Environment

  • 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

  • Week in Brief: 22 – 28 July 2018

    Nine Network to takeover Fairfax Media The Nine Network will takeover Fairfax Media in a deal rumoured to be worth around $4 billion, Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood announced on Thursday morning. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Greece declares state of emergency as lethal wildfires rage near Athens Greece has declared a state of emergency after two separate wildfires raged through towns near its capital Athens, killing at least 20 people, injuring over 100 ... ► Read more

  • Greece declares state of emergency as lethal wildfires rage near Athens

    Intense wilfires on the national road Athens – Patras, Greece. July 23. Video: Giannis Labropoulos pic.twitter.com/Pvd5rCCDfp — Nepareizais (@Nepareizais) July 23, 2018 Greece has declared a state of emergency after two separate wildfires raged through towns near its capital Athens, killing at least 20 people, injuring over 100 and leaving many more missing. The fires, which have been dangerously fueled by heavy winds, have immersed the city in a blanket of heavy smoke, with the ... ► Read more

  • Energy Market Operator predicts significant reduction in coal-fired power stations by 2040

    In its inaugural Integrated System Plan released on Tuesday, the Australian Energy Market Operator says that between 2030–40 a “significant amount” of coal-fired power stations will reach the end of their technical life and be retired. Although the AEMO noted that “costs of new renewable plant continue to fall, and advances and availability of storage technologies … are emerging as core components to a low cost and reliable energy future” it warned that prematurely closing ... ► Read more

  • Forest fires ravage Sweden

    Over the weekend forest fires were reported in all but three Swedish counties, with firefighters being assisted by helicopters flown in from neighbouring Norway. Authorities issued a public announcement advising residents in certain areas of the central-Swedish Jämtland County to stay indoors, and rescue services have requested additional assistance from the northern counties to relieve their own staff. The nearby and neighbouring counties of Dalarna, Gävleborg and Örebro will be aided by six helicopters from ... ► Read more

  • ACCC says increased electricity competition could lead to household savings

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says households could save up to $415 a year on power bills if its call for a boost to competition in the electricity market is implemented. In a report released on Wednesday, the ACCC blames low competition and policy mistakes for increases in power bills, and criticises the current state of the electricity market for being “unacceptable and unsustainable”. “It is clear that most households are paying too ... ► Read more

  • The plastic bag ban and what it means

    Single-use plastic bags are being banned and phased out across Australian supermarket and grocery-store chains. Supermarket giant Woolworths introduced a nationwide ban on these bags at all of its stores on 20 June (including BWS liquor stores and Big W), and rival supermarket Coles followed on 30 June. Consumers now need to bring their own reusable bags with them to the shops, or purchase them for an additional charge at the checkout. Many shoppers remain ... ► Read more

  • Japan: more than 110 dead following severe flooding and landslides

    More than 110 people have died as a result of severe flooding and landslides in southwestern Japan, while 58 others remain missing. Search and clean-up operations are underway, with 54,000 military, police, and firefighting personnel, as well as helicopters and boats dispatched in the still-risky conditions. The death toll is expected to continue rising as search efforts reach areas with limited accessibility. “There are still many people missing and others in need of help, we ... ► Read more

  • Two suspected rhino poachers have been eaten by lions in South African reserve

    At least two suspected rhino poachers have been mauled to death and eaten by lions on a South African game reserve. The remains of two bodies, possibly three, were found by officials in a lion enclosure in the Sibuya reserve, near the southeast town of Kenton-on-Sea. An anti-poaching team that arrived on the scene also found a high-powered hunting rifle with a silencer, a long axe, and wire cutters. “They strayed into a pride of ... ► Read more

  • Former PM Tony Abbott urges withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement

    Tony Abbott is calling for Australia to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, despite signing up to the agreement in 2015 when he was Prime Minister. In a speech to a group of climate sceptics on Tuesday night, Mr Abbott said that he would not have signed up to the Paris Agreement if he had known the US would withdraw from it. He said Australia needs to pull out of the treaty to end “the ... ► Read more

  • Greenpeace activists crash ‘superman drone’ into French nuclear facility to show security flaws

    This!French campaigners @greenpeacefr have flown a #Superman drone over a #NuclearPlant located 30km from Lyon, in France, and voluntarily crashed it against a wall of the building to show how vulnerable nuclear plants are.#Greenpeace#Nuclearpic.twitter.com/y90ZezSDX6 — J.N. PAQUET ✒ (@jnpaquet) July 3, 2018 Greenpeace activists have crashed a ‘superman drone’ into a French nuclear facility in an effort to expose its security flaws. The activists said, “at no time was the drone intercepted or even worried ... ► Read more

  • Denpasar airport closed as Bali’s Mount Agung erupts

    Flights to and from Bali have been cancelled or delayed, following another eruption of the Indonesian island’s Mount Agung volcano. Clouds of volcanic ash have spewed more than two kilometres into the air. Ngurah Rai International Airport, near Bali’s chief city of Denpasar, was closed at 3:00 am (local time), and is not due to open until at least 7:00 pm. Meteorologists and pilots continue assessing the weather conditions. Virgin Australia and AirAsia have cancelled ... ► Read more

  • Woolworths ceases providing single-use plastic bags

    Supermarket giant Woolworths stopped providing single-use plastic bags to customers on Wednesday, ahead of a statewide ban in Queensland. From 1 July retailers in Queensland will be prohibited from supplying lightweight single-use plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns in thickness. This follows similar laws in the ACT, Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania, while Victoria and Western Australia will also introduce bans this year. New South Wales does not intend to introduce its own ... ► Read more

  • Study: Antarctica’s extreme ice melting could redraw Earth’s coastlines

    Antarctica has lost nearly three million tonnes of ice since 1992, two-fifths of which has disappeared in the last five years, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. The landmark study conducted by 84 scientists found that the severe melting of ice had caused sea levels to rise by 7.6mm and could redraw Earth’s coastlines. “We now have an unequivocal picture of what’s happening in Antarctica,” said co-lead author Eric Rignot, a NASA ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 3–9 June 2018

    Australia Victoria on track to enact indigenous treaty law The Victorian Government has agreed to make amendments to its Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018 to ensure it is passed by both houses of the Victorian Parliament. The bill establishes a framework and system of representation within which treaties with Aboriginal Victorians can be negotiated. The amendments will add a definition of ‘treaty’ in the bill, define ‘traditional owners’ (who will be ... ► Read more

  • Europe plans to ban single-use plastic items in effort to clean up oceans

    The European Union is proposing to ban single-use plastic items such as cutlery, straws and cotton buds in an effort to clean up the oceans. The European Commission wants to ban 10 items that make up 70% of all litter in European waters and on beaches. The list of items they want to ban also includes plastic plates and drink stirrers. The EU aims not just to ban the plastic items, but further impose the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 15–21 April 2018

    Story of the week ‘Disturbing’ revelations from Banking Royal Commission hearings This week showed a marked change in the nature of the hearings of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. While previous hearings have uncovered relatively minor misconduct coupled with incompetent levels of oversight, this week’s hearings have ranged from tedious to absurd, revealing that the industry is riddled with systemic fraud and misconduct. In previous hearings the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 18-24 March 2018

    Story of the week Trump signs $60 billion tariff memo US President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum on Thursday, potentially imposing tariffs on up to US $60 billion worth of imports from China. The move comes as a push to combat the $486 billion goods trade deficit with China, and China’s “state-led market-distorting” violations of US intellectual property rights. The terms of the memorandum direct US Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer to propose tariff increases ... ► Read more

  • Breaking: Tsunami warning issued after 8.1 quake near Mexico’s western coast

    Image credit: US Geological Survey (website) An 8.1 magnitude earthquake has struck off the Western coast of Mexico. The US Tsunami Warning System has issued tsunami warnings for eight countries including Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. ► Read more