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Cotton Australia, irrigators hit back at criticism over fish kill

IRRIGATORS and cotton growers have hit back at suggestions they, in combination with government policy, were somehow responsible for the fish kill that took out as many as a million fish early this week near Menindee Lakes. NSW Irrigators Council chief executive Luke Simpkins and Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray have both defended their respective organisations water use, while lamenting the fact such a disaster occurred. Both blamed drought for the fish kill. “What has happened is as a result of the drought and no water flowing into the rivers. This drought is a devastating time for all of us. This is not about diversions, but about inflows,” said Mr Simpkins. “Without inflows, blue-green algae events will continue to kill fish. This was predicted in December in an ABC report and algal blooms have killed fish before,” he said. “It should be remembered that irrigation farmers on the Upper Darling have not been allocated any water from the system for 18 months because of ..

IRRIGATORS and cotton growers have hit back at suggestions they, in combination with government policy, were somehow responsible for the fish kill that took out as many as a million fish early this week near Menindee Lakes. NSW Irrigators Council chief executive Luke Simpkins and Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray have both defended their respective organisations water use, while lamenting the fact such a disaster occurred. Both blamed drought for the fish kill. “What has happened is as a result of the drought and no water flowing into the rivers. This drought is a devastating time for all of us. This is not about diversions, but about inflows,” said Mr Simpkins. “Without inflows, blue-green algae events will continue to kill fish. This was predicted in December in an ABC report and algal blooms have killed fish before,” he said. “It should be remembered that irrigation farmers on the Upper Darling have not been allocated any water from the system for 18 months because of the drought.” He said general security allocations (meaning the percentage of a water licence farmers are able to use) have been at zero per cent in both the Gwydir and Lower Namoi valleys. “The water simply isnt there for anyone. “As we approach the state election in March and the federal election in May, it is understandable that MPs seeking re-election and candidates seeking election will want to raise their profiles by allocating blame. “Ultimately it is their credibility that will evaporate when they seek to deny the existence of the drought and the lack of rainfall/inflows,” said Mr Simpkins. Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray said cotton growers should not be blamed for this weeks fish kill, nor those last month. “New South Wales is in the grip of a long and devastating drought. This drought is impacting all agricultural sectors, including the cotton industry where this seasons crop is forecast to be at least half of last seasons,” he said.. “On the Barwon-Darling, the impact on cotton production is even more devastating with no cotton being grown in Bourke this season, down from 4000 hectares the year before. “Further upstream at Dirranbandi (home of Cubbie Cotton), just 300 hectares of cotton has been planted, which is 1pc of what can be planted in a very good season. “Cotton Australia is very proud of our industry that produces a quality fibre that is in demand both here at home and around the world, but as an industry we are tired of being the whipping boy for all the problems that are being brought on by this crippling drought. “About 18 months ago, 2000 gigalitres of water was in the Menindee Lakes before the Murray-Darling Basin Authority took the deliberate decision to accelerate releases from Menindee to meet downstream requirements and reduce overall evaporation losses from the lakes. “In hindsight, this was probably a poor decision, but it does highlight the incredibly difficult task of managing flows in a manner that minimise losses, but ensures enough water is available for communities and the environment during extended severe droughts. “Since July 1, 2017, irrigators have extracted just 16 gigalitres out of the Barwon-Darling – an amount that would have evaporated out of Menindee in just 16 days. “Coupled with the extensive drought and the simple fact there has been little to no rain, the release of water from the lakes has exacerbated the conditions leading to these fish deaths,” said Mr Murray. “What this issue highlights is how difficult the management of the Menindee Lakes is.” You can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Daily Liberal. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up to our free or subscriber only newsletters below:

NSW Irrigators Council chief executive Luke Simpkins and Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray have both defended their respective organisations water use, while lamenting the fact such a disaster occurred.

Both blamed drought for the fish kill.

“What has happened is as a result of the drought and no water flowing into the rivers. This drought is a devastating time for all of us. This is not about diversions, but about inflows,” said Mr Simpkins.

“Without inflows, blue-green algae events will continue to kill fish. This was predicted in December in an ABC report and algal blooms have killed fish before,” he said.

“It should be remembered that irrigation farmers on the Upper Darling have not been allocated any water from the system for 18 months because of the drought.”

He said general security allocations (meaning the percentage of a water licence farmers are able to use) have been at zero per cent in both the Gwydir and Lower Namoi valleys.

“The water simply isnt there for anyone.

“As we approach the state election in March and the federal election in May, it is understandable that MPs seeking re-election and candidates seeking election will want to raise their profiles by allocating blame.

“Ultimately it is their credibility that will evaporate when they seek to deny the existence of the drought and the lack of rainfall/inflows,” said Mr Simpkins.

Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray said cotton growers should not be blamed for this weeks fish kill, nor those last month.

“New South Wales is in the grip of a long and devastating drought. This drought is impacting all agricultural sectors, including the cotton industry where this seasons crop is forecast to be at least half of last seasons,” he said..

“On the Barwon-Darling, the impact on cotton production is even more devastating with no cotton being grown in Bourke this season, down from 4000 hectares the year before.

“Further upstream at Dirranbandi (home of Cubbie Cotton), just 300 hectares of cotton has been planted, which is 1pc of what can be planted in a very good season.

“Cotton Australia is very proud of our industry that produces a quality fibre that is in demand both here at home and around the world, but as an industry we are tired of being the whipping boy for all the problems that are being brought on by this crippling drought.

“About 18 months ago, 2000 gigalitres of water was in the Menindee Lakes before the Murray-Darling Basin Authority took the deliberate decision to accelerate releases from Menindee to meet downstream requirements and reduce overall evaporation losses from the lakes.

“In hindsight, this was probably a poor decision, but it does highlight the incredibly difficult task of managing flows in a manner that minimise losses, but ensures enough water is available for communities and the environment during extended severe droughts.

“Since July 1, 2017, irrigators have extracted just 16 gigalitres out of the Barwon-Darling – an amount that would have evaporated out of Menindee in just 16 days.

“Coupled with the extensive drought and the simple fact there has been little to no rain, the release of water from the lakes has exacerbated the conditions leading to these fish deaths,” said Mr Murray.

“What this issue highlights is how difficult the management of the Menindee Lakes is.”

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This story Cotton Australia, irrigators hit back at criticism over fish kill first appeared on Daily Liberal.

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Relive days two and one at the Parkes Elvis Festival in our live blog!

Are you ready to Rock and Roll? Were all shook up this year over the 2019 Parkes Elvis Festival. Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more. During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are part of the crowd, and if you are make sure you keep an eye out for your photo and details from the days events. READ MORE Want to know whats coming up next? Find the program below!

Are you ready to Rock and Roll?

Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more.

During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are pa..

Are you ready to Rock and Roll? Were all shook up this year over the 2019 Parkes Elvis Festival. Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more. During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are part of the crowd, and if you are make sure you keep an eye out for your photo and details from the days events. READ MORE Want to know whats coming up next? Find the program below!

Are you ready to Rock and Roll?

Theres a program full of non-stop entertainment, competitions, dancing and a lot of black leather, and were going to be following it from the trains, to the Wall of Fame and much more.

During each day of the festival the Parkes Champion Post will bring you the best content – if you cant be here in Parkes we will make you feel like you are part of the crowd, and if you are make sure you keep an eye out for your photo and details from the days events.

Want to know whats coming up next? Find the program below!

This story Relive days two and one at the Parkes Elvis Festival in our live blog! first appeared on Parkes Champion-Post.

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Australia

Marise Payne declines to put timeframe on Rahaf Alqunun’s asylum claim

Marise Payne has declined to put a timeframe on how soon Australian authorities will be able to reach a decision on whether to offer asylum to Saudi teenager Rahaf Alqunun.

Key points:

The Foreign Minister said Australia was accessing Rahaf Alqunun's claim for asylum
Ms Payne said there were “a number of steps” still to be taken in the assessment process
She said she had also spoken to Thai government officials about the detention of Hakeem AlAraibi

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was speaking in Thailand after talks with Thai Government officials, said Australia was engaged in the process of assessing Ms Alqunun's claim for asylum.

But she stopped short of saying how long the claim would take to be processed.

“There are, as I have just said, a number of steps in the process, including in terms of that assessment,” Ms Payne said.

“They are required to be taken and they will be completed within due course and then that matter will be resolved.”

The Department o..

Marise Payne has declined to put a timeframe on how soon Australian authorities will be able to reach a decision on whether to offer asylum to Saudi teenager Rahaf Alqunun.

Key points:

  • The Foreign Minister said Australia was accessing Rahaf Alqunun's claim for asylum
  • Ms Payne said there were "a number of steps" still to be taken in the assessment process
  • She said she had also spoken to Thai government officials about the detention of Hakeem AlAraibi

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was speaking in Thailand after talks with Thai Government officials, said Australia was engaged in the process of assessing Ms Alqunun's claim for asylum.

But she stopped short of saying how long the claim would take to be processed.

"There are, as I have just said, a number of steps in the process, including in terms of that assessment," Ms Payne said.

"They are required to be taken and they will be completed within due course and then that matter will be resolved."

The Department of Home Affairs confirmed on Wednesday that the United Nations refugee agency had referred Ms Alqunun's case to Australia for consideration.

Ms Alqunun's asylum application was fast-tracked, partly because of security concerns, after the young woman's father and brother arrived in Bangkok and asked Thai police to see her.

Ms Alqunun, 18, flew into Thailand from Kuwait on the weekend, saying she had a ticket onwards to Australia where she had hoped to seek asylum over fears her family would kill her for renouncing Islam.

But when she arrived in Bangkok she said a Saudi diplomat met her at the airport and tricked her into handing over her passport and ticket, saying he would secure a visa.

The teenager then barricaded herself inside her room at an airport hotel, and requested to speak to the United Nations refugee office.

Ms Payne said she had also spoken to Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister about the detention of Hakeen AlAraibi, and his possible return to Bahrain.

She said Mr AlAraibi had been visited by officials from the Australian embassy on a number of occasions and the Australian Government was engaging with his legal team.

"We are, as I've said, very concerned about his detention, very concerned about any potential for return of Mr Araibi to Bahrain," she said.

"I have reiterated those concerns to both ministers."

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Australia

Is it too soon? The internal conflict of dating after the death of a partner

Related Story: Death doulas explain why everyone should have an end-of-life plan

Melissa Dafo had mixed feelings when she thought she might be falling in love with Jason Groom, who was an acquaintance of her late husband.

“It was really hard when I thought it might be turning into a relationship,” Ms Dafo told 7.30.

“I'm still grieving, I still felt married, but then this is something else that's happening as well.”

It is a common dilemma for those whose partners have died — dealing with the internal conflict and external pressure, real and imagined, from friends and family.

Ms Dafo and Mr Groom both lost partners to cancer before finding each other.

Ms Dafo married her partner, Dan, as he underwent treatment for stage four bowel cancer.

They had a daughter, Bianca, with the help of IVF, but Mr Dafo died when Bianca was just 16 weeks old.

Mr Groom reached out to offer support a few months later.

“It was really just a matter of getting through each day at that stage,..

Related Story: Death doulas explain why everyone should have an end-of-life plan

Melissa Dafo had mixed feelings when she thought she might be falling in love with Jason Groom, who was an acquaintance of her late husband.

"It was really hard when I thought it might be turning into a relationship," Ms Dafo told 7.30.

"I'm still grieving, I still felt married, but then this is something else that's happening as well."

It is a common dilemma for those whose partners have died — dealing with the internal conflict and external pressure, real and imagined, from friends and family.

Ms Dafo and Mr Groom both lost partners to cancer before finding each other.

Dan sitting on a bed holding baby Bianca.

Ms Dafo married her partner, Dan, as he underwent treatment for stage four bowel cancer.

They had a daughter, Bianca, with the help of IVF, but Mr Dafo died when Bianca was just 16 weeks old.

Mr Groom reached out to offer support a few months later.

"It was really just a matter of getting through each day at that stage," Ms Dafo said.

"Dating wasn't even remotely on the cards."

Mr Groom's wife, Jen, had died of cancer three years earlier, and the couple were able to bond over their similar experiences.

"Meeting someone that's gone through the same thing, almost the same thing, just allowed me to make a connection a bit easier, knowing that Jason understands where I am coming from, what I have been through," Ms Dafo said.

"I don't think I would have got into a relationship with someone that I hadn't had that kind of connection with."

Mr Groom said it was not a simple process.

"It's a very interesting situation, how you can still grieve for someone and be seeing someone else. It's like there's two of you," he said.

Elisabeth Shaw, New South Wales chief executive of Relationships Australia, said this was a natural feeling for people who were re-partnering.

"We all have the capacity to love more than one person at a time," she told 7.30.

"It doesn't have to get in the way, but it is something to be mindful of and managed."

'It's like your heart wakes up again'

Sarah Bailey and Graham Kane

Sarah Bailey's husband Dave died in a motorcycle accident two months after they were married, and when she was 10 weeks pregnant with their child.

She named their son David after him.

"Initially I had this expectation that I needed to have Dave at the forefront of [our son's] life," she told 7.30.

"And I realised that that actually wasn't fair to make him focus on somebody who is not here, who can't love him."

Ms Bailey met Graham Kane, her now husband, on Tinder when David was 11 months old.

He committed to supporting her in her grief.

"If she needed a shoulder to cry on, then I was going to be there for her," Mr Kane said.

"I want her to talk about him, I don't want her to forget about him."

Ms Bailey said Mr Kane's appearance in her life was important for her and her son.

"When you think that your heart is not able to love at all, somebody comes into your life and it's like your heart wakes up again," she said.

Not everyone shares the happiness

Elisabeth Shaw, NSW CEO of Relationships Australia

The road for both couples has not always been smooth.

Ms Dafo found it difficult to announce her new relationship to her family.

"Initially I was hiding Jason," she said.

"I didn't want to tell people about him, not knowing how they would cope.

"When I did tell them, it was hard for them — mainly for those closest to Dan.

"They're obviously still grieving as well."

But she said it was important to keep working through it.

"Dan's family are Bianca's family forever, so it's something I would really like to keep in both our lives," she said.

For Mr Groom, it meant extra pressure on the relationship.

"You have all the normal relationship pressures you might have but extras as well, from the after-effects of all that, all the things you carry emotionally," he said.

And he discovered that not everyone in his life necessarily shares his happiness.

"Most friends of mine have been quite supportive," Mr Groom said.

"One in particular was not happy about it in the slightest. He was a friend of Melissa's husband, as well as myself.

"I can't blame him for that. People have their own feelings, and you can't make them decide how they're going to be."

Ms Shaw said this kind of tension is common.

"Often you might feel it's the right time, but your children don't, or family don't, or your neighbours don't," she said.

"It's amazing how many stakeholders there are in the question of time."

'I felt guilty, that people would judge me'

Sarah Bailey, Graham Kane and Dave Jr

Many parents struggle with when to tell their children.

"Parents sometimes feel like they don't want to share anything with the children until it's really happening," Ms Shaw said.

"The point at which you decide it's really happening can be quite late in the piece."

Ms Bailey also worried about perceptions of their relationship.

"I felt guilty that I needed to move through that part of my grief," she said.

"And I felt guilty, that maybe people would judge me for needing to be in a relationship again."

Ms Shaw's advice is to be patient.

"There's a lot of people to contend with and that's a process that takes time," she said.

"You don't win everybody over overnight."

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