Turnbull government reverses course on climate change policy

The Turnbull government will reverse course and allow businesses to buy overseas carbon credits to meet Australia’s emissions reduction targets, a policy long questioned by climate experts and once labelled “dodgy” by Tony Abbott.
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Backed by industry and some climate change observers, the move allows big businesses to purchase emissions reductions in other countries – most likely at lower prices – to offset their own carbon production.

Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday gave “in-principle” support to joining 60 other nations – including Canada, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea – in an international trading market once rules are finalised after 2020.

“Our thinking is to find the lowest-cost abatement,” Mr Frydenberg said on Tuesday. “When it comes to helping the environment, it doesn’t matter if you’ve reduced a tonne of CO2 here in Australia or in another country.”

That differed from the view given by Mr Abbott in 2011, while opposition leader, that overseas permits involved money “going offshore into dodgy carbon farms in Equatorial Guinea and Kazakhstan”.

Mr Abbott’s views were backed by the Greens on Tuesday, whose climate spokesman Adam Bandt accused the government of “outsourcing” climate policy by allowing firms to buy “dodgy permits from pig farms in China”.

Many climate change campaigners have expressed concern about Australia shirking its domestic obligations in favour of cheaper overseas permits that might be fraudulent or involve double-counting of reductions.

And in a report last week, the independent Climate Change Authority recommended against Australian companies using international credits to meet domestic obligations, arguing it would slow down our transition to a lower-carbon economy. It cited a submission from energy giant AGL stating such a scheme would “effectively defer Australia’s own decarbonisation”.

Kate Mackenzie, a director at the non-profit Climate KIC and research fellow at the Centre for Policy Development, said buying foreign credits was a good idea but should not substitute reducing electricity emissions.

“If it’s seen as being an easier or a cheaper way of meeting our emissions reduction targets, that poses the risk that the really necessary policy work won’t be done,” she told Fairfax Media.

The government will also wait until the market rules of the Paris Agreement are finalised to decide whether other countries can purchase Australia’s mostly land-based carbon credits, fearing it could drive up the cost of domestic abatement. There is no guarantee international negotiations will finish by 2020, however, with talks mired in disagreement about how to link various schemes.

International permits will become particularly important for 140 large Australian businesses with facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Under the “safeguard mechanism”, these operations will need to keep their emissions below baseline levels or offset them using domestic and, now, international credits.

As part of the climate review released Tuesday, the government flagged those baselines could “increase with production, supporting business growth”, and allowing companies to pollute more as long as they produce more.

Tony Wood, energy program director at the Grattan Institute, said the decision to allow international credits “makes an enormous amount of sense” as a way to put a “safety valve” on the price of carbon abatement, at least temporarily. At present, international permits are significantly cheaper than the cost of abatement domestically under the Emissions Reduction Fund, although overseas credits will likely become more expensive as global demand rises.

Tuesday’s announcement was foreshadowed after the 2015 Paris climate conference, when then environment minister Greg Hunt said international permits would “probably be allowed. Mr Frydenberg, who took over the role after last year’s election, strongly suggested the change would be made when he commissioned the climate change review a year ago.

Labor’s environment spokesman Mark Butler dismissed the review as containing “no significant change” to Mr Abbott’s climate change policies.

Industry groups including the Business Council of Australia welcomed the change-of-heart as a “practical” measure giving businesses flexibility. Peter Castellas, head of the Carbon Market Institute, said it was an “encouraging signal” but there would need to be more input from industry on the detail.

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‘We thought it was a brothel’: chainsaw attackers claim self-defence in court

Two men accused of a home invasion where one allegedly used a chainsaw to assault the 63-year-old occupant have claimed they had only entered the Annandale unit because they thought it was a brothel.
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But a prosecutor has questioned the pair’s motives in Newtown Local Court on Tuesday, adding a search of the men found “no means of paying for a prostitute” other than a Coles Myer gift card.

“I’m not sure how successful [they] would have been,” Sergeant Luke Johnston told the court.

Justin Clarke and Jayson Nichols, both 21 from Quakers Hill, will remain behind bars for Christmas after being refused bail following their arrest in a nearby pub on Monday night just hours after the alleged chainsaw attack took place.

Legal Aid solicitor Richard Ikaafu said his clients believed they were entering a brothel when they climbed two sets of stairs before walking into the residence.

Police allege they were confronted by the residents before the two accused and a third unknown man retreated out into a laneway.

A bystander caught the ensuing melee on film, with Clarke claiming in court he was acting in self-defence when he armed himself with the chainsaw from a nearby garage and began striking the alleged victim.

The chainsaw was not turned on, however the 63-year-old was taken to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital after suffering a laceration to the head.

Mr Ikaafu said Clarke claimed he had only armed himself with the chainsaw to defend himself after he was “pushed and kicked” out of the unit and chased along the laneway.

Both men have been charged with aggravated enter dwelling with intent and common assault while Clarke also faces charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company and use an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence.

The melee occurred in Albion Lane about 5.30pm on Monday after the occupants confronted the three men and asked what they were doing.

Footage obtained by the Seven Network shows the confrontation before the chainsaw was grabbed.

Both men had applied to be released on bail.

Sergeant Johnston opposed the application, citing a history of violence and property offences on both men’s criminal records as well as the strength of the case against them.

Magistrate Margaret Quinn agreed the prosecution case appeared strong and remanded the pair in custody.

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Ashes blame game: Root not sending the ‘right message’

The blame game over England’s Ashes disaster has begun, with a former Test fast bowler taking aim at captain Joe Root and calling for the new-ball pairing of James Anderson and Stuart Broad to be dismantled.
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Martin Bicknell, who played four Tests for England and claimed more than 1000 first-class wickets, has criticised Root for his post-match comments in Perth after the tourists ceded cricket’s little urn and became only the eighth side to have lost a Test by an innings having made 400 or more in their first knock.

Root said his inexperience as captain had not had a negative impact on him, declaring he was only guilty of “trying too hard”. Bicknell said that explanation would not wash.

“I don’t understand how you can try too hard. You are trying or you are not. I don’t think trying too hard is the right message that he should be talking about,” Bicknell told RSN on Tuesday.

“I think the bottom line is that we haven’t played well enough. I think we have had opportunities in matches and we haven’t capitalised and, consequently, if you don’t play decent enough cricket for a long period of time, you get found out and that is what has happened.

“We have run into a perfect storm with Australia having three fit bowlers who bowl 90 miles an hour (145km/hr) and Nathan Lyon who is probably the best spinner in the world at the moment.”

Root, who this year replaced Alastair Cook in the top job, had stressed the added responsibility and focus that comes in such a marquee series had not derailed his batting.

“It’s an experience to have had to deal with it all but I don’t think it has taken away from the way I have prepared in terms of my training and stuff like that. You have just got to learn from it,” Root said.

“The thing with it is, I am not someone who is going to make excuses and hide behind stuff that is irrelevant really in terms of the way I have prepared. Probably the thing that has been my biggest detriment is probably trying too hard.”

Ranked the world’s third-best batsman, Root has only 176 runs at 29.33 in six innings, adding to his woes on the tour here four years ago when he was dropped because of poor form. He made only 20 and 14 and, according to former captain Michael Vaughan, appears a “tired, drained captain”.

Root’s poor form, paired with the troubles of veteran Cook (83 runs at 13.83), who could be in his final series, have compounded the tourists’ woes. There have only been two centuries by England batsmen and the tourists’ average score per wicket is 26.3 compared to Australia’s 46.24.

England coach Trevor Bayliss insists Anderson and Broad, who stepped out in Perth for their 100th Test together, have a future beyond this series but their troubles have highlighted the tourists’ key issue – a lack of pace required in Australian conditions to intimidate the locals. South Africa’s success in Australia last summer was built on a balanced pace attack, with Kagiso Rabada providing the threatening speed.

Broad and Anderson are two greats of the game but neither averages 140km/h, unlike sizzling Australian counterparts Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc. Broad, after a horror WACA adventure where he finished with 0-142, and Anderson have combined for 17 wickets in the series, two less than Starc.

“The Broad-Anderson partnership, obviously, won’t tour Australia again. They have played a lot of Test matches, bowled a lot of overs, they are just looking a little bit tired at times,” Bicknell said.

“As a partnership it might be time to say: ‘Let’s try someone else with the new ball and Broad slip down to first change’. I think Anderson still takes the new ball, he looks fit and fresh, but Broad has been disappointing – one of the senior players you would expect that would stand up in this series has not even featured.”

Bicknell said England’s problem was that while they did have quicker bowlers at home they were not considered frontline selections, aside from Mark Wood. He was initially overlooked for the tour because of an ankle injury but is now with the squad and could come into the frame in Melbourne, particularly as Craig Overton is in doubt because of a cracked rib.

“It’s very hard for them (selectors) to say to one of those guys you are not playing because we are going to play someone who is not as good as you but bowls quicker. That doesn’t really work,” Bicknell said.

“One of the biggest problems the England selectors faced was the fact they haven’t brought over anybody who could bowl at 90 miles per hour in the squad. I think Mark Wood would have been the obvious choice but his injury record is not great and he probably wasn’t fit at the start of the tour. Bringing over more bowlers like (Chris) Woakes and like Broad hasn’t really worked. When they look back at it, they probably will think they maybe have got the squad wrong.”

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Sydney cancer scientist’s work on research fraud lands her top accolade

She’s the Sydney cancer geneticist who uncovered widespread research fraud.
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And now she’s been named by Nature as one of the 10 people who mattered in science this year.

Others on the list include Chinese physicist Pan Jianwei for a quantum teleport, Astronomer Marica Branchesi for working on gravitational waves, and Khaled Toukan, who helped guide the completion of the Middle East’s first synchrotron.

“These diverse individuals have left an indelible mark on science in 2017 … and they will no doubt continue to make an impact,” says Brendan Maher, acting chief news features editor at Nature.

“From quantum communications and genome editing to the threat of a nuclear crisis and the dismantling of environmental protections in the United States, this list covers the highs and lows for science and scientists in 2017.”

Professor Jennifer Byrne was named one of Nature’s 10 for 2017. Photo: Wolter Peeters

It was a gut feeling that had Professor Byrne flipping open her computer on a Saturday night and firing up the medical equivalent of a Google search.

What she found made her sick to her stomach.

The children’s cancer expert had stumbled upon what appeared to be potentially widespread research fraud.

In a world of fake news, where opinion is given as much weight as empirical evidence, and scientists as much consideration as shock jocks, research fraud is a damaging tinderbox for truth.

“I was just horrified. I thought, ‘My God, what have I found’,” said Professor Byrne, head of the Children’s Cancer Research Unit at the Children’s Hospital Westmead and University of Sydney academic.

The professor of molecular oncology had turned science sleuth, identifying a total of 48 papers published in scientific journals sharing uncanny similarities, flaws and mismatched data all by independent researchers in China.

Professor Byrne first noticed something was amiss in 2015 when a few too many papers were popping up purporting to study a gene she was very familiar with – LPD52L2 (L2) – having been the first to identify it almost 20 years ago.

“At first I thought it was the same paper, they were so similar. But then I realised there were five of them,” she said.

L2 is something of an “orphan” gene with an unknown function that could have implications for cancer treatment, but it doesn’t attract a lot of attention.

The way the papers reported their findings and the flaws in their sequences were strikingly similar, Professor Byrne found.

Their poor English and grammar, almost identical references and their seemingly superficial experiments set off alarm bells.

Professor Byrne dug deeper, finding the same sequences were being used for completely different purposes: a sequence used as a positive control in one research paper was used as a negative control in another.

“You don’t have to be a scientist to know that’s a major logical flaw,” Professor Byrne said.

“In many cases it was highly unlikely or impossible that they could have obtained the results they obtained,” she said.

She wrote to the four journals that had published the papers. Two journals investigated and one issued a retraction. The authors of the paper admitted they had obtained their data from a commercial biotechnology company without disclosing this partnership.

This was just the tip of the iceberg.

Professor Byrne’s Saturday night search on the medical research aggregation site PubMed led to the discovery of another 43 papers that shared highly dubious similarities.

The papers all described single gene knockdowns – a technique used to modify a gene using RNA.

The uniformities were as glaring as the authors’ choice of title, the data, descriptions, images, table layouts, even the font and bolding of specific annotations.

Often, the papers’ text wouldn’t match the data in the tables, again suggesting the authors had obtained their data form a third party, most likely an undisclosed biotechnology company.

Professor Byrne and her colleague computer scientist Cyril Labbe at the University of Grenoble Alpes, France, published their findings in Scientometrics.

“I think we also have to recognise that until we actually prove the origins that we discuss in the paper I guess the authors have a right to be presumed innocent to an extent,” Professor Byrne said,

“I’m hoping that at least some of these papers will prove to have been performed by the authors as they described in their papers.”

But she suspected there were hundreds of papers with similar flaws.

Under-investigated genes that attracted little attention could be fertile ground for researchers under overwhelming pressure to “publish or perish”, Professor Byrne said.

Career security can hinge on the number of published works a scientist has produced. Chinese researchers may be especially vulnerable, with many institutions setting strict quotas for their scientists.

The papers were also published in journals that are fairly low down on the list of prestigious titles, and may have lower standards for publication.

The damage done by research fraud cannot be understated, Professor Byrne said.

“Science runs on brainpower and funding but also trust,” she said.

“I need to believe the researchers are doing what they say they’re doing. I’m not in their lab staring over their shoulders, and if I can’t be confident that what I’m reading is correct I may as well go and work at my local shopping centre.

“The public needs to trust what we do. Governments need to trust what we do, especially in this ‘post truth’ world where experts are shot down and dismissed so easily,” she said.

The papers, like the bulk of published research, urges others to continue their work.

Researchers who are waylaid by trying to replicate faulty data could have been working towards findings that may have had a real impact on the lives of patients.

“They could be following up complete rubbish. It violates everything you’re working towards,” Professor Byrne said.

Professor Byrne and Labb?? have since launched an online program called Seek & Blastn to help automatically detect similar errors and potential fraud in cancer papers containing gene sequences.

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Nationals split as Joyce makes ‘captain’s call’ to dump colleagues

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and candidate for New England Barnaby Joyce at a polling booth at the McCarthy Catholic College in Tamworth during the New England by-election on Saturday 2 December 2017. fedpol Photo: Alex EllinghausenNationals infighting is threatening to derail Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet refresh, after Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce made a “captain’s call” decision to dump his Nationals colleagues Darren Chester and Keith Pitt.
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The long-awaited reshuffle has seen five people appointed to the expanded 23-member cabinet, including rookie Queensland federal MPs David Littleproud and John McVeigh, in a move designed to woo voters in the key battleground state.

Underscoring the breadth of the larger than expected reshuffle, another six cabinet ministers either swapped portfolios or picked up extra responsibilities, meaning just under half the cabinet was changed.

Mr Littleproud becomes the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, while Mr McVeigh – who had served in the Queensland state government as a minister – becomes Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government. Both were first elected just 18 months ago.

The other three promotions to cabinet are Victorian Liberal Dan Tehan, who becomes Social Services Minister; WA Liberal Michael Keenan, who joins him as Human Services Minister and Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation; and the new Nationals deputy leader, Victorian Bridget McKenzie, who becomes Minister for Sport, Rural Health and Regional Communications.

But it is the shock demotion of Mr Chester and Mr Pitt, which leaked out ahead of Mr Turnbull’s formal announcement, that has infuriated Nationals MPs.

The decision to overlook outer ministry member Michael McCormack for promotion in favour of the political novice Mr Littleproud also left MPs baffled.

Mr Chester did the numbers for Senator McKenzie in the recent contest for deputy leader; all three opposed Mr Joyce’s pick of senator Matt Canavan, and some Nationals MPs suggested the move was “payback” from Mr Joyce.

As one Nationals MP put it, “Barnaby can’t continue to do stupid things like this”, describing it as a “captain’s call”.

A Liberal cabinet minister said the dumping of infrastructure and transport minister Mr Chester had been brutal. Another Liberal said, “He’s [Mr Joyce] basically just said you are my enemy, you are out,” to Mr Chester and Mr Pitt, who goes from a junior trade role to the backbench.

The Prime Minister confirmed Mr Joyce had made the call to dump the pair.

“Plainly, the Nationals have a very large component of their party room [that] comes from Queensland. And Barnaby was keen to see that reflected in their representatives in the cabinet,” he said.

“I have to say Darren [Chester] has been an outstanding minister. I regret that this has resulted in him no longer being a member of the ministry.”

Some Nationals insisted the move was fair as Victoria was not entitled to two cabinet spots when the party had just four MPs in Parliament from that state. There are eight Queensland Nationals MPs and the state now receives two cabinet posts.

A disappointed Mr Chester said being dumped was “character building” and that he had had several conversations with Mr Turnbull and Mr Joyce in the previous 24 hours.

“Barnaby Joyce offered me an assistant minister role as they call them these days. I chose to reflect on that overnight and advised both the PM and the Deputy PM I didn’t intend to take that offer,” he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the demotion of Mr Chester proved “the civil war which is a fact of life in the Liberal Party has now infected the National Party”. ???

The reshuffle emphases the Prime Minister’s determination to concentrate on two key messages in 2018 – the economy, and national security.

“That’s our priority for 2018; more investment, more jobs, better jobs, more money in the pockets of hardworking Australian families and businesses,” Mr Turnbull said.???

Other key moves in the reshuffle include Social Services Minister Christian Porter replacing George Brandis as Attorney-General. Mr Brandis will move to London in January to replace Alexander Downer as high commissioner.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash has been given the super portfolio of Minister for Jobs and Innovation, taking key aspects of Arthur Sinodinos’ portfolio as he steps aside to fight cancer. She also joins the powerful expenditure review committee.

Mr Joyce takes over Infrastructure, which gives him oversight of the Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail project, while he keeps responsibility for dams policy. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann becomes Senate leader and adds Special Minister of State.

Revenue Minister Kelly O’Dwyer has added responsibility for Women, while Peter Dutton will finally begin work in the new super portfolio of Home Affairs, which brings together police and security agencies such as the federal police, spy agency ASIO, Border Force and Immigration.

In the outer ministry, Craig Laundy has been promoted to Small Business and Workplace Relations, Angus Taylor has been promoted to Law Enforcement and Cyber Security.

Alan Tudge moved sideways into Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs and remains in the outer ministry, as does Michael McCormack, who becomes Veterans Affairs and Defence Materiel Minister.

Paul Fletcher, tipped for promotion to cabinet, remains in the Urban Infrastructure portfolio. Former cabinet minister Sussan Ley and junior minister Stuart Robert, tipped by some for promotion, both missed out completely. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},’#pez_iframeTT’); The new Turnbull ministry

Prime Minister – Malcolm Turnbull

Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure and Transport Minister – Barnaby Joyce

Treasurer – Scott Morrison

Foreign Minister – Julie Bishop

Attorney-General – Christian Porter

Home Affairs Minister – Peter Dutton

Sport, Rural Health and Regional Communications Minister – Bridget McKenzie

Human Services Minister and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Digital Transformations – Michael Keenan

Social Services Minister – Dan Tehan

Agriculture and Water Minister – David Littleproud

Regional Development, Territories and Local Government Minister – John McVeigh

Indigenous Affairs Minister – Nigel Scullion

Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister – Steve Ciobo

Finance Minister and Special Minister of State – Mathias Cormann

Revenue and Financial Services Minister and Minister for Women – Kelly O’Dwyer

Defence Industry Minister – Christopher Pyne

Defence Minister – Marise Payne

Resources and Northern Australia Minister – Matt Canavan

Energy and Environment Minister – Josh Frydenberg

Health Minister – Greg Hunt

Communications and Arts Minister – Mitch Fifield

Jobs and Innovation Minister – Michaelia Cash

Education and Training Minister – Simon Birmingham


Minister for Urban Infrastructure – Paul Fletcher

Minister for International Development and the Pacific – Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

Minister for Small and Family Business, Workplaces and Deregulation – Craig Laundy

Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security – Angus Taylor

Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs – Alan Tudge

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel – Michael McCormack

Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister – Ken Wyatt


Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister – James McGrath

Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister – Damian Drum

Assistant Minister to the Treasurer – Michael Sukkar

Assistant Minister for Finance – David Coleman

Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment – Luke Hartsuyker

Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs – Zed Seselja

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources – Anne Ruston

Assistant Minister for Vocational Skills and Training – Karen Andrews

Assistant Minister for Children and Families – David Gillespie

Assistant Minister for Immigration – Alex Hawke

Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services – Jane Prentice

Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation – Zed Seselja

Assistant Minister for Environment – Melissa Price

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Revitalisation plans must attract business

Premier Gladys Berejiklian answering questions at the Wickham Interchange on Tuesday.IT’S an unwritten law of politics in regional areas that no leader worth their salt turns up without having a funding announcement of some sort to make.
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After all, it’s not that often that premiers find their way into tiger country, and so they usually try to make it worth their while.

With Premier Gladys Berejiklian in town, Tuesday did turn out to be jackpot day for the Hunter,with the Newcastle Knights securing $10 million to go towards their rugby league centre of excellence to be built at Broadmeadow.

But the funny thing was, it wasn’t the premier who announced it. That job was left to Sport Minister Stuart Ayres, with the$10 million doled out to the Knights being the biggest amount received by the five clubs who shared in the spoils.Unofficially, the Newcastle Herald was told that the centre of excellence details weren’t finalised until mid-afternoon, making it too late for the premier to unveil the Knights’ good fortune. We realise there is controversy over sports funding at the moment, thanks to the government’s $2.5-billion stadium building plan, but it seems something of a missedopportunity for the premier to come all the way to Newcastle on the day her government is giving $10 million to the Knights, and to notsay anything about it either at her interchange press conference or at the lunch.

Regardless, however, sports fans will thank the government for its vote of support in the Knights, as will the club itself.

As it happens, the premier did have one funding announcement to make, but it was not until she had departed Newcastle for Williamtown that we learned about it: a $50,000 extension of the “STEMship” pre-employment program –STEM being science, technology, engineering and maths –that was launched in the Hunter in August 2016. Ms Berejiklian said the funding would ensureensure “a continued pipeline of skilled workers” for the defence industry.

Of course the the Herald acknowledges that the Coalition state government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in Newcastle at the moment. On that, Ms Berejiklian says she “couldn’t be more pleased” with the revitalisation plans, which meant that “businesses are champing at the bit to have their offices to set up space here”.

And that, in the end, will be the test. Apartment blocks are one thing, but the inner cityneedsto be a central business district, and not justa central residential district, if Newcastleis to properly thrive.

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How this humble home became one of Australia’s most iconic

Ask most design addicts to name Australia’s most iconic holiday home and they might mention something by Glenn Murcutt, or even Richard Leplastrier. However, if ubiquity is any measure, the humble Beachcomber might just take the award.
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You might not recognise the name, but there’s little doubt you’ll recognise the house. The Beachcomber, designed in 1961 by modernist architect Nino Sydney, can be found up and down the entire eastern seaboard of Australia, along with numerous inferior copies.

It was one of five display homes created for Lend Lease’s Kingsdene Estate in Carlingford (now Westminster Avenue) which opened in October 1961. The estate was a demonstration village covering some 46.5 hectares. Think of it as a less vulgar and more diffident precursor of today’s Homeworld.

Clarke, Gazzard and Yeomans worked on the village masterplan, under the auspices of Sydney. Rex Hazelwood was enlisted to take charge of the landscaping, utilising native plants. The northern edge of the estate was to remain a eucalypt forest (it didn’t).

All five homes in the display village were created by architects from the design department of Civil and Civic, which had recently been acquired by Lend Lease. But it was Sydney’s Beachcomber that was to prove the most popular by far, with around 200 of them built from 1961 to 1970.

The Beachcomber was a flat-roof pavilion raised on slim steel columns; a Villa Savoye for the middle class. Its elevated design meant it could be easily adapted to sloping bush blocks, as well as accommodate a laundry and carport beneath. The Lend Lease advertising brochure touted the Beachcomber as “An architectural triumph! Cantilevered, wide and sunny ??? a home designed to stay young for a lifetime!”

The home was rectangular in plan, with a living area and two of its three bedrooms opening out on to a full-length sun deck. It was light-filled and open, eons ahead of the dark and dingy suburban homes people were accustomed to. It’s area (including the deck) was 127 square metres, reflecting the more modest aspirations of the time. To put that in perspective, the average Australian project home these days is around 240 square metres. Related: Australia’s most unique beach propertyRelated: See this beach house’s beautiful transformationRelated: Most impressive beach houses around Australia

Generously appointed for its time, the Beachcomber also included floor to ceiling built-in robes in the bedrooms, and a separate toilet (at a time when many homes still had an outdoor dunny). It must have seemed impossibly modern with its Formica benchtops and splashbacks, and built-in automatic wall oven.

Sydney followed up the original Beachcomber, with a Mark II, Mark III, and Mark IV (1966). Although all have the same distinctive form, the latter versions had aluminium windows, a kitchen servery and improved cladding.

Author and architecture critic Charles Pickett is a huge fan of the Beachcomber and wrote about them in his book Designer Suburbs: Architects and Affordable Homes in Australia (2012).

“I think it’s probably the best project home ever,” Pickett says. “Nowadays they have become a cult object and people are seeking them out to restore.”

Fans of the home even flock to a dedicated website that tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the Beachcomber, but were too afraid to ask. The website was established by writer Helen Thurlow in 2012 and picked up a National Trust Heritage Award this year.

Since 1995, Thurlow has owned a Mark II Beachcomber in Avalon, an area that once boasted around 11 examples, due to their suitability on the hilly coastal terrain. “When we purchased it, my husband and I had a young family,” she says. “It’s been lovely, but it was a bit small when the kids were teenagers all wanting to use the bathroom. The underneath had already been enclosed, so that provided some much-needed overflow space.”

Thurlow’s Beachcomber is not a museum piece, but has been sympathetically renovated to cater for a modern lifestyle. “It’s contemporary but with a 1960s vibe,” she says. “I love my home. It’s a well-proportioned design, and made from quality materials. And there’s just so much light flooding through, it makes me feel like I’m always on holiday.”

She says her aim with the website is to build a community around the Beachcomber, and encourage people to preserve them. “They are such a wonderful example of Australian design, and I hate that we are losing at least one each year, particularly in areas such as Clontarf and Bronte, only to be replaced with a brick or concrete box.”

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BHP to stay a member of the Minerals Council – at least for now

BHP will remain a member of the Minerals Council of Australia – at least for now – but has reached a “preliminary view” that it intends to leave the World Coal Association, a move described by one observer as “a seismic shift”.
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The world’s biggest miner also revealed it would consider its “future membership” of the US Chamber of Commerce, after identifying four “material differences” between itself and the group on climate and energy policies.

BHP’s review of its membership of industry associations that it said hold an active position on climate and energy policy was released on Tuesday, with BHP acknowledging it receives a “high level of benefit” from its membership of the MCA, the mining industry lobby group. But BHP has been concerned that the MCA’s position on climate and energy policy did not align with its own.

BHP also revealed publicly for the first time how much it contributes to the MCA, with the “Big Australian” paying a subscription fee of $1.86 million in 2016, equal to 17 per cent of the lobby group’s subscription revenue.

BHP said it had identified two material differences between itself and the MCA on climate and energy policy, signalling its ongoing membership of the MCA would depend on how the council responded to its concerns on these two points. The miner set a timeframe for the MCA to modify its advocacy or policy activity of no longer than a year.

“BHP will formally communicate the identified material differences to the board of the MCA, request that the MCA refrain from policy activity or advocacy in these areas, maintain a register of material differences, and will review its membership of the MCA if it has not refrained from such policy activity or advocacy within a reasonable period (being not more than 12 months),” BHP said.

BHP expressed concern over stances adopted by the MCA, saying that the MCA had “at times argued that energy policy should prioritise reliability and affordability over ‘other policy goals’. When discussing emissions reduction in the energy sector, the MCA has highlighted the costs associated with meeting Australia’s international commitments at the expense of addressing the importance of reducing emissions.”

BHP said it believed that “climate policy and energy policy are inextricably linked, and that energy reliability, energy affordability and emissions reduction should be considered on an integrated basis”.

It also expressed concern that the MCA had called for policy changes that were “technology specific and interventionist in relation to High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) coal”.

But BHP said its view was that “energy markets should be both fuel and technology neutral, and should not artificially favour one type of technology over another”.

BHP’s chief external affairs officer, Geoff Healy, said industry associations were important for developing policy and technical standards, sharing best practice and bringing together technical expertise and experience.

“This review makes clear the principles for our ongoing participation in industry bodies. While we won’t always agree with our industry associations, we will continue to call out material differences where they exist and we will take action where necessary,” Mr Healy said.

On its World Coal Association membership, the BHP report said that the WCA had “supported abandoning the proposed Australian Clean Energy Target”, and that there was a “narrower” benefit to BHP in being a member. BHP will make a final decision on this membership by the end of March 2018.

In response to the BHP report an MCA spokesman said: “BHP has been a valued member of the Minerals Council for many years, and we look forward to that relationship continuing in the future.”

Executive director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, Brynn O’Brien, said she welcomed BHP’s review of positions taken by the MCA, US Chamber of Commerce and the World Coal Association. The ACCR recently called on BHP to reconsider its membership of the MCA.

“BHP’s decision to cut ties with the world’s peak coal lobby, the World Coal Association is a seismic shift in the world of anti-climate lobbying,” she said.

“This is a message that even organisations like BHP, with large coal assets, do not value aggressive anti-climate lobbying,” she said.

“However, BHP’s equivocation in relation to membership of the MCA, in giving the MCA another 12 months to change its tune on coal, points to the highly-charged environment in which climate policy is made in Australia,” she said.

BHP acknowledged that industry associations were an “important forum for debate”, but added that having a range of members could make it difficult for a group to reach a consensus view on issues.

“We believe that in areas where no broad industry consensus exists, associations should generally refrain from advocacy in those areas, with individual members being best placed to outline their views independently,” BHP said.

BHP said it accepted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) assessment of climate change science, which it said found that warming of the climate is unequivocal and that the influence of humans is clear.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Gladys hails Hunter’s ‘double-digit’ jobs growth

Gladys hails Hunter’s ‘double-digit’ jobs growth Gladys Berejiklian talks to the media at the Wickham transport interchange on Tuesday. Picture: Max Mason Hubers
Nanjing Night Net

Gladys Berejiklian at the Wickham transport interchange on Tuesday. Picture: Max Mason Hubers

Gladys Berejiklian at the Wickham transport interchange on Tuesday. Picture: Max Mason Hubers

Gladys Berejiklian at the Wickham transport interchange on Tuesday. Picture: Max Mason Hubers

Gladys Berejiklian at the Wickham transport interchange on Tuesday with Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald. Picture: Max Mason Hubers

Gladys Berejiklian at the Wickham transport interchange on Tuesday with Hunter Development Corporation boss Michael Cassel and Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald. Picture: Max Mason Hubers

TweetFacebookI remember every time I came up to Newcastle I’d have the same band of protesters following me, harassing me, but that didn’t deter us.

Gladys BerejiklianNewcastle Herald last week that the Hunter’s employment growth was due largely to gains inhealth care, social assistance, construction, education and training.

She said on Tuesday that the Hunter had a “really strong recovery period from early 2015 to the start of this year … and then it stayed relatively kind of flat”.

“It’s moved up and down. Our unemployment rate was below the state at the start of the year, and we’re sitting just above at the moment.”

She said much of the growth was not in“knowledge economy” industries, such as professional, technical and science jobs.

But she said transport and digital connections were the “bedrock” of urban growth and the government could legitimately claim its Revitalising Newcastle program had helped stimulate economic activity.

The city’s new light rail line is still more than a year away and Newcastle City Council’s Smart City collaboration is in itsinfancy, however, Dr Bill said developers were“always forward-thinking” and would be anticipating such changes when making investment decisions.

Ms Berejiklian said the government had“supported diversity in the economy, a growth in areas like construction, housing”.

But Dr Bill sounded a warning over house prices helping to drive the economy forward.

“Certainly some of the impetus that might be coming off the back of house price movements in the region, and whether that growth’s sustainable, and how much that ties into a revitalisation agenda as welland the development that’s been happening in the city, that’s something we can maybe put a little bit of a note of caution around,” she said.

“Certainly, if you own a house, it’s a good thing.”


The Premier said extending Newcastle’s 2.7km light rail to other parts of the city was “definitely”on the government’s agenda but gave no commitments on when it could happen.

“We’re buildingthe spine of a future network. We always said that was the case.

“Our state’s doing incredibly well. If we have opportunities to bring things forward, we will.”

She describedthe light rail, which is costing almost twice as much per metre to build as a tram line in Canberra, as good value for money. The build costs have grown $35 million this year, an increase the government has ascribed to removing the trams’ overhead wires.

“All the advice I have is we’re completely on budget, on time, and we’re looking forward to it.

“It’s always important that you look at the end result.

“During the project there are sometimes when you’re a little bit ahead, sometimes when you slip, but the thing is at the end of the project to make sure you’ve delivered on time and on budget.”


Light rail at twice the price

Rent relief on cards for Newcastle traders

Analysis: Time for debate on regional growth

Comment: Government must do more

ANZ has ‘a great deal’ to do in regaining trust: David Gonski

ANZ Banking Group chairman David Gonski says the lender still has “a great deal to do” as it tries to regain public trust, and concedes the industry had been too slow to respond to community criticism.
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In a speech to shareholders in Sydney, Mr Gonski addressed the erosion in public trust in banks and the looming royal commission, arguing that businesses including ANZ needed to do more than simply focus on shareholder interests.

Mr Gonski, one of the most respected business people in the country, also said he did not underestimate how challenging the royal commission, to be led by Kenneth Hayne, would be for the banks.

ANZ would engage with the judicial inquiry transparently and constructively, he pledged, while still running the business efficiently.

Mr Gonski’s speech to shareholders said the erosion of trust in banks was part of a broader change that had also seen confidence in institutions including the media, government and non-government organisations fall to “troubling lows”.

Businesses needed to respond by listening to community concerns, he said, and could not be “solely shareholder-focused organisations”.

“It is clear that in order to rebuild trust, business has to step outside our traditional role as solely shareholder-focused organisations, and work in new ways that also put our customers and our communities at the centre of everything we do,” Mr Gonski said.

ANZ had this year cut interest rates on some credit cards, clamped down on conflicted remuneration for frontline staff, and matched other banks in removing ATM fees for non-customers, Mr Gonski noted.

It has also established a responsible business committee led by chief executive Shayne Elliott, and put a greater focus on environmental concerns.

“Clearly though, we still have a great deal to do,” he said.

Responding to the government’s decision to launch a royal commission, Mr Gonski observed that some believed bank-bashing was caused by “arrogance” by banks. He did not endorse or reject this view, but argued businesses should listen to community concerns.

“While criticism of banks is not new, in the rapidly changing environment that I have described, we acknowledge our industry has been slower than it should to be more transparent, to listen more to the views of the community and to consistently treat its customers fairly and responsibly,” Mr Gonski said.

“Some go further and say it is the arrogance of banks that has been the underlying cause of bank bashing in the Australian community. Whether this is true or not, sometimes it is an easy option for business to pitch itself against the community and to lecture people about why they are wrong,” he said.

“It is often more difficult to listen, to face up to issues and use that insight to make decisions for the long term.”

Shareholders questioned Mr Gonski and Mr Elliott over a range of issues including climate change and executive pay, but all resolutions passed with support from 97 per cent or shareholders or more.

ANZ this year settled with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission over long-running allegations of misconduct in the bank bill swap rate market.

As well as the $50 million settlement, Mr Gonski said the people who ran the BBSW trading and its markets area at the time were no longer with the bank, others had been sacked for breaching its code of conduct, and bonuses had been clawed back.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.