Archive for May, 2019

Wind is the fastest growing source of energy in . By the end of the decade it’s set to overtake hydropower and become our third largest source of electricity after coal and gas. So why, in a time when we must reduce emissions, do our country’s leaders continue to push against this growing revolution?

The cost of wind energy continues to drop rapidly as turbine size increases and technology is refined. New farms are now contracting to provide power at around $50 per megawatt hour – well below the wholesale price we’re currently paying. The more cheap wind energy we inject into the grid, the quicker we can see reductions in power prices and emissions.

Wind farms are bringing big changes to rural and regional . As the sight of wind towers on hills become more common, so too does the contribution of serious long-term economic benefits into communities.

Hundreds of farmers already benefit from direct payments into their businesses. It’s estimated farmers across receive $20 million every year from hosting wind turbines – set to hit $30 million by the end of the decade. Meanwhile, over 40 wind farm Community Enhancement Funds are contributing over $2 million every year into community organisations and projects, supporting grassroots community work that keeps country towns afloat.

Despite clear benefits, some communities are still unsure if wind farms are right for their town. That’s why on Sunday, 21st October, Wind Farm Open Day will see 10 farms across NSW, Victoria, South and Western open their gates. I encourage everyone who is able to head along and see, first-hand the value wind power is adding to these communities.

After Monday’s IPCC report on Global Warming, I must reiterate that renewable energy is not just about economic success. It’s one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce carbon emissions in the face of a changing climate.The best way to understand wind power is to stand underneath one of these machines yourself.Who knows; maybe some of our politicians will come along and finally understand the potential this exciting form of energy has for the sustainability of our future.

Andrew Bray is national coordinator of the n Wind Alliance

Note: The Hallett Wind Farms will host the open day with bus tours departing from the Burra Information Centre.

Infighting has broken out in New Zealand’s political opposition, with a member accused of leaking information about his party’s leader firing back with allegations of illegal donation activity.

Centre-right National Party leader Simon Bridges on Monday announced the findings of a long-awaited report into the leaking of his travel expenses earlier this year and pointed the finger at one of his own MPs, Auckland’s Jami-Lee Ross.

“On the balance of probabilities the evidence establishes that Jami-Lee Ross was the person who leaked the expenses,” Mr Bridges said.

“Suspension [from the party] is definitely an option.”

But Mr Ross – who went on medical leave from parliament earlier this month – pre-empted the announcement with a series of tweets denying he was the leaker and saying it was being “pinned” on him because his relationship with Mr Bridges had broken down.

“When I started to become expendable, I confronted [Mr Bridges] with evidence that I had recorded him discussing with me unlawful activity that he was involved in,” Mr Ross posted.

“Working on his instruction, he asked me to do things with election donations that broke the law.”

Mr Bridges vigorously denied those allegations on Monday, saying Mr Ross was just lashing out.

“I reject any allegation of the sort in terms of unlawful activity, it’s simply not true,” he said, later adding it was the actions of one rogue MP.

That Mr Ross “would say those things, given the situation that he is in, I am not surprised frankly by the false comments that he’s making”, Mr Bridges said.

Although the National Party has been steady in the polls since last year’s election, 42-year-old Mr Bridges has struggled to get traction, sitting at 10 per cent in polling for preferred prime minister in August, compared to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at 40 per cent.

Ms Ardern on Monday declined to comment on the matter.

National is the largest party in New Zealand’s parliament, holding 56 of 120 seats, compared to the Labour Party’s 46. Mr Bridges was elected leader in February.

While the contents of the original leak – a release of Mr Bridges’ expenses to a reporter early in August – drew little attention, Mr Bridges’ handling of the subsequent saga has been criticised by some commentators.

Mr Ross’ future in the party will be decided at a meeting on Tuesday.

Artwork of a proposed 20-unit development at 106 Brunker Road, Adamstown. A 24-hour gym in Merewether and a new childcare centre in Adamstown are among development applications before Newcastle City Council.

CWG Property has lodged plans for a 24-hour gym at the new Oceans Reach apartment complex on the corner of Llewellyn and Merewether Streets.

In Adamstown, a developer, Trevor Bice, has submitted a $2.3 million DA to build a long day care centre for up to 113 children.

The centre, which will have 33 parking spaces, is in a bush setting at the top end ofBrunker Road, near the Pacific Highway.

Plans unveiled for new child care centre, 24-hour gym, upmarket units 256 Darby Street

Adamstown childcare centre, 501 Brunker Road

285 Glebe Road, Merewether

Corner of Kenrick and Farquhar streets, The Junction

12 Farquhar Street, The Junction

Albert Street, Wickham

Adamstown childcare centre, 501 Brunker Road

A 24-hour gym could operate at Oceans Reach in Llewellyn Street, Merewether

Grayson Avenue, Kotara

106 Brunker Road, Adamstown

285 Glebe Road, Merewether

TweetFacebook DAs before Newcastle City CouncilAlso in Brunker Road, developers have lodged modified plans for a five-storey, 20-unit development at No.106, one of a host of apartment complexes springing up in an area identified as an urban growth corridor.

In Albert Street, Islington, the curved-roof Islington RSL Memorial Hall will make way for eight three-storey townhouses under a $2.6 million plan lodged last week.

At The Junction, two developments barely metres apart reflect a shift towards higher population densities in Newcastle’s suburbs.

The two projects, both three storeys high, are at 12 Farquhar Street andon the corner ofKenrick and Farquhar streets.

285 Glebe Road, Merewether

The council is also weighing up plans for eight three-storey townhouses on a steeply sloping block at 42-44 Grayson Avenue, Kotara.

At 256 Darby Street, opposite Howzat, Shaddock Architects have designed a distinctive eight-unit development for Aranik Investments.

Another eye-catching design at 285 Glebe Road, Merewether, comprises six three-bedroom units and a single one-bedroom unit.

Among DAs approved in the past month are $4.3 million modifications to a vacant building in the Steel River industrial estate at Mayfield West to house a new Grainery Christian Network church with a 585-seat auditorium.

Pioneer: Amorelle Dempster, Slow Food advocate and market pioneer with pumpkins in Maitland in May. Picture: Jonathan CarrollAmorelle Dempster grew up in Sri Lanka. Her father was a spice trader. When she was younger, she would go with him, down to the market trading floor to buy spice. Her father would store piles and piles of turmeric and clove, pepper and ginger, cinnamon and cardamom all around the house, and Amorelle would sleep in her bed, right beside these piles of spice.

“The smell was totally intoxicating,” Dempster recalls. “I just loved it.”

She learnt to cook in her mother’s kitchen; smelling and tasting, and sensing the seasons by the freshness of the food around her.

“When the jackfruits or rambutans were ripe, you gorged on them, and we would just indulge ourselves when it was time for mangoes . . .

“I remember when crab season was on, you could hear the crabs before you actually saw them,” Dempster says. “Mud crabs would be harvested from the lagoons around the village. You could hear the click of their pincers hitting against the posts. When you heard this sound you knew that it was crab season.”

Eating fresh food, seasonally, was normal for an adolescent Dempster. It instilled in her a sense of pleasure and place in the food she ate.

Market hands: Dempster and Helen Hughes at the markets last year.

“You looked forward to eating something different . . . and it would be in abundance, because it was in season,” she says.

The Hunter Valley has a rich history of farming and food production, from dairying, beef cattle, lamb and other livestock, poultry, vegetables and other food crops.

The region of Maitland, in particular, has been an important food bowl for the Hunter Valley and beyond for almost 200 years. Until recently, the modern community was cultivated by agriculture, and, thus, on seasonality.

“When I came to , I remember going to the supermarket and being able to buy anything I wanted, anytime of the year, regardless of the season,” Dempster says. “I’d never experienced anything like that before.”

She recalls trying to cook with some of the produce from the supermarket.

“I discovered this, sort of . . . blandness in all this so-called ‘fresh’ food,” she says. “There was no real sense of flavour, because the food had obviously travelled so far from where it was grown.”

In 2012: Dempster promoting slow food ahead of the Newcastle Home Show.

The modern-day industrialised food system enables the supply of relatively cheap food to a large proportion of the world’s population. However, there are significant social, economic, environmental, and health related costs for both city and country communities, which are often obscured within the system and poorly understood. Such a food system creates a detached experience for people with respect to how our food is grown or produced and where it actually comes from. It also places enormous financial pressures onto farmers who are more or less obliged to grow food as cheaply as possible.

Pumpkin RevolutionFor instance, back in March 2016 two Morpeth pumpkin farmers were offered between 20 to 25 cents per pumpkin by the supermarkets. Later, these same supermarkets planned to sell these same pumpkins for up to $3 a kilogram.

“When I heard about this, I was so upset. 25 cents a pumpkin is just outrageous,” Dempster says.

In 2009: Dempster and chef Barry Meikeljohn promoting healthy food.

In fact, it was cheaper for the farmers to plough the 20 tonnes of pumpkins back into the ground, rather than take them to market in Sydney.

“I knew we had to do something,” she says. “So, we had a pop-up pumpkin stall at The Levee in Maitland. So many people came out to buy these pumpkins at a fair price and show their support for their local farmers. It was just wonderful.”

As a chef and the leader of Slow Food Hunter Valley, Amorelle Dempster has been helping to cultivate community by stirring up a local food revolution. After the complete success of the pumpkin pop-up, Dempster and her volunteer crew of Slow Food foodies established the Earth Markets in Maitland, held on the first and third Thursday of each month.

“We wanted to create a space where the community could meet directly with the farmers and food producers and create a sense of joy around food again,” she says. “What has been overwhelming for me is that the community has embraced the markets and taken responsibility for their food by saying, ‘we want to support our farmers, we want locally grown food that’s good, clean and fair’.”

The ongoing success of farmer’s markets, like the Earth Markets in Maitland, demonstrates that there is the potential for a positive future for our local growers and farmers to be able to move away from the big supermarket duopolies via community supported agricultural movements.

Initially inspired by her memories and the seasonal joy of food growing up; the fragrant scent of spice, the pincer clicks of lagoon fresh crabs, the ripe abundance of fleshy mangoes and sweet rambutans, even the simple pleasures found in something as humble as a pumpkin, Dempster is helping to change the way her local community thinks about the importance and provenance of their own locally grown food.

“Food is just essential to who we are,” Dempster says. “There’s so much pleasure to be found in food . . . Such incredible pleasure to be found in tasting something that’s in season and so fresh and delicious. Food that’s completely pure just takes my breath away.”

Residents of regional who are connected to the National Broadband Network are 40 per cent more likely to use the internet to combat social isolation than those who don’t have access tothe nbn, according to astudy being released today.

The Connecting report, commissioned by NBN Co, compared users of the high-speed network in regional and metropolitan areas with those who weren’tconnected to the nbn.

The report said those with accessto the nbn in regional were 40 per cent more likely to use the internet to fightsocial isolation thannon nbn users, while people on thenbn in metropolitan areas were 30 per cent more likely.

There were no specific figures available for the Newcastle/Hunter region.Butat a national level,the report foundpeople connected to the nbn were 30 per cent more likely to use the internet to stay in touch with loved ones–10 hours a week–compared with non nbn users–seven hours a week.

Read more: Check your medical alarm before switching to the nbn

“Social isolation is shrinking, in particular for regional ns, and I am delighted to see evidence of thenbnbroadband access network helping people right across our beautiful country to strengthen their relationships with their loved ones, their communities and the world,” nbn CEO Stephen Rue said.

Data-analyticsfirm AlphaBeta used information from the 2016 Census and a national Ipsos surveyfor the report, which described the findingsas a“statistical baseline to measure the impending impact of ’s digital transformation over the years and decades ahead”.

The reportnoted 94 per cent of people connected to the nbn in regional in 2017 used the internet to“socialise with family, friends and community”, compared with 68 per cent of regional non nbn users.

The gap was not as widein metroareas, where 96 per cent of people connected to the nbn used the internet to socialise, compared with 76 per cent of non nbn users.

Read more: nbn Local not so local

“It’s promising to see how access to fast broadband can help reduce social isolation across the country, which is particularly critical for older ns and those living in regional and remote areas,”federaleSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said.

“Improved connectivity can help drive digital inclusion and enable those who are geographically isolated to more easily access vital services, connect with family and friends, and improve their online confidence, skills and safety.”