Monthly Archives:August 2019

Gathered on one side of the cabinet table were the newly-installed Prime Minister Julia Gillard, her Treasurer Wayne Swan and her Resources Minister Martin Ferguson. On the other were the heads of Australia’s three big mining companies: BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.
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Absent were the key people from the Treasury – the ones who really understood the tax being discussed.

As the then Treasury head Ken Henry later told a Senate committee: “We were not involved in the negotiations, other than in respect of crunching the numbers if you like and in providing due diligence on design parameters that the mining companies themselves came up with.”

The smartest people were kept out of the room. They were ferried draft agreements and asked to examine them quickly. They were unable to test with the miners the propositions they were putting to the government.

The 1½-page heads of agreement signed by the ministers and executives on July 1, 2010, replaced the 40 per cent resource super profits tax with a much weaker 30 per cent minerals resource rent tax applying only to coal and iron ore. An “extraction allowance” cut the actual rate paid to 22.5 per cent. It would be paid only if the profits themselves reached a much higher hurdle.

And then there was the drafting error.

The agreement allowed “all state and territory royalties” to be deducted from the tax.

Ferguson thought the words referred to “royalty rates that applied, or changes to royalty rates that were scheduled to apply in the future, as at 2 May 2010”.

The interpretation made sense. Those were the royalty rates referred to in the original super profits tax. Agreeing to refund whatever any state government chose to charge in the future would expose the Commonwealth to an uncontrollable expense.

But read baldly, that’s what the ministers had signed up to.

Western Australia promptly lifted its iron ore royalty from 5.6 per cent to 7.5 per cent. It now grabs money the ministers believed the federal government would get.

Appearing before the Senate, treasury official David Parker later tried to explain the less-than-precise drafting this way: “This is a document which is 1½ pages long. One could say that the heads of agreement is, to use a musical analogy, a rather staccato document.”

The agreement allowed the mining companies to do more than deduct their royalty payments from the new tax. It allowed them to ”grow” the amount they could deduct at the long term bond rate plus 7 per cent, if low profits meant they owed less resource tax than the royalty payments.

The concession means the miners are unlikely to pay much of the new mining tax for some time to come.

Julia Gillard and her ministers brought peace on July 1, 2010, but at a heavy financial price.

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Scientists have reported on the bizarre sex life of a sea slug that discards its penis after copulation, and then grows a new one.
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Dubbed Chromodoris reticulata in Latin, the red-and-white slug – technically a shell-less mollusc – inhabits warms waters in South East Asia.

“No other animal is known to repeatedly copulate using such ‘disposable penes’,” Japanese biologists wrote in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, describing the behaviour as “extremely peculiar”.

The critter needs 24 hours between couplings to unroll an internally coiled and compressed juvenile penis to replace the used, external organ, scientists found.

It can repeat this feat at least three times.

The human thumb-sized slug is an hermaphrodite, meaning it has both male and female sexual organs.

The animals perform dual sexual roles during copulation.

They give sperm to a mating partner while simultaneously receiving sperm, which they store for later insemination.

The team observed copulation between sea slugs that they had captured during scuba dives and held in a tank.

After each coupling, which lasted between dozens of seconds and a few minutes, every slug discarded its penis – a thread-like organ that it projects from its side into a partner’s vagina.

The team also examined the microscopic structure and function of the male organs – observing an internal spiral structure they believe grows into a replacement penis.

“We propose that the tissue at the spiral part of the penis is compressed and undifferentiated, gradually differentiating into the ‘next penis’,” the team wrote.

“It may need approximately a day for the spiral structure to be ready for copulation.”

In another revelation about the sea slug’s sex life, the scientists found its penis was covered with spines – and suggested these may be used to remove the sperm of previous partners being held in store by their mate.

The spines are backward-pointing, making it difficult to withdraw the penis after copulation. This may explain the organ’s disposable nature.

“Chromodoris reticulata may compensate for the short-term cost of decreased reproductive opportunities caused by the loss of a penis with the reproductive advantage gained by sperm displacement,” wrote the study authors.

Various animals are known to discard parts of their body, such as the gecko which sheds its tail.

Few, though, are willing to part with their penis, the team noted with clinical understatement.

AFP

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A Koala with with chlamydia, which causes it to have a cloudy eye. Wildlife Awareness Month is coimg up and Tracey Wilson is a wildlife carer who currently has a koala joey.
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Koalas are an indicator that climate change is upon us, say researchers at the University of Queensland.

By Christine Adams-Hosking, University of Queensland and Clive McAlpine, University of Queensland

If we need an indicator that climate change is upon us, we need look no further than Australia’s koala.

The koala family (Phascolarctidae) has existed in Australia for tens of millions of years, yet in a mere evolutionary blink of 200 years, this unique Australian marsupial is declining significantly in many areas of its natural range.

Koalas are highly vulnerable to unprecedented heatwaves and just like humans, they suffer from heat stress and dehydration in extreme temperatures. Bushfires such as the Coonabarabran fires that burnt out 100,000 hectares can also decimate koala and other wildlife populations.

In the past decade, we have experienced the hottest temperatures on record followed by floods and cyclones. While many climate change cynics claim that this is just part of the natural climate variability (Dorothy McKellar’s Sunburnt Country hypothesis), the evidence suggests that recent extreme weather events are not typical.

Rather, they are becoming more common and going beyond the natural range of variability. For example, Roma in southern inland Queensland, experienced record flooding three years in a row and has now experienced record January temperatures. Across western Queensland and New South Wales, temperatures remained in the mid to high 40s for 10 days. These changes in climate are consistent with climate change predictions; a hotter climate with extreme wet periods such as that experienced in Queensland and northern New South Wales in late January.

Our research on the effects of climate change on the distribution of koalas and their eucalypt food resources used a “pessimistic” climate change scenario that represents a future of rapid economic growth, a global population that peaks in mid-century and a continuation of high energy demand being met by fossil fuel sources.

This was the correct choice. That scenario is no longer pessimism, but is tracking reality.

Our climate envelope modelling found that koalas occur at a maximum temperature of 37.7 degrees. However, the recent Australian heatwave and the weather conditions before the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 – with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees for consecutive days – are two examples of the koala being pushed beyond its climatic threshold.

Koala population crashes have been documented after such drought and heatwave events, most recently an 80 per cent decline in the Queensland Mulgalands following the 10-year drought.

In New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT, where koalas are now listed as vulnerable under Commonwealth law, our research has found that koalas and many of their critical food trees will contract and shift eastwards. Here, potential “climate change refugia” are rapidly diminishing due to urban development.

By 2050, the only climatically suitable areas for koalas and their habitat will occur in patchy regions closer to these coastal areas. In these areas, their numbers are often sharply declining due to other factors such as habitat loss, disease, cars collisions and dog attacks.

We should take heed from what is happening to the koala because it is likely that our agriculture and towns will be facing similar risks from climate extremes; well beyond our limits to adapt to.

How can people and the natural environment, upon which human wellbeing and in fact survival depends, co-exist? It is time for all our decision-makers to recognise the urgency of the problem, look to the future and proactively address the fundamental challenges of environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation. Our very future depends on it.

Christine Adams-Hosking does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations. She is funded by the Australian Research Council and the University of Queensland. She is affiliated with the Koala Research Network.

Clive McAlpine does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations. He is funded by the Australian Research Council and the University of Queensland. He is affiliated with the Koala Research Network.

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

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ARIES: The Arian Moon of February 14, 15 puts you in touch with your emotions. You will respond to varying situations in your usual fashion, strongly directed by impulse.
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TAURUS: Taurus needs time to think things through in a nice quiet environment during February 14, 15. By getting your head in order, you are able to deal with any problems you may have.

GEMINI: There’s likely to be a little extra money coming your way during February 14, 15; that’s good, for it allows you to get out there and do the things you enjoy so much.

CANCER: There will be plenty of contact with all sorts of people during Thursday and Friday. You will also be giving some thought to what you want out of life.

LEO: Your compassion is likely to be strongly aroused by the sentiments of different people during February 14, 15. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will also understand your point of view.

VIRGO: Many Virgoans will struggle with ethical issues concerning a friend during February 14, 15. This is not anything major, but tends to be something that niggles away at you.

LIBRA: There is someone around you who will play an important role during February 14, 15, evoking a strong emotional response. This tends to produce more positive results than negative.

SCORPIO: The mind will be on the job during February 14, 15, producing some excellent results. Your heart is in the right place, fuelling your ideas and commitment to getting things done.

SAGITTARIUS: Sagittarius tends to be in a rather playful mood during February 14, 15; it is a pity that others’ moods don’t always match your own. Life’s too short to not enjoy it.

CAPRICORN: February 14, 15 allow Capricorn to experience the domestic situation from an exceptionally emotional perspective. Family interaction is an important facet of daily life.

AQUARIUS: Your mind is impressionable during February 14, 15, but also busied by thoughts of all those little things that need doing. You will feel happier when you have them out of the way.

PISCES: There is a tendency for Pisces to feel lucky during February 14, 15. Luck has many ways of expressing itself, other than from the results of gambling. There may be extra money in your pay packet.

LUCKY NUMBERS: Aries: 1, 3, 4, 9; Taurus: 5, 8; Gemini: 6, 7; Cancer: 3, 4, 7, 9; Leo: 1, 3, 4, 9; Virgo: 6, 8; Libra: 5, 7; Scorpio: 2, 3, 7, 9; Sagittarius: 1, 3, 4, 9; Capricorn: 5, 6; Aquarius: 5, 6; Pisces: 2, 4, 7.

Read Alison Moroney’s daily stars for Thursday, February 14, 2013.

Source: The Courier
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A naked man led police on a 25-kilometre pursuit through the Victorian town ofBallarat yesterday before he struck a police officer with a vacuum cleaner fitting.

Police used batons and capsicum spray to arrest the man, who stopped in the car park of McDonald’s in Sebastopol.

The 47-year-old South Australia man was wanted for various offences.

He was detected travelling at 155km/h in a 100km/h zone before the pursuit began in Learmonth on the Sunraysia Highway at 11.43am.

The chase was soon joined by seven other police cars from Ballarat, including Highway Patrol units, who took the lead in the pursuit.

The man led police into Ballarat and through Wendouree, Redan and Sebastopol before coming to a stop at the McDonald’s outlet at the corner of Albert and Hertford streets.

At one point, the man waved a vacuum cleaner fitting out of his vehicle’s sunroof.

A witness managed to film the pursuit coming through a roadwork zone and noticed the driver waving the vacuum part at police cars following behind.

“I couldn’t believe it. I just thought ‘why is he holding a vacuum cleaner?’,” the man said

The Fairfax Regional Mediareader used his phone to film the man driving past during the chase.

“He was laughing as he went past — it was really weird,” he said.

Ballarat Criminal Investigation Unit Detective Senior Sergeant David Hermit said when the man finally stopped at McDonald’s, he resisted arrest by wielding the vacuum cleaner fitting like a club and managed to strike an officer who received minor injuries.

After a dose of capsicum spray and use of police batons, the man was taken into custody more than 30 minutes later.

He was admitted to Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital for treatment to injuries he sustained during his arrest.

The man was expected to be interviewed and charged.

He will appear at the Ballarat Magistrates Court at a later date.

The man’s car is surrounded by police at Sebastopol after yesterday’s pursuit. Photo: LACHLAN BENCE