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Monday, 06 August


Unemployment to keep falling (from 5-year lows) "IndyWatch Feed"

Jobs ads bounce back

ANZ job ads were up by 1.5 per cent in July to a seasonally adjusted 178,322, following on from a decline in the preceding month. 

Advertisements are 7.3 per cent higher than they were a year ago. 

There has clearly been some loss of momentum lately, and not only on this index. 

However ANZ see the result as consistent with further declines in the unemployment rate:

"Business conditions, while down from record levels, remain well above long term averages. 

Capacity utilization and profitability also remain at high levels. 

As such we expect employment growth to continue at a pace consistent with a gradual decrease in the unemployment rate." 

The unemployment rate is already at the lowest level since 2012, with Sydney's unemployment rate falling to below 4.1 per cent



Earth Changes Accelerate: What Is Causing These Record Heatwaves, Massive Firenadoes, Giant Dust Storms And Large Earthquakes? "IndyWatch Feed"

Major changes are happening to our planet, and the experts are groping for answers.  In recent days some have suggested that what we are witnessing is the natural progression of man-made climate change, but that explanation has generally been received with a lot of skepticism.  Something truly dramatic appears to be happening to the globe, and it isnt just because the amount of carbon dioxide in the air suddenly reached some sort of magical tipping point.  But without a doubt, temperatures are getting warmer.  In July, Death Valley experienced the hottest month ever recorded on the planet.  Over in Europe, Saturday was being billed as Europes hottest day ever, and temperatures in Lisbon, Portugal were expected to top 107 degrees both Saturday and Sunday.  On the other side of the planet, the crippling drought in Australia is devastating farms like a cancer, and things are so hot in North Korea that the government has declared an unprecedented natural disaster

This week, the North Korean government called record-high temperatures in the country an unprecedented natural disaster and said that country was working together to fight the problem.

An editorial published Thursday in Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling party, highlighted the difficult...


Opinions on siting a nuclear waste dump at Kimba or Hawker, South Australia "IndyWatch Feed"   Resources Minister Matt Canavan announced ( THE AUSTRALIAN, 18/6/18) that on 20 August, there will be a ballot to gauge community support for a federal nuclear waste dump near one of the small towns of Kimba or Hawker, about 450km north of Adelaide. The vote will be confined to the residents in the immediate local area.The decision will be made in the second half of this year said Canavan We do not want this overlapping with a federal election.

A Senate Inquiry will report on this on 14 August, possibly too late to make a difference. However, many people are taking this Inquiry very seriously, and have sent in 109 submissions, nearly all of which can be read at the Senate Committees website.

As Ive been going through 98 published submissions to this Senate Inquiry on Selection process for a national radioactive waste management facility in South Australia, Ive been able to learn some of the reasons why people support or oppose the idea of the nuclear waste dump. 

The division of opinion was clear in the answers to the 5 main Terms of Reference, asking whether the following aspects were satisfactory: financial compensation for land, community support, indigenous support, Community Benefit Program, and confining consultation to the local community. Answers were consistently Yes in submissions supporting the plan, and No in those opposing it.



Australia 25 million "IndyWatch Feed"

25 million

Australia's population clock will tick past 25 million tomorrow night at 11pm.

It's interesting to look back at the increase in the population over the years and how it has changed. 

In 1981 the population of Australia passed 15 million and was ticking along fairly consistently in absolute terms, until it began to accelerate through the resources boom from around 2005 onwards. 

And that growth has continued over the past half decade in absolute terms, although the construction phase of the resources boom has long since passed.

And in percentage terms population growth has slowed from above 2 per cent in 2008/9 to about 1.6 per cent today.. 

The composition of the population growth has changed too.

Immigration remains a major contributor, but whereas the resources states previously took a big chunk of population growth, today it's heavily focused on Greater Sydney, Greater Melbourne, and then south-east Queensland.

Since 1981 the three most populous states have accounted for a very similar share of total population growth, with New South Wales (27.3 per cent), Queensland (26.8 per cent), and Victoria (24.8 per cent) each recording strong growth. 

Indeed, for years Queensland's population growth comfortably outpaced that of Victoria due to its resources prowess - for some time being the state accounting for the highest population growth in the country.

That title is now well and truly held by Victoria as Melbourne and Geelong expand rapidly. 



I Thought I Would Die in a Bunk Bed in Hanoi "IndyWatch Feed National"

I land in Hanoi the second week of February.  Not winter, not summer, and not comparable to any other middle season in the rest of the world. Arriving from the coldest months of Europe, I expect some kind of warmish welcoming, but end up surprised at how much of an optimist I can sometimes be.

In the taxi from the airport to the hostel, I realise I dont have enough cash with me, and that I also forgot to check if my credit cards would work in Vietnamese ATMs. While the taxi driver yells all his frustration at me in his incomprehensible language, I feel guilty and stupid, but still somehow and respectfully find the situation funny.

He drops me at different ATMs, but none of them take my cards.

Im sorry, Im sorry, Im so sorry, I repeat.

He drives me to a little shop with walls green as beans straight out of a can, where a guy hands me an Eftpos machine. The unexpected swipe of victory eventually melts the tension between me and the driver, and leads to a sincere hug.

At the hostel, after calling my bank and fixing my card problem, I impatiently open my first Vietnamese beer and smoke a cigarette at the front. The cold breeze is persistent; soft acid rain textures the windows, romantic, sure, as the perpetually grey sky.

That night, sitting in a comfortable chair at a caf, I start coughing copiously. The waiters face is as surprised as mine when we both hear my, No, thanks, answering his kind proposal of another drink. That should have been an alarm bell. I go back to my bunk bed, pull the curtain after me and lay down. I feel tired and feeble, but do not know that it will be my crypt for the next three days.

I wake in the middle of the night shivering with a high fever. I reach for my backpack in the pitch dark of the room; my towel becomes an extra blanket. I miss the free breakfast included in the hostel price. Another bad sign, but I cant move. I cant read or watch a movie either, cause my eyes are burning. I just manage to take some flu meds and sleep again.

Its dark outside when I next wake up. Bravely, I go out. I am starving and, in my multiple experiences in Vietnam, Ive learned that theres nothing a warm, spicy bowl of pho cant cure. Sitting on this little red plastic chair, I order a rare beef one. Ive always eaten on the streets in South East Asia and have never been sick once, despite what blogs and my mum have told me. The looks I receive from the other customers are horrifying; I m...


Finding your Mr Dependable Veg. The vegetable that grows easily in your garden and gives you a harvest all year. My Productive Backyard

I like to have one or two dependable vegetables in the garden all year.

Those veggies you can put in, take very little care and yet they will always give you a great harvest.

For me my top dependable is Broccoli. I dont know if it is my soil, the position of the garden or that I am I am in a cool climate or a combination of things, but I am able to grow it all year.

I regularly plant (about once a month) 6 to 12 plants. I use a no-dig system, which I top up with an organic all-purpose fertiliser and sugar cane mulch. I will give the seedlings a couple of liquid feeds of a high nitrogen fertiliser, such as a tea made from chook manure, to help get them established and growing well and that about all I do until harvest time.

I rarely water them, only in the height of summer and have very little problem with pests.

Yet they always develop into lovely healthy plants, produce good sized initial heads and then produce lots of side shoot for weeks after.

This gives me enough broccoli to have several feeds a week and plenty to give to friends and family.

It is a vegetable that is so reliable that if I have nothing else in the garden I can always pick enough broccoli for a feed.

Every garden needs at least one dependable veg growing in it for those times in between seasonal harvests or when you have miss-timed plantings and have nothing else to harvest.

So how to find that Mr Dependable Veg for your garden.


Look at what you and your family like to eat. What are the two or three vegetables you can eat several times a week and still enjoy?

Also, experiment- every garden is different.

Grow lots of different things at different times of the year, dont be tied to regional grow charts or what is available in punnets.

Dont be too fussy with them- prepare your soil well, water to establish and liquid feed occasionally and see what thrives.

If you have had success with something try planting it on and off all year and see what happens.

Record your results-

What did the family enjoy eating the most?

What was the easiest thing to grow? (ie what needed the least amount of care, was not b...


Fiona Barnett, Part 3: Hoping for an Interview with Dame Marie Bashir "IndyWatch Feed National"

Dame Marie Bashir waves to the crowd on Macquarie Street in Sydney on her retirement (photo ABC, Tracey Nearmy)

by Mary W Maxwell, LLB

It is natural and acceptable to call upon any member of the community to help us in times of dire need. Right now we are in dire need, thanks to the stuff that was begun when Fiona Barnett told Youtube (in 2015) that she had witnessed the multiple murder BY UPSTANDING PERSONAGES at Bathurst. This included a federal minister, a police commissioner, a law professor, and others.

I would like Dame Marie Bashir, the former governor of New South Wales (2001-2014) to be approached by some respectful citizen to see what she can offer by way of advice in this crisis. At the same time Her Excellency can be asked to provide insider information.

Just as the Commonwealth has a Governor-General as the stand-in for the Monarch, so each state of Australia has a vice-regal Governor. That governor is routinely informed by Parliamentary leaders of things going on in his/her state.



Ethical conduct in research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities: guidelines for researchers and stakeholders Western NSW & Far West Health Libraries Blog

This guide from the National Health and Medical Research Council provides a set of principles to ensure research is safe, respectful, responsible, high quality and of benefit to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

The health, wellbeing and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples continue to be the focus of much research to promote positive outcomes. Over the years, research has contributed to positive outcomes and benefits in, for example, health, medicine and education, and in preserving the languages, stories and songs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities in culturally appropriate ways.

However, not all research has been of benefit for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities. This absence of benefit can often be understood in the context of ethical considerations related to human research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.Ethical research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities should:
  • improve the way all researchers work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities
  • develop and/or strengthen research capabilities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities
  • enhance the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as researchers, research partners, collaborators and participants in research

Ethical conduct in research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities: guidelines for researchers and stakeholders


Hundreds record long-lasting bright fireball over Australia, meteorites likely near Canberra "IndyWatch Feed National"

A very bright fireball streaked across the night sky over New South Wales and Victoria, Australia around 08:30 UTC (18:30 local time) on August 4, 2018. The event lasted for more than 8 seconds and was recorded by hundreds of people. Astronomers said the object...... Read more


FixedIt: what evidence makes a headline? "IndyWatch Feed National"

Channel 9 News published an AAP report on the progress of Warren Francis Rogerss trial for murdering his wife, Anne Rogers. The same report was published by Channel 7, The Newcastle Herald, Campaspe News, South Riverina News, among others. All of them carried the same headlines, presumably sourced from AAP.

I wrote about this trial last week, and the risk of fixing the appalling headlines coming out about a trial still underway in the court. That risk still exists and any headline that states he is guilty before the court has reached a verdict is dangerous and irresponsible. As is any headline creating sympathy for the accused.

This one is slightly different to the ones I was talking about last week, in that it is using a quote from the evidence presented to the court as the basis of a headline.

According to the AAP report In the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday, crown prosecutor Nanette Williams called forensic psychiatrist Dr Adam Martin to give evidence about his interview with Rogers in custody in August 2017.

Dr Martin gave evidence on a number of things Warren Rogers told him about his wife and their relationship. He also stated his opinion on Warren Rogers state of mind.

Dr Martin said he is not confident the accused was suffering from a major depressive disorder at the time.

My view is that the actions were deliberate and purposeful, he said.

I dont think theres much evidence to say that he completely lost control.

I think the question for the court is the degree of how impaired he was.'

Its not just fair for court reporters to relate all the evidence presented to the court, it is in fact their job. So there is no issue in them describing Dr Martins evidence about Warren Rogers saying he was heartbroken.

It is interesting, however, that they chose this word for the headline.

Heartbroken by wife. This is how they hea......

Sunday, 05 August


Meteor fireball streaks through the night sky above Sydney, Australia "IndyWatch Feed National"

Sydney locals were left mystified after witnessing a meteor dash through the sky last night. The meteor was seen across the city at around 6.30pm, with some lucky witnesses managing to capture incredible footage of the rare phenomenon. Footage circulating on social media showed the fireball slowly growing larger and more visible as it streaked through the night sky. The moment only lasted for a few seconds before the flash of light was gone.


preparing to travel : advice from fellow travellers Practising Simplicity

You know the last few weeks of pregnancy when you feel like youre teetering between one world and the next? They call it the in-between and thats precisely what life currently feels like.

This in-between stage is emotional and hectic. Some days Im giddy with excitement and others Im feeling weighed down by the sheer amount of to-dos.

Im often wondering: What are we doing? the daily juggle of prepping the van, selling our belongings, sorting our keepsakes, taking care of the kids and getting the day-to-day chores done has been all consuming. And yet its all part and parcel of the experience.

Our travels might begin next week but weve been planning this trip for close to a year. It has most definitely been a process! And while we had a very rough leaving date in mind (that has well and truly passed us by), when I called the childrens Distance Ed teacher last week to rearrange our meeting, she wasnt the least bit perturbed. Its completely normal, she said. No one ever leaves on time.

Just this week Ive had two families tell me that their travel plans change most days and that the entire experience is best when its roughly planned yet wonderfully spontaneous, too. So, for the sake of encouragement and camaraderie, I reached out to a few fellow mums who are currently travelling Australia with their families. And because theyve been in my exact position, I asked them for their advice for this pack-up-and-hit-the-road stage of the journey:

Milsy (who is actually a midwife at our local hospital) @milsypezwardo

I remember the last month vividly! Keep the big picture in mind youll be on the road soon and all this craziness is totally worth it! Be ruthless when packing up we parted with so much stuff before we left but we still have a shipping container full at home! We havent used it for 12months now so I dont think we really needed to keep it all!

Andrea @travellingsunshinetribe

Its okay for it to feel crazy and difficult; youre packing up your whole lives as you know it! So surrender to that feeling, take any and all help that is offered, and keep your focus on the memories youll be making as you travel.

Sarah @sweet.elm

We leaned into the idea that the difference between nervous energy and excited energy is your breath and the way you think about life. When we had waves of complete panic about our never-ending to-do list and whether wed actually be able to support our family by starting a business from the road, we would take deep breaths a...


Australia to give millions in aid to drought-hit farmers "IndyWatch Feed National"

The Australian government has announced an aid package of millions for farmers struggling amid a prolonged dry spell. Meteorologists say the already devastating drought could worsen still further in the coming months.

Cows standing around a tree on red, dry soil (Reuters/D. Gray)

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday announced a A$190 million (121 million, $140.6 million) aid package for farmers battling dry conditions in what the government called one of the worst droughts of the past century.

You put the food on our tables, the fiber that goes on our backs, and we have your back, he told reporters at a farm in the eastern state of New South Wales (NSW), 99 percent of which is officially in drought.

He described the situation of some farmers as shocking, diabolical and tragic.

Read moreNo immediate federal help for drought-hit German farmers, agriculture minister says

Picture of a water trough in the middle of a dry paddock (Reuters/D. Gray)Australia is already the worlds driest inhabited continent


Mental health problems

Some 20,000 farming households will be eligible for lump payments of A$12,000 under the assistance scheme. Farmers whose incomes have been cut drastically by the drought conditions can already receive some A$16,000 a year in unemployment benefits.

The package will also include extra funding for mental health initiatives, with Australian farmers being at a significantly higher risk of depression and suicide than urban dwellers.

In all, the Australian government will now have provided some A$576 million in drought relief. The NSW govern...


Help Save Some Of Australias Computer History From The Bulldozers "IndyWatch Feed Tech"

When multiple tipsters write in to tell us about a story, we can tell its an important one. This morning weve received word that the holding warehouse of the Australian Computer Museum Society in the Sydney suburb of Villawood is to be imminently demolished, and they urgently need to save the artifacts contained within it. They need Aussies with spare storage capacity of decent size to help them keep and store the collection, and they only have a few days during which to do so.

The ever-effusive Dave from EEVblog has posted a video in which he takes a tour, and like us hes continually exclaiming over the items he finds. An EAI analog computer, a full set of DEC PDP-11 technical documentation, a huge Intel development system, Tektronix printers, huge DEC racks, memory cards for VAXen, piles and piles of boxes of documentation, and much, much more.

So, if you are an Aussie within reach of Sydney who happens to have a currently-unused warehouse, barn, or industrial unit that could house some of this stuff, get in touch with them quickly. Some of it may well be junk, but within that treasure trove undoubtedly lies a lot of things that need to be saved. Wed be down there ourselves, but are sadly on the other side of the world.


Sydney shifts "IndyWatch Feed"

Quiet winter auction market

Lots of moving parts across Australia's housing markets.

Mortgage activity indicators suggest that June housing finance figures will be reported on Tuesday this week as flat following a surprisingly strong increase in May (but with slower processing times likely then contributing to a weaker month in July). 

Market dynamics have changed a lot this year. 

More borrowers are now paying down mortgage debt, Chinese buyer activity has been smashed by new taxes and restrictions, and investors are finding it harder to source credit.

But overall lending remains at quite a solid level. 

Sydney recorded a preliminary auction clearance rate of 57 per cent this weekend, down from 64 per cent for the same week last year, with volumes also well down.

It's interesting to note that generally speaking most unit markets are holding up better than expected, as credit constraints have pushed some buyers into lower price brackets. 

In fact the median price of units sold at auction in Sydney this week was as high as we've ever seen at $1,097,500 (up from $910,000 for the same week last year), with the median for houses some way lower than a year earlier at at $1,226,250. 

With the major lenders jostling for market share and cutting rates on some products for new lenders fairly aggressively, it will be interesting to see how the market responds as the detrimental impact to confidence of the Royal Commission fades. 


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