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Solid run for wool

RECENT wool price levels are real, sustainable and not a “short term blip”, Australian Wool Innovation said this week.
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Wool prices reached their highest US dollar level in 35 years last Wednesday with the Eastern market Indicator peaking at 1242 cents a kilogram clean, only to suffer a drop on Thursday to finish at 1191 a kg.

AWI’s market intelligence and trade reporting manager Dr Paul Swan said the Thursday price drop was only a fluctuation. The Western market Indicator decreased five cents to finish the week at 1118 cents a kg clean.

“The critical issues are the longer term trends and the fundamental drivers.

“I believe the fundamentals of the market are very, very positive and they are medium to long term – two years plus,” Dr Swan said.

“It will take years for production to recover to any substantial degree.

“Even if prices remain at present levels it will take years for production to increase, particularly against the backdrop of very high sheep meat prices,” he said.

“I believe the fundamentals are such that this is not going to be a little short term blip – it’s a culmination of a slow building of demand against a backdrop of a rundown in our stocks.”

The 1242 cent point was at the 99 percentile level for AUD prices in the last 35 years – with only nine months when higher average prices occurred in the Reserve Price Scheme days of February 1988 to January 1989, Dr Swan said.

“This is the first real substantive peak that hasn’t been associated with a price regulation scheme in the market place – it’s demand and supply.

“Our overall view is that we have very, strong evidence now that this is the collision of really, really tight global supply of the fibre with strong demand,” Dr Swan said.

He said it was premature to claim plaudits for what the market was doing now, though AWI’s past programs have played a part and its marketing programs were yet to have their full impact on the market.

Dr Swan said the current Northern Hemisphere demand trend was genuine and “genuine trends tend to last 18-24 months at least”.

He said Australian wool prices had exceeded pre-Global Financial Crisis levels, though a number of key retail markets – the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal and Spain – were yet to completely recover from the GFC.

“The fact that we have over the last decade seen the emergence of a demand superpower in China really augurs well for the future.”

AWI chief executive officer Stuart McCullough said the current wool prices were sustainable.

“We know that wool is in fashion in the Northern Hemisphere.”

But fashion alone was not the only demand driver, he said.

“The other driver that we have is the ‘LOHAS’ (lifestyle of health and sustainability) consumer who is very keen to buy clean, green product and feel good at the cash register.”

The third driver is Chinese domestic affluence which was not going to slow down, he said.

“We’ve got limited supply and in some ways it is a bit of a perfect storm.

“We believe that wool should be at this level or higher given the numbers of sheep in Australia.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

USA tops international bucket list for travel

Dubbo’s Corey, Chris and Sean Patrick at Chicago’s Cloud Gate sculpture, dubbed The Bean, during their American adventure in November. A new survey shows the USA is the top destination on the travel bucket lists of western NSW residents. Photo: contributedDubbo’s Chris Patrick took his sons on an American adventure this year and many more of their compatriots wish to follow in their footsteps, a new survey shows.
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The USA was the top international bucket list destination for travellers from both western NSW and Australia, the latest annual “State of the Nation” report by travel search site Expedia南京夜网419论坛 found.

The online survey of 5450 people found 80 per cent of adults in western NSW had been overseas, slightly below the 84 per cent of Australians nationally who had taken a trip beyond the country’s shores.

And 99 per cent of travellers from western NSW said they had a “travel bucket list” – a list of the destinations they want to visit in the next five years.

The report placed the USA at the top of the list for western NSW residents, followed by England, New Zealand, Canada, France, Ireland, Fiji, Italy, Scotland and Germany.

Mr Patrick said the family’s trip had included Disney World at Florida, Atlanta, home of the World of Coca-Cola museum, Washington DC and its Wall of Remembrance, San Francisco for Alcatraz, a Black Hawks ice hockey game at Chicago, Anaheim for Disneyland’s 60th birthday and more.

“It was educational for the boys,” he said.

And they captured a moment for posterity at Chicago’s Cloud Gate sculpture, dubbed The Bean.

The report also showed that the rise of visual social media platforms and enhanced photo capabilities of smartphones had led to 87 per cent of respondents from western NSW saying great photo opportunities was a key driver when choosing a destination, slightly higher than the 85 per cent of respondents nationwide.

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Sports Year in Review: Highlights from 2015

There have been some great plays, wins and losses this year in Great Lakes sports. Here are some of the best from each month.
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JANUARY:Good crowds at Seafood Race Day

A bumper crowd attended the annual Seafood Race Day at the Tuncurry racecourse under glorious weather to witness a five-race card. Dancing Daydream, ridden by Leanne Henry, won the feature race, the Tuncurry Beach Bowling Club Oyster Cup (1400m). Full story here

FEBRUARY:Boats battle for Rob Scott

This year’s Battle of the Boats was dedicated to Rob Scott who was struck in the head while visiting Fresno in the US last year. Funds were raised to assist in his recovery. Crews from Sydney up to Woolgoolga battled it out for $8000 in prize money. Full story here

MARCH: NSW are top cops at bowls titles

NSW convincingly won the 57th Australian Police Bowling Championships. The week-long tournament was hosted by the Tuncurry Beach Bowling Club and involved 180 serving and retired police officers from around Australia. Full story here

APRIL:Top 10 at international slalom champs

Forster brothers Kaspar and Kristian Fiebig finished ninth at the ICF Canoe Slalom Junior and Under 23 World Championships in Brazil. The brothers made up a world class field of 300 athletes from 45 countries to take on the rapids of Foz Do Iguassu. Full story here

MAY:Nationals eludes Tuncurry bodyboarder

Tuncurry’s Josh Smith narrowly missed out on a spot at nationals after placing third in the open drop knee event. Smith received an overall place of fifth on the leaderboard. Full story here

JUNE:Forster ready to perform at Mollymook

Forster Surf Life Saving Club IRB team head to Mollymook for the NSW State Championships. The team wa s full of confidence after completing two rounds of the NSW IRB Premiership. In the last of the premiership rounds at Kiama Downs, the team finished the day with eight out of a possible 10 finals and came away in sixth position. Full story here

JULY:Great Lakes are state netball champs

After finishing fourth last year, Great Lakes came back to win the Netball NSW State Age Under-14 championship in Penrith. Fullstoryhere

AUGUST: Third grand final in a row for Dolphins

The Forster Tuncurry Dolphins rugby union club claimed their third grand final in a row against the Gloucester Cockies. They won 17-6. Full story here

SEPTEMBER:Salt wins BL’s Blast Off under-8s

Boomerang Beach surfer Leila Salt took out the Girls 8’s division of the BL’s Blast Off in Sydney. She also got to meet former surfing world champion and event organiser Barton Lynch.

OCTOBER:Heath proves doctors wrong in Hawaii

Former Great Lakes local Nat Heath finished his first Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. He was diagnosed with the rare and potentially life-threatening Guillain-Barre syndrome. Heath flew the Aboriginal flag a he crossed the finish line. Full story here

NOVEMBER:Smith qualifies for Ironman 70.3

Forster’s Hayden Smith will compete at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in the Sunshine Coast next year after qualifying in Port Macquarie. Smith finished fifth in the 35-39 year age group with a time of four hours, 26 minutes and 30 seconds at the 70.3 Port Macquarie Ironman on October 17. Full story here

DECEMBER:Body on the line at cricket nationals

Tuncurry’s Anita Handono was part of the ACT NSW Country team that won the under-15 Cricket Australia National Championships in Hobart. Handono’s team shattered records, and Handono knocked herself out in the grand final against Queensland while stopping a four. Full story here

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Solid run for wool

RECENT wool price levels are real, sustainable and not a “short term blip”, Australian Wool Innovation said this week.
Nanjing Night Net

Wool prices reached their highest US dollar level in 35 years last Wednesday with the Eastern market Indicator peaking at 1242 cents a kilogram clean, only to suffer a drop on Thursday to finish at 1191 a kg.

AWI’s market intelligence and trade reporting manager Dr Paul Swan said the Thursday price drop was only a fluctuation. The Western market Indicator decreased five cents to finish the week at 1118 cents a kg clean.

“The critical issues are the longer term trends and the fundamental drivers.

“I believe the fundamentals of the market are very, very positive and they are medium to long term – two years plus,” Dr Swan said.

“It will take years for production to recover to any substantial degree.

“Even if prices remain at present levels it will take years for production to increase, particularly against the backdrop of very high sheep meat prices,” he said.

“I believe the fundamentals are such that this is not going to be a little short term blip – it’s a culmination of a slow building of demand against a backdrop of a rundown in our stocks.”

The 1242 cent point was at the 99 percentile level for AUD prices in the last 35 years – with only nine months when higher average prices occurred in the Reserve Price Scheme days of February 1988 to January 1989, Dr Swan said.

“This is the first real substantive peak that hasn’t been associated with a price regulation scheme in the market place – it’s demand and supply.

“Our overall view is that we have very, strong evidence now that this is the collision of really, really tight global supply of the fibre with strong demand,” Dr Swan said.

He said it was premature to claim plaudits for what the market was doing now, though AWI’s past programs have played a part and its marketing programs were yet to have their full impact on the market.

Dr Swan said the current Northern Hemisphere demand trend was genuine and “genuine trends tend to last 18-24 months at least”.

He said Australian wool prices had exceeded pre-Global Financial Crisis levels, though a number of key retail markets – the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal and Spain – were yet to completely recover from the GFC.

“The fact that we have over the last decade seen the emergence of a demand superpower in China really augurs well for the future.”

AWI chief executive officer Stuart McCullough said the current wool prices were sustainable.

“We know that wool is in fashion in the Northern Hemisphere.”

But fashion alone was not the only demand driver, he said.

“The other driver that we have is the ‘LOHAS’ (lifestyle of health and sustainability) consumer who is very keen to buy clean, green product and feel good at the cash register.”

The third driver is Chinese domestic affluence which was not going to slow down, he said.

“We’ve got limited supply and in some ways it is a bit of a perfect storm.

“We believe that wool should be at this level or higher given the numbers of sheep in Australia.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Smoking needs to butt out right now

GIVEN the wealth of medical knowledge we have at our fingertips nowadays, why anyone would willingly take up cigarette smoking is perplexing to say the least.
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Let’s forget for a moment the exorbitant cost of a packet of cigarettes nowadays – the health impact is alarming.

Smoking-related diseases kill almost 15,000 Australians a year. That’s 40 people every day. And men are the most likely to die – 9700 men die a year compared with 5200 women.

Cancer is the leading cause of tobacco-related deaths in men at 57 per cent. It’s marginally lower in women at 51 per cent.

Lung cancer accounts for three-in-four cancers in men (72 per cent in women). It causes the most cancer deaths in this country and that’s mainly caused by smoking.

Last week the state government released details of a discussion paper based on recommendations from the Tasmanian Health Council.

One of those recommendations was to increase the minimum smoking age in Tasmania to 21 or 25.

That’s an ambitious target, and it is retrospective, meaning people currently 18 and upwards wouldn’t be banned overnight if any such plan ever eventuated.

But there is a definite problem in Tasmania when it comes to smoking cigarettes. We’re disproportionately represented in those smoking figures. Tasmania boasts, if you can use that term, the second highest rate of smoking in Australia at just under 18 per cent. Only the Northern Territory is higher at 20.9 per cent.

Then we can throw in the cost to society. Yes, cigarettes are already heavily taxed, raking in between $5 and $6 billion a year in taxes.

But that’s minuscule compared with the costs to the country – $31.5 billion in social and economic costs, including to our health system.

With that in mind, any recommendation or plan to reduce the number of people who smoke, no matter how ambitious, should be given due consideration.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Crystal ball reveals all for Tasmania in 2016

MARTIN STEVENSON says: IT SEEMS like only yesterday, rather than a year ago, that we tuned in the pedal-powered crystal ball and boldly predicted a Tasmanian annum ahead of “moderate expectations and average temperatures”.IT SEEMS like only yesterday, rather than a year ago, that we tuned in the pedal-powered crystal ball and boldly predicted a Tasmanian annum ahead of “moderate expectations and average temperatures”.
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Mind you, we also forecast that “money bags” Clive Palmer would put his shipping where his mouth was and launch his mooted Titanic II project as a Bass Strait ferry.

As predictions go, Mr Palmer’s nautical ambitions, as with much of his fortune, appear to have gone belly up.

On a more worrying note during 2015, Tassie’s ideology-raddled sun worshippers continued to ride the squeaky-wheeled tumbrel of climate change as they proclaimed a predicted 1.5C degree rise in temperature would send the planet into a flaming spin.

Local weather worry warts flattered us with claims that, despite our mere half-million population and conspicuous shortage of smoke-stack industry, the entire Earth was doomed because of Taswegians’ thoughtlessness. Let’s not annoy the Chinese then as they open an average three new coal mines a week.

And despite your correspondent predicting a new Ice Age, 40,000 warmists flew to a Paris climate gabfest to confirm that, if everyone ceaselessly jetted around the world the way they did, we would be in serious trouble.

Attendees included Paris-bound Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Kelly O’Shannassy forced to “sip Moet” in a Dubai business class lounge en route after she missed a connecting flight.

The Bolivian delegation took a more robust attitude claiming the talks were an appropriate moment to begin “smashing capitalism”.

Thank heavens, meanwhile, for those giant windmills constructed on hilltops around the world during 2015.

Even if a correspondent confided that the windmills were part of a secret government plot to cool the planet. “They’re really giant fans” our man claimed.

Another pundit said desalination plants were built “to suck up sea water and prevent the threatened 6cm per decade rise in sea levels.”

Which brings us to 2016 predictions —

WITH 97 per cent of scientists having decided the climate change debate is “settled”, boffins will retire satisfied knowing their work is done.

AS same-sex marriage is approved by the feds, other urgers and chancers will see this as their chance to promote multi-person marriage and nuptials involving animal companions.

LAUNCESTON CBD’s mooted return to two-way streets will be realised as part of a cunning “back to the future” scenario with trams again rattling around, policemen controlling traffic at street intersections (rather than those new-fangled traffic lights) and parking meters thrown into the rubbish bin of history and replaced by uniformed chaps marking tyres with chalk.

PM Malcolm Turnbull will discover that being all things to all persons is an impossible political gig to sustain as trendy, latte-sipping inner-city trendies flock to new Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek.

WILL Hodgman’s minders will ensure the Premier continues media appearances smiling shyly at country fairs and brewery openings yet wisely saying nothing of any importance, despite electricity shortages and/or industry closures.

TOURIST numbers will peak in 2016 encouraged by a website exhorting everyone to visit Tassie before the trees are all chopped down and even though the site has been pulled following the discovery that a clear-felling picture was of South African derivation.

EMBOLDENED by Ray Martin’s predictable ABC-TV review finding that the national broadcaster was not presenting enough leftist propaganda, the ABC will host a two-week long North Korean film festival that no one will watch.

NO member of the British or Danish royal families will visit the state in 2016.

EASTER eggs will go on sale from tomorrow.

So, happy 2016 and make the most of it.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Knowles named MDBA chair

Craig KnowlesNEWLY appointed MDBA chairman Craig Knowles has not ruled out throwing out the controversial Guide to the Murray Darling Basin plan.
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“I have the great luxury of being new to the job so I don’t have a big sense of ownership of the guide – if there’s any good stuff in it we’ll keep it,” Knowles said.

Mr Knowles planned to act swiftly to end the anxiety and uncertainty he said was hurting rural communities, and will hit the road from Monday to talk to residents.

“I intend to approach this in a bipartisan way. I’ll leave the politics aside and just get on with it as long as people are listened to and respected you can go a long way.”

He also said he “wanted to make it clear from day one that there is more than enough room in the Act to focus on a balance between social, economic and environmental outcomes”.

But installing former Mr Knowles to head the beleagured MDBA won’t address fundamental flaws in the Water Act that need to be fixed for meaningful reform to occur, according to the NSW Irrigators Council.

Council chief executive Andrew Gregson said Mr Knowles, who resigned from Parliament in 2005, faced an impossible task.

“He’s a bloke who knows the industry, knows the people, knows the issues, and, importantly, he was minister at the time the National Water Initiative was negotiated so he should understand what we are seeking in a true triple bottom line,” Mr Gregson told The Land.

Chief executive of the National Irrigators Council, Danny O’Brien, welcomed the announcement and urged Mr Knowles to do everything he could to deliver a triple bottom line outcome.

“One of Mr Knowles’ first jobs should be to scrap the Guide and commit to a new round of genuine engagement with Basin communities to get the Plan right,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Mr Knowles has an opportunity to help craft a Plan that provides the balance that all are seeking and we hope that he will understand that the MDBA can only provide part of the solution.”

The Australian Conservation Foundation also welcomed Mr Knowles, saying he was a good choice for the job.

The ACF’s healthy rivers campaigner, Arlene Harriss-Buchan, said the Authority needed to model benefits and not just costs of restoring the river system.

“In its next draft of the Basin Plan, we urge the Authority to examine scenarios from across the range of 3,000 to 7,600 billion litres of additional water for the Basin.”

Initial reaction to the announcement on Twitter was mixed.

The NSW Irrigators Council labelled him the “right man in the wrong job”, while SA Senator Simon Birmingham commented “former NSW Labor Minister Craig Knowles is new MDBA chair – Labor mate of Burke’s who couldn’t run hospitals now in charge of Murray-Darling”.

Former chairman Mike Taylor resigned in early December after facing a torrid time in Basin communities following the release of the guide to the Murray Darling Basin plan that foreshadowed dramatic cuts of up to 37 per cent for irrigators.

“As demonstrated by the resignation of Mike Taylor, the Water Act as it stands won’t allow for equal treatment of environmental, social and economic outcomes,” Mr Gregson said.

Mr Gregson said Mr Taylor quit after realising the MDBA could not deliver a triple bottom line outcome.

Mr Knowles’ political career was damaged over issues in relation to hospitals when he was Health Minister although he was cleared by a subsequent ICAC inquiry.

NSW Natural Resources Minister from 2003 to 2005, Mr Knowles has worked as a political consultant and lobbyist since quitting parliament.

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Rain a good test for Huonfels

The Huonfels Brahman Stud will offer a quality line of three red bulls and three grey bulls, along with a red heifer and grey heifer at the Big Country Sale next month.THE Bethel family of Huonfels Brahman Stud says the 30 inches of rain recorded at their property since September have provided a valuable test for their bulls and females.
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The Huonfels Brahman Stud will offer a quality line of three red bulls and three grey bulls, along with a red heifer and a grey heifer at the Big Country Sale next month.

Mr Bethel said the bulls and heifers on offer had been forced to cope with very trying conditions over the past few months, but had emerged in good condition.

“They certainly have had their share of mud and slop to cope with, but have come through in good fettle,” he said.

The first offering in the Big Country ring for the Huonfels Stud this year is lot 46, Huonfels Waverley, an impressive young son of Wilarandy S Brazillian Man out of a very consistent, high-performing daughter of JY Jimmie, in Huonfels Reva (AI).

“Reva has another cracking bull calf at foot now and is shaping up as one of our better red stud cows,” Mr Bethel said.

“Waverley has tremendous fleshing, a very masculine head and a faultless temperament.”

The next offering is lot 47, Huonfels Walker Magnum (AI), an impressive scurred son of Winchester Magnum 999 out of a Redmont daughter which is a half-sister to the legendary Huonfels Jacob Rio.

“This is the best red dam line in our stud and Walker reinforces this fact,” he said. “He is a bull in every sense of the word and will do a great job in any herd.

“Walker has great length, bone and muscling, with a very masculine head, which is hard to find in polled cattle.”

Also on offer is lot 48, Huonfels Vinn Magnum (AI), another clean, polled son of Winchester Magnum 999.

“He has gained in excess of two kilos a day in the feedlot and will mature into a massive bull.”

The first of the Huonfels heifer draft enters the ring as lot 76 in Huonfels Wanderlust Rio (AI, ET), a magnificent clean poll by Winchester Magnum 999. The second of the Huonfels heifer draft is lot 77, Huonfels Ellie Rose Manso (AI, ET), a lovely thick young embryo heifer from Huonfels’ best grey dam line.

Lot 232, Huonfels Virginius Manso (AI), will be the first of the Huonfels grey bulls to enter the ring.

“He is a long and thick bull with a fantastic hind quarter and bone, and at 30 months is the oldest of our draft,” Mr Bethel said.

Lot 233, Huonfels Sir Vadis Manso (AI), is a quality polled son of JDH Sir Andre Manso out of one of the most consistent grey polled cows in the Huonfels’ embryo team.

The Huonfels draft will conclude with lot 234, Huonfels Warrigal Manso (AI, ET), a son of JDH Martin Manso.

For more information, please contact John Bethel on(07) 4062 5389 or 0408 780 240.

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Red coats at home in Goldfields

p Some of the Madoonia Downs station Santa Gertrudis females.AUSTRALIA long rode on the sheep’s back in the pound for a pound wool boom days and the Goldfields was part of the rush.
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But with wild dogs making it more a pound for a hound on their daily meat menu, sheep in the Goldfields are all but gone and Madoonia Downs, Widgiemooltha, has been part of that changing stockscape.

Ned and Gaynor Shields bought their 404,690 hectare holding, 70km south east of Kambalda and 120km south east of Kalgoorlie, in 2000 with the intention of continuing on with the existing Merino sheep breeding enterprise.

The climate was relatively mild, stands of saltbush and bluebush were renowned for wool production and running sheep was what the former Bremer Bay shearer, shearing contractor and farmer loved.

But increasing dingo numbers soon put paid to the fibre dream and the only hooves padding the red loamy soils today are those of cattle and wild camels.

“In our first two years, despite great lambing percentages, we did not get a single lamb to weaning stage from 4000 ewes,” Ned said.

“That’s how serious and out of control this problem is.

“We’d see 20 lambs born and a week later we’d go out and still see 20 lambs but they weren’t the same 20.

“At one stage I had visions of running 20,000 wethers all managed with three dogs and a motorbike, but dingoes decimated that idea.”

Damaras were also tried but they proved just as tasty to the dogs as Merinos.

As it happened the couple had also bought 50 Santa Gertrudis station weaners and a stud bull in their first year at Madoonia Downs and seeing how well cattle did in their environment proved the catalyst for change.

“While there are a few out here who have been running cattle for many years, I’d say the majority are like us and have made the switch from sheep,” Ned said.

“I always liked Santas, they’re suited to our country and give marketing options for live export or domestic trade and are good for crossbreeding.

“And I like the idea of running a straight coloured herd.”

The Shields are slowly increasing the capacity of their station with currently only about one third of it suitable for grazing.

“We put in 30 dams in the first few years and could do with another 40,” Ned said.

“We have a couple of bores that are okay but the majority are salty.”

The couple hope to significantly increase cattle numbers from the existing 2500 head and earlier last year, bought 1850ha at Grass Patch, 70km north of Esperance, for drought proofing and to turn-off and grow out weaners and sale cattle.

Although the properties are just 280km apart from homestead to homestead, the difference in rainfall is significant with Madoonia’s Binneringie homestead averaging 275mm annually (400mm last year) and mostly in the summer and Grass Patch averaging 375mm a year, mostly in the winter.

As part of the herd-building phase the majority of heifers are retained, although last year the Shields took the opportunity to tap into good prices from Eastern States’ restockers and sent drafts of surplus heifers across the Nullarbor to Broken Hill, NSW.

Their location proved opportune from a freight angle for the Eastern States trade and it’s a market that will continue to be explored for both seedstock and slaughter.

Keeper heifers are weaned to the Grass Patch property, grown out and brought back to the station for mating to bulls sourced privately and from the annual WA Bos Indicus Group (WABIG) sale, Narngulu.

Bulls calves are marketed mostly at 300-320kg liveweight to live export predominantly filling Indonesian orders.

Cattle are generally trap-mustered at watering holes which works well as it requires less labour, but can be a problem if unseasonal rainfall provides excessive surface water.

Like many pastoralists across WA, the Shields have supplemented their income by subcontracting to local mine sites and also from harvesting sandalwood.

Son-in-law and daughter Hamish and Kylee Johnstone run the mine contracting business from their Kalgoorlie base, working at local gold and nickel mines, including two located on Madoonia Downs.

Using their own dozers, graders and excavators, the work includes rock crushing and pushing up waste dumps.

Son Ashley oversees the sandalwood harvesting operation, a reliable source of income through government owned Forest Products Commission (FPC) contracts.

In similar vein to mining, pastoralists do not own the sandalwood on their leaseholds but can sign up with FPC to harvest the product.

The Shields harvest on their own million-acre holding, part of the biggest inland desert region forest in WA, and also have a contract to harvest on land bounded by Southern Cross, Norseman and Zanthas, a remote outpost on the Trans-Australian rail line.

Harvesting rates are about $2000/tonne, considerably less than the market value of the product at $10,000/tonne.

“The main reason we took up the contract in the first place was so we had control over the harvesting on our own property but it has proven a valuable additional source of income,” Ned said.

Dead and green wood is harvested throughout the year with January generally a lay-off month due to the heat and it’s the roots that are the most prolific source of oil.

To ensure the sustainability of the resource, the Shields replant seeds as they pull up, and Ned said given sandalwood only grew at about one millimetre per year, the journey to maturity was a long, slow one.

Despite the harshness of their environment and remote location, the Shields are proof that diversification, willingness to change and marketing creativity can provide good agricultural industry returns.

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Mingenew water issue still flowing

Mingenew farmer Peter Horwood said the Karara Mining-Parmelia Aquifer issue was bigger than Mingenew because it set a precedent for the State.
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ACTING Shadow Water Minister Sally Talbot has criticised the State Government for refusing to extend the closing date for public submissions regarding the granting of a water licence for Karara Mining.

Karara Mining has applied to the Department of Water for a licence to use the remaining 5.3 gigalitres, or 86 per cent of water, in the Parmelia Aquifer at Mingenew.

Member for the Agricultural Region Mia Davies recently tabled a petition drafted by local farmer Peter Horwood asking the Legislative Council to consider the environmental risk and the impact on agricultural and non-agricultural diversification if the quantity of water applied for under a water licence was used.

The closing date for public submissions was extended from December 31 to January 31.

Ms Talbot said she had written to Water Minister Bill Marmion before Christmas to request a further extension to March 31 because Karara Mining had just released a large amount of new information.

“My view was that was absolutely inadequate because you’ve got a whole lot of technical information being released publicly for the first time,” she said.

“You also had all these farming communities throughout the Mid West who were all in the middle of their harvest and it was coming up to Christmas.”

Ms Talbot said farmers were unable to talk to professional experts about the complicated hydrological data over that period, as they were not available over Christmas and New Year.

She said the tight deadline was creating a lot of concern in the community and handing over 86pc of potable water to the mining industry would remove future options for the use of that water.

“Some people have talked about aquaculture and several other projects that would involve the use of that water,” she said.

Ms Talbot said expansion of the area population-wise would be affected and the community needed much more reassurance that the proper planning had been done.

“People are rapidly losing any sense of trust in the process as it is being played out because they are suspicious of the company’s intentions when it comes to this application,” she said.

Mingenew farmer Peter Horwood said the issue was bigger than Mingenew because it set a precedent for the State.

He said there would be no benefit for the local community because the water was effectively being shifted 100km east.

He said inaccuracies in Karara Mining’s information regarding the location of the Urella faultline meant that more wetlands were potentially endangered than originally thought.

Mr Horwood said the Department of Water found the correct location within half an hour but the mining company which was spending millions of dollars did not get it right in the first place.

Mr Horwood said the pipeline, which is already being laid, was at the Geraldton wharf even before the first community meeting regarding the issue.

“Then you’ve got to sit down and think ‘when was this ordered?” he said.

“You’re dealing with pipe about two foot in diameter so it’s not something you walk down to Bunnings and pick up a truckload of.”

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