CBH Group wipes 2 million tonnes off WA’s expected grain harvest

Frost damage is continuing to wipe millions of tonnes off Western Australia’s expected grain harvest.

The state’s main grain handler and marketer the CBH Group has revised its harvest estimate from 15–17 million tonnes down to 13–14 million tonnes.

CBH Group general manager of operations David Capper said feedback from grower meetings and agronomists had pushed the expected tonnes down.

“But in reality, even the sources of information that we’re getting won’t really know what their estimates are going to be, or what their crops are going to be before the header goes in,” he said.

“Growers can only give us the best information that they’ve got based on what they’re seeing in their paddocks. The header will be the deciding factor.”

A harvest of 13–14 million tonnes is still well above the average harvest of 10.2 million tonnes.

“It’s on par with the past couple of years, but unfortunately not the larger crop that we were anticipating earlier in the year,” Mr Capper said.

frost-damage-sees-further-cuts-to-was-expected-harvest

He said the frost damage was widespread across the state and as harvest began, frost damage was appearing in areas where it was not anticipated.

He said CBH was introducing new segregations for barley, which was badly affected, and was looking at introducing lower weight segregations for wheat.

“Prices are depressed as it is, and lower quality grain is going to be more so,” Mr Capper said.

“It just makes that challenge of ensuring that we don’t force growers to downgrade grain that doesn’t need to be downgraded by not having the right services available.

Mr Capper said frost was one of the hardest seasonal conditions to deal with.

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New SEQ plan looks at unlocking land, focuses on affordable living.

A new plan for housing and infrastructure in south-east Queensland will ignore warnings about an over-supply of units and apartments, but aim to ride out the booms and busts of the housing market.

Draft plan includes:

  • Updates 2009 SEQ Regional Plan
  • 25-year plan, 50-year vision
  • Plans for housing, employment, roads and transport
  • 60pc infill, 40pc greenfield housing
  • Housing diversity to provide affordable housing
  • Links housing to services for affordable living
  • Identifies “urban breaks” and “bio-diversity corridors”
  • Public consultation until March 2017

The draft South East Queensland Regional Plan,released on the Gold Coast by the Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, provides for more high-density living in selected areas.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad at release of draft South East Queensland Regional Plan

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad at release of draft South East Queensland Regional Plan

Ms Trad said she was aware of recent financial commentary about the over-approval of apartment buildings.

“This is not something that has gone into the SEQ Regional Plan, because this plan is to ride out any boom and bust cycle that may happen,” she said.

“It’s a plan for the long term — for 25 years — but it’s also a vision for our region over the next 50 years.

“This plan is about riding them all out to make sure that we have the best south-east Queensland region that we can possibly have.”

Ms Trad said the latest plan would also try to unlock land that had been previously set aside for development but had lain idle.

“We know that there are some 3,000 hectares of land within the current urban footprint that has been there since 2009 that hasn’t been developed,” she said.

“We know that we can be doing better in terms of getting that land to market to make sure that we’ve got the type of housing that Queenslanders need to drive down the cost of housing and liveability.

Another aspect of the plan was to consider the services required in residential areas.

“The draft plan focuses on affordable living — not just affordable housing — and looks at the way that people interact with their community and the services around them,” Ms Trad said.

“We have identified areas of regional economic significance throughout the southeast to facilitate economic growth outside the major employment hubs and enable people to work and live closer to home.

“We are looking, for the first time, beyond the boundary of a 25-year plan and have developed a 50-year vision that looks ahead to the region’s longer-term future and how SEQ responds to global changes.”

Ms Trad said an extra 2 million people were expected to live in south-east Queensland by 2041, swelling the population to 5.3 million. By 2061, the population was expected to grow to 10 million.

Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio said he would look closely at some of the smaller issues but called it a good long-term plan.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the plan would allow his city to keep the lifestyle it was famous for.

Redland Mayor Karen Williams said there was a lot of detail for residents to look at to make sure the plan suited her city.

Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) Queensland president, Steve Harrison, said it was an opportunity to unlock potential in the state’s south-east, particularly when Sydney and Melbourne housing was unaffordable for many people.

Property Council executive director Chris Mountford also welcomed the draft plan, but said it did not include everything the industry required.

“The property industry will now be sifting through the detail of the draft to test the underlying assumptions and determine if the Government’s approach is realistic,” he said.

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Farming disaster ‘a matter of dam timing’

Flooded farmers along the Murray River have accused the ­national water management authority of making a natural disaster worse by delaying releases from the giant Hume Dam ­upstream of Albury-Wodonga, despite warnings of a looming ­deluge, The Australian reports.

Richard Sargood, chairman of the Murray River Action Group, said the Murray-Darling Basin Authority promised farmers downstream of the Hume Dam at an August 18 meeting that it would soon start gradual water releases from the vast dam once storage levels reached 83 per cent.

Rob Locke in a flooded livestock paddock on his property near Tocumwal. Picture: Aaron Francis

Rob Locke in a flooded livestock paddock on his property near Tocumwal. Picture: Aaron Francis

The promise of bigger releases came after Bureau of Meteorology predictions of a wet August and September ahead and sudden increases in water levels in Lake Hume of 10 per cent a week.

“But they didn’t,’’ Mr Sargood said. “Everyone knew it was going to be a very wet spring but they didn’t make any pre-releases in August to create the air space (in the dam) in case of big sudden inflows.

“So when we had our (first) big rains (September 14), the ground everywhere was sodden already, the dam was nearly full at 97 per cent and there was nowhere for the water to go except for the gates to be opened in a rush.

“They didn’t make room early enough; it’s no wonder you have talk of class actions and compensation from those who have been hit by these big floods downstream that didn’t have to have been as bad as they were; management could certainly be improved.”

The filled Hume Dam has been spilling water from massive concrete gates for most of the past month. Its biggest releases — 70,000-80,000 megalitres per day for six days from October 3 — caused a “wall of water” to swamp the downriver towns of Corowa and Tocumwal a few days later.

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Bill to add fair price label to milk in Queensland

Queensland consumers could soon be able to check their bottle of milk to see if the farmer who produced it was paid a fair price.

Katter’s Australian Party MP Shane Knuth has tabled a private members bill in state parliament which would set up a series of region-specific labels to indicate a fair price has been paid.

Mr Knuth says the scheme will make it simple for consumers to support farmers by buying milk which has been paid for at a reasonable rate.

The labelling scheme would be voluntary, but Mr Knuth says he believes people power will see a “domino effect” to get big supermarket chains on board.

Mr Knuth submitted a similar bill to parliament in 2013 under the previous Liberal National Party government, but it was defeated.

He believed public and political sentiment now appeared to be on the side of the farmers.

“Back in 2000 there were 1500 dairy farmers, right at this present moment there is 430,” he said.

“It’s an average of one dairy farmer a week that is leaving the industry.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has stopped short of endorsing the bill.

Ms Palaszczuk says she’ll wait until she reads the proposal before deciding whether to support it.

“At the moment the reality is milk producers in Queensland already have the ability to label their milk,” the Premier said.

“But I’ll have a look at the bill, I don’t really want to make any further comment until I’ve seen the detail of that proposal.”

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North Queensland artist exhibits recycled rubbish in rural Australia

North Queensland rubbish will be making its debut in a national touring art exhibition visiting rural and regional Australia.

Alison McDonald

Alison McDonald

Townsville artist Alison McDonald has transformed items such as plastic bottles and lids into works of art.

Reflected in her work and her choice of hair colour, the environmentally-conscious artist shares a fondness for bright colours, and from December, more than 20 vibrant artworks will travel to rural towns throughout Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.

The exhibition called Wanton, Wild and Unimagined features one of her well-known works called Flow — a sizable piece consisting of 30,000 plastic lids, built to an impressive 12 metres by seven metres wide.

It is also the underlying reason why she made her artwork, Flow, to resemble a waterfall.

Ms McDonald hoped her exhibition would make people think more about consumerism and waste.

“People need to make choices not to buy all that excess stuff that we don’t need … like bottled water.”

Recycled art

Recycled art

Ms McDonald plans to run workshops as part of the touring exhibition, which is funded by Visions of Australia and Visual Arts Craft Strategy, to show people how they too can turn recycled rubbish into multi-coloured works of art.

The exhibition will first open on December 1 at the Moranbah Coalface Gallery, before travelling around the country until June 2019.

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