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August 29, 2018

Brisbane, Australia Magistrates Court charges two cotton farmers for $31m fraud

Brisbane, Australia Magistrates Court charges two cotton farmers for $31m fraud

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

On Tuesday, two officers of cotton farming conglomerate Norman Farming in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for alleged fraud of the government. Queensland Police alleged over the past seven years the farmers submitted fraudulent claims to receive funding from Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources, resulting in an approximately AUD20M dishonest personal financial gain. The Court laid charges and released the defendants on bail.

According to the results of the investigation by Police, the two men allegedly falsified documents, including invoices, misrepresenting work from contractors as earthwork supposedly in aid of improving water irrigation efficiency. The two allegedly presented farming-related work on their property on six projects as aimed at improving the efficiency of water irrigation at their property near Goondiwindi.

Police arrested the chief executive officer (CEO) of the conglomerate, 43-year-old John Norman, and the conglomerate’s chief financial officer, 53-year-old Stephen Evans. They appeared in Court represented by their lawyers. In the Court they were charged, Norman with six and Evans with four counts of aggravated fraud, Norman with six and Evans with four counts of fraudulently producing or using a false record. Police opposed bail, however the Magistrate released the two on bail conditionally, requiring they surrender their passports.

According to reports by Australian Broadcasting Corporation and The Guardian, neighbours of Norman Farming had complained to the authorities about Norman Farming’s work resulting in excessive removal of floodwater from the McIntyre river, leading to reduced availability of water for the farmers downstream.

Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy provided the funding as a part of its Healthy Head Waters scheme. Detective Inspector Mick Dowie said the Department did not have the authority of police to compel provision of documents, leading to difficulty with verifying the invoices which the two submitted in their application.

Dowie said the investigation took over a year to complete, including analysis of accounting reports.



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August 10, 2018

New South Wales, Australia government says entire state in winter 2018 drought

Filed under: Australia,Environment,New South Wales,Weather — admin @ 5:00 am

New South Wales, Australia government says entire state in winter 2018 drought

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Friday, August 10, 2018

On Wednesday, the New South Wales, Australia Department of Primary Industries (DPI) reported fifteen percent of New South Wales, Australia (NSW) was in “intense drought”, and the rest of the state “in drought” or “drought-affected”. Farmers were reportedly running out of food for cattle and had to make difficult decisions about the collection times for their crops; food for cattle became harder to get, and more expensive.

The report from DPI indicated “up to 48% of the state as Drought Affected, 37% in Drought and 15% in Intense Drought”. The areas of intense drought included “parts of Western, North West, Central West, Central Tablelands, South East, Hunter, Greater Sydney and Northern Tablelands LLS regions”, according to the report. The drought indicator was based on agronomic data, remote sensing, and field reports, including soil moisture and pasture conditions.

The report from DPI named “the southern alpine zone, the greater Hilltops (Young) region and parts of the south and north coast” as areas with better conditions.

Furthermore, according to ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), the chair of the Australian Fodder Industry Association, Frank McRae, said many farmers in NSW had barely any food for their cattle. He said, “There’s pretty much virtually nothing in NSW and supplies are rapidly drying up in southern Victoria [state bordering NSW on the south] […] You have to go back to 1981–1982 to see a drought this widespread and so severe.”

The BBC reported Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying some farmers bought hay for animal feed for as much as AUP 10,000 per truckload.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair remarked many people were hoping for rain to come and farmers were needed to make difficult decisions about the best viable time for crops collection. He said, “This is tough, there isn’t a person in the state that isn’t hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities […] Producers are now faced with some very difficult decisions on whether to graze sown crops or rely on potential rainfall in the next two months in order to increase yield production.”

According to ABC, Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) meteorologist Jane Golding said these conditions were unlike previously observed climatic conditions in NSW with rain in June, July and August. He said, “This year we haven’t really seen either of those and last year as well we didn’t really see too much of the either of those rain-bearing systems making their way into NSW […] It is unusually dry and also unusually warm which exacerbates the problems, so the warm temperatures dry out the soils even more.”

According to BBC, Queensland, north of NSW, was also experiencing dry conditions, as well as parts of South Australia and Victoria. The report from DPI mentioned last autumn’s failed growing season.

About the forecast conditions and risks, the report from DPI said dry and warm conditions were “likely” to continue in the next three months, with an El Niño 50% likely in NSW in spring, which would mean depressed rainfall. The Australian forecasting services have an El Niño Watch on the region according to the report.



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August 9, 2018

Australia, NSW Government says entire state in drought

Australia, NSW Government says entire state in drought

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Wednesday, nearly a quarter of New South Wales, Australia (NSW) was classified as being in “intense drought”, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) reported. The rest of the state was reportedly “in drought” or “drought-affected”. Farmers were running out of food for cattle and had to make difficult decisions about the collection times for their crops. Food for cattle became harder to get, and more expensive.

The report from DPI indicated “up to 48% of the state as Drought Affected, 37% in Drought and 15% in Intense Drought”. The areas of intense drought included “parts of Western, North West, Central West, Central Tablelands, South East, Hunter, Greater Sydney and Northern Tablelands LLS regions”, according to the report. The drought indicator was based on the data about agronomic data, satellite imagery, as well as farmers’ surveys which include reports of soil moisture and pasture conditions.

The report from DPI named “the southern alpine zone, the greater Hilltops (Young) region and parts of the south and north coast” as areas which experienced better conditions.

Furthermore, according to ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), the Chair of the Australian Fodder Industry Association, Frank McRae, said many farmers in NSW had barely any food for their cattle. He said, “There’s pretty much virtually nothing in NSW and supplies are rapidly drying up in southern Victoria. You have to go back to 1981-1982 to see a drought this widespread and so severe.”

The BBC reported Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying that some farmers had spent “up to A$10,000 per truckload of hay” to feed their animals.

According to ABC, NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair remarked that many people were hoping for rain to come and farmers were needed to make difficult decisions about the best viable time for crops collection. He said, “This is tough, there isn’t a person in the state that isn’t hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities. Producers are now faced with some very difficult decisions on whether to graze sown crops or rely on potential rainfall in the next two months in order to increase yield production.”

According to ABC, Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) meteorologist Jane Golding said these conditions unlike previously observed climatic conditions in NSW with rain in June, July and August. He said, “This year we haven’t really seen either of those [rain in June, July and August – WN] and last year as well we didn’t really see too much of the either of those rain-bearing systems making their way into NSW. It is unusually dry and also unusually warm which exacerbates the problems, so the warm temperatures dry out the soils even more.”

According to BBC, Queensland was also experiencing dry conditions, as well as parts of South Australia and Victoria. The report from DPI included a mention of last autumn’s dry conditions, which may have contributed to the current drought. July 30, NSW government had provided AUD 0.5M for emergency drought relief, with the total provided support exceeding AUD 1M.

About the forecast conditions and risks, the report from DPI said dry and warm conditions were “highly likely” to continue in the next three months, with a 50% chance of El Nino developing in NSW in spring, which would increase rainfall. The Australian forecasting services have the region on an El Niño Watch, according to the report.



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New South Wales, Australia government says entire state in drought

New South Wales, Australia government says entire state in drought

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

On Wednesday, the New South Wales, Australia Department of Primary Industries (DPI) reported fifteen percent of New South Wales, Australia (NSW) was in “intense drought”, and the rest of the state “in drought” or “drought-affected”. Farmers were reportedly running out of food for cattle and had to make difficult decisions about the collection times for their crops; food for cattle became harder to get, and more expensive.

The report from DPI indicated “up to 48% of the state as Drought Affected, 37% in Drought and 15% in Intense Drought”. The areas of intense drought included “parts of Western, North West, Central West, Central Tablelands, South East, Hunter, Greater Sydney and Northern Tablelands LLS regions”, according to the report. The drought indicator was based on agronomic data, remote sensing, and field reports, including soil moisture and pasture conditions.

The report from DPI named “the southern alpine zone, the greater Hilltops (Young) region and parts of the south and north coast” as areas with better conditions.

Furthermore, according to ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), the chair of the Australian Fodder Industry Association, Frank McRae, said many farmers in NSW had barely any food for their cattle. He said, “There’s pretty much virtually nothing in NSW and supplies are rapidly drying up in southern Victoria [state bordering NSW on the south] […] You have to go back to 1981–1982 to see a drought this widespread and so severe.”

The BBC reported Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying some farmers bought hay for animal feed for as much as AUP 10,000 per truckload.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair remarked many people were hoping for rain to come and farmers were needed to make difficult decisions about the best viable time for crops collection. He said, “This is tough, there isn’t a person in the state that isn’t hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities […] Producers are now faced with some very difficult decisions on whether to graze sown crops or rely on potential rainfall in the next two months in order to increase yield production.”

According to ABC, Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) meteorologist Jane Golding said these conditions were unlike previously observed climatic conditions in NSW with rain in June, July and August. He said, “This year we haven’t really seen either of those and last year as well we didn’t really see too much of the either of those rain-bearing systems making their way into NSW […] It is unusually dry and also unusually warm which exacerbates the problems, so the warm temperatures dry out the soils even more.”

According to BBC, Queensland, north of NSW, was also experiencing dry conditions, as well as parts of South Australia and Victoria. The report from DPI mentioned last autumn’s failed growing season.

About the forecast conditions and risks, the report from DPI said dry and warm conditions were “likely” to continue in the next three months, with an El Niño 50% likely in NSW in spring, which would mean depressed rainfall. The Australian forecasting services have an El Niño Watch on the region according to the report.



Sources[]

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June 25, 2018

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Environment
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On Saturday, the plastic ban in the Indian state of Maharashtra came into force. In an attempt to minimise pollution, the state government has introduced a ban on single-use plastics.

The leader of the Yuya Senaa political party, Aaditya Thackeray, said on Twitter, “The ban on single use disposable plastic cups, plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic plates and cutlery, styrofoam cutlery and non woven bags”. He added, “these are global issues now and we have taken a step to combat it”.

Plastic pollution has led to the choking of drains, marine pollution and a risk of animals consuming plastics. This year, India’s motto for World Environment Day — June 5 — was “Beat Plastic Pollution”. People violating the plastic ban are to face a fine of 5,000 Indian Rupees (INR) for the first offence. For the second offence, the fine is INR 10,000 and the third time offence is INR 25,000 and a three-month prison term. Deputy municipal commissioner Nidhi Choudhary said, “To weed out corruption, we plan to give inspectors payment gadgets for electronic receipts of the fines”.

The Maharashtra government has given a 90-day period for manufacturers to dispose of existing polyethylene terephthalate (PET/PETE) plastic spoons and plates, while shopkeepers and citizens in general have six months to dispose of plastics. However, the ban does not prohibit plastic usage for wrapping medicines or milk cartons thicker than 50 microns.

The state government had announced the decision for the plastic ban on March 23. According to NDTV’s report, Maharashtra is the eighteenth Indian state to enforce a state-wide plastic ban. Aaditya Thackeray also said, “I congratulate the citizens for making this into a movement, even before the ban was enforceable, giving up single use disposable plastic.”



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May 30, 2016

Australian Opposition Leader pledges to save The Great Barrier Reef

Australian Opposition Leader pledges to save The Great Barrier Reef

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten, speaking in Cairns today has pledged a $500 million fund towards research and environmental programs to help protect Australia’s environmental icon.

File photo of The Great Barrier Reef QLD, Australia
Image: Jorge Láscar.

Mr Shorten said that the reef was in peril after recent underwater surveys revealed that more than one-third of coral reefs in central and northern regions of The Great Barrier Reef have died as a result of coral bleaching.

“All of this is at risk if serious action is not taken to protect it. The Great Barrier Reef is an environmental treasure Australia holds on trust for the world,” said Mr Shorten.

The surveys were carried out by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, who revealed the bleaching was associated with higher than average water temperatures as a result of El Nino events and is under pressure from climate change.

Initial reports conducted by the ARC claimed that only 7 percent of coral reefs had been left untouched by bleaching. This bleaching event is the third of its kind with notable occurrences in 1998 and 2002. This event it particular has had the biggest impact on the reef so far.

Two weeks ago, James Cook scientists warned that Australia’s environmental icon would be incurable within the next 5 years unless the government commits to spending $10 billion over the next decade.

Mr Shorten is expected to deliver a detailed description of the planning and allocation of funds dedicated towards protecting the reef on Monday.



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Australian Opposition Leader pledges to save Great Barrier Reef

Australian Opposition Leader pledges to save Great Barrier Reef

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Monday, May 30, 2016

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Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten, speaking in Cairns yesterday has pledged an A$500 million fund towards research and programs to help protect Australia’s environmental icon The Great Barrier Reef.

File photo of The Great Barrier Reef.
Image: Jorge Láscar.

Recent surveys indicated coral bleaching has killed more than a third of coral in the Great Barrier Reef’s north and central regions. “All of this is at risk if serious action is not taken to protect it. The Great Barrier Reef is an environmental treasure Australia holds on trust for the world,” said Mr. Shorten.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies performed the surveys. Bleaching is associated with higher-than-average water temperatures resulting from El Niño events, affected by climate change.

ARC said bleaching had affected all but seven percent of the reef. This bleaching event is the third of its kind with notable occurrences in 1998 and 2002. This event in particular has had the biggest impact on the reef so far.

Two weeks ago, James Cook University scientists said the government would have to commit A$10 billion over the next decade or the reef would be incurable in half that time.

$500 million has been promised towards the investment in research and protection of the reef by Mr Shorten over four years.



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Australia left out of the UNESCO report on climate change threat to world heritage sites.

Filed under: Australia,Disputed,Environment,Great Barrier Reef — admin @ 5:00 am

Australia left out of the UNESCO report on climate change threat to world heritage sites.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Last week UNESCO (United Nations Educational and Science Cultural Organization) released a report, looking at the affect global warming is having on 31 different sites in 29 countries. Any mention of Australia, The Great Barrier Reef in particular, was cut from the report. The initial report contained extensive research outlining the affect climate change is having on The Great Barrier Reef, and the threat that Coral Bleaching is imposing on its very existence. Before the report was published, the Environment Department urged the Australian ambassador to UNESCO to have any mention of Australian sites removed. The Environment Department believed that mentioning the impact climate change is having on Australian ecosystems could jeopardize the tourism industry that is based around areas such as the Barrier Reef. The department issued a statement outlining why Australia was cut from the report “The department expressed concern that giving the report the title ‘Destinations at risk’ had the potential to cause considerable confusion.” The department went on to outline that by labelling the reef as a ‘Destination at Risk’ could muddle the issues of world heritage sites and risks arising from climate change and tourism. The decision to remove Australia from this report has raised concerns from members of the public, as well as politicians and environmental experts. Larissa Waters, the Greens Senator from Queensland, said that it was “unbelievable that the response of global warnings about the future of the reef is simply to hide the evidence”. This report comes at a crucial time in the security of the Barrier Reef, studies show that approximately one-third of the northern area of the reef has already died due to enormous amounts of coral bleaching that has occurred over recent years. Experts are blaming this extensive coral bleaching on the extreme El-Nino weather conditions of the past 12 months. Abnormally warm water temperatures cause the coral to release photosynthetic algae. The coral cannot survive without the algae, causing the reef to be destroyed.

Professor Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, outlined the seriousness of this situation “”The key threat to the Great Barrier Reef is climate change – the government has recognised that many times.” Professor Hughes went on to urge the Queensland Government to start taking climate change seriously and to reconsider the impact coal mines are having on Australia’s environment.



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Thailand takes measure to combat coral bleaching

Thailand takes measure to combat coral bleaching

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Thailand Officials have announced they will increase their enforcement of environment-protection laws in order to protect their coral reefs from bleaching. Chinese and Russian tourists are at the forefront of these crack-downs as it was outlined that Phuket tours involving the Chinese and Russians have been a big contributor to their coral bleaching crisis.

Class Act Media report that this warning was put forward by The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources in a meeting which included more than 70 people from Phuket tour operators, tour guides and government agencies. They order the feeding of fish or sea animals in the coral reef areas and stepping on the coral reefs as strictly prohibited. “Persons who fail to follow the above will be punished by law, which is a maximum of one year in prison, a fine of B100,000 or both,” Suchart Rattanareangsri, Director of the DMCR’s Conservation Division, warned.

This forms part of Thailand’s bid to combat coral bleaching and protect the environment.

This warning comes after more than ten popular diving sites in national marine parks in Thailand were closed indefinitely due to coral bleaching and popular beach and diving location, Koh Tachai, in the Andaman Sea was shut down. Thai Officials also announced all tourist activities would be banned at Koh Khai Nok, Koh Khai Nui and Koh Khai Nai, all islands off the coast of Phuket.

CNN report that this is due to coral bleaching being at its worst in over six years. A survey performed by the Marine National Park Division has shown that the bleaching has spread widely between 40% and 80% of the reefs along both the east and west coast of Thailand. Koh Chumpon and Koh Ma Prao are among the worst-hit areas with 80% of their coral bleached.

According to National Ocean Service, bleaching occurs when the coral comes under environmental stress such as runoff of fertilisers from the land, temperature of the water and sunlight. It causes coral to expel the algae in their tissue that is responsible for their bright colours and so they turn completely white.

The move puts the environment in front of tourism profit for the country. In Thailand, tourism accounts for 10% of its economy and around 70% of this income is generated by marine tourist activities. Officials were hoping to attract over 32 million tourists in 2016.



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May 28, 2016

Australia removed from major U.N climate change report after government intervention.

Filed under: Australia,Environment,Review — admin @ 5:00 am

Australia removed from major U.N climate change report after government intervention.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Any mention of Australia has been removed from a final major report on climate change after intervention from the Australian government. The report “The World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate” published by Unesco with the United Nations environment program and the Union of Concerned Scientists was released on Friday.

The draft of the report had a key chapter, on the Great Barrier Reef as well as mentions of Kakadu and Tasmanian forests. The Australian Department of Environment upon seeing a copy of the draft objected to the mentioning of Australian locations, on grounds that it would adversely affect tourism. Unesco then removed any reference to Australia from the final report. The omission of Australia from the report comes less than a year after the Australian Government had Unesco not include The Great Barrier Reef on it’s list of World Heritage Sites in Danger.

No sections about any other country were removed, from the report and Australia was the only inhabited continent to have no mentions at all . The report comes as the Great Barrier Reef is experiencing it’s worst crisis in recorded history as unusually warm weather has resulted in 93% of the reef suffering coral bleaching.



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