26 September 2023

PS from the PaSt: 18 –24 July 2012

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1. This week 10 years ago, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon unveiled a new medal of recognition for Australia’s defence force, the Australian Operational Service Medal, to recognise the efforts of Navy personnel carrying out border protection work.

Mr Snowdon said the medal was an overdue acknowledgement of the difficult job carried out in border protection, including intercepting foreign fishing boats.

“This is our way of acknowledging the tough and dangerous work hundreds of men and women in our defence forces carry out protecting Australia,” Mr Snowdon said.

2. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as part of the global fight against terrorism and transnational crime.

Commissioner of the AFP, Tony Negus said the MoU formalised decades of cooperation between the AFP and FBI and solidified the strong ties between the two Agencies.

He said the AFP and FBI shared a history of close policing and common values and the new partnership would further strengthen national security ties and reflected the united commitment to combating crimes such as terrorism, countering illicit drugs and money-laundering.

3. Australia’s most modern biosecurity laboratory opened in the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute at Menangle in Sydney’s south west. NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell said the $57 million Centre for Biosecurity would spearhead efforts to safeguard the State’s $9 billion primary industries sector from devastating pests and diseases.

He said more than 180 staff, including some of the country’s leading researchers, would be employed there.

“The new secure laboratory precinct allows us to test for diseases such as swine flu, equine influenza, Hendra virus and citrus canker that have the potential to devastate industry and communities,” Mr O’Farrell said.

4. A giant new land reserve was declared in Central Australia, becoming Australia’s largest land conservation zone.

The declaration also created a major addition to the Trans-Australia Eco-Link corridor, bringing more than 10 million hectares under protection as the Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area, which Federal Minister for Indigenous Health and Northern Territory MP, Warren Snowdon said was the largest single land area ever dedicated to conservation in Australia.

“The Warlpiri Rangers and Traditional Owners look after this vast area, controlling weeds and feral pests and surveying native wildlife,” Mr Snowdon said.

“They combine Aboriginal knowledge and contemporary science to look after Country.”

5. In South Australia, Mount Gambier’s Blue Lake was named one of Australia’s seven hydrogeological wonders.

The listing by the Australian chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists highlighted the lake’s annual colour change.

Principal Technical Officer at the SA Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources in the South East, Jeff Lawson said the lake, in one of three extinct volcanic craters in the area, was critical to the Mount Gambier community.

“There are other blue lakes in the world, but this one is unique due to its colour change from steel blue in winter to turquoise blue between November and March,” Mr Lawson said.

6. And this week a decade ago, the WA Government announced it would review the protection status for white sharks following a spate of fatal attacks on WA beaches.

WA Minister for Fisheries, Norman Moore wrote to the Federal Government urgently seeking clarification about the shark’s status as a protected species, following the fifth fatal attack in Western Australia since September 2011.

“It is absolutely tragic that in just 10 months, five people have lost their lives to white sharks,” Mr Moore said.

“Each attack has resulted in severe or sustained injuries with no chance of survival for the victim.”

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