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Bush Chat

  • Cameron Mace returns to manage rebuilt Waltzing Matilda Centre

    AFTER four years as general manager of the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Cameron Mace left Longreach around 2013 for New Guinea to work in Lae in the hotel industry. He has now returned to Winton to take-up the role of manager of the redesigned, redeveloped and rebuilt Waltzing Matilda Centre. After it’s devastating destruction by fire in 2015, the $23-million Waltzing Matilda Centre will again be the pride of Western Queensland. The Centre is a landmark celebrating the resilience of the local community as well as the spirit of what is our unofficial national anthem. Residents of the town were …Read More »
  • Winton’s Way Out West Fest will fire-up the Outback

    THE ENTIRE TOWN of Winton will become a festival site in April as visitors from across Australia and the world descend on Outback Queensland to celebrate the re-opening of the Waltzing Matilda Centre over four event-filled days that will also include an outback race meeting. And in times of continuing drought, the entire Outback will benefit enormously from the influx of visitors and tourists. Longreach airport will feature heavily, with the largest aircraft able to land here — the 737-800 — already being scheduled around the event. Queensland Rail is gearing-up to transport all stage equipment and necessary facilities through …Read More »
  • Continued drought forces cancellation of 2018 Harry Redford Cattle Drive

    BARCALDINE Mayor Rob Chandler had advised that the 2018 Harry Redford Cattle Drive will not be proceeding. He said that due to the incessant drought that has continued in Western Queensland and other parts, the iconic Harry Redford Cattle Drive has had to be cancelled yet again due to a lack of feed on the drovers run. “This decision has not come lightly; with extensive consultation with the boss drover, David Hay, and the chair, Gary Peoples, the committee has reached this difficult decision. “As you may appreciate, this has been an extremely disappointing and difficult decision for the steering …Read More »
  • The Outback organisation that has continued to RAPADly evolve

    SINCE 1992 the Central Western Queensland Remote Area Planning and Development Board (RAPAD) has proven to be a cohesive and collaborative organisation, proactively working in partnership with government and non-government stakeholders at the local, state and federal level. RAPAD is a regional development organisation and regional organisation of councils that aims to foster, facilitate and promote the sustainable growth and development of our Central Western Queensland region. Structurally, RAPAD is an ASIC listed, not-for-profit company owned by, and representing the seven local governments of Central Western Queensland. Governance is via a board of directors, representing those member local governments — …Read More »
  • Tropical Medicine funding to expand research into pressing health issues

    THIRTEEN medical researchers and projects tackling critical health issues across northern Australia are the latest to receive funding through the Coalition Government’s HOT NORTH program. Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the HOT NORTH program — led by the Menzies School of Health Research — was funding research into the north’s most pressing health issues. “These issues include vector-borne and emerging infectious diseases, particularly malaria, and skin health, chronic disease, anti-microbial resistance and respiratory health,” Minister Canavan said. “It is great to see the Government’s $6 million investment in this program continuing to build a stronger tropical …Read More »
  • New data arms growers with shopping insights

    HORT INNOVATION has worked with global information and measurement company, Nielsen, to bring growers the largest series of insights into market performance and shopping behaviour yet. Focussing specifically on the vegetable, sweet potato and onion levy-paying industries, the regularly updated data bank, Harvest to Home, contains hundreds of valuable data points conveyed in a user-friendly format. Hort Innovation chief executive, John Lloyd, said Harvest to Home was created after industries identified they needed deeper insights into trends in consumer preferences. “Never before has there been this level of buying information been available to vegetable, sweet potato and onion growers,” he …Read More »
  • Decipher hits Go! On new nutrition app

    A NEW mobile app empowering farmers to view and analyse the nutritional requirements of entire crops from the palm of their hand has been released today by Decipher, a new agricultural services business within Wesfarmers Chemicals Energy and Fertilisers. DecipherGO is the user-friendly and free companion app for Decipher, a ground-breaking technology that allows farmers to easily gather, evaluate and report on key farm nutrition information. The app links seamlessly with Decipher, enabling users to see farm imagery, nutritional insights and notes on the go. Wayne Hiller, Decipher’s Business Manager, said the app empowers farmers to build on their innate …Read More »
  • Queen-bee-scented balloons help identify local species

    A NET FILLED with pheromone-soaked ‘dummy queens’ attached to a helium-filled weather balloon is the latest tool being used by pollination researchers in their efforts to better understand the number of honey bee colonies in an area. Recently employed on the New South Wales north coast, and being conducted around Australia, the research aims to give growers an insight into where their bees are coming from — feral colonies or through managed hives — and how effective those sources are. The work is being conducted as part of the four-year project Assessing honey bee colony densities at landscape scales, supported …Read More »
  • The potential that is Longreach and the Central West

    THE BACKGROUND to this story is that there is a labour shortage in western towns, yet there is very little support from government — it’s always city first. There’s only tokenism. Some of these jobs are high profile, and the beauty of them is they aren’t in congested cities — they are in the wide open space where rural living is an attractive option to the city. At a recent meeting in Longreach, local tourism operators — big businesses that are tourism drawcards — lamented the fact they can’t get good staff. They are looking to tapping the backpacker market …Read More »
  • Premier Palaszczuk announces her new Cabinet

    QUEENSLAND Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has vowed her new Ministry will deliver for Queensland as a strong, stable majority Labor Government prioritised to jobs, health and education. The Premier said the 18-Member Cabinet and five Assistant Ministers were the right mix of experience and regional representation to deliver greater economic prosperity and government services for all Queenslanders. “We will build on the success of our first term — working with business and industry to create more than 130,000 new jobs, restoring frontline services, investing record budgets in health and education, and strengthening our economy through investments in infrastructure and innovation,” she …Read More »
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Reader’s Views

  • Dasher shows politicians sell-out too cheap

    IT TOOK barely $2,000 credit card reimbursement for Senator Sam ‘Dasher’ Dastyari to turn against his country and his party to advocate a pro-China line. That’s far too cheap a price to advocate a policy (China claiming swathes of the South China Sea from international waters, Vietnam, Phillipines, Malaysia and Indonesia) that could harm Australian farmers, exporters and importers. Dasher’s policy switch could allow China to control waters and international shipping rules vital to Australia’s exports to Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, as well as China. Anyone cognisant with international trade and payment systems knows not only how hard it is sometimes to extract the correct money from many Chinese importers, but also how they escape proper payment through their corrupt court system. The ability to seize cargos within their much broader claimed seaways would further harm Australian exporters. But Dasher, on $200,000 plus many parliamentary expenses benefits a year, was willing to sell Aussies down the drain to have his credit card debt paid out by a Chinese agent. Just as former Trade minister Andrew Robb was willing to sign the Port of Darwin over to a Chinese government-owned (and defence related) corporate — and then pop-up on $880,000 a year …
  • LNP needs pragmatic soul searching

    ON ELECTION DAY, just as the polls opened, I received a text from Anna P advising me to vote against Chaos and Cuts.Early afternoon I received one from the LNP saying I should vote for jobs, growth and reduced budget deficit. That was typical of this election — Labor sharp, savvy and well timed in its messaging; the LNP loose and late. Anyone with any background in marketing knows that first get yourself structurally set, then persistently and consistently push the message through all channels. Labor won the second point by a mile — even with a hardly inspiring leader/main messenger, because it has an obviously superior marketing machine keeping to a tight, clear message. Forget that it might include lies or misconcerning issues such as state debt — like Donald Trump 2016, it messaged strongly to its core and swinging voters, those who trudged to the polling booths without enthusiasm and just wanted some certainty that they could forget politics for another couple of years. ‘Cuts and chaos’ was a brilliant line, and when Labor found it halfway through the campaign, they pushed and pushed it through every channel. It was easy to remember. Some may remember the late …
  • Figuring this election

    IF THE interest rates the Queensland government paid pre-GFC (2008) applied to the current state debt, that’s $3.5 billion minused-out of each year’s budget. That $3.5 billion is five new high schools, a major hospital, 350kms of quality regional highway — per year. That should put all the promises made in this election in context. The current $72 billion state debt will, most optimistically, top out at $80 billion in the next four-year term. And interest rates at some time will return to the more usual levels. And the raiding of government business enterprises (mostly electricity, but also ports) and public sector superannuation is also about at an end, so the ‘funny money’ budget shuffles of the last few years are down to the last few pennies. When you look at the figures starkly, there’s no room for extra schools and hospitals, and the Bruce Highway will stay potholed. That’s the reality. So, promising $5 billion for an underground railway in Brisbane to support a declining number of commuters makes no sense. Only with that taken out of the election promises, can there be any hope of at least stopping the rise in state debt in time for the interest …
  • Back to bolted-down industries

    ONCE UPON A TIME Australia was attractive to processing, refining and manufacturing industries using our abundant mineral and food resources, our reliable low-cost coal-fired electricity and a workforce trained in technical skills. No longer. Our last oil refinery has closed, leaving just three weeks supply of refined motor fuel in the country, and for the first time in at least 60 years Australia no longer produces motor vehicles. China and India have about 430 coal power plants under construction, but Australia has not built a single coal-fired power station for seven years — some politicians even rejoice when they manage to close and demolish one. Brisbane’s new trains are being made in India, Victa mowers are made in China and most coastal shipping died decades ago. Steel works and refineries producing aluminium, copper and zinc are under stress. All these industries are being pushed overseas by costly unreliable electricity and other government barriers and burdens. Red-green policies being pushed by all major parties are making Australia more dependent on bolted-down industries such as mining and farming that can’t be sent overseas because their basic resources are here. And green opposition to nuclear power increases Aussie reliance on coal. A century …
  • Solar — worse impact than farms or dams

    WHILE THE NEIGHBOUR was clearing 400 hectares of pristine bushland for a solar farm, I wondered why this is good according to the greens. Other than a few bandicoots and wallabies shifting location, I didn’t notice any wildlife threatened, although the old trees hit the deck pretty hard. But, if you cleared that much virgin bushland for growing food, you’d be in court up to your neck in bad publicity and steep fines. And an engineer told me that the thousands of solar panels and inverters will use more rare and heavy metals (mainly raped out of kleptocratic countries of Africa) than even the most intensive farming and the maximum use of fertiliser and chemical. But this is all good, according to The Greens and Premier Anna. I just don’t get the obverse rationale. I have a few solar panels on the farm sheds, mainly to try to obviate the skyrocketing electricity bills, rather than trying to advertise green credentials. I didn’t know the adverse green impact until the engineer showed me. At least mine went on an existing structure, whereas the solar farms require total vegetatation clearing and the use of road base to stop regrowth (which has the …



  • The positives keep coming for the Toowoomba region

    THE POSITIVES keep coming for Toowoomba — one of the highest grossing agricultural areas in Australia, contributing 11 per cent of Queensland’s value-added agriculture. Moreover, agriculture generated $743million in value-added produce from the region, an increase of 48 per cent over the past decade. When the Wagner family developed and built the first privately-funded major airport in Australia, and the first new airport in the nation since 1970, Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport became the international hub for exporting Darling Downs produce into Asia and beyond. It should be noted that Toowoomba exports 70 per cent of the nation’s agricultural output; in 2015, that was worth $1.13 billion. Recently the Inland Rail received Federal Government go-ahead to link Melbourne and Toowoomba, and those involved are already planning extensions. EXCITING TIMES: BIRTH OF A RAILWAY: Adjacent to the airport is the Charlton Wellcamp Industrial Area that will service both airport and inland. And in addition, work is currently progressing on the second range crossing. Such infrastructure ensures a steady flow of business people, visitors and tourists to the entire Darling Downs and the west, and has seen the development of quality accommodation houses throughout the area. It was in 1957 …Read More »
  • Rural landholders urged to check new valuations

    AGFORCE IS URGING rural landholders to check new land valuations released today are correct to ensure they don’t end up paying more in Council rates and leasehold rent than they should. AgForce rural property valuer, John Moore, said the Department of Natural Resources and Mines was today issuing 88,000 rural valuations in 28 council areas across Queensland, with increased sales in rural markets to result in rising land values in various agricultural sectors, including grazing. “The rural property market over the past 18 months has been particularly buoyant on the back of strong commodity prices, with general rises of up to 25 per cent in parts of the market,” he said. “Unimproved value — which is the amount for which rural land could be expected to sell for without physical improvements such as structures, fences, clearing, yards and water — generally follow market trends, so we can expect there will be rises in unimproved values as well. “Unimproved values determine what council rates rural landholders pay, and are also used to calculate leasehold rents, so it’’s important the figures are right.” Mr Moore encouraged rural landholders who receive new valuations to check them using the Land Valuations Globe online and …Read More »
  • Soils linked to antibiotic resistant bacteria

    SOILS CONTAINING even small amounts of metals are more likely to contain strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria, according to new research from Edith Cowan University. Global health challenge: Antibiotic resistant bacteria pose one of the world’s most pressing health issues. Researchers from ECU’s School of Science and School of Medical and Health Sciences found that soils containing even small amounts of lead, manganese or aluminium contained bacteria with antibiotic resistance. Researcher Dr Annette Koenders said previous studies carried out overseas had shown a link between high levels of metal contamination in soil and antibiotic resistant bacteria. “But our study, undertaken in WA, shows that even low concentrations of metals are correlated with increased antibiotic resistance in bacteria,” Dr Koenders said. “This antibiotic resistance in bacteria occurs as part of a naturally occurring response to protect from pollutants or stress, especially toxic metals.” Methods: Soil samples were collected from 80 sites on residential properties around the State. The samples were analysed for the presence of 14 different metals. The DNA of the bacteria in each soil sample was analysed for the presence of genes associated with antibiotic resistance. Implications: Dr Koenders said the results showed that an assessment of the metals …Read More »
  • Land acquisitions: should defence better manage training areas?

    IT WAS only a week ago that One Nation’s Pauline Hanson told that she had met with the Defence Department, and suggested they utilise more of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area instead of resorting to the compulsory acquisition by the Department of Defence of properties in the areas surrounding Charters Towers (west of Townsville) and Marlborough (north of Rockhampton) for use by the Singaporean Military. “I was told that it has become overgrown, and the government was restricted by environmental laws from clearing it,” Senator Hanson said. “One Nation will continue to fight against the acquisition.” “Not only will communities like Marlborough be affected, but this decision will destroy a farming sector handed-down from generation to generation.” Yesterday (February 7) AgForce entered the argument, demanding the Australian and Queensland Governments work together to ensure the Department of Defence better manage their military training grounds. AgForce released video footage and photos taken during a helicopter fly-over on the previous week-end that showcased the difference between the Department of Defence’s current training grounds at Shoalwater Bay and the neighbouring grazing properties the Department wants to acquire. AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said the 60 farming families who face the prospect of …Read More »
  • Adani looks at half dozen NQ carbon farms

    INDIAN ENERGY group Adani, best known for its controversial Alpha coal proposal, is negotiating to buy up to half a dozen cattle properties for carbon farms. Adani announced this week plans for Australia’s biggest solar farm near Moranbah, and another in South Australia. Adani has major solar projects as well as coal-fired power stations in India. The next announcement may be about its investment in carbon farms. These would provide offsets to its coal mine, which would be Australia’s biggest if it manages to get through a thicket of green group legal challenges. However, in November it began talks with graziers with large holdings in the Clermont-Bowen-Mackay triangle. Owners were visited a fortnight ago by Adani consultants from a Victorian eco developer. Follow-ups are about to start from Sydney consultants. Graziers would be allowed to continue some cattle production, but would not be allowed any land clearing or agriculture, except tree plantations. Most of the properties being negotiated have heavy timbered country.Read More »

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