign buyers of local property has dropped significantly in recent months as both Australian and Chinese policy-makers bear down on investor appetite.
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Foreign buyers will account for 18.1 per cent of residential sales in NSW in the three months to March 2018, down from 23.6 per cent in the same period a year ago, the latest ANZ and Property Council quarterly research found.

In Melbourne, foreign buyers are expected to cover 21 per cent of residential property purchases in the first quarter of 2018, compared with 25.2 per cent a year ago, according to the report. Queensland, meanwhile, saw a sharp fall to 13.8 per cent from 20.4 per cent in the same period last year.

Chinese buyers accounted for as much 87 per cent of foreign property investment in NSW between January and June 2017, according to Credit Suisse research, dwarfing activity from buyers originating from any other country.

“The share of property being sold to foreign buyers does look like it has dropped off, especially in the last couple of months,” ANZ senior economist Daniel Gradwell said.

“You can probably attribute that to the stamp duty surcharges across places like NSW and Victoria and additional tightening to regulation and the availability of funding.”

Recent policy changes in NSW now see foreign investors charged 8 per cent of the purchase price in stamp duty, double the previous level, among other changes, while Victoria has introduced a vacancy tax on empty properties.

Chinese policy-makers have also continued to tighten the rules on offshore investing, further dampening demand.

“It’s taken a while for the tighter capital controls in China to flow through but I think we’re starting to see the impact of that now and, combined with the domestic policies, it is starting to squeeze some of that demand out of the market,” Mr Gradwell said.

But experts say the drop in foreign purchases is coming off such a high base that there’s no immediate danger of a substantial shift in market dynamics.

“[Foreign buyers] are still sitting at around 20 per cent of new homes, so still a pretty significant player in the market,” Mr Gradwell added.

“It’s not like they’re falling off a cliff – there’s definitely still demand out there from foreign buyers and, equally, still demand to lend to them from within Australia.”

Weakening demand from Chinese investors is indeed slipping from all-time highs, according to international Chinese property platform Juwai, but the decline is to be expected.

“It seems that many observers think it’s either historic highs or historic lows, but in fact we believe it’s going to be somewhere in between,” senior spokesman Dave Platter told Domain.

“We’ve seen strong inquiries throughout the year ??? lower than 2016, but that’s to be expected because that was the highest year ever recorded – particularly the second half of the year.”

Other states also saw falling foreign demand in the residential space, but less severe in most cases than NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

Foreign buyers accounted for 11.6 per cent of new homes in South Australia, down from 15.6 per cent in the March quarter of 2017, while Western Australia posted 9.1 per cent of purchases as being from foreign buyers, down from 11.4 per cent in the same period last year.

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Fifth seed top ranked player in Canberra Challenger semis

The Canberra Challenger Nicolas Jarry Vs Maxime Janvier 2018 8th of January. Maxime Janvier in action. Photo: Dion GeorgopoulosCanberra Challenger fifth seed V??ctor Estrella Burgos is the unlikely highest ranked player heading into the semi-finals after a day of upsets at the Lyneham Tennis Centre on Thursday.
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The 37-year-old from the Dominican Republic progressed after taking down former world No. 18 Florian Mayer in the a battle of the veterans on centre court.

Burgos edged out the 34-year-old in a first set tiebreak before the Mayer blitzed the second set without dropping a game but the German dropped the deciding set 6-3 to crash out of the tournament.

The task doesn’t get any easier for Burgos who now faces seventh seed and former world No. 23 Andreas Seppi in the final four on Friday.

Seppi dispatched third seed Guillermo Garc??a-L??pez in straight sets 6-3 6-4 as the Spaniard struggled to deal with the clinical power of the Italian giant-slayer.

Seppi is once again taking red-hot form into the Australian Open where he has claimed the scalps of Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios in the past three years.

In the other quarterfinal matches it was sixth seed Marton Fucsovics who ended the dream run of French young gun Hugo Grenier with a comfortable 6-4 6-4 win.

The Hungarian will battle Frenchman Maxime Janvier for a spot in the final after his impressive campaign continued with a win over countryman Elliot Benchetrit 6-4 6-2.

In the doubles number one seed Hans Podlipnik-Castillo and Andrei Vasilevski progressed to the final after ousting Geoffrey Blancaneaux and Benchetrit 7-6 6-3.

They’ll face either Zhe Li and Yosuke Watanuki or Jonathan Erlich and Divij Sharan for a place in the decider.

CANBERRA CHALLENGER

Friday: Play begins 11am at Lyneham National Tennis Centre. Free entry.

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Hayes plan has Nomothaj peaking for Magic Millions

Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
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David Hayes knows history is against him but he also knows what he has got in Snitzel filly Nomothaj heading into Saturday’s Magic Millions Classic at the Gold Coast.

The winner of the Maribyrnong Trial Stakes at her only start in October, Nomothaj arrives at the Magic Millions having beaten favourite Sunlight, and is on the fresh side by design.

“No horse has won it first-up but not many have tried,” Hayes said. “Once we won that race at Flemington, it was the plan to be here for her next start.

“We have designed her program to make sure she can go on into the autumn because she is a high-quality filly that is only going to get better and might step out in trip a bit.

“She tried to throw it away at Flemington by stargazing when she hit the front and we knew she would be better with blinkers, so we had those up our sleeve for the Magic Millions.”

Hayes kept Nomothaj in work at Euroa before completing her Magic Millions preparation at his Randwick stable.

“We took her to Sydney and gave her her first trial without the blinkers just to get her ready for a race simulation in her second trial,” Hayes said.

“When we put the blinkers on her the other day, she just raced away from them. It was as good as having a run and exactly what we thought would happen.”

While Sunlight is the $4 favourite at Ladbrokes, Nomothaj is a $10 chance, even though she had 1-1/4 lengths to spare on her at Flemington.

“I can’t believe the price. I think we should be much closer in the betting to Sunlight. She deserved to be favourite on what she has done since but I think they are forgetting we beat her,” Hayes said.

Meanwhile, Ballarat trainer Matt Cumani is waiting for Anthemoessa to arrive on the Gold Coast for Saturday’s Magic Millions Classic after being bumped off planes from Melbourne for the past couple of days.

“We have been told she will get here on Thursday night with a couple of other horses. It is not ideal,” Cumani said.

Anthemoessa has to be within 200km of the Gold Coast track by noon on Friday or she will be scratched by stewards.

The Magic Millions Classic field were inspected by Racing Queensland vets on Thursday, with Quackerjack and first emergency Paquirri facing a second inspection to prove their fitness on Friday.

Magic Millions Guineas favourite Pierata also will be inspected on Friday after being judged to be short in his action by vets on Thursday. The Greg Hickman-trained three-year-old is a $2.60 favourite and is racing for $500,000 on top of the $1.2 million first prize on Saturday.

“He is ready to go but vets didn’t like something,” Hickman said. “I was a bit nervous because you don’t race for that sort of money every day and this has just made it worse.”

Meanwhile, American Jon Kelly paid a sale-topping $2 million for an I Am Invincible colt out of the Morphettville Guineas winner Tai Tai Tess on Friday, which he described as the standout of the sales.

“It was an easy choice but I didn’t want to pay that much – we were on budget at one point,” Kelly said. “It’s delightful to see a horse with everything, he has a real presence.”

The ultimate racing form guide with free tips, live odds and alerts for all racing.

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Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink

All United Nations members have signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 6 which is to ensure access to water and sanitation for all, but due to partisan politics, bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.
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By 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.Not to mention the compounding effect of global warming through changing rainfall patterns and glaciers drying up, as in Bolivia.

Here at home, we have our own water problems with states unable to agree nor uphold agreements in place for the great Murray Darling Basin water system. Some of the ingenious solutions to bring clean water to the world at affordable prices are worth your support.

The Australian NFP Skyjuice Foundation’s SkyHydrant uses low maintenance, long life ultrafiltration technology to provide safe clean water for less than $1 per person per year.The South African “Hippo Water Roller Project” established in 1994 has delivered 50,000 Hippo Water Rollers across 20 countries. The Hippo Water Roller, developed in response to the unique needs of rural women and children across Africa forced to carry water, usually on their heads, to their homes, carries 90 litres of water inside a rolling wheel which is pushed or pulled with its handle. Another magical invention that makes pure water from the water vapour in the air is the WaterSeer of Vici Labs, worth a story in itself.

Have a family picnic at Grahamstown Dam or Chichester Dam, and read “When The Rivers Run Dry Water: The Defining Crisis of the Twenty First Century” by Fred Pearce, written in 2006.

Professor Tim Roberts, Director Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, University of Newcastle.

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Stink over RAAF sewerage: $7.5m pipe still unused

SEWAGE SAGA: An aerial view of the RAAF’s private sewage treatment plant, constructed in the 1950s. The need to decommission it was identified over a decade ago and was described as “urgent” by MP Bob Baldwin in 2012.
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THE TURNBULL government has been called on to intervene in a sewage sagathat hasrun into its fourth year, cost taxpayers $7.5 million for an unused pipeand left a bad taste in the mouths of Williamtown residents.

Defence admitted this week thattheWilliamtown RAAF base is still notconnected to the region’s sewerage network, with no end in sight to what appears to have become a war of attrition with Hunter Water.

When theNewcastle Herald revealed the dispute in January, 2016, Defence rubbished suggestions the parties were atan impasse and said the matter would be resolved within a month.

But two years later, Hunter Water claims Defence is still refusing to sign a standard trade wasteagreement setting limits on the amount of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl [PFAS] chemicals itdischarges into the sewer.

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Sewer pipe to nowhereDefence ready to sign for sewerIt means the base’s sewage –containing the toxic firefighting chemicals – continues topoolin unlined ponds on a neighbouring private property, with nothing to stop the toxinsseeping into the Tomago Sandbeds aquifer during heavy rain.

Shadow assistant Defence Minister Gai Brodtmann said it was time for Defence Minister Marise Payne to take control of the situation.

“Why hasn’t the Turnbull government shown leadership and stepped in to resolve this issue sooner?” she said.“I’m concerned at how long this negotiation has taken, and strongly encourage both Defence and Hunter Water to come to an agreement as soon as possible.”

Minister Payne could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Spokesperson for the Williamtown and Surrounds Residents Action Group Rhianna Gorfineslammed it as “unthinkable” that Defence would be seeking to flush PFAS into the sewer network.

“If they can’t connect a sewer after four years of negotiations, what hope have we got of them decontaminating the area?” she said.

A Defence spokesperson said negotiations were continuing and it would be seeking a high level meeting with the Hunter Water board.

“Defence remains committed to finalising the trade waste agreement as quickly as possible,” they said.

“Negotiations have been delayed due to a number of commercial and legal matters.These matters have been complicated by the emerging issue of PFAS as a contaminant, and, therefore, the lack of a NSW trade waste regulatory framework incorporating PFAS management.”

A Hunter Water spokesperson reiterated that all commercial and industrial customers were forced to sign trade waste agreements to protect the environment.

He said Defence could not“guarantee” that PFAS in its wastewater would meet requirements.

The RAAF base isserviced by a private sewage treatment plant,constructed in the 1950s.

The need to decommission the ageing plant and connect the base to Hunter Water’s sewerage network was identified over a decade ago and was described as“urgent” by Paterson MP Bob Baldwin in 2012, who warned the region’s drinking water supply was being put in jeopardy.

By late 2014, $7.5 million in taxpayer funds had been spent on the construction of a pipe and Defence and Hunter Water began negotiations over the trade waste agreement.

Ms Gorfine said the community no longer had any faith in Defence to follow through on its commitments.

She was incensed that community representatives were told in January 2016 thattheHerald’s reports were inaccurate and that the matter would be resolved by the following month.

“Why should the community have any faith in their words?” she said. “Actions speak louder than words.”

The Defence spokesperson said the latest testing on waste in its sewage ponds detected the chemical perfluoroctane sulfonate (PFOS)at 1.3 parts per billion.

“The waste is not currently treated for PFAS where itremains on Defence land,” they said.

“Where Defence removes waste from the site, that waste is treated in accordance with NSW Environment Protection Authority Guidelines.”

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Australia has ‘missed the boat’ on nuclear power

ziggyThe Minerals Council of Australia has called for the country’s prohibition on nuclear power to be lifted. But both critics and supporters see little future for large-scale nuclear power in Australia’s energy mix.
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The man who once famously called for 50 nuclear reactors across Australia, nuclear physicist and NBN chairman Ziggy Switkowski, says “the window for gigawatt-scale nuclear has closed”.

A lack of public support and any actual proposals for a nuclear plant had resulted in government inertia, he said on Thursday.

“Government won’t move until a real business case is presented and none has been, to my knowledge, and there aren’t votes in trying to lead the debate,” he said, adding that renewables were now a more economically viable choice.

“With requirements for baseload capacity reducing, adding nuclear capacity one gigawatt at a time is hard to justify, especially as costs are now very high (in the range of $5 billion to $10 billion), development timelines are 15+ years, and solar with battery storage are winning the race.”

Warwick Grigor, the former chairman of Uranium King, mining analyst, and a director of uranium miner Peninsula Energy, agrees.

“I think nuclear energy is great, but we’ve missed the boat in Australia, no one is going down that path in the foreseeable future,” Mr Grigor told Fairfax Media.

“When Fukushima [the 2011 nuclear accident in Japan] occurred, that was the closing of the door to our nuclear power possibilities.”

Mr Grigor sees battery technology, a market he has since entered, as a better alternative.

Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney said talk of nuclear power was “a dangerous distraction” from the steps that needed to address the energy and climate challenges facing Australia.

Nuclear energy has been officially banned in Australia since 1998, with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s OPAL reactor at Lucas Heights, NSW, the only nuclear reactor in the country.

But the Minerals Council’s executive director for uranium, Daniel Zavattiero, said the nation had excluded a low-emissions energy source of which Australia has an abundant supply from the current debate.

“Maybe nuclear power might be something that is not needed, but an outright prohibition on it is not needed,” he said.

Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg supported the Mineral Council’s stance.

“There needs to be bipartisan support for nuclear power and that does not exist right now,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“You would also need state-based support and that is not clear at this stage either.”

In a pre-budget submission, the Minerals Council said nuclear energy needed to be “allowed to compete with other low-emissions sources of electricity – and on equal terms”.

“The ban on nuclear power in Australia is hampering an open debate about future energy and climate change management.”

Mr Zavattiero’s position has been supported by the South Australia Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, which recommended the lifting of the federal prohibition on a nuclear industry.

Mr Switkowski said smaller, modular nuclear reactors could play a part in the future energy mix, and could support regional centres.

An ANSTO spokesman told Fairfax Media these smaller plants could technically work in Australia.

“If Australia did want to expand into nuclear energy technologies, there would be a number of options to consider in the future, including small modular reactors and Generation IV reactors, which could be feasible if the policy, economic settings and technology were right and public support was in place,” he said.

However, the country currently did not have enough skilled personnel to safely operate a nuclear energy industry, he said.

“The question of whether nuclear energy is technically or economically feasible is a different question to whether Australia should or should not have a nuclear energy program, the latter of which is a matter for policy makers and the people of Australia,” the spokesman said.

Countries such as France have embraced nuclear energy, and nuclear power accounts for nearly 75 per cent of all energy generation.

This reliance on nuclear energy has played a role in helping the nation slash its CO2 emissions, with OECD data outlining France averaging 4.32 tonnes per capita compared to Australia’s average of 15.8 tonnes per capita.

While France had set a timeline to reduce its proportion of nuclear energy generation to half of all generation by 2025, French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot said it would be difficult to keep to its timeline without reintroducing fossil fuel generation.

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Obstructing the field decision polarises cricket

The first player in the BBL’s history given out for obstructing the field is adamant he was merely trying to avoid being hit by the return throw rather than block its progress as he attempted to complete a second run against the Hobart Hurricanes on Wednesday night.
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But Brisbane Heat batsman Alex Ross was left with no choice but to walk when the umpires gave him out after reviewing the incident midway through the 17th over of the match.

The hard-hitting Ross was on 27 off 19 balls at the time but had to sit on the sidelines as the Heat rattled home, scoring 34 runs in the final three overs to fall just four runs short of victory.

Ross gave his perspective on Twitter: “I can unequivocally say I was trying to run away from the line of the ball to avoid being hit, as I felt I was going to make my ground.”

The controversial decision led to respective captains, Heat’s Brendon McCullum and George Bailey of the Hurricanes, having an animated discussion after the game.

McCullum made it clear that while he thought the Hurricanes deserved the win he thought the Ross decision was wrong.

Bailey told Channel 10 the Hurricanes’ initial appeal was made in relation to whether Ross was out of his ground but after seeing the vision they then enquired as to whether the batsman had obstructed the field as he changed direction when running down the wicket.

The umpires determined he had, in fact, obstructed the field, deciding Ross’s action was not accidental nor taken to avoid injury.

Cricket Australia said the decision was “justified” although they conceded it was a difficult rule to adjudicate as it required umpires to determine the intent of the player.

“The dismissal last night of Alex Ross from Brisbane Heat saw the batsman change direction, turn to watch the direction of the throw, and run on the pitch,” a Cricket Australia spokesperson said.

“The third umpire concluded that the change of running direction of the batsman, after seeing the direction of the throw, obstructed the wicketkeeper’s opportunity to affect the run out.”

Umpires are instructed to take into account whether a player changes direction as a guide for measuring intent.

The mode of dismissal is extremely unusual with only eight players ever given out in international cricket for obstructing the field.

The only time it has happened in a game involving Australia was in 2015 when England all-rounder Ben Stokes threw out his hand and deflected a Mitch Starc attempt to throw down the stumps.

Coincidentally the Australian wicketkeeper in that game was Matthew Wade, who was also keeping for the Hurricanes.

The Sydney Sixers English import Jason Roy is one of the eight players to have been dismissed for obstructing the field in international cricket after being given out for 67 against South Africa last year.

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Big Ben handling the hype like an old hand

BenSimmonshas been dealing with hype and expectation since high school so NBA All-Star and rookie-of-the-year chatter is water off a duck’s back for the 20-year-old Australian superstar.
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Simmonshas been a revelation in his first full season after being handed the point guard role by Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown.

Former Boomers mentor Brown made him the focal point of his team alongside giant centre Joel Embiid and it has paid off with the perennial battlers sitting just one spot outside the Eastern Conference play-off spots.

Simmonsaverages 16.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and his 7.5 assists rank as the sixth-best in the league with his 1.9 steals tied for fourth.

That form has subsequently seen him touted as a potential All-Star, with online voting closing next week, and a frontrunner for the rookie of the year accolade.

Should he earn selection for the annual showpiece event he would be the first rookie to do so since LA Clippers star Blake Griffin in 2011.

Earlier this weekthe former Newcastle Hunters junior had clocked up just over 210,000 votes, placing him fourth among point guards in the East.

RISING STAR: Former Newcastle Hunters junior Ben Simmons has been a revelation in his debut season with Philadelphia. Picture: AP

Simmonssaid he is unfazed by the talk but revelling in the responsibility at the 76ers.

“I’ve had pressure my whole life, from high school, so I am not too worried about it,”Simmonssaid.

BEN SIMMONS

“I just go out there and try to enjoy my game. I’ve always been around cameras and the media.

“But I love being able to run the team. It’s one of those roles where the coach has a lot of confidence in me and I think I am doing a good job so far.”

The Melbourne-bornSimmonssaid sitting on the sidelines and missing his first season through a foot injury after being drafted No.1 overall in 2016 did little to prepare him for the rigours of the NBA.

“It helped to an extent, but playing the game is so different to watching,”Simmonssaid.

“I’ve learnt a lot from playing, far more so than watching.”

Brown believesSimmonshas only just scratched the surface of his potential but is delighted with how’s he adapted to his new responsibility, having played as a forward throughout high school and college.

“If any of us had thought about making him a point guard, forgetting 15 to 18 years of experience … and said ‘we are just going to give you the ball, you’re a point guard in the NBA’, … and fast forwarded 38 games into the season and looked at what he’s done, we’d have been incredibly happy,” Brown said.

“He has so much more growth to experience. Intellectually learning what a point guard is, that it’s not just dribbling the ball up the floor.

“As our point guard I see daylight, I see that being very progressive and heading in the right direction.”

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The Tonk: Tendulkar junior to grace SCG’s hallowed turf

Sachin Tendulkar has contributed richly to the history of the SCG. It was at the famous venue that, as an 18-year-old, he announced himself to the country with his maiden Test ton on Australian soil. Twelve years later he rained on Steve Waugh’s farewell Test with an unbeaten 241 after shelving his cover drive, and he made 154 not out in the infamous Bollyline Test of 2008.
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On Sunday, nearly six years after his last match at the famous ground, it will be his son’s turn to grace the hallowed turf. Arjun Tendulkar, 18, is lining up for the Cricket Club of India in a Twenty20 match as part of the Spirit of Cricket Global Challenge, a tournament run by SCG Cricket.

There is even talk his father may be making a whirlwind trip from India just to see his son play at the ground, where his name is etched on the honour boards. Tendulkar, you’ll remember, is also the first overseas player to be given an honorary life membership of the SCG.

Unlike his father, Tendulkar junior is a left-arm quick, though he impressed this week with the bat, whacking a quick-fire 40-odd not out at Coogee Oval. Arjun has not hit the professional ranks but last year was picked in an under-19 side by Mumbai for an invitational one-day competition.

The son of a gun was playing at Bradman Oval in Bowral on Thursday and, our operatives tell us, will be in the crowd on Saturday night for the Big Bash League’s Sydney Derby.

The Tendulkar family is fiercely protective of Arjun’s privacy with all interview and photo requests having to go through his father. Pay war protagonists to meet

It was the greatest civil war the game had seen since World Series Cricket and wounds have not fully healed five months after a peace deal was struck in the bitter pay dispute.

An uneasiness remains about how Cricket Australia conducted itself during the standoff, and not just from the players’ side of the fence. There are figures in state land who were also unsatisfied with the approach taken by head office, having seen 230 cricketers around the country left unemployed for more than a month last winter.

However, now that the dust has properly settled, and the Ashes have been run and won, executives and directors on both sides appear to be at least attempting to improve relations.

Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Alistair Nicholson says his organisation’s president, former Australian wicketkeeper Greg Dyer, is expected to meet “a couple of CA board members” this month to discuss ways to avoid such a crisis ever occurring again.

“Now the Ashes is done, that conversation will now happen,” Nicholson told The Tonk.

“I think that the boards have to have some crossover, to at least try to understand some of the good and bad things that came out of it. There hasn’t been a lot of interaction on that with CA up until now.”

This week marks 100 days since the actual five-year memorandum of understanding was signed – there were weeks of to-and-fro following the heads of agreement deal that effectively ended the pay war – and the governing body and the players’ union have restored top-level contact beneath the board level.

“I can’t speak for him, but [CA chief] James [Sutherland] and I have a pretty good professional relationship,” Nicholson said. “And I’m dealing with [CA team performance boss] Pat Howard regularly on things. A couple of board members meeting in January from both sides of the board … I think that’s important.”

The ACA will later this month mark its 20th anniversary. Ashes pitches given thumbs up

There’s been much criticism of the pitches used for this summer’s Tests with many from both the Australian and England camps unhappy. But it seems the International Cricket Council does not share that view, with some of the ratings for this summer’s wickets likely to raise a few eyebrows.

While Australian captain Steve Smith described the Gabba deck as “reasonably disappointing”, the uncharacteristically slow pitch was given the highest possible rating of “very good” by match referee Richie Richardson. Not surprisingly, the Adelaide Oval was also given full points while Perth was judged to be “good”.

The MCG, as we all know, was slammed as “poor” while the SCG is set to be a tick with a grading of “good” or “very good” likely.

The ICC findings are at odds with the widespread view in the Australian game that the country’s pitches have become homogenised. Another son of a gun

Our loyal readers will be aware Usman Qadir, the son of Pakistan leg-spin great Abdul Qadir, has been turning heads in Sydney’s first-grade competition. Well, it seems word has spread well beyond the suburbs.

The 24-year-old leggie this week had a bowl in the nets with the Perth Scorchers. One spy tells us he gave Test opener Cameron Bancroft a bit of trouble. We also hear Perth and Western Australia coach and former Test great Justin Langer is very impressed. Again, watch this space.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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