Queensland’s new land clearing bill will help turn the tide, despite its flaws

 Vegetation ‘thinning’ in Queensland - a practice  
that was originally designed to restore forests and woodlands to a 
‘representative state’. WWF-AustraliaAuthor provided (No reuse)

Queensland’s Labor government this month tabled a bill to tighten the regulation of land clearing. Queensland is by far the worst offender in this area, following a litany of reversals of vegetation protection.

After a period of tightened laws between 2004 and 2013, the Newman government set about unwinding key reforms during its 2012-15 term.

Following these changes, land-clearing rates quadrupled to almost 400,000 hectares per year, to the dismay of conservationists, with rising concern about the impacts on wild animal welfare and wider ecological impacts.

The state’s Labor government, which retained power at the November 2017 election, made an election promise to tighten vegetation management laws. However, the bill is likely to be fiercely debated after the parliamentary committee tables its report next month.

Although the bill promises a steep reduction in land clearing, albeit without any firm target, there is likely to be a significant gap between what the government has promised and what its legislation may deliver in reality.

To explain why, let’s look in more detail at what the proposed legislation does, as well as what it doesn’t do.

High-value agriculture

The 2013 amendments legalised the clearing of mature forest for large-scale crop-growing developments. The bill will once again ban it, fulfilling Labor’s election promise, but it remains a major point of friction with agriculturalists.

This will not stop the roughly 114,000 hectares that have already been approved from being cleared. It would, however, stop any more approvals.

About 10% of clearing of mature forest is due to high value agriculture approvals.

Self-assessed clearing

Up to 67% of clearing of regulated vegetation is occurring under self-assessment provisions. No permit is required for this, provided that landowners follow the code and give notice of their plans.

Of this self-assessed clearing, about 60% is for “thinning”. The government has now recognised that “thinning is not a low-risk activity” and is removing the main provision that allows it, but is keeping some self-assessed thinning provisions, such as for advanced regrowth.

Other types of self-assessed clearing would continue, particularly the clearing of mulga forests for livestock fodder, albeit under a tighter code. This was a major concession to agricultural interests.

As the bill has not banned self-assessment outright, future land-clearing rates will ultimately depend on how stringent the new codes turn out to be in practice.

“Area Management Plans” are an older, parallel mechanism for allowing self-assessed clearing. Clearing under these plans accounts for up to 38% of clearing of regulated vegetation. The new legislation would phase out existing plans, but would retain a provision to make new area plans, including for thinning.

Google satellite image of remnant forest that was legally thinned under a self-assessable code in 2015. The top half shows intact forest, and the lower half thinned forest. WWF-Australia


The government promised to protect “high conservation value regrowth”. This includes threatened ecosystems and species habitats that are needed for recovery. The new law would expand these definitions to regulate clearing of regrowing forests older than 15 years, and of regrowth alongside streams in all Great Barrier Reef catchments, not just the northern ones as at present.

This will bring more than a million hectares that are currently exempt under regulatory control, a major step forward. However, the bill excludes regrowth that has been “locked in” as exempt on property maps. Clearing of regulated regrowth may also still proceed under a new self-assessable code, which apparently lacks protections for endangered species habitats or ecosystems.


Exemptions pose a major stumbling block to the government’s promise to “protect remnant and high conservation value regrowth”. An area currently exempt on a regulatory map can be reclassified, and the government plans to do this for more than 1 million hectares of high conservation value regrowth. However, areas that have been “certified exempt” on a property map cannot be reversed – this represents 23 million hectares (13% of the state’s area). The government has reaffirmed its commitment not to reverse these exempt areas.

What’s more, the bill allows ongoing locking in of exemptions. This is a significant issue because more than 60% of all tree clearing is exempt. Most of this is in already locked-in areas, and a large fraction includes advanced regrowth of high conservation importance.

It remains to be seen how much the A$500 million Land Restoration Fund will protect these locked-in areas.

In light of these loopholes and exemptions, the new law looks set to fall short of what the Queensland government has promised. This is primarily due to ongoing reliance on self-assessed clearing and exempt areas. However, the proposed legislation and funding together should go some way towards turning around Queensland’s soaring land-clearing rates.

Tree clearing will continue to be a hotly contested policy space, and not just in Queensland. New South Wales recently trod the same path, placing a heavily reliance on self-assessed codes. These were recently challenged successfully in court. A similar challenge is under way in the Northern Territory, citing the greenhouse emissions caused by a large-scale clearing approval.

The federal opposition has also pledged to tighten land-clearing controls in national legislation. The tide may well be turning, albeit only slowly so far.

This article was co-authored by:
Anita J Cosgrove – [Senior Research Assistant in the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, The University of Queensland];
April Reside – [Researcher, Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, The University of Queensland];
James Watson – [Professor, The University of Queensland]
Martine Maron – [ARC Future Fellow and Associate Professor of Environmental Management, The University of Queensland]






This article is part of a syndicated news program via




    Without doubt the most anticipated television series of all time has been David Lynch’s latest instalment of Twin Peaks. And therein lies the problem. That obsessive anticipation and expectation blinkered many to what they were actually seeing. Myself included. I had hoped that the series would go in a certain direction and it went the complete opposite route. But hasn’t Lynch always done this to us? He is obviously not creatively inspired unless he is taking risks and going where no one has dared ventured before.

    Watching the new series I got to episode four before cashing my chips in. To me the main problem was that Special Agent Dale Cooper, the story’s protagonist, the character that is supposed to be propelling the action, was catatonic for those episodes and would remain so almost all of the series. I was brought up to believe that if your main character sat down too long, so did your show. Of course I was aware that Lynch doesn’t follow conventional story development, and I, most times, find that very exciting. But this was really testing the viewer. Almost in a cruel way. Many, like me, simply tuned out.

    It has been rumoured that this was Lynch’s last project as director, so perhaps he didn’t really care about ratings and was experimenting with Showtime’s money.

    This would’ve remained my opinion only for Richard Wolstencroft loaning me his blu-ray boxed set edition of the new season. Reluctantly, I put it on and started again at the very beginning. This time no anticipation. No expectations. And guess what? The slow burning magic revealed itself.

    The famous first season of Twin Peaks changed television forever. But at the heart of the small town weirdness there was the narrative coat hanger of “Who killed Laura Palmer?” Lynch has admitted that the big mistake he and co-writer Mark Frost made was revealing at the end of the first season who the killer was. Once it was known, viewers lost interest in a second season. Lynch has said that “the mystery and investigation should’ve gone on forever revealing other smaller mysteries.”

    Which brings us to the latest instalment. It is my opinion that Lynch has progressed far beyond a murder mystery in a small town. He is exploring the ultimate mystery – Who are we? Why are we here? Why do we do the things we do? And, do we sometimes stumble blindly into another dimension in a parallel universe?

    Like the world, Twin Peaks is scary, frustrating, absurd, baffling, funny, provocative and harsh.

    The darkness at the edge of town has moved into us. We are the mystery that defies reason and clarification. Each of us carrying our own hell and heaven within us. The more we delve the deeper the confusion driving many into the shelter of ignorance and small talk, sounding all the more bizarre and comical amidst the backdrop of impending evil.

    Mention must be made of Laura Dern’s performance. She and Lynch have collaborated many times now the ease and understanding of their relationship shines through. She is riviting in every scene she is in and her talent and instinct makes her one of the most versatile actors working in present day film. She is grossly underrated.

    When Special Agent Dale Cooper finally wakes and re-enters this dimension in one of the final episodes it is almost a religious experience. Suddenly energised and coherent he is eager to continue his investigation. But what does Lynch do? Just as the pace is moving like a runaway train, he ends the series on what is possibly the biggest cliff hanger of them all. Will there be another season? Will we have an explanation? Possibly not. There are no happy endings in Twin Peaks. Only mysteries. And, true to life, many of them have no comfortable resolution. And so they go on. And so do we, fumbling around in the dark, drinking coffee, and looking for answers where there are none.


    (C) Frank Howson 2018

    Articulate US teenagers could finally force action on gun control

    For the first time in decades, there is now a  
    real possibility that some gun controls might be implemented.Colin Abbey/AAP

    On Wednesday in the US, thousands of students left their classrooms in a national day of action designed to force political change on gun crime. Following the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, this walkout is part of an extraordinary national movement. Young people across the US are doing what countless others have tried and failed to do: using grassroots strategies to take on the powerful gun lobby.

    The US has an epidemic of gun crime. Mass shootings occur every day, and school shootings have become so common that over 170 schools and some 150,000 students have been affected by school-based gun violence since 1999.

    Beyond the psychological trauma such attacks inflict, these shootings have a profound effect on academic success rates.

    Author provided/The Conversation

    And yet, in spite of the overwhelming majority of Americans who want tighter gun control laws, very little is done to stem the presence of guns in schools, or the ability of Americans to access high-powered weaponry with relative ease.

    Policy inertia and the NRA

    The main reason for this inertia is the extraordinary influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Since it turned to a more aggressive lobbying strategy in the 1970s, the NRA has helped redefine the meaning of the 2nd Amendment, bestowed a divine blessing on guns, and bent half of Congress to its will.

    The NRA succeeds because it has created powerful (and mostly false or distorted) narratives to support gun use. It deploys familiar tropes to distract from tragedies. When gun-related tragedy hits, NRA-backed politicians call for “thoughts and prayers”. 

    Reports out of Texas are devastating. The people of Sutherland Springs need our prayers right now.

    The reality of US gun deaths is set against such pro-gun arguments, and each tragedy widens the stark divide between those who associate guns with freedom, and those who see them as devices for terror. So, when others call for legislative action, as they did following the massacre at Sandy Hook and other mass shootings, the gun lobby scolds them for “politicising tragedy”.

    But murdered kids are political. Sandy Hook exposed the US to the faces of erstwhile happy kindergarteners, their lives snuffed out by a disturbed young man with easy access to guns. It’s an all-too-familiar story for Americans and, by international comparison, a unique one at that.

    Yet the resulting push for change soon turned to despair: many came to believe that if 26 deaths at an elementary school can’t bring Congress to act, nothing can.

    Gun laws and the possibility of change

    The last last major piece of gun control legislation to pass Congress was the federal assault weapons ban in 1994. It was specifically designed to reduce the incidence of mass shootings, and targeted the enhanced killing power of assault rifles. But, under sustained attack from the gun lobby, the ban expired under its “sunset clause”.

    Since then, the one major piece of gun legislation in the US, in spite of the national rise in mass and school shootings, has been an act designed to protect gun manufacturers in 2005.

    Now, for the first time in decades, there is a real possibility that some gun controls might be implemented. The NRA, as well as numerous politicians associated with it, are facing significant pressure to act.

    Recent news footage showed Senator Marco Rubio and the NRA’s Dana Loesh publicly sparring with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, to a chorus of boos and jeers. Millions witnessed their discomfort.


    This has already led to some action by states. Florida is looking to pass age restrictions and waiting periods for gun purchases, and Oregon has imposed gun prohibitions on domestic abusers and those with restraining orders.

    Even President Donald Trump, who has been keen to show off his pro-gun credentials in the past, has recognised the public outcry. He has called for regulation of bump-stocks and age restrictions (though he is wavering on both).

    The high school advocates

    The reason gun control looks possible right now is largely due to the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Beyond the pressure they have been applying directly to the NRA and politicians, the students have been busy using advocating on social media, writing op-edsorganising rallies and walkoutsmaking media appearancesand pressuring companies to drop support for the NRA or pro-gun politicians.

    Students all over the US walked out of classrooms on Wednesday to mark one month since the mass shooting that killed 17 at a school in Florida.Michael Reynolds/AAP

    As a result of these efforts, the students are presenting important, emotionally powerful counter-narratives to those of the gun lobby. They are offering examples of successful gun control and pointing out that guns in schools are the problem, not the solution. They are also forming a coalition in opposition to the well-organised 2-4 million members of the NRA and affiliated organisations.

    Whether these efforts are successful or not will depend largely on whether they are sustained. This is why the gun lobby calls for “hopes and prayers” and to not “politicise tragedy”. These are stalling tactics: if the NRA can wait it out, while at the same time applying pressure to its political allies, nothing gets done.

    However, the gun lobby has not faced a political force like this before. While it is inevitable that media attention will eventually wane, the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas and around the country have access to tools — such as social media — that circumvent traditional outlets. They also have the ability to draw the national spotlight back, especially via their use of rallies and walkouts.

    These tactics reinvigorate the Democratic base and ratchet up the pressure on the Republicans, already jittery following a string of shock political losses.

    If the passion and dedication they have shown so far is sustained, especially as the congressional midterm elections approach, the young people of the US might just be able do what no one has done in decades, and force action on gun control.

    This article was written by:
    Image of George RennieGeorge Rennie – [Lecturer in American Politics and Lobbying Strategies, University of Melbourne]




    This article is part of a syndicated news program via

    Australia’s draft ‘Strategy for nature’ doesn’t cut it. Here are nine ways to fix it

     The thorny devil, one of Australia’s many remarkable 
    and unique animals. Euan RitchieAuthor provided (No reuse)

    Australia arguably has the worst conservation record of any wealthy and politically stable nation. Since European arrival roughly 230 years ago, 50 animal and 60 plant species have gone extinct, including the loss of some 30 native mammals – roughly 35% of global mammal extinctions since 1500.

    These are not just tragedies of the distant past – the Christmas Island pipistrelle, the forest skink and the Bramble Cay melomys have all died out within the past two decades.

    More than 1,800 plant, animal and ecological communities are listed as being at risk of extinction, ranging from individual species such as the orange-bellied parrot and Gilbert’s potoroo, all the way up to entire ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef. This number rises every year, in the face of threats such as climate changerampant land clearingminingand invasive species.

    This bleak situation has been recognised by successive governments, but never successfully tackled.

    In the midst of such a tremendous environmental challenge, the federal government has released a draft document, Australia’s strategy for nature 2018–2030, for public comment. This is a welcome step, but regrettably the strategy falls a long way short of what’s required and contains significant flaws. It contains no firm commitments or measurable targets, and overlooks a substantial amount of relevant scientific evidence.

    As representatives of Australia’s peak professional ecological body, the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA), we are deeply concerned that the strategy is not fit for its purpose of protecting Australia’s biodiversity.

    A bolder, science-based vision

    As part of ESA’s formal submission to the public consultation, we provide an alternative, evidence-based vision. This includes nine key recommendations for nature conservation in Australia.

    1. Set measurable targets. Any project needs a set of quantifiable targets, otherwise we won’t know whether it has been successful or not. Some suggestions:

    • establish a comprehensive national network of ecosystem monitoring sites by 2025
    • reverse the declines of all species that are threatened by human-caused factors by 2025.

    2. Commit to preventing human-caused species extinctions. The strategy should state explicitly that human-driven species extinctions are not acceptable, and establish and maintain clear paths of accountability.

    3. Adequately fund the strategy’s implementation. Australia should show international leadership in conservation by investing at the upper end of OECD and G20 averages. At present Australia allocates less than 0.8% of GDP to conservation. We suggest 2% as an urgent minimum investment, with scope to expand funding to ensure that targets can be met.

    4. Focus on the intrinsic value of biodiversity. The draft strategy is supposed to represent “Australia’s biodiversity conservation strategy and action inventory”, but it does not define biodiversity, choosing instead to focus on the vague notion of “nature”. We recommend the document return its focus to biodiversity, defined in the Convention on Biodiversity as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”.

    5. Make specific legislative recommendations. The strategy should specify the legislative revisions that will be needed to improve conservation, with particular focus on the flagship Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999. This should include:

    • requiring recovery plans for all threatened species
    • requiring threat-abatement plans to efficiently manage major threats to many species, such as impacts of feral predators and herbivores, invasive plants and new diseases
    • specifically protecting high-value ecosystems, including those of economic value such as the Great Barrier Reef, and those that are critical for species survival, and rare ecosystems.

    6. Commit to establishing a comprehensive system of protected areas, including marine parks. Despite longstanding commitments to developing a fully representative network of protected areas in Australia, many bioregions remain poorly represented in the National Reserve System and the national marine protected area system.

    7. Include all 20 Aichi biodiversity targets and affirm Australia’s commitment to the Convention on Biodiversity. Australia has a proud bipartisan history of national and international engagement with conservation. But the new draft strategy is poor in comparison with other countries’ equivalent documents, such as Germany’s National Strategy on Biological Diversity and New Zealands’s Biodiversity Action Plan.

    8. Base the strategy on Australia’s international conservation commitments. Australia has signed more than 30 international conservation agreements, including the Convention on Biodiversity, the Apia Convention, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The domestic EPBC Act requires Australia not to defy these agreements, yet with the exception of the Convention on Biodiversity, none of them rates a mention in the new draft strategy.

    9. Recognise key issues that affect Australian biodiversity conservation. Any successful strategy should specifically address new and emerging issues that can harm our environment, such as Australia’ increasing use of natural resources, environmental water flows in rivers, and overfishing.

    We cannot ignore human population growth, increasing per capita consumption and subsequent resource demand as drivers of threats to healthy and resilient ecosystems.

    Our unique plants, animals and other organisms shape our national identity. They have wide-ranging benefits to our society, as well as being inherently valuable in their own right. They need a much stronger commitment to their ongoing protection.

    This article was co-authored by:

    Euan Ritchie – [Associate Professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences, Deakin University];


    Bek Christensen [Vice-President, Ecological Society of Australia, Queensland University of Technology];


    Bill Bateman -[Senior Lecturer, Curtin University];


    Dale Nimmo – [Associate professor/ARC DECRA fellow, Charles Sturt University];


    Don Driscoll – [Professor in Terrestrial Ecology, Deakin University];


    Grant Wardell-Johnson -[Associate Professor, Environmental Biology, Curtin University];


    Noel D Preece – [Adjunct Principal Research Fellow at Charles Darwin and, James Cook University]


    Sarah Luxton – [PhD Candidate, Curtin University]




    This article is part of a syndicated news program via


    Related Images:





      GREASE – THE ARENA EXPERIENCE brings everyone’s favourite rock and roll musical to life on stage like you’ve never seen it before!

      The ultimate party musical features all the hit songs from the most popular movie musical of all time, including You’re the One That I Want, Hopelessly Devoted to You, Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin’, Beauty School Drop Out, Born to Hand Jive and more. Featuring some of Australia’s biggest stars, alongside an amateur mass ensemble of over 500 performers, this is GREASE on a mega scale!

      Join your favourite Rydell High students, Danny & Sandy, The T-Birds and the Pink Ladies, along with a cast of hilarious characters as they hand-jive their way to Graduation. It’s GREASE like you’ve never seen it before! Take the whole family along for a night you’ll never forget!

      Get in quick as the season is limited and selling like Greased Lightnin’!

      “Visually astonishing to witness… celebrated one of the best-loved movie-musicals of all time in a display of vocal mastery, and theatrical wonderment.” – Scenestr.com.au

      “Scintillatingly brought to life, this fun and energetic party musical hit the right notes!”
      – Stage Whispers

      NOTE: Full Price listed is for a double pass

      Shows (Gold Membership)
      13/04/2018 7.30pm | Admin Fee $0.00 | ALL TICKETS GONE!

      Hisense Arena
      Melbourne & Olympic Parks,Olympic Blvd
      Melbourne, Victoria




        The world’s premier theatrical ice skating company, The Imperial Ice Stars, returns to Australia with its award-winning masterpiece SWAN LAKE ON ICE, touring to Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney this July.

        Showcasing 23 former Olympic, World, European and National Championship-level skaters, the highly accomplished cast will astound and mesmerise audiences with their adrenaline-rich, dramatic performance. Collectively, the entire cast holds more than 250 competition medals and will bring their athletic and artistic talents to retell the classic love story through precision leaps, throws and lifts.

        Set to Tchaikovsky’s glorious score in the intimate setting of a frozen theatre stage, the show features exquisite, innovative choreography as well as powerful story-telling created by Artistic Director Tony Mercer, widely regarded as the world’s leading creator of theatre-on-ice.

        In addition, awe-inspiring acrobatics, flying sequences, aerial gymnastics and spectacular fire-on-ice add drama and mystery to the theatrical experience. The dazzling and sophisticated costumes are designed by renowned costumier Albina Gabueva of Moscow’s Stanislavsky Theatre, and made by theBolshoi Ballet’s famous costume cutters.

        Since their debut in 2004, the Imperial Ice Stars have enthralled more than four million people in 27 countries across five continents, and have performed at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, including the London Palladium and three seasons at the Royal Albert Hall. The award-winning troupe has built a worldwide following and established an unrivalled reputation for pushing the boundaries of contemporary ice dance in their sophisticated portrayals of classic works. Previous world tours (Sleeping Beauty on Ice, Swan Lake on Ice, Cinderella on Ice and The Nutcracker on Ice) have been greeted with nightly standing ovations and five-star reviews.

        The popular troupe last visited Australia in 2012 with Sleeping Beauty on Ice, while SWAN LAKE ON ICE last visited in 2010.

        Shows (Gold Membership)
        03/07/2018 7.00pm | Enter

        Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre
        100 St Kilda Road
        Melbourne, Victoria

        Shows (Gold Membership)
        18/07/2018 8.00pm Australia/Adelaide | Enter

        Adelaide Entertainment Centre
        98 Port Rd,
        Hindmarsh, South Australia

        Shows (Gold Membership)
        25/07/2018 8.00pm Australia/Sydney | Enter

        Capitol Theatre
        13 Campbell Street
        Hymarket, New South Wales

        Sleeping Beauty



          Sleeping Beauty
          Awake from your enchanted slumber and be the first to book for our fun-for-all-the family fairy tale panto adventure, “Sleeping Beauty – A Knight Avenger’s Tale”. Showing at Melbourne’s Comedy theatre from 29 June to 8 July and then Sydney’s majestic State Theatre from 13 to 22 July for a strictly limited run

          From the same creative team that brought you “ The Adventures of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell”, fall under the spell of Bonnie Lythgoe’s latest fairy tale classic.

          The maleficent Fairy Carabosse curses Princess Aurora to 100 years’ slumber, by a single prick of her finger on her 18th birthday. Doomed by fate, only a Prince’s sweet kiss can break the spell and awaken the sleeping beauty.
          Can Princess Aurora’s hilarious best friend Silly Billy and faithful Nanny Tickle help save the day and who will outwit the evil Carabosse and foil her wicked plans?

          Featuring dazzling costumes, stunning sets, magic, special effects, hilarious comedy and thrilling musical numbers, make sure you book your tickets now – it promises to be a ‘”Beauty”!

          Shows (Gold & Bronze Membership)
          30/06/2018 2.00pm | Enter

          Comedy Theatre
          240 Exhibition St
          Melbourne, Victoria

          Tributes pour in for Stephen Hawking, the famous theoretical physicist who died at age 76

           British theoretical physicist and cosmologist, 
          Professor Stephen Hawking in 2014. EPA/Andy Rain

          Acclaimed British theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking has died aged 76. Hawking is best known for his work on black holes, which revolutionised our understanding of the universe.

          Hawking passed away today peacefully at his home in Cambridge, his family confirmed in a statement:

          We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.
          His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. He once said, “It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.” We will miss him forever.

          Read more: A timeline of Stephen Hawking’s remarkable life

          Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, in Oxford, England. In 1963 he was diagnosed with ALS, a form of Motor Neurone Disease, and later confined to a wheelchair and forced to communicate via a computerised voice. But he continued his theoretical work and was outspoken on many things over much of his life.

          Tributes have been pouring in on social media for the scientist, who made complex science accessible to everyone in his 1988 bestselling book A Brief History of Time.

          Among those early to pay tribute were the American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and NASA.

          His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018.
          262K people are talking about this

          Remembering Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and ambassador of science. His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring. May you keep flying like superman in microgravity, as you said to astronauts on @Space_Station in 2014

          Others to pay tribute include Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.

          We lost a great one today. Stephen Hawking will be remembered for his incredible contributions to science – making complex theories and concepts more accessible to the masses. He’ll also be remembered for his spirit and unbounded pursuit to gain a complethttps://lnkd.in/gKNqEDF 
          Professor Stephen Hawking was an outstanding scientist and academic. His grit and tenacity inspired people all over the world. His demise is anguishing. Professor Hawking’s pioneering work made our world a better place. May his soul rest in peace.
          • 42.9K 
          • 11.3K people are talking about this

          Hawking’s acclaimed book, A Brief History of Time, was made into a documentary in 1991, directed by Errol Morris, who also paid tribute.

          It had to happen, eventually. We were lucky to have him for so long, and I was lucky to be able to work with him. A truly fabulous human being. Stephen Hawking. Funny, perverse, and, of course, brilliant.
          • 5,818 
          • 970 people are talking about this

          Australian reaction

          There have been reactions too from the world of Astronomy in Australia.

          Professor Stephen Hawking appeared via hologram to address an audience at the Sydney Opera House in April 2015. The professor was physically located at Cambridge University in England. AAP Image/Sydney Opera House

          Alan Duffy, Associate Professor and Research Fellow, Swinburne University of Technology

          Professor Stephen Hawking was an inspiration to me to become not just a scientist but a communicator of that science.

          His work as a cosmologist, and discoveries in black hole physics were legendary. His best-known prediction, named by the community as Hawking Radiation, transformed black holes from inescapable gravitational prisons into objects that instead shrink and fade away over time.

          His writings were inspirational to many scientists and enriched the lives of millions with the latest science and cosmic perspectives. He was also wonderfully funny with a fantastic media savviness that propelled him into A-list celebrity stardom as few other scientists before.

          Through it all, of course, his illness made his achievements near-superhuman. How he manipulated Einstein’s equations in his mind when he could no longer hold a pen I can’t even begin to imagine.

          While his many contributions will live on there is no doubt that science and the wider world is the poorer for his passing.

          Jonti Horner, Professor (Astrophysics), University of Southern Queensland

          I think Stephen Hawking’s biggest achievement was getting people talking and interested in some very complex and challenging ideas about the universe and our place in it.

          I remember the fuss when his book A Brief History of Time came out, and how it became such a big deal in the UK. It was amazing how widely read and discussed it was, particularly given its content (stuff that is usually portrayed as being really difficult and/or boring).

          It was a fantastic example of how even the most complex and challenging ideas can capture the imagination, when they’re explained in the right way. Above and beyond the great research he did, his impact as a communicator was fantastic.

          He definitely did a lot to bring those kind of concepts into the mainstream, and doubtless inspired a whole new generation of cosmologists and astronomers. That is probably the best legacy any scientist could ask for!

          Lisa Harvey-Smith, Group Leader – Australia Telescope National Facility Science, CSIRO

          Stephen Hawking was undoubtedly an intellectual giant, making leaps of reasoning that sometimes led to startling insights into the nature of the physical world. His finding that black holes slowly dissolve will probably be his greatest scientific legacy.

          But he was much more than a skilled cosmologist. His greatest impact came from taking the time to carefully explain his theories to the public, engaging millions with his bestselling books.

          As a 15-year-old, his most successful book A Brief History of Time had me captivated with relativity and quantum theory. This is the true strength of his legacy.

          Matthew Bailes, ARC Laureate Fellow, Swinburne University of Technology, Swinburne University of Technology, and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav)

          Like many of the great theorists, Stephen Hawking had the ability to use very simple thought experiments to make predictions about the behaviour of the universe.

          My favourite was his insight into evaporating black holes, which combined general relativity and quantum mechanics.

          His ability to remain engaged with the scientific community despite his physical condition was a testament to his rare talent.

          Hawking also recognised the enormous potential of the universe to be teeming with life and the advances in technology that might permit its detection in the near future. Hence his support for Breakthrough Listen, the search for alien life in the Universe.

          Steven Tingay, John Curtin Distinguished Professor (Radio Astronomy), Curtin University

          As an astrophysicist who has spent a significant fraction of my career working on the observational aspects of black holes using radio telescopes, and hoping to continue that with the billion dollar Square Kilometre Array over the next decade, Stephen Hawking’s work to understand the physics of black holes is close to my heart.

          His mathematical and physical insights into black holes have been astonishing, which at some level synthesised general relativity and quantum mechanics.

          Hawking’s work has inspired deep questions in physics and astrophysics, which has had a bearing on plans to build telescopes to explore the Universe, including the Square Kilometre Array in Australia.

          Alice Gorman, Senior Lecturer in archaeology and space studies, Flinders University

          There are few scientists who reach as far into popular culture as Stephen Hawking did. His research tackled the biggest of big questions – the nature of time, space and the universe we live in.

          Sometimes it feels like science is losing ground in the modern world, but people still look to the stars for answers about who we are and how we come to be here.

          Hawking’s bestselling A Brief History of Time made cosmology accessible to people and brought black holes out of the shadows and into the public imagination.

          Personally I’ll miss his appearances on The Big Bang Theory, where he could out-nerd the nerds, and also provide some often necessary common sense. It was always great to see a world-class scientist just having fun.

          This tribute was compiled and written by:





          This article is part of a syndicated news program via

          Why duck shooting season still isn’t on the endangered list

           The rising influence of the gun lobby in Australia 
          may have extended the prospects of duck season continuing for 
          the foreseeable future. shutterstock

          On March 17, the 2018 duck shooting session will open in Victoria. The first shots were fired in Tasmania and South Australia last weekend. The Northern Territory allows certain types of bird shooting later in the year. Duck shooting is prohibited in the rest of Australia.

          States and territories have jurisdiction over duck shooting. In Victoria a new raft of regulations has been introduced to try to limit the damage to the state’s wetlands. One change of note in Victoria is that this year the Blue-winged Shoveler cannot be legally shot due to the low numbers of the species.

          The Blue-winged Shoveler has been added to the protected list in Victoria this year for the first time. Flickr CC

          Other new regulations require that hunters recover the birds they shoot. This rule serves to formalise what Victoria’s Game Management Authority (GMA) refers to as “standard practice for responsible hunters”.

          However, in most other respects Victoria’s 2018 duck season will look almost indistinguishable from previous years. It will still be three months long, with a “bag limit” of ten birds per person per day.

          In Tasmania, authorities postponed the shooting start time in 2018, among a raft of other minor amendments.

          In fact, the various states regularly make minor changes to the rules. Hundreds of minor adjustments have been made over many decades. While these changes may seem significant, from a broad socio-legal perspective they do little to challenge the status quo.

          Playing by the rules?

          A GMA-commissioned review by Pegasus Economics last year documented regular instances of duck shooters behaving irresponsibly. The independent report concluded that “non-compliance with hunting laws is commonplace and widespread”.

          The ABC has aired allegations that unsustainable hunting is on the rise and that regulators feel unable to enforce the rules. It revealed pits containing around 200 unrecovered shot birds from the 2017 opening weekend at Victoria’s Koorangie State Game Reserve alone.

          Activists interviewed in the report claimed to have brought out 1,500 dead birds from the wetlands. Of these, 296 were protected species, including 68 endangered Freckled Ducks.

          A supplied image of over 800 native waterbirds, including 68 threatened Freckled Ducks, displayed outside the premier’s office at 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne, by the Coalition against Duck Shooting on March 20, 2017. AAP

          In my book Animals, Equality and Democracy, I argue that there is a generalised tendency for animal welfare laws to be more effective for socially visible animals. Laws that govern the welfare of zoo animals have improved much more quickly, for example, than those that cover animal welfare in factory farms.

          Duck shooting is not a highly visible cause of animal harm. Relatively few people live near the wetlands where shooting takes place. But animal advocates have been effective in making it visible, despite laws that limit their ability to do so.

          Elaborate events such as Duck Lake, in which animal activists performed their own version of Swan Lake on the opening morning of the 2016 Tasmanian duck shooting season, help generate media attention.

          In 2017, long-time Victorian anti-duck-shooting campaigner Laurie Levy from the Coalition Against Duck Shooting was once again fined for entering the water to help an injured bird. While such activities go some way in generating public visibility, they have thus far not been able to stop duck shooting outright.

          The gun lobby’s growing influence in Australia

          At present, only 28,000 Australians are registered duck shooters. According to 2012 Australia Institute analysis, 87% of Australians support a ban on duck shooting. There is mounting evidence that endangered and non-game species are also being killed.

          Before being re-elected at this month’s Tasmanian state election, the Liberal state government promised to soften the state’s gun laws. It also committed to “always protect the right of Tasmanians to safely and responsibly go recreational shooting”.

          In Victoria the picture is a little more complex. A 2016 report asserted that most members of the state’s Labor Party oppose duck shooting and that the Andrews government’s continued support may cost it votes.

          Indeed, despite the pressure from within the ALP, the daily bag limit for the 2018 season is ten, compared with just four in 2016.

          ‘Industry capture’ reinvigorating duck shooting

          The Pegasus Economics review identifies “industry capture” as a significant factor in the continuation of duck hunting. Industry capture refers to a situation in which industry has a disproportionately close and influential relationship with policymakers compared with other relevant stakeholders.

          The decision by the Tasmanian Liberal Party to share details of its proposed softened gun laws with shooters and farmers, and not other interested parties or the public, suggests industry capture is a genuine factor in Tasmania too.

          With widespread community opposition ranged against the entrenched interests of the shooters themselves, state governments will need to make some big calls on the future of duck hunting, rather than the current tinkering around the edges.

          This article was written by:
          Image of Siobhan O'SullivanSiobhan O’Sullivan – [Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, UNSW]





          This article is part of a syndicated news program via

          A timeline of Stephen Hawking’s remarkable life

           Stephen Hawking at Gonville & Caius College, 
          Cambridge in 2015. lwpkommunikacio/flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

          Acclaimed British theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking has died aged 76. After being diagnosed at the age of 21, he had lived for more than half a century with motor neurone disease.

          family statement recorded Hawking as saying:

          It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.

          Move through the timeline using the arrows or scrolling.

          This article was prepared by :




          This article is part of a syndicated news program via