Preparing to produceIn the Green Room

Smashed avo toast anyone?: Hass avocados are available at most garden centres, and with the weather cooling down, it’s the perfect time to plant. Photo: iStock.
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I’m calling it now: the season has officially turned!

With weather cooling down and the occasional rains brushing through (but don’t get too excited –hand watering and reticulation will still be needed yet), it’s prime time to get out in the garden and get ready for the cooler weather.

Firstly, this is a perfect time to plant citrus, avocado and olive trees.

Though they’re suited to Mediterranean weather like ours, it’s important to get the soil and location right before they establish.

Mix equal parts compost, bentonite clay and soil in a hole about half a metre cubed in size, before planting your tree.

When they’re still young, fruiting trees need shelter from wind. This is especially crucial for avocados –in fact, I’ve seen agricultural growers protect their avocados with barriers of living corn crops, to shieldthem from the wind until they root and get strong enough to hold their own.

It may even be worth laying some stakes around the new tree, to wrap some mesh and create a protective barrier.

You should also consider this when choosing a spot for your tree, and though citrus and olives are more resilient, they’ll also benefit from a bit of shelter in the early days.

Once planted keep the trees watered regularly (I can’t emphasise enough how deceptive this rain is –not much of it will actually be getting down to the roots just yet) and lay some chunky mulch around the base, taking care not to pile it up against the trunk.

Sow what?It’s also time to sow your winter vegetables from seed.

Raise broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and silverbeet, peas, beans, carrots, beetroots, coriander, chives, oregano, mustard, parsleyand lettuce, making sure to protect the seedlings from drying out.

You can purchase seed raising trays from most garden centres, but I prefer to use old egg cartons for a cheap alternative.

Poke some holes in the bottom of the carton for drainage, and you can write the species directly onto the cardboard with a pen to ID them later.

When the seedlings get to about three inches tall, they’re ready to plant into the ground with some snail pellets for protection.

Do you have a gardening question for Jess? Send your queries to jess.cocker [email protected]南京夜网419论坛

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Further questions arise in politicians’ perks audit

The former speaker and his deputy, dumped from their plum posts after claiming $150,000 in entitlements, face further questions from auditors after the first step of a parliamentary probe into politicians’ perks.
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As revealed by Fairfax Media, western suburbs Labor MPs Telmo Languiller and Don Nardella moved their homes to the Bellarine Peninsula and then claimed a second residence allowance designed for country MPs who have to visit Melbourne frequently.

Both men now face further questions arising from a desktop audit conducted by parliament’s internal auditors Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Late on Tuesday a spokesman for the parliament said internal auditors had completed a desktop audit of all MPs receiving the allowance since the 2014 election.

Internal auditors “are now following up with individual members to clarify queries arising from the desktop audit”.

The audit committee’s work was expected to finish this week, but it is now set to report back when parliament resumes next week.

“Whilst cognisant of the public interest in the issue, Parliament’s Audit Committee determined to allow the auditors sufficient time to complete a thorough review of the extensive documentation associated with the first stage of the audit to ensure procedural fairness and natural justice is available to all Members,” the statement said.

Dozens of MPs claim the second residence allowance, including some ministers and 15 Coalition members.

Mr Languiller, who is on a month’s sick leave, is paying back $40,000 he claimed to live in Queenscliff away from his Tarneit electorate.

But Mr Nardella, who claimed $113,00 to live in Ocean Grove away from Melton, is refusing to pay back the cash and has been forced out of state caucus to the crossbench.

Premier Daniel Andrews has promised to clean up politicians’ entitlements, including restricting the second residence allowance for country MPs.

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Carp explosion risks Basin Plan benefits

Carp caught in the Edward Wakool system after the 2016 floods. The invasive feral fish’s recent rapid reproduction spree was spurred by the prolific breeding on floodplains across Murray Darling river system.EXPLODING carp numbers threaten the benefits of the Basin Plan, according to river expert Dr John Conallin, a researcher with the United Nations’ UNESCO-IHE initiative for sustainable water management.
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Dr Conallin is warning the Murray Darling Basin Authority that the Basin Plan’s environmental watering regime will create the same favourable conditions which saw carp breeding “in their millions” during 2010-11 and 2016 flooding and undermine the strategies to repair native fish populations.

“If you want to see a real live example, throw a shrimp trap in the water, and you’ll catch 50 to 100 small 2016 bred carp every hour of every day,” he said.

“Without effectively controlling carp, all the proposed native fish benefits we could get from floodplain inundation under the Basin Plan will be lost and we’ll end up making the situation worse for native fish.”

He said the MDBA should count native-fish boosting measures against water recovery targets, arguing that “if we can get the native fish population into recovery mode, it has more opportunity to breed and needs less watering events for reproduction”.

Taking golden perch as an example, the long lived fish that can reach 30 years of age needs flooding roughly every three years to breed to maintain its population under natural conditions, but requires more frequent watering events if it is competing with carp.

But Dr Conallin stressed he does not advocate against environmental watering of floodplains, which he said “we need to continue with” to achieve outcomes for birdlife, trees and riparian habitats.

He said, the so-called complimentary measures of restocking programs, fishways and coldwater curtains in dams to stop releases of chilly water that prevent natives breeding should be included in a list of measures that could be recouped from water recovery targets.

Ultimately, native floodplain species of southern pygmy perch, southern purple spotted gudgeon, eel tailed catfish and the silver perchlet, which have largely disappeared under the cloud of carp, should be reintroduced, Dr Conallin said.

“If this approach is adopted we can better meet the Basin Plan’s environmental objectives, and at the same time save water.”

Hardy carp ride surging floodwaters onto food-rich flooded plains to breed. Females release up to 1.5 million eggs each and can breed in colder water than native Murray cod and golden perch, which rely on well-timed floods and relatively warm water to reach upstream spawning grounds in conducive conditions.

Carp compete for food and habitat and can potentially eat native species’ larvae. While sifting the bottom with sucker-mouths, carp reduce water quality and remove aquatic plants.

Dr Conallin said the benefits from the $15 million carp herpes virus control program would outweigh potential risks. Carp has been estimated to cost up to $500m a year in environmental damage.

Release of the virus has been questioned over its potential to create a damaging biomass of dead carp which suck oxygen from waterways as they rot.

“It is not too high a risk to release the virus,” Dr Conallin said. “The obvious benefits will outweigh any potential consequences we think may happen,” he said.

Interstate debate underwayMinisters fromthe four Basin states, Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia meet tomorrow in the Ministerial Council.

Ahead of the meeting, NSW Regional Water Minister Niall Blair has released a report which may drive a further wedge between the eastern states and downstream South Australia.

Mr Blair called for betterscrutiny of the MDBA’s upwater programahead of a meeting with other stateministers in Mildura on Friday.

Previously, NSW and Victoria teamed up to commissionan independent expert panel to review the MDBA’smodelling methods, or calculations for water recovery under the Basin Plan.

On Tuesday Mr Blairreleased a report recommending greater understanding of theupwaterprogram (450 gigalitres) ofenvironmental water above thebaseline recovery target of 2,750GL, and its potential to cause negative economic impacts to regional NSW.

Mr Blair said thereport showed the‘neutral or beneficial’ provisions in existing inter-state agreements were not practical or reasonable when compared with accepted definitions of socio-economic impact.

“We need a better understanding of what these efficiency measures mean for our irrigation sector, particularly the irrigation corporations, and employment and economic activity in the local town.”

View the report here: 梧桐夜网water.nsw.gov419论坛

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Movie to bring people together

Children and families will be able to enjoy a movie night under the stars later this month.
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As apart of National Youth Week a Cinema Under the Stars will entertain Kentish residents at Railton.

Event organiser Chris Clark said National Youth Week is a joint initiative been the Australianstate, territory and local governments.

“It gives young people an opportunity to express ideas and views, and act on issues that affect their lives,” he said.

Each year the Kentish Council host events for young people in the area, Mr Clark said this year the council would organise an outdoor cinema for the second time.

“This will be the second time an outdoor cinema has been run as part of national youth week after last year’s screening of Escape from Planet Earth,” he said.

“Last year’s event in Sheffield was very successful and based on that we decided we would give it another go and take the show to Railton.”

This year the outdoor cinema will screen the Dreamworks Animation 2015 movie titled Home.

Home tells the story ofan alien who is on the run from his own kind, on his journey hemakes friends with a young girl named Tip.

The movie teaches a lesson in friendships and differences, along with discovering the true meaning of home.

“Whilst the event is part of National Youth Week, we encourage all young people and their families to come along and enjoy the night,” Mr Clark said.

“Just remember to bring your chair or blanket to sit on.”

A free bus will be available for school pupils, it will depart the Sheffield School at 6.30pm and will return at 9pm.

Mr Clark said the bus would enable a greater number of young people attend the event.

“It is important that free transport is provided for events like this, as it enables a greater number of local young people with the opportunity to participate in and experience National Youth Week,” he said.Home for the Cinema Under the Starsat Railton will be held on Friday March 31.

The movie under the stars will start at 7pm at the newly developed Goliath Park.

Free ice cream will be available for children and their families to enjoy at the event.

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‘Flawed’ Ombudsman’s report into bugging scandal slammed

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – January 30:Catherine Burn,Deputy Commissioner, NSW Police Force, appears at the INQUIRY ON THE CONDUCT AND PROGRESS OF THE OMBUDSMAN?S INQUIRY ?OPERATION PROSPECT? at Macquarie Room, Parliament House, on January 30, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)_55R4121.jpg Photo: Daniel Munoz
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An Ombudsman’s investigation that has implications on who may become the next NSW police commissioner has been slammed as “flawed” and carrying “limited weight” by the state’s criminal intelligence agency.

The NSW Crime Commission on Tuesday took the extraordinary step of making public its damning response to the NSW Ombudsman’s 900-page report into an internal police bugging and phone tapping operation.

Known as Operation Prospect, the four-year, $10 million investigation by the Ombudsman was hoped to bring an end to the long-running police bugging scandal that has plagued the top level of the force for years.

The report, released in December, made a series of adverse findings against the actions of the NSW Police, the NSW Crime Commission and officers attached to both organisations.

Among those criticised were Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn and former deputy commissioner Nick Kaldas, two high-profile applicants to replace Andrew Scipione as the next police commissioner.

Mr Kaldas and Ms Burn have previously disputed the Ombudsman’s findings and now the NSW Crime Commission has said Operation Prospect was “marred and rendered largely ineffective by the unfair procedures adopted and the mistakes of law and fact contained in it”.

“The Prospect investigation has taken over four years and the Report occupies 882 pages,” reads the NSW Crime Commission response, dated February 21.

“Notwithstanding the time and effort involved, the NSWCC considers that the Report carries limited weight.

“The procedures adopted in the publication of the Report have been flawed and many of the findings and recommendations are based upon errors or fact and/or law.”

The 28-page response, which has been placed on the Commission’s website, claims the Ombudsman’s investigation “lacked procedural fairness”, misled witnesses and that its findings and recommendations are “technically invalid and of no legal effect”.

Those recommendations included that the Crime Commission apologise to 15 people who were targeted in the police bugging scandal.

The commission said it would not be apologising.

“The purpose of this response is to place on record the general views of the NSWCC of the adverse findings made against it, and to explain why most of the recommendations will not be followed.”

The commission’s critical response to Operation Prospect was handed to the NSW government several weeks ago as it makes a decision on who will replace Mr Scipione in April.

Mr Kaldas has previously made similar claims that the investigation lacked procedural fairness and unsuccessfully sought an injunction to delay its release, while Ms Burn issued a lengthy statement repudiating the findings.

Ms Burn’s and Mr Kaldas’ chances of a promotion have been hampered by the long-running bugging scandal and subsequent investigation by Ombudsman.

Ms Burn was the team leader of an internal affairs unit that bugged many innocent police and civilians, including Mr Kaldas and his family, more than 15 years ago.

The Ombudsman’s report found that Mr Kaldas could face criminal charges for giving “false and misleading testimony” in a secret hearing over the bugging scandal, while Ms Burn engaged in “unreasonable” and “unlawful” conduct.

The Crime Commission’s decision to publish its response came after the acting NSW Ombudsman Professor John McMillan took the unusual step of releasing a statement saying despite media reports he had not seen criticism of his report by the Crime Commission.

He urged any party or lawyer who disagreed with the Operation Prospect report to communicate their views with his office in writing.

Professor McMillan also denied there was any “agenda” in the investigation and he had “no stake in the outcome”.

“Our objective was to place on the public record our analysis of the issues and the evidence, and my findings and recommendations,” his statement said.

“This was done after an extended period of investigation, consultation and analysis, including a comprehensive procedural fairness process for parties who may be adversely affected by the report.”

The NSW government is expected to announce Mr Scipione’s replacement within weeks.

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