Environment

  • Two rock climbers killed in remote area of Flinders Ranges

    The bodies of two rock climbers have been discovered at a popular but remote rock-climbing location in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges. Emergency crews were called to the Moonarie climbing area in Wilpena Pound on Sunday afternoon when two men from Adelaide did not return to their camp. According to police, their bodies were later found dead in the area. Both are believed to have fallen to their deaths. An operation to recover the bodies began ... ► Read more

  • Australia approves oil and gas deal with Timor-Leste

    Parliament has approved a new treaty with Timor-Leste which governs how Australia and its Southeast Asian neighbour carve up rich oil and gas deposits. Impoverished Timor-Leste and Australia signed a treaty in March last year ending a long-running ocean border dispute. Legislation passed Federal Parliament on Monday to create a new regime to share oil and gas under the Timor Sea, in an area known as the Greater Sunrise Fields. An authority will be established ... ► Read more

  • Labor doesn’t want redirected money to pay for new drought package

    Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is resisting pressure to back the government’s $3.9 billion drought package, arguing it should not come at the expense of an existing infrastructure fund. On Monday, the Government will reintroduce legislation to set up a Future Drought Fund with $3.9 billion for drought-proofing projects. The fund has already been knocked down once by Labor, which takes issue with the Government’s plan to take cash for it away from an existing infrastructure ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 14 July – 20 July 2019

    Adani prosecuted over Carmichael mine report The Queensland Government is prosecuting mining company Adani for allegedly providing false and misleading information in its 2017–18 annual report to the Environment Department. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. “Defensive action”: US warship shoots down Iranian drone A United States amphibious assault ship has shot down an Iranian drone after the unmanned aircraft flew within 900 metres of the American warship, US President Donald Trump announced on ... ► Read more

  • Adani prosecuted over Carmichael mine report

    The Queensland Government is prosecuting mining company Adani for allegedly providing false and misleading information in its 2017–18 annual report to the Environment Department. “The prosecution relates to information contained in Adani’s 2017/2018 annual return for its Carmichael mine,” the Environment Department said in a statement. “The annual return requires information about planned and actual disturbance of land at the mine. “The department alleges that Adani’s annual return contained false and misleading information about the ... ► Read more

  • ADF warns of influx of refugees and increased conflict due to climate change

    The Australian Defence Force (ADF) may be forced to increase patrols to deal with increased “sea-borne migration” prompted by rising sea levels, according to internal briefing notes. Documents obtained by the ABC under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 also warn that climate change will “exacerbate the potential conflict” and contribute to “state fragility and the undermining of economic development in our immediate region.” Former Chief of the Defence Force Admiral Chris Barrie (retired) said Australia ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 7 July – 13 July 2019

    AFP accessed journalists’ metadata almost 60 times in 2017–18 The Australian Federal Police (AFP) accessed the metadata of journalists almost 60 times in one year, according to disclosures made to the first review of Australia’s mandatory data retention regime. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Alek Sigley denies he was spying on North Korea Alek Sigley, who was released from detention in North Korea last week, has denied allegations by Pyongyang that he is ... ► Read more

  • Australia has recommitted to keeping Antarctic free of mining and military

    More than 50 countries, including Australia, have renewed their commitment to protect the Antarctic’s environment on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty. More than 370 representatives, experts from civil society groups and observers from international organisations have been gathering in Prague to attend meetings on the Antarctic since 2 July, according to the Czech Foreign Ministry. Key topics covered by attendees included the effects of climate change, growing tourism and the ... ► Read more

  • A quarter of Pacific Islanders live in poverty, UN development forum hears

    While progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been made over the past four years, some vulnerable island states are losing momentum in the race to 2030, according to discussions at the United Nations’ annual High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) on Wednesday. In 2015, the UN set out a vision for “people, planet, peace and prosperity” through partnership and solidarity, when it adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  To date however, many ... ► Read more

  • Sir David Attenborough slams Australia for lack of action on climate change

    Sir David Attenborough has slammed Australia for inaction on climate change, adding that it is one of the countries worst affected by the issue. Mr Attenborough told members of the British Commons Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy committee about the impact of climate change, including the dangers of not addressing the issue with optimism and immediacy. Regarding Australia’s inaction on climate change, Mr Attenborough told British MPs it is “extraordinary actually because Australia is already ... ► Read more

  • Australia to become one of the “world’s worst” contributors to climate crisis

    Australia is set to become one of the “world’s worst” contributors to the climate disaster, according to new research from Berlin-based science and policy institute Climate Analytics. According to the research, Australia could be responsible for 17% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Australia’s current global climate footprint is around 5%, which includes emissions from Australia’s coal, gas and oil emissions (3.6% of global total) and domestic emissions (1.4% of global total). The ... ► Read more

  • Malaysia to send waste back to developed nations

    Malaysia will send about 3,000 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic back to countries like Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, as it seeks to avoid becoming a dumping ground for developed nations. Malaysian Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said Malaysia and other developing countries have recently become targets after China banned the import of plastic waste last year. Ms Yeo said 60 containers stacked with contaminated waste were smuggled into the country, bound ... ► Read more

  • Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions rising, but resources minister backs new coal plant

    Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 rose for a fourth year in a row, according to a Government submission to the United Nations. The National Inventory Report, provided in accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, shows 537 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions for 2018. This is an increase of about 0.5% from 2017’s 534.7 million tonnes, despite Australia’s commitment at the Paris climate summit in 2015 to reduce emissions by 26–28% ... ► Read more

  • Water restrictions in Sydney for first time in a decade

    Water restrictions will be enforced in Sydney for the first time in a decade. From Saturday 1 June 2019 all hoses must be fitted with a trigger nozzle or instant off switch, and can only be used to water gardens before 10:00 am and after 4:00 pm. The watering of hard surfaces — including paths and driveways — will be prohibited, as will the use of sprinkler systems. Normally level one restrictions come into force ... ► Read more

  • Two killed, 29 injured as tornadoes strike Oklahoma

    A tornado levelled a motel and destroyed a mobile home park near Oklahoma City on Saturday night (local time), before another twister struck a suburb of Tulsa about 180 kilometres away the next morning. The first tornado touched down in El Reno, about 40 kilometres west of the state capital, crossing an interstate highway and battering the American Budget Value Inn before flipping and levelling homes at the Skyview Estates trailer park. “It’s a tragic ... ► Read more

  • Banned CFC emissions traced to eastern China

    Researchers say they have traced the major sources of a global increase in emissions of the ozone-depleting gas CFC-11 to eastern China. According to research published in Nature, global emissions of the banned chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) have increased since 2013, and the results indicate a violation of the universally-ratified 1980 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Montreal Protocol has been successful in reducing CFC emissions and restoring the ozone layer, which absorbs most ... ► Read more

  • Blue Mountains back burning postponed following health warnings

    The Rurual Fire Service (RFS) has announced all hazard reduction burns will be postponed for the next 24 hours following health warnings issued by the NSW Health Department. For days now Sydneysiders have woken to the smell of smoke because of back burning in the Blue Mountains, with air quality reaching “hazardous” levels yesterday afternoon. Smoke is expected to linger in Greater Sydney until around midday, at which point the air should clear. The RFS ... ► Read more

  • Pacific Islands ask “bigger countries” to do more to tackle climate change

    A delegation of Pacific Island nations has called on “bigger countries” in the region to take a stronger approach to climate change. During a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday, Australia’s pacific neighbours warned that rising sea levels will destroy their communities unless more is done to respond to climate change. Nauruan President and chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Baron Waqa implied Australia could be doing more to make climate change ... ► Read more

  • Greenpeace activists arrested following Sydney Harbour Bridge protest

    Police have arrested 13 people after removing Greenpeace activists dangling from the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of a climate change protest. Three activists used cables to suspend themselves below the bridge at about 5:30am. According to NSW Police, security personnel prevented a “number of people” from climbing the bridge as part of the protest. The three who did unfurled banners calling for action on climate change. Police removed the last of the three suspended ... ► Read more

  • Adani’s Carmichael coal mine faces Qld Gov’t hurdle

    Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine project faces another hurdle, with the Queensland Government seeking a further review of the company’s groundwater plans for the project. Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price approved Adani’s groundwater plans just before the start of campaigning for the federal election. The approval followed eight months of assessment, including reviews by the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia. However, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) requested a further review last Friday, according ... ► Read more

  • One million species threatened with extinction: intergovernmental report

    Nature is declining at unprecedented rates and the rate of extinctions is accelerating, warns a landmark report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). “The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment … presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES chair Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, ... ► Read more

  • British Parliament declares climate change emergency

    British MPs have approved a motion requiring the Government to make proposals to “restore the UK’s natural environment”, following a week and a half of disruptive protests in London. Legislators backed opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn’s call for “rapid and dramatic action” to protect the environment, declaring a symbolic “environment and climate change emergency.” The non-binding motion calls on the Government to present proposals to Parliament in the next six months to “restore the UK’s natural ... ► Read more

  • Fresh modelling suggests Labor climate policy could shrink economic growth by 0.8%

    Labor’s climate targets could cost the Australian economy $542 billion, according to new modelling from economist Brian Fisher. The modelling estimates that by reducing carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, Australia’s economic growth could decrease by 0.8% over the next decade. However, Dr Fisher also says that by increasing the carbon emissions offset threshold for major polluters through international credits, the impact on growth could be halved. Labor’s climate policy spokesman Mark Butler has dismissed ... ► Read more

  • Indonesia: At least 17 dead from floods and landslides

    At least 17 people have been killed on the Indonesian island of Sumatra as days of heavy rain triggered floods and landslides. The severe weather has also lead to the evacuation of about 13,000 people. Officials have said the full extent of the damage is not yet known, with some areas still inaccessible. Damage to bridges and roads has affected nine districts and towns across Bengkulu province. “The impact of this disaster may increase,” warned ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 7 April – 13 April 2019

    2019 election: Australians to vote on 18 May Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced 18 May as the date of the 2019 federal election, giving parties just over five weeks to sell their plans for the nation. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Construction of Adani mine receives final federal approval, despite allegations Minister was threatened Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price has given Adani the final federal approval needed to begin construction of its ... ► Read more

  • Construction of Adani mine receives final federal approval, despite allegations Minister was threatened

    Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price has given Adani the final federal approval needed to begin construction of its proposed coal mine in central Queensland. The project now requires final approvals from the Queensland State Government before construction can commence. The proposed coal mine in central Queensland’s Galilee Basin has been controversial, with environmentalists clashing with MPs and Senators who want it approved to bring jobs to the area. The Environment Minister was under pressure from ... ► Read more

  • Melbourne factory fire blankets suburbs with smoke

    The waste storage business at the centre of an inferno spewing thick, “acidy” smoke over Melbourne had its licence to operate suspended last month by the environmental watchdog. More than 175 firefighters have been battling the blaze — which is likely to burn for several days — at Bradbury Industrial Services in Campbellfield after a fire broke out about 6:40am. Stu, who works as a welder at a business next door, told the ABC he ... ► Read more

  • Sydney fog prompts weather alert, domestic flight delays

    Sydney motorists are being urged to drive with extreme care following a road weather alert issued by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) this morning. Fog has blanketed most suburbs but is heaviest in the west. BOM says the fog has been caused by clear skies, light winds and high humidity from recent showers. “There’s a number seeing visibility down to the 100 to 200-metre mark, which is why there’s a road weather alert out,” forecaster ... ► Read more

  • Thousands evacuated in NT as Cyclone Trevor approaches

    More than 2000 residents have been evacuated from Northern Territory communities located in the path of a massive tropical cyclone. Cyclone Trevor is likely to cross the Northern Territory coast on Saturday as a category four severe tropical cyclone throwing out gale-force winds, rain and tidal surges 300 kilometres from its eye and is headed towards the town of Borroloola. A state of emergency has been declared in the Gulf country, with schools closed and ... ► Read more

  • Mass evacuations in NT as Cyclone Trevor heads across gulf

    The Northern Territory has begun its largest mass evacuation since Cyclone Tracy in 1974, as Cyclone Trevor is expected to strengthen to at least a category four system. The cyclone is predicted to move across the southwestern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria on Saturday, and the Bureau of Meteorology said it could develop into a category five system by the weekend. About 10,000 people are believed to live in the current NT cyclone watch ... ► Read more

  • Tropical Cyclone Trevor continues across far north Queensland

    The far north Queensland communities of Aurukun and Weipa are next in the firing line as Tropical Cyclone Trevor continues to track across Cape York Peninsula. The system crossed the coast just south of Lockhart River late yesterday afternoon and evening as a category three system with winds of up to 133km/h. Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher said there had not been any reports of injuries but police and authorities were yet to assess the ... ► Read more

  • Julian Burnside QC to run as Greens candidate against Josh Frydenberg

    Outspoken barrister and human rights advocate Julian Burnside QC will run as the Greens candidate for Kooyong against incumbent Liberal MP and Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Mr Burnside said he is concerned that the political system is “broken” and that his wife had urged him to run for office. He decided to join the Greens after determining that their policies are “consistent” with his views. “The Greens used to be regarded just as a party ... ► Read more

  • US coal miners’ story sparks concerns for Hunter Valley miners

    Inside Singleton’s Diggers club, Hunter Valley residents are debating the future of the world’s coal industry. Coal is the big employer in this region with 40 different mines employing about 9,000 workers to drive the local economy, in turn helping Australia generate billions in export revenue. But as some countries signal a move away from coal, miners cap production and the industry remains almost permanently under the political spotlight, there is concern here that the ... ► Read more

  • Government green-lights Snowy Hydro 2.0

    The Government has given Snowy Hydro 2.0 the go-ahead and will commit “up to $1.38 billion in an equity investment” to the project, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced. The project was instigated by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and the announcement is the first solid committment from the Federal Government to putting a new underground power station in the Snowy Mountains. “Snowy 2.0 will inject the energy supply and reliability our electricity market needs, ... ► Read more

  • PM pledges $3.5 billion to address climate change

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced the Government’s $3.5 billion “Climate Solutions Package” aimed at ensuring Australia meets its international climate targets. In a press release, the Prime Minister said that the Government’s plan will allow Australia to meet its Paris Agreement obligations without harming the economy and raising electricity prices. “We will meet our global commitments, and do what is right for our environment, without taking a wrecking ball to the economy,” Mr Morrison ... ► Read more

  • Government seeks urgent clarification on Chinese ban of Australian coal imports

    Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) are seeking urgent clarification from China regarding reports of a ban on Australian coal. It was reported yesterday that imports of Australian coal had been banned in China’s northern port of Dalian, and that coal imports from all sources would be capped at 12 million tonnes for 2019, according to a customs official. It is now being reported that a total of five northeastern Chinese ... ► Read more

  • BOM: Tropical Cyclone Oma could hit southern Queensland coast

    Severe Tropical Cyclone Oma could possibly cross the southern Queensland coast, after changing direction overnight, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says. The category three system is currently off New Caledonia, about 1,120 kilometres north-east of Brisbane. BOM said it was no longer expected to turn south-east towards New Zealand over the weekend. Forecaster Sam Campbell said instead the system was moving south-west. He said a cyclone watch may be issued this afternoon ahead of gale ... ► Read more

  • Rare black leopard confirmed in Africa for first time in over a century

    A team lead by Kenya-based biologist Nick Pilford has captured images of a juvenile black leopard, marking the first time since 1909 that a sighting has been confirmed. Using camera traps deployed throughout the bushlands of Loisaba Conservancy in central Kenya in early 2018, the team now has proof of a rare melanistic leopard — commonly referred to as a black panther, an umbrella term for any melanistic big cat. The juvenile female was travelling ... ► Read more

  • RFS declares NSW total fire ban

    A total fire ban is in place across New South Wales today, with strong winds, low humidity and temperatures in some parts expected to hit 40ºC. It is the first statewide total fire ban for 2019. Conditions will be worst in the Hunter region, where the fire danger rating is extreme, while nine other regions across the state — including the Greater Sydney region, north coast, central and southern ranges — are expecting severe conditions. ... ► Read more

  • Study: Australia to meet Paris Agreement targets five years early

    Australia is on track to meet its Paris climate commitments five years earlier than expected — in 2025 — according to new research from the Australian National University (ANU). Per capita, the country is installing renewable energy faster than China, Japan, the United States, and the European Union. “The electricity sector is on track to deliver Australia’s entire Paris emissions reduction targets five years early, in 2025, without the need for any creative accounting,” lead ... ► Read more

  • 10th anniversary of Black Saturday bushfires

    On Saturday 7 February 2009, fires engulfed Victoria in the deadliest and most destructive firestorm in Australian history. Some 400 individual fires were recorded on “Black Saturday”, with the temperature in Melbourne reaching 46.4ºC — the highest temperature recorded for the city — and humidity levels dropping to as low as 2%. Strong winds fanned the flames, resulting in 173 deaths and 400 injuries, destroying 2,000 properties and 760 vehicles, killing more than one million ... ► Read more

  • Report: extreme weather cost insurers $1.2 billion in 2018

    A report by the Climate Council found Australian insurance companies paid out at least $1.2 billion in claims because of damage caused by extreme weather events in 2018. The report identified an increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather, noting that the past four years have been the hottest on record in terms of global surface temperatures. The report’s key findings are: The past four years have been the four hottest on record ... ► Read more

  • Firefighters hopeful as rain forecasted for Tasmania

    The Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) is hoping rainfalls forecast for the coming days could help control and extinguish bushfires that continue to burn across the state. The hope for some help from the skies came as the TFS confirmed it would investigate reports of property losses or damage on Sunday in Reynolds Neck from the Great Pine Tier fire and in townships south of Geeveston affected by the Riveaux Road fire. The weather bureau is ... ► Read more

  • Townsville flood sparks mass evacuations, leaves rescuers clinging to trees

    Hundreds of Townsville residents were evacuated and two police officers caught in floodwaters after floodgates to the city’s dam were fully opened overnight. The officers were helping to evacuate people in Hermit Park when they themselves became trapped by rapidly rising floodwaters. Their police vehicle was washed away and they were left clinging to trees for about half an hour before a swift water rescue crew arrived. Crews also rescued two people trapped on the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 27 January – 2 February 2019

    Sydney light rail: NSW may pay over $600 million extra in dispute settlement with Acciona The New South Wales Government could pay Acciona — the Spanish company contracted to build Sydney’s $2 billion light rail — more than $600 million in a dispute settlement. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. 2019 election: Julia Banks to challenge Greg Hunt for Flinders Liberal MP-turned-independent Julia Banks will contest the seat of Flinders in the upcoming general ... ► Read more

  • Flood disaster zone declared in Townsville

    Townsville has been declared a flood disaster zone after days of heavy rain forced authorities to evacuate properties. About 90 homes will be evacuated from surrounding suburbs now at risk of flooding, and Townsville Council will release more water than normal from the city’s dam to reduce the risk of flooding. “We haven’t taken this decision lightly. We’re looking into what could happen over the next two or three days. We know that we’re seeing ... ► Read more

  • Federal and State Governments reject Murray-Darling Royal Commission recommendations

    The Federal, New South Wales and Victorian Governments remain firmly in support of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, despite a South Australian Royal Commission finding the plan is based on politics rather than science and recommending it be completely overhauled. Released yesterday, the report of the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission found the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) had acted unlawfully and negligently, and committed maladministration in its approach to developing the plan to sustainably manage the river ... ► Read more

  • BOM: January Australia’s hottest month on record

    The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has declared January Australia’s hottest month on record, with the nationwide mean temperature last month exceeding 30°C. “We saw heatwave conditions affect large parts of the country through most of the month, with records broken for both duration and also individual daily extremes,” BOM Senior Climatologist Andrew Watkins said, as cited by AAP. The extended heatwave that defined January was caused by a high pressure system in the Tasman Sea ... ► Read more

  • Royal Commission: Murray-Darling officials committed “gross maladministration” and acted unlawfully

    The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission, set up by the Governor of South Australia, has found that Commonwealth officials committed gross maladministration, negligence and unlawful actions in preparing the Basin Plan to save the river system. Headed by Commissioner Bret Walker SC, the Royal Commission has recommended major reforms, including resetting water saving limits, repealing the outcome of the Northern Basin Review, and new measurements for water on floodplains. The Commission found that the Basin Plan ... ► Read more

  • US Midwest gripped by polar vortex freeze

    Millions of Americans across the United States Midwest region are experiencing Arctic temperatures of nearly -50ºC, the result of a split in the polar vortex that has already caused six deaths. The polar vortex is a swirling mass of Arctic air centred on the north pole. During the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, the swirling eddies grow longer and reach further south, resulting in cold air being transported south by the polar jet stream. This has caused ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 20 January – 26 January 2019

    Brexit delay looks likely ahead of Downing Steet’s new proposal Suggestions that Britain’s departure from the European Union could be delayed are indicating Prime Minister Theresa May is set for yet another Brexit defeat. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. US Supreme Court lifts injunctions on transgender military service ban On Tuesday, the Unites States’ highest court lifted two temporary injunctions that had prevented the Trump administration from enforcing its ban on transgender individuals ... ► Read more

  • Victorians experience black outs as AEMO orders load shedding

    Tens of thousands of Victorians are experiencing power outages after the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) directed load shedding across the grid on what is forecast to be Melbourne’s hottest day in a decade. Load shedding occurs when demand is too great, so the energy operator directs power companies to create rolling blackouts in different parts of the network so the entire system is not at risk. Power outages are being reported in a number ... ► Read more

  • Tasmania bushfires: firefighters brace for catastrophic conditions

    Hot temperatures, strong winds and dry thunderstorms will combine in Tasmania today to create what is expected to be the worst day of the fire season. Tasmanian firefighters are bracing for the worst, with 28 out-of-control fires still burning. There were concerns early this morning for the town of Zeehan and the mining operation of Renison Bell on the west coast as a fire intensified and emergency alerts were declared due to a fire at ... ► Read more

  • Sir David Attenborough: climate change crisis “difficult to overstate”

    Sir David Attenborough has told Prince William that people have never been more “out of touch” with the natural world than they are today. In an interview with the Duke of Cambridge at the World Economic Forum, the naturalist warned: “We can wreck it with ease, we can wreck it without even noticing.” Sir Attenborough said people must care, respect and revere the natural world. Heeding his words, Prince William said: “Work to save the ... ► Read more

  • Sir David Attenborough calls for global environmental plan

    Sir David Attenborough used an acceptance speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) to tell business leaders and governments that “the Garden of Eden is no more”, urging them to come up with “practical solutions” to address environmental problems such as climate change. “If people can truly understand what is at stake, I believe they will give permission to business and governments to get on with the practical solutions,” he said. “As a species, we ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 13 January – 19 January 2019

    Theresa May: Government has confidence of Parliament, time to deliver Brexit British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for bipartisan talks to develop a Brexit deal that will pass the House of Commons. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. NSW Premier under pressure amid fresh calls for pill testing NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is standing firm on her opposition to pill testing, despite pleas from the family of a teenager who died of a ... ► Read more

  • Morrison’s Pacific trip needs to be more than a one-off

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has kicked off the new year by visiting our Pacific neighbours Vanuatu and Fiji in a bid to bolster relations. It is undeniable that China’s growing influence in the region is at the core of this highly unusual trip. China’s expansion in the Pacific is unnerving to say the least, and the last prime ministerial visits to Vanuatu and Fiji were in 1990 and 2006 respectively, both of which were to ... ► Read more

  • Heatwave set to peak over coming days

    Tennis players are sweating, toxic ozone warnings are out for Sydney and fruit is cooking on the branches — this is a heatwave, Australia. Sarah Fitton is an extreme weather meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), who said the heat would peak over the next few days. There is expected to be a slight reprieve over the weekend before the heat starts to build again across southern Australia early next week. It reached 40C in ... ► Read more

  • Toxic ozone gas warning issued for Western Sydney

    Health authorities have issued a high ozone warning for Western Sydney as New South Wales enters day two of a severe heatwave. NSW Health said ozone levels were likely to rise this afternoon due to a combination of heat and sunlight. Ozone is created when nitrogen oxides from things like car exhausts and air conditioner fumes react with oxygen in the air on hot days. It is colourless, but pungent, and can trigger a variety ... ► Read more

  • Australia set to sweat as heatwave hits every state and territory

    Temperatures across every state and Territory will soar on Monday as Australia braces for a potentially record-breaking heatwave. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecasts low intensity heatwave conditions in parts of central Western Australia to southern parts of the Northern Territory, southwestern Queensland and across NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. It will be worst in South Australia where multiple days of temperatures above 40C, an unusual event even for summer, meteorologist Dean Narramore said, ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 6 January – 12 January 2019

    Trump reaffirms threat to declare national emergency on visit to Mexican border United States President Donald Trump reaffirmed his threat to declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the country’s border with Mexico if Congress does not grant him the funds he requested. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. 2018 third hottest year on record for Australia Last year was Australia’s third-warmest year on record, with every state and territory recording above ... ► Read more

  • Australian teenager dies in Austrian avalanche

    A 16 year old Australian has died after being buried in an avalanche while skiing with his family in Austria. Max Meyer, a teenager from Sydney, is being remembered as a treasured classmate and a “great kid”. The school boy’s life was tragically cut short after an avalanche struck St Anton am Arlberg on Wednesday afternoon (local time), while he was skiing away from prepared ski runs with his family. An emergency call was issued ... ► Read more

  • 2018 third hottest year on record for Australia

    Last year was Australia’s third-warmest year on record, with every state and territory recording above average temperatures in 2018. According to the Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statement, the nation’s average temperature last year was 1.14C above the average for 1961-1990, making 2018 slightly warmer than 2017. “When we look across all of Australia in 2018, we can see that every single state and territory had above average day and night-time temperatures,” the Bureau’s senior ... ► Read more

  • NSW hail storm a “catastrophe” says Insurance Council of Australia

    Last night Sydney was struck by a catastrophic hail storm that caused more than $20 million dollars in damage across the state, with 15,000 people having already lodged insurance claims. Multiple storm fronts converged on Sydney, Wollongong and the Hunter Valley on Thursday, prompting a severe weather warning from the Bureau of Meteorology. Hailstones, some the size of tennis balls, fell over Western Sydney, reducing to the size of golf balls when the storm reached ... ► Read more

  • Paris riots: economy suffering as Macron to address nation, Trump attacks climate accord, and Russia accused of involvement

    The French “yellow vest” protests have continued for a fourth consecutive weekend of rioting across the country. What began as a protest against planned fuel tax increases has broadened into a general anti-government movement, with protestors demanding lower taxes, higher minimum wages and better pension benefits. Some 1000 people are currently being held in custody, 100 of whom are minors and most without police records. Most of those in custody are men under 40 who ... ► Read more

  • Sir David Attenborough: “We are facing a man-made disaster of global scale”

    British documentarian and environmentalist Sir David Attenborough has urged world leaders, meeting in Poland to agree ways to limit global warming, to get on and tackle “our greatest threat in thousands of years”. “Leaders of the world, you must lead,” said Sir Attenborough, who was given a ‘People’s seat’ at the two-week UN climate conference in the Polish coal city of Katowice alongside two dozen heads of state and government. “The continuation of our civilisations ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 25 November – 1 December 2018

    Julia Banks moves to the crossbench, denounces Coalition’s “reactionary right wing” The Morrison Government has been dealt a major blow, with moderate MP Julia Banks revealing she will quit the Coalition and join the crossbench. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Federal Government under fire for scheduling only 13 sitting days before budget Labor has attacked the Federal Government for scheduling just 13 parliamentary sitting days before the federal budget is released in April ... ► Read more

  • Thousands of kids skip school for climate action rally

    Thousands of Australian school children are walking out of class to demand government action on climate change in a series of coordinated rallies across the country. The ‘Strike 4 Climate Action’ — inspired by a 15-year-old Swedish school girl’s activism — will involve children in capital cities and 20 regional centres such as Ballarat and Newcastle. Up to one thousand children packed Sydney’s Martin Place on Friday afternoon, chanting “climate action now,” while similar numbers descended on ... ► Read more

  • “People will burn to death”: authorities conduct final sweep of Deepwater area as “firestorm” closes in

    Authorities have made a final plea to residents in the Deepwater, Baffle Creek, Rules Beach and Oyster Creek areas to leave immediately, warning that they have a window of roughly one to two hours before road access will be cut off. Flat Rock Road is the only evacuation route left open. In a joint press conference, Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner Bob Gee said all modelling shows the fire will break containment lines around the Baffle Creek and ... ► Read more

  • Sydney in chaos as eastern NSW receives over 100ml

    Greater Sydney is experiencing intense rainfall from Illawara to Katoomba and north to Gosford, causing severe flooding in residential areas and flight delays and cancellations. The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) has made a dozen flood rescues after drivers became stuck in rising waters across Sydney as an unprecedented downpour saw a month’s worth of rain fall in two hours. The SES received more than 280 calls for help as a line of severe thunderstorms ... ► Read more

  • Julie Bishop calls on Government to reach agreement with Labor on National Energy Guarantee

    Former deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop has called on the Coalition Government to reach an agreement with Labor on the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), saying it would be good for business and ensure a stable investment environment for the energy industry, and is the only framework for achieving “elusive” bipartisanship on energy. Proposed by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the NEG was intended to address energy affordability, reliability and emissions, but was quickly abandoned after ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 19 November – 24 November 2018

    Ivanka Trump used personal email account for government business The daughter of US President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, last year used a personal email account to discuss or relay official White House business, according to emails released by a nonpartisan watchdog group. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Dozens of homes at threat as NSW bushfire flares up A bushfire emergency has been declared in NSW’s Hunter region with homes threatened at Salt Ash ... ► Read more

  • Dozens of homes at threat as NSW bushfire flares up

    A bushfire emergency has been declared in NSW’s Hunter region with homes threatened at Salt Ash and authorities issuing a total fire ban as conditions deteriorate. The fire in the Salt Ash area, north of Newcastle, has so far scorched about 1,300 hectares. About 200 firefighters are battling it. The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) upgraded the incident to an emergency early this morning as strong winds continued, warning locals to monitor the situation and ... ► Read more

  • NSW Government issues health warning as dust storm hits Sydney

    A dust storm that has blanketed parts of regional NSW has reached Sydney, prompting the State Government to issue an air quality warning. The storm, which stretches about 500 kilometres, reduced visibility to just metres in some far western areas yesterday, including Darling River and Broken Hill. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said light dust was beginning to impact Sydney by 8:00am, however the main band remained around the Great Dividing Range. The dust was ... ► Read more

  • Total fire bans in eastern NSW as temperatures soar

    Total fire bans are in place in four areas of eastern New South Wales as temperatures hit 37 degrees Celsius in parts of Sydney on Friday. The fire danger rating in the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, Illawarra/Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges regions was upgraded from “very high” to “severe”, and a total fire ban is in place in those areas. The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) warned that high temperatures and strong winds of up to ... ► Read more

  • Report: demand for Australian coal to plummet in future

    Economists are predicting Australia’s thermal coal exports to plummet faster than expected, due to falling demand across Asia that appears permanent and irreversible. A study by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) found Australia’s top four export markets — China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea — were shifting rapidly to renewables. The study found New South Wales, the source of nearly 70% of thermal coal exports, should brace for disruption in energy markets. IEEFA ... ► Read more

  • PM announces $5bn drought fund

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will unveil the first federal drought fund of its kind in Canberra on Friday. The $5 billion Future Drought Fund aims to provide relief to farmers, help them recover from the so-called ‘green drought’ on the east coast, and assist with their long-term resilience. “There are people in trouble,” Mr Morrison told SBS in an exclusive interview. “They need help. It’s the Commonwealth Government’s responsibility to look after the people.” The ... ► Read more

  • Clean Up Australia founder Ian Kiernan dies aged 78

    Environmental campaigner and co-founder of Clean Up Australia Ian Kiernan has died aged 78, having been diagnosed with cancer in late July. Clean Up Australia co-founder Kim McKay said Mr Kiernan “lived life hard and lived it well.” “It’s quite a shock to a lot of people because Ian was only diagnosed with the cancer [quite recently] and it took hold of him quite rapidly,” Ms McKay told the ABC. “He was a larger-than-life figure, ... ► Read more

  • Week In Brief: 7 – 13 October 2018

    Government promises to fast track company tax cuts ahead of federal election The Morrison Government has promised to fast track company tax cuts ahead of the next federal election, with legislation to be introduced to Parliament in the next fortnight. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. AFP raids Home Affairs Dept over au pair scandal leaks Federal Police are raiding the Department of Home Affairs over suspected leaks in relation to the au pair ... ► Read more

  • Hurricane Michael the worst Florida has seen in over 100 years

    Hurricane Michael officially made landfall in Florida, with winds of up to 250 kilometres per hour making the storm the worst the region has seen in over 100 years. The devastating storm caught many by surprise when it rapidly intensified as it moved north over the Gulf of Mexico. It then made landfall at the town of Mexico Beach at about 1:40pm (local time), where it was recorded as a category four hurricane on the ... ► Read more

  • Indonesia earthquake: 5000 still missing as death toll rises to over 1700

    Officials fear at least 5,000 people may still be missing in Indonesia following a deadly earthquake and tsunami that killed 1,763 people and devastated the northern island of Sulawesi. Indonesian authorities updated the number of casualties on Sunday, with the country’s disaster agency announcing the search for survivors would end on Thursday, despite fears that scores of people still remain buried under heaps of rubble and mud. Thousands of those still missing are thought to ... ► Read more

  • NSW towns relieved by rain, but the drought is still not over

    Some towns in western New South Wales have received more rain in 24 hours than they have all year, but more is needed to break the state’s ongoing drought. A trough moving across the state has brought significant rainfall, and is predicted to cross central NSW before moving into the Hunter Valley, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. “It’s going to give some brief respite, but unfortunately we need a lot more,” said meteorologist Simon ... ► Read more

  • Tesla battery delivers impressive dispatchable power, says Energy Market Operator, despite critics

    The huge lithium-ion battery constructed by tech giant Tesla in South Australia has proven it can dispatch power more rapidly and precisely than conventional thermal power stations, according to data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). The battery is located on a wind farm some three hours’ drive north of Adelaide and, despite criticism and derision, has helped stabilise South Australia’s electricity supply while reducing costs. “It’s ability to respond very, very quickly to ... ► Read more

  • US, Mexico and Canada agree to new trade deal

    On Monday (local time), the leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada formally agreed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with a new trade deal. NAFTA, which has been in force since 1994, will be superseded by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to govern the more than US $1.2 trillion in trade between the three countries. Most of the key provisions of USMCA will not come into effect until 2020, to ... ► Read more

  • Nyiyaparli community wins 20-year native title battle

    The Nyiyparli community has won a 20-year legal battle to be recognised as the native title holders of approximately 40,000 square kilometres of land in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, which includes the mining town of Newman. The Aboriginal community lodged its first claim on 29 September 1998, and Federal Court Justice Michael Barker handed down his decision — which has not yet been published — in an on-country at Coondiner Pool (Kuntinha) hearing ... ► Read more

  • Poll shows Sydney residents believe urban migration should be restricted

    A ReachTEL poll conducted on Thursday has revealed nearly two thirds of Sydney residents want less migration to the city as the population figures climb. Over 63% of the 1627 participants surveyed favoured restricting migration influx, while 50% are against further infrastructure development to accomodate the rising population. Concerns about living costs in urban Sydney — especially housing affordability and energy costs — are the primary driver of residents’ belief in re-directing migration. The Sydney ... ► Read more

  • Typhoon Mangkhut strikes southern China

    Typhoon Mangkhut hit mainland China at 5:00 pm (local time) on Sunday afternoon (local time), causing landslides that authorities fear have buried dozens of people. The storm has left death and destruction in its wake, with 64 people dead after it crossed the Phillipines, a toll that is expected to rise as rescue workers attempt to locate those still missing, likely buried beneath the 51 landslides in the north of the country. 😲😭TYPHOON mankhut Aujourdui ... ► Read more

  • 90 elephant carcasses found in Botswana with tusks hacked off

    Ninety elephant carcasses have been found in Botswana with their tusks hacked off, a charity announced on Tuesday. Elephants Without Borders, a charitable organisation dedicated to conserving wildlife and natural resources, said that the grim discovery of nearly 100 elephant carcasses, which took place through an aerial survey over several weeks, is believed to be one of Africa’s worst mass poaching sprees. “We started flying the survey on July 10, and we have counted 90 ... ► Read more

  • At least eight dead in central Japan as Typhoon Jebi makes landfall

    Typhoon Jebi struck the central Japanese cities of Kobe and Osaka on Tuesday. At least eight deaths have been reported and more than 150 people injured, as Japan responds to the most intense tropical storm to hit the country in 25 years. The typhoon made its first landfall in Tokushima Prefecture around noon (Japanese standard time), before crossing the Osaka Bay and making landfall at Kobe around 2:00pm, and passing northwards over Hyogo Prefecture into ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 19 August – 25 August 2018

    Scott Morrison wins leadership spill Scott Morrison has won Friday’s Liberal leadership spill, clearing the way for him to become Australia’s 30th Prime Minister. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Government instability in the wake of leadership challenge Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition government was rocked by turmoil following Tuesday’s unsuccessful leadership challenge by former Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Trump warns American economy would crash if he ... ► Read more

  • Kalashnikov takes on Tesla with new electric concept car

    Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov unveiled on Thursday (local time) a new electric concept “supercar” it says will rival Elon Musk’s Tesla. Based on the body of the Soviet-era Izh hatchback, Kalshnikov’s CV-1 has a 90 kilowatt hour battery which offers a range of 350 kilometers. The vehicle can accelerate from 0 kph to 100 kph in six seconds, according to the arms company. Kalashnikov spokesperson Sofia Ivanova told Russia’s RBC that the CV-1 would compete directly “with ... ► Read more

  • German foreign minister calls for independent payments system from US

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has called for the creation of a new electronic payments system independent of the United States to ensure the survival of the nuclear deal between Iran and the West, which the US withdrew from in May this year. Mr Maas told Handelsblatt that Europe should not allow the US to “act over our heads or at our expense.” “For that reason it’s essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing ... ► Read more

  • Kerala’s devastating floods kill more than 350 people

    India’s southernmost state of Kerala is in crisis as torrential floods continue, seeing at least 350 people killed and about 800,000 displaced. The floods, which started on August 8, have ripped through the state, creating landslides, destroying houses, bridges and roads, and trapping thousands. Footage from flood-affected areas have shown the devastation that has thus far ruined around 10,000 km of road, making evacuations and transport of supplies even harder. Spokesperson for Oxfam India Basab ... ► Read more

  • Dutton reportedly urged to challenge Turnbull for Prime Ministership

    The Daily Telegraph has reported that some anonymous government backbenchers are urging Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton to challenge Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for leadership of the Liberal Party and the country. A small group of government MPs are opposed to the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), a policy to address electricity affordability, reliability, and emissions, that was adopted by the Coalition party room on Tuesday. Those MPs opposed want more done to cut prices ... ► Read more

  • Coalition party room backs NEG

    The Coalition party room officially endorsed the Turnbull Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) on Tuesday. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailed his victory as bringing Australia “one step closer to cheaper and more reliable energy”. The Coalition party room meeting lasted over two hours and has been described as “testy”, according to the ABC. While the majority of Liberal and National MPs supported the plan, a handful of backbenchers, including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 5 August – 11 August 2018

    Pence unveils details on Space Force United States Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday (local time) unveiled details of how the Trump Administration will build the so-called Space Force which is set to become the sixth branch of the US military, saying the “time has come” to prepare for “the next battlefield.” See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Emma Husar will not recontest seat at next federal election Labor MP Emma Husar announced on ... ► Read more

  • Rescue efforts continue after devastating earthquake in Indonesia

    Rescuers are pulling people alive from rubble in Indonesia’s Lombok two days after an earthquake devastated the island. Thousands have been left homeless in the worst-affected areas as they continue to wait for aid to arrive. Lombok was hit with an earthquake on Sunday night that reached a 7.0 reading on the Richter scale, causing chaos that left thousands of buildings and homes demolished, along with over 230 people seriously injured. One of the buildings ... ► Read more

  • DPI: 100% of NSW in drought

    All of New South Wales has been declared in drought, with 77% of the state either in drought or drought-affected and 23% experiencing intense drought, according to the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI). June and July were drier than expected, causing crops to fail, water shortages, and a diminishing supply of fodder for livestock, NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said in a statement on Wednesday. According to Mr Blair, only 0-10mm of rain ... ► Read more

  • Australian industry groups urge governments to support the National Energy Guarantee

    Seven groups that represent Australian industry have urged the federal, state, and territory governments to get behind the National Energy Guarantee (NEG). In a joint statement issued on Monday the Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Council of Small Business Organisations, National Farmers’ Federation, Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, and Australian Energy Council called on Australian leaders to “put aside politics and support the implementation of the ... ► Read more

  • Indonesia earthquake: death toll continues to rise

    The search for survivors of the deadly earthquake that hit Indonesia’s Bali and Lombok islands last night is still underway, with the death toll just hitting 91. Authorities expect more deaths will be confirmed as search efforts continue. The disaster comes only a week after another quake in the same region killed 16 people. The earthquake, which Australian tourists visiting Indonesia said felt like “a bomb had gone off”, hit at a depth of 10.5 ... ► Read more