July, 2019

Elvis the seal unchained after ocean malady

A young fur seal has been released back into the wild, less than two weeks after being rescued from Sydney’s wild storms. Photo: Taronga Zoo The fur seal was given the name Elvis, due to his tendency to shuffle on the soft matting at the zoo’s hospital. Photo: Taronga Zoo
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The 18-month-old seal was given antibiotics and fluids and fed a diet of fresh fish. Photo: Taronga Zoo

An 18 month old seal is back in the water less than two weeks after he was rescued by Taronga Zoo.

The long-nosed fur seal, nicknamed ‘Elvis’ for his tendency to shuffle on the soft matting at Taronga Wildlife Hospital, was released on Tuesday morning outside Sydney Headlands.

“He was a great little guy,” said Larry Vogelnest, head veterinarian at Taronga Zoo.

“When he came in he was quite feisty, which is a good sign,”

“He adapted really quickly to being in hospital and became a very friendly little animal.”

Mr Vogelnest said that Elvis was thin and malnourished when he washed up on shore after Sydney’s bout of heavy storms.

Taronga Zoo veterinary staff took him in and treated him with antibiotics, fluids and a diet of fresh fish.

After 11 days of treatment, Mr Volgelnest said that Elvis was back to normal and getting a little too comfortable with Taronga Zoo Staff.

“When we opened the little pet carrier to let him off the back of the boat, he actually didn’t want to go,” he said. “Seals can get used to people and get tame very quickly. The shorter time they spend in hospital, the better.”

Mr Volgelnest said that seals who wash up on Sydney shores are often in much worse condition than Elvis, so he was a lucky victim of rough seas.

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Melbourne Metro rail: Iconic landmarks at risk from tunnel works, council warns

Princes Bridge. Photo: Craig AbrahamMelbourne’s Town Hall building, its refurbished City Baths and the iconic Princes Bridge over the Yarra all risk being left in structurally unsound condition by planned rail tunnelling works, the Melbourne City Council warns.
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The celebrated view of St Paul’s Cathedral, framed between the eastern and western “shards” of Federation Square, would also be ruined by a proposed new railway station entrance and should not be built, the council argues.

The council has detailed a long list of concerns about the impact the planned $10.9 billion Melbourne Metro rail tunnel will have on the city environment, in its submission to the project’s Environment Effects Statement.

These include the unknown and “not acceptable” effect on traffic from planned road closures, permanent damage to public parklands along St Kilda Road and the avoidable acquisition of people’s homes and business premises in Kensington.

The council states in its submission, to be confirmed by councillors at a meeting next week, that it remains a firm supporter of the planned rail tunnel, which will include five new underground stations in the municipality and relieve growing pressure on the City Loop.

But it also details many “deficiencies” with the proposed design of the tunnel and stations that could leave some pockets of the city worse off.

The Melbourne Metro is not due to open until 2026 but construction work will start early next year, when huge shafts will be dug at station sites.

Key parts of the city, including the City Square, and Franklin Street between the City Baths and RMIT, will be excavated.

The council fears the vibration could damage some of the city’s most treasured buildings and structures.

Its submission says there are concerns over “potential impacts from the proposed excavation and tunnelling works on the structural integrity of the City Baths, Melbourne Town Hall and Princes Bridge”. Other buildings and structures along the project’s alignment down Swanston Street may also be affected, the council notes.

The structural integrity of Melbourne City Baths could be impacted by Melbourne Metro Rail works. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

The submission also argues that pre-emptive remedial works must be done on the City Baths, because of worries over damage from “vibration and settlement due to construction activities”.

Other heritage buildings on Swanston Street that could be damaged by the project, the submission says, are Young & Jacksons Hotel and the Manchester Unity Building.

The Young & Jackson hotel on the corner of Swanston and Flinders streets. Photo: Ken Irwin

The report warns that the planned closure of A’Beckett Street to cars is not acceptable, the closure of Grattan Street underestimated in its traffic impact, and that emergency exit tunnels to be built near the La Trobe and Swanston street corners may ruin a plan the council has approved for a new laneway.

The submission also says that, in the City Square, a series of three ventilation structures must not be built because they would have “a significant visual impact” and get in the way of pedestrians, especially those using a busy tram stop on Swanston Street.

And it voices concerns over a new entrance to be created to the Metro from Federation Square, saying there are “significant concerns about the location of any new structure within this important civic space”.

There are also concerns that “perceived and actual safety may decline” late at night when construction begins in the CBD, particularly around the City Square.

Many students and young people who currently use the area within the planned construction zone will instead go to what the submission calls particularly vulnerable streets “such as Elizabeth Street where there are existing concentrations of fast food outlets” that “are already hot spots for Victoria Police”. This street in particular has crowded footpaths at night and crime and anti-social behaviour is already occurring.

There are two options in play for the western tunnel entrance in South Kensington, one of which will involve the compulsory acquisition of nine homes and 13 business premises, the other is a more expensive option that would claim just one home.

Melbourne City councillor Rohan Leppert said that the council would “be advocating strongly” for the western entrance to the Melbourne Metro to be designed so that fewer homes in Kensington need to be compulsorily acquired.

“I’m not sure what the cost differential is going to be but it’s crucial council is advocating for that,” he said.

And Cr Leppert said that there was real concern over the loss of trees at Kings Domain and in Fawkner Park. He said the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority had pledged to “assess the significance of each and every single tree, and that is all that we can ask for”.

Jacinta Allan, the Minister for Public Transport, said the council’s submission will be formally considered through the EES process.

Some trees in Fawkner Park may need to be removed for the Melbourne Metro rail project. Photo: Eddie Jim

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Medicare freeze to cost Victoria $230 million

The cost of an average emergency department presentation could increase by as much as $544. Photo: Edwina PicklesVictoria has gone on the offensive over health, with departmental advice warning a Turnbull Government decision to freeze the Medicare rebate for an extra two years will cost the state $230 million.
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Two days out from the federal election, a briefing from the Department of Premier and Cabinet suggests the May federal budget decision to extend the rebate freeze until 2020 will force more people with minor ailments into already stretched emergency departments.

The briefing, obtained by Fairfax Media, said last financial year there were an estimated 111,885 hospital admissions which were deemed to be “avoidable” – inflicting $659 million of potentially unnecessary costs on the hospital system.

It said the out-of-pocket increase in the cost of visiting a GP linked to the freeze could encourage even more people to seek treatment in emergency departments, or add to future pressure on the health system by encouraging them to delay treatment.

“As a result of the pause, patients may be deterred from visiting their General Practitioner due ot possible increases in out-of-pocket costs, and may delay seeking care from the GP or a hospital until their condition has worsened,” the briefing says.

The briefing estimated the freeze could ultimately increase the cost of an average emergency department presentation by as much as $544.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has sought to make make health a major issue in the campaign by accusing the Turnbull Government of hatching a plan to privatise Medicare – something it vehemently denies.

The Medicare rebate freeze was announced by the former federal Labor government in 2013 as a temporary budget repair measure. Although the Abbott Government was thwarted in its attempt to introduce a GP co-payment, it did manage to extend the freeze until 2018.

Then in the May 2016 budget it extended the freeze for a further two years until 2020. That means GPs and other medical specialists will still get the same rebate for delivering health services in 2020 that they were getting in 2014, whereas previously it was lifted to keep pace with rising prices.

It comes as the state’s hospitals are already under pressure. The Royal Children’s Hospital Emergency Department, for example, dealt with about 7300 patients in May, about 34 per cent more than the 5452 patients treated at the start of the year.

Of the 7300, more than half, or 4200, were primary care or GP type presentations such as coughs and colds, minor injuries, bumps and sprains and tummy pain.

In an effort to manage the unprecedented demand, the Royal Childrens has been forced to make several Facebook requests urging parents to consider whether the child might be treated by a GP.

Premier Daniel Andrews on Wednesday ramped up the attack, accusing the Federal Government of delivering the most savage health cuts ever seen.

“We’ve got a Commonwealth Government who went to the last federal election saying no cuts to health and then have delivered the most savage cut backs our nation has ever seen,” Mr Andrews said.

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

The Border Mail Election Guide 2016EDEN-MONARO

The Basics- 41,617 sqkm, 107,877 enrolled to vote and 19,556 pre-polled up to June 29
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– In 2013,Jingellic,Khancoban,Rosewood,Tooma andTumbarumba were part of the safe National Riverina electorate but havebeen redistributed into the marginally coalition-heldEden-Monaro for 2016

– Eden-Monaro is a bellwether seat, itsmaintowns are Adaminaby, Adelong, Batlow, Bega, Berridale, Bodalla, Bombala, Braidwood, Bungendore, Cabramurra, Captains Flat, Cooma (key booth), Dalmeny, Delegate, Eden, Jindabyne, Merimbula, Murrumbateman, Narooma, Queanbeyan (key booth), Talbingo, Tathra, Tumbarumba, Tumut and Yass

– Industries include cattle, snow, timber, hyrdo, sheep and dairy

What happened last timeVoters inJingellic,Khancoban,Rosewood,Tooma andTumbarumba overwhelmingly voted in favour of the National’s on a two-candidate preferred basis.

Conversely in the swinging-seat of Eden-Monaro the Labor incumbent Mike Kelly was given his marching orders as Liberal’s Peter Hendy got up by 1085 votes.

The Palmer United Party got about as many first preferences as the Greens last time around, so it will be interesting to see if those votes go back into the major parties or not.

The Elephant in the roomCouncil amalgamations drew the ire of Tumbarumba earlier this yearwith some in the community encouraging a protest vote against the coalition.The booths inJingellic,Khancoban,Rosewood andToomawere worth 488 votes in 2013 with Tumbarumba registering 1201 votes with65 per cent of that going tothe Nationals.

If the entire town of Tumbarumba did turn against Mr Hendy it could have a big effect withthe seat’s narrow margin.

Unfortunately for these towns much of the focus is on Queanbeyan and cross-border relations between NSW and the ACT.

TheCandidates Liberals – Peter Hendy

Peter Hendy

Ballot order: 5

Party: Liberal

Bio:Both parties have been spending big with Mr Hendy having announced in the last week a$20 millionNSW South Coast Jobs and Investment Package and $9 million for roads near Queanbeyan.Read more.

Labor – Mike Kelly

Mike Kelly

Ballot order: 9

Party: Labor

Bio:The mustache is back. Mike Kelly’s party hasn’t been shy with funding commitments either and arecent poll has him ahead after preferences. His campaign hasn’t been without controversy as he quite the armyreserves after using images of himself in uniform for advertising.Read more.

Greens – Tamara Ryan

Tamara Ryan

Ballot order: 6

Party: The Greens

Bio:Tamara Ryan is a 26-year-old lawyer from Bega who is one of her party’s younger candidates. The Greens lost ground from 2010 in the last election with a swing of 2.2 per cent. They managed to get6,725 or 7.5 per cent of the vote and this number is estimated to jump up to 12 per cent after the same poll which gives Mr Kelly the win.Read more.

Independent – Andrew Thaler

Andrew Evan Thaler

Ballot order: 8

Party: Independent

Bio:An electrical fitter by trade, Andrew Thaler got1,223 first preference votes in his first tilt as an independent in 2013, good enough for 1.4 per cent of the vote. He had a go last year for the NSW state legislative council and his policies are based around consulting with the community.Read more.

Independent – Daniel Grosmaire

Daniel Grosmaire

Ballot order: 1

Party: Independent

Bio:An ex-soldierand small business owner, Daniel Grosmaire believes the major parties aren’t in the business of serving the people. Follows the Cathy McGowan model of saying independents can work with the government of the day to get outcomes for communities.Read more.

Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) – Ursula Bennett

Ursula Bennett

Ballot order: 2

Party: Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)

Bio (TheQueanbeyan Age): Ursula Bennett says the preservation of traditional hetero-sexual marriage isthe blue print for both the expression of human sexuality and the successful nurture of children into responsible, stable and contributing adults.Read more.

Veterans Party – Don Friend

Don Friend

Ballot order: 3

Party: Veterans Party

Bio (TheQueanbeyan Age):Don Friend says there should be national importance onthe issues of Defence veterans and emergency services veterans suicide, homelessness and mental health. He says local issues aremobile phone coverage and protection of prime agricultural land.Read more.

Independent – Ray Buckley

Ray Buckley

Ballot order: 4

Party: Independent

Bio(TheQueanbeyan Age):Ray Buckley believes CO2emissions and protecting the Great Barrier Reef are of grave importance.He says emissions could be reduced withhazard reduction management andchangingagricultural practices and stoppingland clearing.Read more.

Animal Justice Party – Frankie Seymour

Frankie Seymour

Ballot order: 7

Party: Animal Justice Party

Bio(TheQueanbeyan Age):Frankie Seymour believes the export of live animals is one of the biggest issues in Australia at this moment.Read more.

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Fitzgibbon: Labor deal with Animal Justice Party “just a silly beat up”

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce says undecided voters should judge the Coalition on its farm record.LABOR Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has denied his party has done any deal with the Animal Justice Party that would expand plant-based food production at the expense of livestock production.
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As reported by Fairfax Agricultural Media, the AJP has claimed to have held talks with Labor President and Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler and is running 54 upeer and lower house candidates at the weekend’s federal election.

In a statement, AJP President Professor Steve Garlick said “following discussion with us, the ALP in government has agreed to develop and expand initiatives which can maximise plant-based food production and expand these agricultural markets”.

“This is an alternative to an industry which presently involves cruel and unnecessary trafficking in live farm animals to far away countries inflicting immense suffering on Australian bred animals during the journey and frequently at the destination country,” Professor Garlick said.

“Our belief is that in the future, investment in the live trade industry will cease in favour of investment in a diverse, organic, non-lethal agriculture industry where the returns, the jobs and other benefits for us all will be greater.”

But Mr Fitzgibbon told 2GB Rural News the issue of a reported deal between the two parties was “just a silly beat up”.

“Of course the Labor party is absolutely dedicated to our red meat sector; it’s the backbone of our agricultural sector,” he said.

“Just because we’re interested in further diversifying our agricultural product it doesn’t mean we’re doing it at the expense of other products.

“It’s just a silly thing.

“Asia is going to be very hungry (and) there will be heavy demand for beef but there will also be heavy demand for other commodities and other products and we want to make sure Australia is well placed to provide any and all of those.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said any suggestion the Labor deal with the AJP would impact the nation’s livestock industry was “a silly one”.

He said it demonstrated that the National Party was “desperate” and particularly in leader Barnaby Joyce’s New England electorate where’s he’s under threat of losing, at the weekend’s election, to former independent MP Tony Windsor.

Asked why farm voters should back the ALP, Mr Fitzgibbon said from agricultural perspective his party had a plan that would “rejuvenate” rural areas and communities by investing in people, infrastructure, Research and Development and productivity.

“We have a plan to take agriculture on a high value road where it’s not just hostage to commodity prices,” he said.

“That’s where agriculture needs to be and that’s going to be a great thing for our regional communities.”

Queensland LNP Senator Matthew Canavan expressed dismay at the ALP working with an animal rights political movement the AJP which had policies ultimately seeking an end to livestock farming.

“It just shows how far the ALP has come from their working class base,” he said.

Other ALP sources declined to comment on the AJP deal involving Mr Butler until post-election while Professor Garlick was contacted but did not respond by deadline.

During his leaders’ address at the National Press Club in Canberra, ahead of releasing the Coalition’s $260m agricultural policy last week, Mr Joyce said any undecided voters in assessing various farm credentials “can judge us by our form”.

The Agriculture and Water Resources Minister said voters can judge the Coalition on record cattle, sheep meat, pork, chick-pea and almond prices.

“If you look at the price of land – it is going up,” he said.

“If you look at the infrastructure we are delivering, they say we are building it.”

On the ALP potentially returning to government and regaining the agriculture portfolio, Mr Joyce said a cost saving was found under the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Labor/Green/Independent alliance in agriculture.

“When we got the Department back, it lost more than half of its funding,” he said.

But Mr Joyce said the Coalition had moved water policy into agriculture and continued to build up the Department’s resources, “Because we truly believe that this is a pillar of our nation”.

“If you are walking down Martin Place, you are a farmer, whether you like it or not,” he said.

“If you are walking down Collins Street, you are a farmer whether you like it or not.

“If you are walking down Queen Street Mall you are a farmer because our nation relies on the income stream that comes from that.

“It is the mechanism which gives us a buffer to deal with the down turn in the mining industry.

“The Labor Party will do exactly what they did last time – they will decimate it.”

Mr Joyce also took a swipe at independent MPs compared to those aligned to political parties.

“If a person who is not aligned with anybody is the right answer for your electorate, then surely that must be the right answer for every electorate,” he said.

“So, now let’s envisage a world with 150 Independents.

“What we have then is total and utter chaos – that’s the end of Australia – the Commonwealth will collapse.

“They play from the edges and because they play from the edges, they claim credit for virtually everything but not responsible for anything.

“It is not courageous to scream from the coffee shop.

“It is courageous to get to as close to the centre of the table as possible and in the heat and fury of the discussions that go on within any political party, to negotiate your way for what is better for your people, knowing full well that the outcome of your discussions is delivery.”

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