Indonesia to import 200,000 Australian cattle

ABC Rural

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The Indonesian Government has released permits to import 200,000 head of feeder cattle from Australia over the next three months, providing a huge boost to northern Australia’s live cattle trade.

New Trade Minister Thomas Lambong has acted on a recommendation from the nation’s Ministry of Agriculture, to drastically increase the number of import permits in Q4 compared to what was allocated in the third quarter (Q3).

Ships are due to leave Darwin Port “within the next week” and some exporters have locked in feeder steers for over $3 a kilogram.

Tracey Hayes from the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association says it is a record price for the live cattle trade out of Darwin.

“As far as I’m aware the $3/kg mark hasn’t [been reached before], and I understand there’s even $3.05/kg on the table at the moment,” she told ABC Rural.

“And I don’t think that’s the end of the price rise. So if you’re a cattle producer at the moment and have some animals in the paddock ready to go, then you’re well placed.”

Ms Hayes said there are plenty of cattle on the floodplains near Darwin “ready to go”, but finding 200,000 head over three months will be a challenge.

“The information coming through the membership is that 100,000 head thereabouts will be achievable, but from then on it will become more difficult to source cattle from the region, but time will tell.”

Ms Hayes will travel to Jakarta next week to continue discussions on reinstating the system of issuing permits on an annual basis.

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Recording devices planted in regional WA to capture evidence of starlings

ABC Rural

Dozens of tiny recording devices have been placed in remote parts of Western Australia to help keep the state starling free.

While quite common in other parts of the nation, WA has managed to keep most of the pest birds out, thanks to decades of eradication programs.

Starlings pose a major threat to agriculture, having the ability to gorge on grain and horticulture crops, foul wool and water and displace native birds.

WA’s Minister for Agriculture and Food, Ken Baston said the devices will record for half an hour at dawn each day and software will help determine if there are any starlings in the area.

DAFWA officer Peter Robson fitting a song meter unit to a tree near Esperance to monitor for starlings

DAFWA officer Peter Robson fitting a song meter unit to a tree near Esperance to monitor for starlings

“These little birds are what I call very destructive and it is very important that they are kept at bay from this state,” Mr Baston said.

“This is about actually detecting them, putting out the audio recording devices in swampy areas where they are likely to be, but I think it’s another valuable device to help eradication of starlings in Western Australia.”

Dr Susan Campbell, from the Department of Agriculture and Food, has been tasked with sorting through all the potential starlings’ recordings.

“It’s not the devices themselves that determine whether they think they’ve heard a starling, so what we do is physically retrieve all of the data, all of the 30 minutes of recording from each machine, bring that back into the office and we run that through a computer software back here and it’s a software that picks out whether it thinks or not it has heard a starling call.”

“By applying these recording devices, what we can do is extend the area where we’re surveying.”

“We’re not trying to replace the on ground surveillance at all, we’re just trying to add to it and extend the range where we’re listening and looking for the birds.”

View the original article here.

Sustainable Development Goals: a win-win for Australia

The Conversation

On September 25 world leaders will meet in New York to formalise the new Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 goals will guide efforts to reduce poverty and increase well-being, without destroying the Earth.

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Unlike the Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs) that applied only to developing countries, the Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) will apply to all countries, including Australia.

The SDGs offer the opportunity for a “win-win” for Australia: by promoting more sustainable development we can improve the quality of life and opportunity here in Australia while also promoting prosperity in the many developing countries in our region. This will be vital for our economic future and security.

The SDGs are relevant to developed countries like Australia in two ways. First, they represent goals and targets that can make Australia itself more prosperous, fair and sustainable. Examples include improving gender equality and reducing non-communicable diseases. Second, they encourage actions by Australia that will contribute to global sustainable development. Examples here are more sustainable consumption and production, reduced carbon emissions, and support for overseas development.

Perhaps one of the most significant applications of the SDGs to Australia will be in helping reduce the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. A core principle underpinning the SDGs is that “no one is left behind”: the goals and targets are to be met for all income and social groups, particularly disadvantaged groups.

As one of the world’s most urbanised countries, goal 11, to make our cities safe, resilient and sustainable, is clearly important. As a dry continent with an important agricultural sector, ensuring sustainable water management in cities and rural areas is critical (goal 6).

And with some of the world’s highest carbon emissions per person, the goals of sustainable modern energy (goal 7), sustainable consumption and production (goal 12) and action to combat climate change (goal 13) are clearly relevant. Some of the social targets such as reducing inequality, strengthening prevention of substance abuse and increasing access to early childhood development also rated highly.

The SDGs and targets are meant to take into account different national realities and levels of development. Each government is able to set its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances. Potential Australia-specific targets could be for non-communicable diseases, technical and vocational skills, gender equality, water efficiency, affordable housing and sustainable cities. The SDGs and targets could be incorporated into national planning processes but also into those of the states and local government.

Perhaps most importantly, Australia should look for targets that incorporate the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. It is in this way that we will maximise well-being for all rather than continue the unsustainable path of trading off social and environmental needs for economic growth.

View the full article here.

 

Are sustainable houses worth more?

AFR, 11 September 2015.

 'We produce more power than we use. We export it to the grid': builder Jeremy Spencer inside the environmentally sustainable house he has designed for his family in Seaholme in western Melbourne. Pat Scala

‘We produce more power than we use. We export it to the grid’: builder Jeremy Spencer inside the environmentally sustainable house he has designed for his family in Seaholme in western Melbourne. Pat Scala

Jeremy Spencer built a house for his family and parents to move into last year. The three-bedroom, two-storey house in Seaholme, in Melbourne’s west, meets several needs – it’s accessible in its design, with wide passageways, ramps and counter-hung benches that permit his wheelchair-bound father to fully participate in the family life.

It’s also sustainable. The house is built with materials such as a recycled concrete-and-glass slab and recycled bricks on the inside to create a thermal mass that absorbs northern sun in winter and diffuses it at night. It also has a solar panel system on the roof.

“Our heating and cooling expenses are extremely low,” Mr Spencer said. “We produce more power than we use. We export it to the grid when we produce excess.”

Spencer’s house cost $525,000, or $2200 per square metre and it’s one of a range that his design and construction firm Positive Footprints builds. So how much more does sustainability cost?

“With all houses we’re putting about $20,000 of extra stuff in,” Mr Spencer said.

It pays off.

“The average Melbourne home has a power bill of about $2300 per year,” he said. “That’s the sort of savings that we’re getting.”

Read the full article and more on sustainable housing here.

Regions need to engage with Asia to entice investors

The Morning Bulletin, 10 September 2015.

According to Regional Australia Institute chief executive Jack Archer, a sophisticated strategy is needed to help regional councils, like those in Central Queensland, with the right resources and to build the confidence to engage with Asia.

“We’ve got great produce, we’re clean and green, but so are a lot of other countries,” Mr Archer said.

His comments came in the wake of a forum in Canberra last week to examine ways rural towns could tap into agriculture and tourism opportunities stemming from Asia’s growing middle class and dining boom.

 Growing Central Queensland project officer, Anne Stunzner Photo Christine McKee / The Morning Bulletin

Growing Central Queensland project officer, Anne Stunzner Photo Christine McKee / The Morning Bulletin

They were supported by Growing CQ project officer Anne Stunzner who said the CQ region had realised that a number of commodities and value chains linked across the region.

Growing CQ through the Central Queensland Region of Councils – Woorabinda, Livingstone, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Central Highlands and Banana – aims to promote regional priorities and investment opportunities.

“One council alone can offer some investment prospects but a region can offer fundamental growth opportunities… working together makes us all the more powerful.”

Read the full article here.