Thursday, January 02, 2014

Bad news for Greenies:  Koalas spotted in new parts of Australia, including upper Blue Mountains

Greenies love to shriek "Endangered!" any time anybody proposes to do anything near a Koala.  This might spike their guns a little

Koalas have been found living in parts of Australia where they have never been seen before, researchers say.

A nationwide survey by the National Parks Association (NPA) found the animal living in the upper Blue Mountains of New South Wales, for the first time.

They have also been spotted in the NSW Southern Highlands, Port Stephens and Maitland, as well as known hot spots in the Northern Rivers and Gunnedah, also in NSW.

"I think the population is just so low that people weren't sure that they were even still there," said Dr Grainne Cleary of the NPA.

"They are just at such low density, unless you're going out looking for them you just don't see them.

"Some of it could have to do with the connectivity and that the koalas can move back into these areas that they weren't found in before."
What more should be done to bolster Australia's koala populations? Leave your comments below.

The NPA recruited the public to participate in the Great Koala Count by going in search of the animal and sending in their findings.

More than 850 people took part and logged about 920 koala sightings over the course of 10 days in November.

Dr Cleary says the results will help communities bolster conservation efforts.  "This data goes very much back to the community that collected it to help protect their koalas," she said.

"They're looking at planting trees in areas where koalas are to increase connectivity between populations - now I can give them a map of where their koalas are.  "We'll also give it to the councils to make sure they can include it in their koala comprehensive management plans."

The survey also shows koalas are picky about where they choose to live, opting for good quality land and soil.

"If the vegetation was right you will get high densities in certain areas, which was interesting," said Dr Cleary.

Known hot spots such as the Northern Rivers and Gunnedah featured strongly in the survey, as well as the Gold Coast and Brisbane, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

The Great Koala Count will be held again next year.


Fishery folly

The Greenies are all for "renewable" resources  -- except when it comes to fish

The most interesting person at the table, for me, was a commercial fisherman, which meant he lived far outside my urban bubble. He loved what he did, and was a conservationist, but he felt besieged. Along with the rest of his industry, he believed Australia was engaging in what I term fish porn.

Thanks to the zeal of the environmental movement, personified by the Greens, Australia has shrunk its fishing industry by 90 per cent even though it is one of the most highly regulated and scientifically scrutinised in the world. In so doing, we are pushing demand to all the wrong places. As the fisherman said:

"If we are not using our own marine resources but are enjoying a seafood meal at the expense of someone else, it's an immoral position to be in."

He directed me to a documentary, Drawing the Line, financed by a Northern Territory mackerel fisherman, Bruce Davey, which put the case that Australia, by closing off 3 million square kilometres as marine reserves, would do more harm than good to global fish stocks.

"The irony is," Davey says, "as we have less and less domestic catch, the fish we import is more and more from less sustainable fisheries … places like China, Thailand, Africa." The documentary quotes Colin Buxton, of the University of Tasmania, warning: "The mere act of drawing a line doesn't confer any protection at all. All we are doing is eliminating fishing."

My fishing friend also loathed the carbon tax and thought it had been highly corrosive to business while achieving nothing. He even checked his electricity bill later and called me with the numbers: in December 2010, his monthly bill was $1617. Last month it was $2255, an increase of 40 per cent in three years, with no expansion in usage or equipment.

This increase, plus ever-increasing compliance costs, made him decide not to hire a part-time assistant, so he saw the tax as a job-killer and price-riser.


Muslim barbarism in Australia

THE female genital mutilation of children is much more common in Australia and by Australians overseas than authorities can detect, NSW Community Services Minister Pru Goward says.

The man had his then nine-month-old girl circumcised while abroad in February 2012, police allege.  They were alerted six months later after the girl's mother took her to the doctor.

It is unclear in what country the alleged procedure took place.

Following investigations, the father was arrested on Tuesday and charged with procuring female genital mutilation. He will face Manly Local Court on January 28.


Share market ends boom year

After trading a little down, then a little up, the share market has failed to add to its 15 per cent annual gain on the last trading day of 2013.

Closing early at 2:10pm (AEDT), the All Ordinaries index finished down 5 points at 5,353, and the ASX 200 also lost 0.1 per cent to end the year at 5,352.

That close for the benchmark index of Australia's top 200 companies represents a 15 per cent gain in share prices over the year, while including dividends would yield an annual return of just over 20 per cent.

The big companies outperformed the smaller firms, with the Midcap 50 index of medium-sized firms up 12.6 per cent in price and just under 17 per cent in total returns including dividends, while the Small Ords index of market minnows posted a 3.8 per cent capital loss, with investors still slightly behind even after dividends.

However, while the big firms delivered better returns on average, the top total returns out of the 496 companies in the All Ordinaries were delivered by smaller firms.

Winners and losers

The winner for 2013 was almond producer Select Harvests, which delivered a total return (including dividends) of 323 per cent.

Others in the top five total returns were Hutchison Telecoms (183 per cent), takeover target Warrnambool Cheese and Butter (166 per cent), BT Investment (158 per cent), and veterinary clinic operator Greencross (152 per cent).

While smaller firms were the biggest winners, they were also the biggest losers, particularly in the resources sector: Discovery Metals (-97 per cent), Mirabela Nickel (-97 per cent), Nucoal Resources (-94 per cent), Tanami Gold (-94 per cent) and gold explorer Red 5 (-93 per cent).

Miners also dominated the list of the largest falls among the top 200 biggest listed companies: Silver Lake Resources (-84 per cent), Resolute Mining (-66 per cent), Newcrest (-65 per cent), Evolution Mining (-64 per cent) and mining engineering and construction firm Forge Group (-63 per cent) were the biggest losers - Forge made the list despite surging more than 200 per cent in the past six trading days.

Despite complaints about unfair competition from GST-free overseas online rivals, retailers were the best performing sector in the ASX 200, with two featuring in the top five individual gains.

Cynics of the legal profession may not be surprised by class action law firm Slater and Gordon topping the list of best ASX 200 total returns (135 per cent).

The rest of the top five was made up of JB Hi-Fi (123 per cent), Village Roadshow (119 per cent), Kathmandu (115 per cent), and online real estate classifieds company REA Group (114 per cent).


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