Government puts $20 million on table to buy private land for koalas in NSW

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, got up close with a koala on the Royal tour during a visit to Taronga Zoo last week.The NSW Government has put $20 million on the table to buy private landto secure protected habitat for koalas.

“Essentially, if you own good quality, occupied koala habitat that meets the criteria, the NSW Government is a willing buyer,” Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said.

“This initiative is part of the NSW Government’s $44.7m commitment towards securing the future of koalas in the wild, which is the biggest commitment by any State Government to koala protection,” she said.

“The koala is synonymous with and the NSW Government is committed to ensuring its secure future. More than 24,000 hectares of unproductive state forest is being set aside for koalas, but we also want to expand this by buying up suitable land across the state.

“Purchasing suitable land will increase the number of koala habitat corridors and linkages across the landscape.

“We are initially seeking expressions of interest from private landholders in Port Macquarie, the Southern Highlands, Port Stephens and the Far Northeast region.

“While these four areas are of particular focus, the Government will also assess expressions of interest from other areas where there is good quality occupied koala habitat,” Minister Upton said.

“This unique initiative gives landholders who have koala habitat on their properties the option to sell all or part of their land so that it can be managed and conserved by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.”

Criteria for considering a property for purchase include:

· presence of koala habitat

· evidence of use by koalas

· good connection to surrounding native vegetation

· that reservation would improve the management of threats to koalas in that location

· the property must also be suitable for inclusion in the national parks estate.

“The NSW Government is determined to increase the amount of land where koalas can safely live and be protected from predators.

“I have a personal plea – if you own koala land, please consider adding it to the state’s koala reserves,” Ms Upton said.

Full details on criteria and locations can be found on: https://tinyurl苏州楼凤/yckd8vcr .

And so did Prince Harry.

But the National Parks Association said the scheme would fail.

The announcement that $20 million will be allocated from the Environment Trust to purchase koala habitat from landholders is welcome, but an inefficient use of money and likely to fail because of accelerating deforestation says the National Parks Association of NSW (NPA).

NPA’s Senior Ecologist, Dr Oisín Sweeney welcomed the promised investment but said the government must do much more if it was to be successful in avoiding koala extinctions:

“In the last few years the NSW government has overseen an acceleration of tree clearing[1], is sitting on its hands and allowing urban development to destroy koala habitat and is poised to implement logging laws that will dramatically intensify logging in koala habitat on public land.

“In light of these terrible policy settings, this investment is doomed to fail because it simply won’t protect enough habitat.

“On current prices, $20 million invested in land purchase in the Coffs Harbour area would buy you under 1,500 hectares.

“That’s clearly not enough to save koalas. In order to make this investment work, it must be complemented by efforts to protect koala habitat on public land and proper regulation of tree clearing and urban development.

“By the Minister’s own admission, the koala reserves the Government has made so far have been selected on the basis that they don’t impact on timber supplies, rather than their importance for koalas. Many of them have no koala records and no koala habitat.

“In contrast, NPA has proposed several koala reserves[4] that would protect habitat on public land and which we know will make a positive difference because the Government itself has identifiedthem as important areas.

“The Great Koala National Park[6] alone would protect 175,000 hectares of public forests near Coffs Harbour and has been shown to be of paramount important for koalas. That’s 100 times more habitat for $20 million less, because we already own these forests.

“Instead, the government’s proposing an ‘intensive harvesting zone’ for the mid-north coast where 45-hectare patches of forest will be able to be clearfelled in a single operation.

“We call on the government to reinstate tree clearing protections, to toughen its planning policy (called State Environment Planning Policy 44 – Koala Habitat Protection) that it has been reviewing since 2016 and to create the Great Koala National Park if it’s serious about saving koalas.”

The Land

King Lear director testifies at Rush trial

Director Neil Armfield denies he told Geoffrey Rush his on-stage touching of a female co-star was becoming “creepy” and says he didn’t see the actor touch her breast in a gratuitous way.

He’s also denied seeing Rush make jokes and comments about Eryn Jean Norvill’s body during rehearsals for the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of King Lear or make gestures in which he pretended to caress her torso and grope her breasts.

Armfield was giving evidence during Rush’s Federal Court defamation trial against a newspaper publisher and journalist over stories about an allegation the actor behaved inappropriately toward his younger co-star.

The Oscar winner denies the claims and argues the Daily Telegraph articles made him out to be a pervert and a sexual predator.

The paper’s publisher, Nationwide News, and journalist Jonathon Moran are pleading a defence of truth and Norvill – who didn’t speak with Moran for the articles – has agreed to give evidence.

Armfield, a long-time friend and collaborator of Rush’s, directed him and Norvill for the production in 2015 and 2016.

He told the court on Thursday if he saw Rush making lewd comments or gestures towards Norvill during rehearsals he would have said: “What are you doing? Stop.”

If she’d come to him with a complaint, Armfield said he would have spoken to Rush before possibly gathering him, Norvill and the stage manager together.

Another of the Telegraph’s allegations, which Rush denies, is he deliberately touched the side of Norvill’s breast during a preview performance in a scene after he carried her body on stage and laid it down.

Norvill played the daughter of Rush’s titular character and, in that scene, she had died.

Armfield said he suspected it would have been impossible for Rush to cradle Norvill’s torso during the scene as directed without touching her breast but he hadn’t seen any “gratuitous action”.

Under cross-examination, he couldn’t recall if that cradling move had been introduced in previews or later in the production.

When defence barrister Tom Blackburn SC put it to Armfield that Rush had traced his hand down the side of Norvill’s torso and her right breast, he said he had no memory of it.

He denied telling Rush his touching of Norvill during the scene was becoming “creepy” and had no recollection of telling him to make it more paternal, as the Daily Telegraph claimed.

The director, who has worked on more than 20 projects with Rush since the 1980s, said he was telling the truth during his evidence and he liked to think both Norvill and Rush were his friends.

Actor Helen Buday, who played Norvill’s sister in the production, also denied seeing Rush make lewd comments or gestures to anyone and said she would have felt a responsibility to say something if she had.

She described a text message where Rush told Norvill he thought about her “more than is socially appropriate”, followed by an emoji with its tongue out, as “delightful” and an example of “good mentoring”.

The judge-only trial continues.

Uralla butcher shop transformed thanks to beer

The sheep at the Goodwin family’s property are fed a ‘top secret’ ration, which includes spent grain from the New England Brewing Co.

URALLA butcher Dale Goodwin has a thriving meat business, and it’s all thanks to beer.

Not only has he incorporated alcohol in his now nationally sought after sausages, but after years of testing and trialsMr Goodwin has rapidly increased the marbling in his sheep byfeeding them spent grain from a local brewery.

Mr Goodwin currently runs a flock of 250 Border Leicester ewes, lambing them out to Poll Dorset rams on local lease country before finishing their340 to 350 lambs on his 50 acre property.

While not a feedlot situation, the sheep are given a ‘top secret’ ration of forage andby-product from the New England Brewing Co.

The n malted barley is modified during the malting process with the starch and sugars extracted as it is converted into alcohol, making it easier for livestock to consume.

Mr Goodwin sources Poll Dorset rams from Amelie Poll Dorsets, which conveniently neighbour their property. “We couldn’t recommend them enough. We started with their (rams) and the lambing percentage even in the drought was probably up if anything,” he said.

It’s allowed Mr Goodwin to feed the cost-cutting supplement to his sheep at a younger age andproduce the same level of marbling commonly seen on a 60 kilogramsheep from just 30 kilograms.

“People just think that you feed it out to them, but you don’t,” he said.

Dale Goodwin with New England Brewing Co head brewer Reid Stratton and some of the spent grain which Mr Goodwin collects daily.

“Because it’s such a wet product, there is no dry matter so it doesn’t stick to the sheep. They’re full all the time but they don’t fatten well.

“So we did a lot of testing and sent a lot of samples away and we’ve got that down to a pretty fine art now after a couple of years and now get maximum results.”

New England Brewing Co owner Ben Rylands had previously supplied the by-product to a Merino stud breeder and now receives weekly phone calls from people asking for an order of the valuable fodder.

“Most breweriesin regional locations do give the grain to a livestock producer,” he said.

“Somelarger breweries in Sydneyhave spent grain but because it’s wet, it’s really hard to transport. Dale gets a ute load each day which is manageable.

Mr Goodwin has refined his ration over a number of years.

“Dale has been able to leverage our customers in capital cities for small orders for functions or events that we attend. Even though the sausages in the shop in Uralla seem small, it has become a shared customer base.”

Mr Goodwin’s lamb make up half of the annual production for his butcher shop, Dale’s Downtown Meats, which he has transformed from a ‘one man band’to employ potentiallysix full time staff.

Supplying his own livestock has been a major financial benefit to thesuccess.

“Itwasn’t competition that worried me so much it was product quality, making sure we get what we wanted,” Mr Goodwin said.

The lambs on Mr Goodwin’s property.

“It’sreally hard to get a 20kg lamb and then throw that much fat in the bin, it just doesn’tpay. It’staking three to fourper centoff your bottom lineand you can’t have that.

“So if we can grow them out to theexact weight, because I weigh them every week, the waste factor is down by probably a quarter.”

While fellow butcher shops in the small town have closed, Mr Goodwin credits his focus on diversification.

Special New England Brewing Co sausages have been a key factor in their success with up to four flavours and additional special brews.

Customers travel from Tasmania and the Northern Territory to secure one of the four beer flavoured sausages on offer at his store, substituting water for New England Brewing Co products when they are made.

During the Seasons of New England event attended by up to 6500 people, the butcher shop sells between 3000 and 5000 of their specialised sausages in one day.

“My father has been butchering his whole life and when I said I was going to make beer snags and charge $20/kilogram, he told me it won’t work, you will have to throw them out, no one is going to buy them,” Mr Goodwin said.

Mr Goodwin has also introduced small goods and established a catering business with his wife to showcase their produce.

“He has had to eat humble pie bad.”

They have since offeredtheir own small goods range of salami, chorizoand kransky along with a nitrate preservative free bacon.

“It is still the old fashioned butcher shop,” he said.

“When you walk in it still looks the same, smells the same, ugly butchers everywhere, but we try and jazz it up too because there are only 2500 people in Uralla.

“Because it’s a small country town, people don’t like seeing a window full of marinade or crumbs. We keep it to a minimum but we do it regularly, so we rotate it so they don’t get sick of eating the one thing all the time.”

The Land

Chinan companies aiming for renewables

n companies aiming to join the ranks of Apple and Google – who have reached 100 per cent renewable energy – will meet at an industry forum in Sydney.

The RE100 global initiative brings together companies aiming for 100 per cent renewable energy, coordinating their investments to help drive demand for such sources.

Head of RE100 Sam Kimmins says the more than 150 member companies have a total investment pool of more than $100 billion.

Companies like IKEA, Google, Apple, H&M have experience navigating the renewable energy market and are now sharing the information with others, Mr Kimmins told AAP ahead of Thursday’s industry forum.

“Renewables are really cheap, the technology has now achieved the promise of the last few years.”

The cost of solar had decreased by about 80 per cent in the past seven years and was trending lower, he added.

“Companies like Mars in are saying, ‘we can get our power from a solar plant more cheaply than we can from the main utility, so let’s do that.’

“And that’s what’s happening around the world.”

Furniture company IKEA owns more wind turbines than stores, and LEGO sources electricity from a windfarm off the coast of England, he added.

The n Energy Market Commission on Thursday launched a further mechanism to lower electricity prices, allowing customers to conduct meter self-reads to reduce the risk of inaccurately estimated bills.

Under the existing rules, energy retailers can estimate a customer’s bill in certain circumstances, but inaccurate overestimates of a customer’s usage can lead to higher than expected bills.

Disputes over inaccurate readings are one of the most frequent sources of customer complaint.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor will meet with his state and territory counterparts in Sydney on Friday.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on Labor to back the government’s “big stick” approach to forcing energy companies to drop power prices.

“They are lining up with the big energy companies, refusing to support the action that we are going to take,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Ducati star Dovizioso eyes strong finish

MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso at Melbourne Park.Andrea Dovizioso’s slim world championship hopes ended when he slid off the Japanese MotoGP circuit, but the Ducati star is eyeing a strong finish to set up a title tilt in 2019.

Spanish Repsol Honda star Marc Marquez claimed his seventh world title – his fifth in the premier class – when he took the chequered flag first in Japan last week.

Dovizioso is second in world championship standings on his factory Ducati heading into the n MotoGP at Phillip Island with three races remaining.

But a sizeable gap between he and leader Marquez has blown out to an insurmountable 102 points.

With Marquez in dominant form, the Italian veteran insists his focus shifted to next season a while ago.

“We were not thinking about the championship (even) when the championship was still open because the gap was too big,” Dovizioso said.

“So we are riding on the track to develop the bike for next year.

“When the championship is over you have to make the result but constantly improve the situation to try to be more ready next year.

“It’s what we have done and it’s the reason why from the beginning of the season to now we have improved a lot.

“And we will continue because we want to fight next year.”

The famed island circuit hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the 32-year-old who has managed just one podium finish – a third placing in 2011 – in 10 visits.

He finished a distant 13th last year, but with the gains made in the Ducati’s set-up in recent races, Dovizioso is treating a grand prix at his bogey track as a timely test.

“This is one of or the worst tracks for us,” he said with a wry smile.

“But it’s good to have this race now because we came from a really good result with good speed (in Japan) and it will be a good test for us to understand how much we have improved from last year.

“Last year we did a really bad result so I’m happy to be here. It’s not a good track for my style and it’s not a good track for the bike, but I think this year we can be much more competitive.”

Local hope Jack Miller is 13th in world title standings after he also crashed out in Japan after starting from the front row of the grid in third.

China fails to stop UN Myanmar briefing

UN investigator Marzuki Darusman warns a genocide against the Rohingya is taking place in Myanmar.China, backed by Russia, has failed to stop a United Nations Security Council briefing by the chair of a UN inquiry that has accused Myanmar’s military of genocide against Rohingya Muslims and wants the 15-member council to take action against those responsible.

“Atrocities continue to take place today,” Marzuki Darusman, chair of the UN Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar, told reporters ahead of the council briefing.

“It is an ongoing genocide that is taking place.”

Global pressure is mounting on Myanmar to act on accountability after a Myanmar military crackdown in the western state of Rakhine last year drove some 700,000 of the largely stateless minority over the border into Bangladesh.

Myanmar’s UN Ambassador Hau Do Suan told the General Assembly’s human rights committee on Tuesday that his government had a “strong commitment to accountability for human rights violations in Rakhine or in any other place in the country.”

“We will take action against any perpetrators where there is sufficient evidence. There will be no impunity for violation of the law,” he said.

The military crackdown followed attacks by Rohingya militants on security posts. Myanmar has denied committing atrocities against the Rohingya, saying its military carried out justifiable actions against militants.

Britain, France, the United States and six other members requested Wednesday’s briefing, but China called a vote to try to stop it. Nine countries voted in favour of the briefing – the minimum needed – while China, Russia and Bolivia voted against and Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea and Kazakhstan abstained.

China’s UN Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu told the council on Wednesday: “it should not get involved in country-specific human rights issues” and that the briefing would be counterproductive to efforts to solve the situation.

Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the nine members who called for the meeting of “intentionally torpedoing” council consensus on the issue.

The UN inquiry’s report, released in August, called for the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar, impose targeted sanctions and set up an ad hoc tribunal to try suspects or refer them to the International Criminal Court.

Diplomats say council veto powers China and Russia are likely to protect Myanmar from any push for such measures.

Gargasoulas says he saw demon, court told

A driver accused of mowing down and killing six people in Melbourne’s Bourke Street believes he was possessed by a demon during the event, a court has been told.

James “Dimitrious” Gargasoulas, 27, is before the Supreme Court for a special hearing to determine if he is fit to stand trial.

Psychologist Michael Daffern, who believes Gargasoulas understands the legal process and is fit to stand trial, told the court on Thursday the accused killer thought he saw a “pixelated monster” a number of weeks before the January 20 incident last year.

Dr Daffern said Gargasoulas, who suffers treatment-resistant paranoid schizophrenia, also believed he saw a demon and was possessed during the event because he couldn’t stop his fast driving.

“I fully agree that Mr Gargasoulas is unwell and often speaks about his delusional beliefs,” he said.

“But he demonstrates a capacity for rational decision-making. He can still weigh up what’s in his best interests and communicate in a logical and rational way what his hopes are for the future in relation to a forthcoming trial.”

Dr Daffern added Gargasoulas wanted to be found fit for trial and enter a plea of not guilty by way of mental impairment.

Gargasoulas also indicated he wanted to be incarcerated at the Thomas Embling psychiatric hospital, rather than prison, he said.

Under defence cross-examination, Dr Daffern said Gargasoulas believed his previous legal team were members of the Illuminati.

Gargasoulas is said to believe a comet will hit the Earth and “burn us all” in two years, that he will be made king and will be released from custody “due to public demand”.

His defence Theo Alexander argued Dr Daffern had “confirmation bias” – when a person forms an opinion and then searches for evidence to support that opinion.

“I disagree,” Dr Daffern answered.

“I was certainly open to the possibility that Mr Gargasoulas was fit and that he was also unfit.”

He also disagreed with Associate Professor Andrew Carroll that Gargasoulas wasn’t able to “set aside” his delusions.

But Dr Daffern said Gargasoulas wanted to be found fit for trial so he could have his day in court and deliver his Messianic message – and also because he didn’t want to return to 23-hour-a-day seclusion at hospital.

“He said if he’s found unfit…that might diminish his message.”

Both sides will deliver closing addresses to the jurors on Friday, before they retire on Monday to consider a verdict.

Family of slain NSW woman tells of loss

The battered body of Sydney woman Nicole Cartwright was found in a park in the city’s north.Relatives of a woman whose battered body was found in a Sydney park say they are still struggling to come to terms with what happened to her.

Nicole Cartwright’s body was found bound and beaten at Buffalo Creek Reserve in Hunters Hill on October 3.

In a statement, her family said the 32-year-old had been a much loved and cherished member of the family, who had brightened their lives with a radiance that “made you happy just being near her”.

She was “kind and sweet, but also bold and fun”, with an infectious smile and contagious laughter, the family said in the statement on Thursday.

“While we are still struggling to comprehend how and why this happened, our family is finding comfort in focusing on what made Nicole special and treasuring her in our memories,” the statement said.

The family expressed gratitude for the support they’ve received since Ms Cartwright’s death and said they were deeply touched by a community vigil held in the Buffalo Creek Reserve on October 11.

Ms Cartwright was farewelled at a funeral at Gledswood on Wednesday.

Police have issued another appeal for information on what happened to the Sydney woman.

They have previously released CCTV footage of the last time she was seen, at Museum Railway Station at 9.30pm on September 30, three days before her body was found in the same clothes.

Detectives have spoken with a large number of people and are able to account for Ms Cartwright’s whereabouts for most of the long weekend of September 28-30, police said in a statement on Thursday.

However, they still need information on what happened to Ms Cartwright after September 30.

An autopsy has been inconclusive, but further tests are being conducted to try to determine how Ms Cartwright died.

Labor member claims Vic party left exposed

Disgruntled firefighter Geoff Barker might have lost his legal fight against Victorian Labor but is claiming a victory for exposing his own party’s “internal factional power-broking”.

Mr Barker was told by Supreme Court justice Maree Kennedy on Thursday that he had lost his bid to overthrow the preselection of fellow Labor member and incumbent state MP Jane Garrett, who is seeking a move from the lower house to a safe legislative council vacancy.

“Unfortunately I did not succeed in my quest to have nominations re-opened, but I hope that the ALP Victoria Branch will consider reviewing the selection processes now that I have ventilated the impact of internal factional power-broking within the ALP,” Mr Barker said in a statement after the court ruling.

The decision means Ms Garrett, the former emergency services minister, is free to continue campaigning for a new seat at next month’s state election.

In an expedited trial Mr Barker tried to sue the state branch of the ALP, claiming it operated outside party rules in preselecting Ms Garrett for the upper house Eastern Victoria electorate vacancy.

She is leaving her lower house seat, which is under attack from the Greens.

“Jane’s going to be a fantastic member of the upper house and continue the really important contributions she’s made as the member for Brunswick and I wish her well,” Premier Daniel Andrews said after the decision.

Ms Garrett said she was pleased with the outcome and grateful for the support she received.

Nominations for the November 24 election close in two weeks and the party had argued starting preselection again would leave them with a “headless ticket” in a critical pre-poll period.

Despite the looming deadline, Mr Barker has told party members he is discussing appeal options with his lawyers.

He is a member of the United Firefighters Union which has a tumultuous history with Ms Garrett stemming from a protracted and nasty fight over new pay deals.

Ms Garrett’s preselection emerged after the current member for Eastern Victoria, Daniel Mulino, became a candidate for the new federal seat of Fraser.

Mr Barker claimed the party was wrong in following rules to withdraw endorsement for Mr Mulino in Eastern Victoria, because the party’s endorsement of him continued more generally.

But Justice Kennedy rejected the argument, saying she didn’t believe a person’s viability as a candidate was “all or nothing”.

Mr Barker had also argued a resolution to re-open preselection to replace Mr Mulino didn’t have support of 75 per cent of party members present at an August meeting, but Justice Kennedy wasn’t satisfied the majority had to be so high.

Mr Barker was ordered to pay Labor’s legal costs.

Russia to target US missile hosts in NATO

Russia will target any nation that hosts US mid-range ballistic missiles, Vladimir Putin says.Russian President Vladimir Putin is warning that if the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Russia will have to target the nations that would host them.

The stern statement follows US President Donald Trump’s announcement over the weekend that he intends to opt out of a 1987 nuclear arms control pact over alleged Russian violations.

Putin said he hoped the United States wouldn’t follow up by positioning intermediate-range missiles in Europe. Such a move would be a repeat of a Cold War showdown in the 1980s, when the US and the Soviet Union both deployed intermediate-range missiles on the continent, the Russian leader said.

“If they are deployed in Europe, we will naturally have to respond in kind,” Putin said at a news conference after talks with visiting Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

“The European nations that would agree to that should understand that they would expose their territory to the threat of a possible retaliatory strike. These are obvious things.”

He continued: “I don’t understand why we should put Europe in such a grave danger.”

“I see no reason for that,” Putin said.

“I would like to repeat that it’s not our choice. We don’t want it.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that the Western military alliance’s members blame Russia for developing a new missile in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but he doesn’t expect them to beef up nuclear arsenals in Europe in response.

The Russian leader hopes to discuss the issue with Trump in Paris when they both attend November 11 events marking 100 years since Armistice Day.

“We are ready to work together with our American partners without any hysteria,” he said.

“The important thing is what decisions will come next.”

The INF treaty signed in 1987 by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev prohibited the US and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched nuclear cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500km to 5500km.

The pact was lauded as a major safeguard for global security since they eliminated shorter-range missiles that take only a few minutes to reach their targets.