David Murray, the outgoing chairman of the multi-billion national Future Fund, has savaged the Federal Government’s carbon tax, describing it as the “worst piece of economic reform” has ever seen.

Mr Murray, who is ending his tenure as chairman to be replaced by David Gonski, publically savaged the legislation, describing it as “very bad” for the economy and will quash international competitiveness.

"If you want me to tell you my view, it is the worst piece of economic reform I have ever seen in my life in this country," Mr Murray told the ABC.

Approximately 100 representatives from 15 countries attended the 4th International Conference on Sustainable Automotive Technologies - From the Present to the Future – held in Melbourne.

The Federal Government has announced the Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform (ANZRP) as the second organisation endorsed to deliver services under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme.

 

“The Scheme will provide Australian households and small businesses with access to free collection and recycling services for televisions, computers, printers and computer products – boosting the recycling rates for those products and providing a long-term solution to television and computer waste,” Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability Senator Don Farrell said.

 

“As the administrator of an approved co-regulatory arrangement ANZRP is able to sign up television and computer manufacturers and importers, and collect and recycle products on their behalf.
 
“ANZRP’s approval follows that of DHL Supply Chain, which was announced on 6 March.”

 

Further announcements of successful applicants are expected shortly. Collections under the new scheme are on track to commence in mid 2012, with access to services expanding across Australia by the end of 2013.

 

 

ANZRP will be required to achieve annual targets for recycling computers and televisions, starting with a 30 per cent recycling rate in the 2012-13 years, rising to 80 per cent by 2020-21.

 

 

The Federal Government has released a new handbook to assist farmers, landholders, waste operators and other clean energy businesses take part in the Federal Government’s Carbon Farmining Initative.

The New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, has announced a broad investigation into hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The Victorian Government has announced $1.6 million in funding for a cutting-edge hydro-electricity project that uses a Victorian-developed technology to harness kinetic energy in open water flow to generate power.

 

State Minister for Energy and Resources Michael O’Brien announced Cetus Energy had won the funding under the Victorian Energy Technology Innovation Strategy (ETIS).

 

Cetus Energy\'s blade turbine system can harness the power of open water flows from multiple directions, where conventional hydro power plants can only harness water flowing in one direction to drive their turbines.

 

 

\"This exceptional Victorian-developed technology can extract significant energy from outfall flows that cannot be tapped by normal hydro power plants,\" Mr O\'Brien said.

 

\"These technologies have the potential to make an important contribution to Victoria\'s energy mix in the future and by supporting these projects the Government is helping to create new highly skilled jobs, build Victorian expertise and attract investment to the state.\"

 

The project will see Cetus install a 100 kilowatt system in the outfall flows of the Rubicon Hydroelectric Scheme, 40 kilometres south-west of Alexandra, with 10 turbines drawing energy from the water flowing in the channel system.

 

The project aims to demonstrate the ability to add significant electricity generation capacity to existing hydro-electric assets without the need for major infrastructure investment or upgrades.

 

 

The Victorian Government has announced it will provide $1 million in funding for the development of an ‘ultra efficient solar power system’.

 

Minister for Energy and Resources Michael O\'Brien said the RayGen solar power project was developing technology for high performance large scale solar systems that concentrate solar power from a field of heliostats onto an array of super-efficient solar cells on a central tower.

 

 

\"The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to supporting local research and development in a new generation of renewable and low emissions technologies,\" Mr O\'Brien said.

 

\"Supporting the early development of technologies such as this RayGen project will help develop new renewable energy technologies which can provide low emissions power for Victorian homes and businesses in the future.\"

 

RayGen\'s site for the planned demonstration plant is in the Gannawarra Shire near Kerang. One of the project partners is Ballarat-based Ceramet Technologies

 

\"In addition to energy technologies, this project will also provide highly-skilled jobs in regional Victoria,\" Mr O\'Brien said.

 

The Victorian Government has announced it has scrapped its Labor predecessor’s carbon reduction target after an independent review found that keeping the state-backed target jeopodised the state’s growth.

The Federal Government has announced $3.5 million in funding for 14 adaptation research projects to help governments, industry and communities further prepare for the impacts of climate change.

The Federal Greens have continued their push to expand existing environmental flows for the Murray-Darling draft plan to 4,000GL, describing the current 2,750 GL in the draft as an inadequate measure to maintain the long term viability of the river system.

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\"Since the draft plan was released in November, the Greens have been the only party which has consistently stood up for South Australians to demand it be improved,\" Greens\' water spokesperson and South Australian Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, said.

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\"All my fellow federal MPs from South Australia told a gathering in Canberra last week that they loved the Murray, but I don\'t hear them complaining about the reduced amount of 2,750 GL the draft plan will return to the environment.\"

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The Independent Verification Group has released its assessment of the Tasmanian forestry industry’s timber supply requirements and the conservation values of nominated areas of Tasmania’s native forests.

 

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said delivery of the advice to the Australian and Tasmanian Governments, and the community, was a significant milestone in the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). 

 

The Federal and Tasmanian Governments are currently in the process of implementing the IGA as part of the response to increasing pressures and challenges faced by the timber industry, which has shed thousands of jobs in the recent years as a result of changing timber market conditions.

 

The IGA was developed in response to calls from the industry, unions and environment groups.

 

Professor Jonathan West led an independent process with forestry and conservation groups to verify the high conservation value of native forests nominated under the IGA, and the timber supplies needed to meet industry needs. The independent verification process was agreed by groups involved in the IGA.

 

“The Tasmanian forestry industry faces huge challenges and that’s why we are working hard to support workers and secure a sustainable future – without the IGA timber communities would be hit by these market changes without the support they need,” Mr Burke said. 

 

“For the first time we have an independent view of the current demands for wood supply and the different conservation values of areas within Tasmania.

 

“This independent information provides a foundation for any discussions about jobs, timber communities or conservation. Without the IGA, this foundation would never have been established.

 

The report can be found here

 

 

 

 

The Federal Government has announced the appointment of an export panel for carbon farming to address the proposed methods for developing carbon credits under the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI).

The Federal Government’s $200 million Renewable Energy Fund is ready to commence investment in promoting and developing the country’s renewable energy sector.

The Independent Expert Scientific Committee is part of a science-based framework to provide more certainty for regional communities on coal seam gas and large coal mining developments, jobs and investment and the protection of water resources.

The University of Wollongong (UOW) and Ecotech have announced a partnership to manufacture and distribute a comprehensive greenhouse gas analyser to worldwide markets.

 

Based on technology developed by researchers at UOW’s School of Chemistry, the new Ecotech instrument, known as the Spectronus analyser, delivers a high precision, real-time analysis of all principal greenhouse gases.

 

The Spectronus analyser has, according to its researchers, capabilities unmatched by its competitors.

The analyser has applications in background air monitoring and in quantifying the emissions and uptake of greenhouse gases by ecosystems and industries, especially agriculture.

 

“Policy decisions based on climate change research demand precise, highly accurate and repeatable data for all greenhouse gases, not just CO2,” according to the Head of the UOW Research Team, Professor David Griffith.

 

Other gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, along with water vapour, are all important in any comprehensive assessment of atmospheric effects on and by climate change.

 

The Spectronus analyser offers, for the first time, a single high-accuracy instrument which simultaneously measures important greenhouse gases.

 

“One of the major benefits of the analyser is its long-term performance stability without the need for frequent calibration,” Ecotech’s Managing Director, Nicholas Dal Sasso said.

 

The Spectronus hardware is complemented by powerful operating software which results in a flexible, fully-automated system that can be controlled remotely.

 

Ecotech is an Australian-owned company with more than 35 years’ experience providing environmental monitoring solutions. It specialises in ambient air, emissions, dust, process gas, water and blast monitoring solutions, and exports instruments throughout the world.

The South Australian Government has signed up to the Federal Government’s National Partnership Agreement on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining agreement, becoming the third state to agree to ‘tougher regulations for future coal seam gas and large coal mining projects’.

The Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications will conduct an inquiry into amendments to the National Water Commission Act 2004 that will continue the National Water Commission (NWC) as an independent statutory body beyond its current sunset date of 30 June 2012.

The Western Australian Government has outlined $14.5 million in funding over the next four years on a program to seek third party sustainability certification for the state’s commercial fisheries.

The Victorian Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith has invited industry, communities and local governments to join consultation sessions on the Government's review of how the state's waste is managed.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) has appointed a new member to its climate research team, Susan Orgill, who has started work at Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute as a soil carbon research officer.  

All farmers involved in the project are required to participate in annual reporting and monitoring and provide updates throughout the year.

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