Monthly Archives: August 2019

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NSW government to put cap on pokies

High-risk communities in NSW will have their number of gaming machines capped under new laws.Communities in NSW already vulnerable to gambling won’t be able to get more pokies under new laws proposed by the NSW government.

But the NSW Greens and the Alliance for Gambling Reform say the proposed reforms won’t solve the current pokie crisis in the state.

Under the gambling reform legislation, which was introduced to state parliament on Tuesday, 20 per cent of the state would be unable to have additional poker machines.

“Communities considered to be more vulnerable to gambling will be a no-go zone for additional machines,” NSW Racing Minister Paul Toole told reporters on Tuesday.

High-risk communities will be decided based on their socio-economic level as determined by the n Bureau of Statistics.

Socio-economic factors will now have a 70 per cent weighting when regulators assess gaming machine applications.

Much of western Sydney including Fairfield, Liverpool, Cabramatta, Horsley Park and Bankstown will be capped as well as parts of the Hunter region, mid north coast and country towns in western NSW.

Fairfield in Sydney’s west is one of the biggest poker machine hotspots, with more than 3300 machines in clubs in the area compared to 118 in Woollahra in Sydney’s east.

However, any applications for additional machines made before Tuesday will be exempt from the proposed legislation and will instead be assessed under the old regulations.

The proposed reforms have been slammed by the NSW Greens who say they don’t include the measures which stop the addictive features of the machines which exploit people.

“They don’t rein in predatory behaviour from clubs and hotels to maximise profits and they don’t keep people and communities safe,” Greens MP Justin Field said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr Field called on the government to introduce one dollar maximum bets and come up with a plan to rapidly reduce the number of pokies across the state.

“A cap on poker machines in vulnerable areas won’t have a real impact on harm if pokies remain embedded in our communities in clubs and hotels and these addictive machines continue to exploit vulnerable people,” he said.

Alliance for Gambling Reform NSW spokeswoman Allison Keogh said the government was failing to protect ordinary people.

“Councils like Fairfield already have more machines than the whole of Tasmania,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ms Keogh said the number of machines in areas such as Fairfield needed to be reduced not just capped.

The reforms also include increased penalties for wagering, making operators personally liable if they offer unlawful inducements and will bolster measures to address problem gambling across the state.

Some of the current local government area hotspots for gaming machines in hotels and clubs include Blacktown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Sydney’s inner west, Central Coast, and Sydney city.

Govt wants to crack down on online trolls

Federal Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer plans to crack down on online trolls.Social media and tech giants will be hauled in for regular meetings as the Turnbull government’s new minister for women seeks to crack down on online bullying and internet trolls.

Marking International Women’s Day, Kelly O’Dwyer used her first major speech in the portfolio to announce she would hold quarterly meetings with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Instagram.

Also present at the meetings will be Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins and eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman-Grant.

“I think it’s very important that they get a perspective from women and the impact that these online tools can have on women,” Ms O’Dwyer told the National Press Club on Tuesday.

“Those regular meetings will mean that we hold their feet to the fire, we make sure that where they have policies (on bullying and abuse) that those policies don’t sit on a shelf, that they are properly instituted and they’re properly enforced.”

The government was also not afraid of further strengthening laws if needed to protect vulnerable people online, as it is with revenge porn legislation now before parliament.

Ms O’Dwyer also announced a massive expansion of the sex discrimination commission’s five-yearly survey on workplace sexual harassment to this year cover 10,000 participants, up from 2000 previously.

The survey results will be released in April and the minister said the government would examine in particular how workplaces are taking account of sexual harassment in the social media age.

“As the ‘me too’ movement continues to sweep the world, we need to think about the implications, both good and bad, that come with airing allegations in a public forum,” she said.

“Social media is not a courtroom and complainants – and those who are the subject of complaints – can be subject to trial by keyboard warriors.

“We need to be careful that this public push doesn’t silence the very women it wants to help.”

Ms O’Dwyer also hinted the government may use the May budget to match Labor’s pledge to re-fund the n Bureau of Statistics to conduct regular “time use” surveys, which allow for the economic benefit of unpaid caring and work in the home to be calculated.

Greens out to ‘destroy’ with EU roo trip

Senator Lee Rhiannon has been slammed for promoting a documentary critical of kangaroo culling.The Greens have been accused of spreading lies and trying to destroy the kangaroo meat industry while meeting with European politicians.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud slammed Senator Lee Rhiannon over her visit to Brussels, where she is promoting a controversial documentary that questions the extent of kangaroo culling in .

The EU is a key market for the $175 million industry as the biggest importer of premium cuts.

But the Greens senator and the filmmaker behind Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story say the practices involved in harvesting 1.6 million wild roos annually need to be exposed.

Senator Rhiannon is leading a three-person delegation that’s due to meet with European Parliament members on Tuesday about what they argue are the “major risks” to the marsupial’s future.

She says population and growth rates are inflated and that millions of undocumented dependent joeys are killed every decade.

Government regulation advises the young of culled animals be euthanised with a blunt object as soon as possible.

“We will use the evidence to show that kangaroos are in trouble,” Senator Rhiannon said.

Mr McIntyre, who self-funded the film with Kate McIntyre Clere, says in undertaking a wider examination of the cultural icon, he was shocked to discover the methods used to kill the animals.

He says he isn’t out to destroy the industry.

“But do we really want to be bashing joeys’ heads against tow bars?” he said.

The senator, who funded her own trip, and the filmmaker were separately invited to the Brussels premiere hosted by Dutch political party Party for the Animals.

The agriculture minister accused Senator Rhiannon of spreading false information in a significant export market.

“It’s absolutely disgusting that she would go over there and try and destroy the kangaroo industry that has huge potential for jobs in regional ,” Mr Littleproud told reporters on Tuesday.

About five million roos were harvested in the three years to 2015 from a population of about 45 million, according to government data.

ANU zoologist George Wilson says animal activists’ arguments against factory farming can be supported by some evidence but likened those against roo harvesting to a “noisy minority” in the climate change debate.

“In this case, all they have is their ideology running a line that really does not bear any scientific scrutiny,” Dr Wilson said.

The film, which screened in the US ahead of Day, is due to have its n premiere in Sydney on March 13.

What you need to know from ABARES’ Outlook 2018

National farm commodities forecaster, Agricultural Bureau of Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has released its latest forecastsfor the agricultural industry as part of today’s Outlook conferencein Canberra.

Poor global grain prices and a seasonally-stressed national grain harvest will wipe five per cent off the gross value of ’s farm production this financial year, but farmers are still expected to reap historically solid average incomes in 2017-18.

ABARESis tipping farm production to be worth $59 billion in 2017-18, then to recover in 2018-19 to $61b, and $63b (in current dollar values) by 2022.

The minor setback in the overall value of ’s farm sector did not dampen the enthusiasm of Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, who opened proceedings in his first Outlook conference in the portfolio.

Mr Littleproud said the future was optimistic with 1.2pc growth forecast for both the overall sector and exports, tipped to reach $63b and $50b by 2023, respectively.

“This shows we’re headed in the right direction,” Mr Littleproud said.

Read more here.

Here’s what is in store for individual commodities:Hot global beef competition to flow back to the saleyardSenior government agriculture economists appear to be putting more weight in international beef trade dynamics than other analysts, forecasting a 15 per cent fall in saleyard cattle prices this financial year as a flow-on of red hot competition in markets like Japan and the United States.

ABAREShas the 2017-18 weighted average saleyard price of beef cattle at 455 cents per kilogram, which is slightly lower than many in the industry expected.

Read more here.

Global wheat market weak to 2023The global wheat market is expected to remain subdued beyond 2023, with rising production in the Black Sea regionset to push prices tonear-record lows.

The world wheat indicator price is forecast to rise modestly by 6 per cent in 2018-19 to $234, up from US$221 last year.

In response toconsecutive years of low prices, major exportnations are forecast to curb production to 742 million tonnes, following a 1pc reduction in the area planted to wheat.

Read more here

Pay day for sheep farmersn sheep farmers are cashing in on historic meat and wool prices, as average farm income for the sector hits a 20-year high of $170,000 this financial year.

Figures from ABARESreleased today show sheep producers received an estimated 35 per cent pay rise, on the back of 6pc rise in saleyard prices for lamb and a lucrative 15pc spike in wool prices.

The hero of sheep farmers’ pay rise is wool’s significant growth in prices.

Read more here.

Global growth signals upsidefor cotton growersGlobal cotton prices are in for a bumpy ride in coming years, according to the ABARES 2018 Outlook report.

Good prices and favourable growing conditions have driven an increase in cotton supplies, spurring a forecast 2 per cent drop in Cotlook A index global indicator, taking it to US81 cents per pound in 2017–18 (the August to July marketing year).

However, increasing global demand for cotton driven by a growing global economy is expected to deliver a 5pc rise to 85 cents per pound in 2018-19.

Read about the full outlook here.

Nuts and fruit helping hort to soarFruit and nuts are set to drive n horticulture’s production value to $13.6 billion in 2022-23.

The healthy forecast comes from the ABARESOutlook 2018 report for the March quarter, released today.

Much of that optimism comes from a rise in exports of n nuts and fruit, particularly to the seemingly insatiable Chinese appetite.

Read more here.

Milk production on the riseUsing incomes, more people and the ongoing Westernisation of diets will continue to fuel demand for dairy products on a global stage, underpinning prospects for increased production in .

Analysts with the ABARESsay world dairy prices will average higher this financial year but growth in the volume of exportable supplies after that will see most prices fall marginally.

World supplies are expected to grow faster than demand as major exporting countries, including , expand output.

Read the full outlook here.

Avos continue their cautious climbThe staggering growth of the n avocado industry has prompted many observers to ask if the avo bubble will ever burst.

According to the ABARES, while the sailing is currently smooth for the sector, there are some potential submerged obstacles that could be approaching.

A three-year wait time for nursery trees is a commonly referred-to figure within the industry but the mass plantings of recent years could soon create some nervous growers.

Read more here.

Other nations look to get in on ‘s “clean green” hort export strategy might trade off its quality and “green” status but it’s a strategy its export competitors are increasingly copying.

A special report within today’s ABARESOutlook 2018 agricultural commodities report casts a spotlight on ‘s comparative advantages for exporting fresh produce.

While it outlines that global demand has been growing strongly and is expected to continue, there are increasing moves by other southern hemisphere nations, and even China, to lift environmental farming status and produce quality, moves that could cause alarm for Aussie growers.

Read more here.

Blueberry production leaps aheadThen blueberry industry has more than doubled its production in the past five years.

The impressive figure comes from ABARES’ Outlook 2018 agricultural commodities report for the March quarter.

The report puts the significant growth down, in part, to extensive plantings now coming online.

n production has leapt to 6800 tonnes, with a bigger goal on the horizon.

Read more here.

Pineapples facing import competitionThe long-established pineapple industry faces a tough road ahead with imported processed fruit jostling for shelf space.

Pineapples are given a special mention within the ABARES’Outlook 2018 agricultural commodities report for the March quarter, released today.

In 2015–16 the n pineapple industry reported having 1176 hectares of non-bearing area to contribute to future production (equivalent to 73 per cent of 2015–16 bearing area).

Read more here.

Here’s what was being said online:

Tigers re-sign Hardwick as AFL coach

Premiership-winning Richmond AFL coach Damien Hardwick has signed a new three-year deal.Premiership mentor Damien Hardwick is set to become Richmond’s longest-serving AFL coach after signing a three-year contract extension.

Hardwick has coached the Tigers in 182 AFL games and will pass club legends Tom Hafey (248 games) and Jack Dyer (222) with the new deal.

The 45-year-old, appointed in late 2009 after Terry Wallace’s sacking, is tied to the club until the end of the 2021 season.

The mastermind of last year’s upset grand-final win over Adelaide was mobbed by his players on Tuesday when chief executive Brendon Gale told them the news at Punt Road.

“Four finals series in five years, culminating in a drought-breaking premiership, was massive for the club,” Gale said in his address.

“Huge credit to him, huge credit to the coaching department, the football department, huge credit for the extent to which he’s invested and committed to you guys and huge credit to the way you’ve committed to him as well.

“It’s obvious in the way you played (last year) so, on that basis, no surprise – we’re going to extend his contract for three years out to 2021.”

The move caps a stunning comeback for Hardwick who had been under intense pressure to keep his job when the Tigers slumped to 13th at the end of the 2016 season.

He underwent a period of reflection and soul-searching after that ill-fated campaign and adopted a fresh approach before the 2017 season that culminated in the club’s first premiership since 1980.

“Damien just stripped it right back,” Gale told SEN radio.

“He’s at his best when he’s fully present, he’s there for his players and working on building that most-basic connection.

“If you’ve got that right, then you can work on the game plans and the tactics.

“I think for him to do that in his seventh year … I think he deserves enormous credit.”