NCWQ Arts and Letters Report February 2019

By Jennifer Ann Davies

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser



The distinguished Australian Poet and Human Rights Advocate, Judith RODRIGUEZ, passed away on 22ndNovember 2018, aged 82.

Judith had once said “You’ve got to give something to the world – poetry is my offering.” Tributes live on for Judith’s serenity, hope and wisdom; for direct and forthright language, a great sense of humour, striking imagery and indelible poems about women’s experiences.

On Saturday 16thFebruary, 2019, a Celebration of Life for Judith Rodriguez, stunning Poet of Soul, at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne, Victoria. Judith’s youngest daughter, Zoe, read a special poem written by our own prolific Stefanie BENNETT, for Judith – ‘The Visit 1996’. I clearly remember trudging up the hill at Maleny, to the caravan park and Stef’s excitement about the visit and the black and white photos of Judith, Elsie Brimblecombe and herself! The poem is in Stef’s collection: “Woman of Straw” and I will advise where historic snapshots may be viewed. Perth, Western Australia, celebrated Judith’s life on her birthday, 13thFebruary, with members of numerous organizations participating. Other celebrations are organised for New South Wales, Tasmania and Queensland.

Because of the nature and stature of her work and Life, I am extending deep condolences on behalf of both the National Council of Women Queensland Incorporated and the International Council of Women, to husband, Tom SHAPCOTT and children, SIBILIA, ENSOR, REBECA AND ZOE. “…requiescat in pace.”  Online: Judith Rodriguez or



PERFORMING ARTS take centre stage for Queenslanders!

The new CPAC offers plays, theatre, live music, contemporary dance, comedy and more. Audiences in Regional Far North Queensland are excited about the line-up of events on offer at the recently completed Cairns Performing Arts Centre! For two long years audiences have sat in camping chairs, in the park – beautiful – however, mostly wet! Thusly we sat huddled in ponchos, so that umbrellas could not block view of the stage; derrieres very wet, shivery in the evening rain, loving the foreign places, eras and characters transporting us to other times, places, fantasies and wonders…..however, a great celebration was had when the ROOF went atop the new centre!

Events for MARCH 2019 include Katie Noonan’s Elixir with Michael Leunig and strings: “Gratitude and Grief”; comedians, Judith Lucy and Denise Scott: “Disappointments”; moving theatre “Woven” and the NQ Chamber Orchestra with a beautiful “Classical Celebration”.

The new centre replaces the former Civic Centre and provides greatly enhanced experiences and a state-of-the-art facility that will support local and travelling performers. Seating and amenities are vastly improved, and include the following:

  • A deeper stage, more spacious wings, higher PROSCENIUM ARCH, higher fly tower and more fly lines.
  • A much larger orchestra pit and better provision for piano storage
  • Improved acoustics…..all a treat for a regional area!

The Cairns Performing Arts Centre is a joint initiative of the Cairns Regional Council and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and the Australian Government.

At the Southern end of the State, QPAC embraces world-renowned, emerging, local and new performers, and hundreds of varied events!  Just a few events on offer for March 2019 are: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”; the long-lived “Death of a Salesman”; “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and the well applauded performance “The Book of Mormon”. of regional patrons will, doubtless continue to visit this centre, particularly as performances often have a much longer season.  Thusly, both centres may be enjoyed by Queensland audiences.


NEW WRITERS: ‘Griffith Review’ has accepted submissions for the 2019-2020 Queensland Writing Fellowships and those chosen as successful applicants were to have been advised by 30thSeptember 2018, and will be published in the ‘Review’. More details will be available on the website in the coming weeks. Readers, editors and publishers look forward to a fresh and generous variety of genres, themes, characters, settings and styles of our new and developing writers.



VINTAGE ATTWOOD ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Vintage Books, London 2010

‘Out of a narrative shadowed by terror, gleam sharp perception, brilliant intense images and sardonic wit.’ INDEPENDENT

Margaret ATTWOOD’S books have been published in over 35 countries, many prize-winners. She is the author of more than forty works of fiction, poetry, critical essays and books for children. The author lives in Canada.

This extraordinary ‘tale’ is one which has importance for all of us. An earlier version was televised by the BBC and more recently a contemporary American version was serialised on Australian television. “The Handmaid’s Tale’ is both a superlative exercise in science fiction and a profoundly felt moral story.” Angela Carter

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She has only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness.

A tough, perceptive tale that drips, drips, drips into today’s and tomorrow’s possibilities.



“For the Innocents: 1962-1996: GUATEMALA.

I have touched their bones. I mourn for them.” Kathy REICHS

‘The U.N. Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification’ concluded that ninety percent of all human rights violations were committed by the Guatemalan army and its allied parliamentary organizations.”

“Most victims were Mayan peasants, many with no involvement in the conflict. The military swept through the countryside killing anyone they even suspected of being a guerrilla supporter. The highland provinces of El Quiche and Huehuetenango contain hundreds of unmarked graves.” p.102

The Argentines, along with scientists from the U.S.; and some medically trained personnel from Australia, trained local Guatemalans, who have now conducted scores of forensic investigations….including remains from the Chupan Ya, August 1982 attack.

World-class forensic anthropologist, Dr. Kathy REICHS exposes truths. An indefatigable expert, conscience bound and deeply compassionate, she is a stunning Woman Writer, with unusual professional expertise, respect and experience in extraordinary global arenas!


Reissued by Arrow Books 2012


LANGUAGE, LITERACY, LETTERS:  James PATTERSON is one of the best-known and biggest-selling writers of all time! In addition to his novels and stand-alone thrillers, James is passionate about encouraging children to read. Inspired by his own son who was a reluctant reader, he also writes a range of books specifically for young readers.

Illustrator, Martin CHATTERTON has also written dozens of kids’ books and illustrated many for almost 30 years. With work now published in 14 languages, Martin now divides his time between Australia and the U.K.

‘MIDDLE SCHOOL’ – ‘Rafe’s Aussie Misadventures’- James PATTERSON and Martin CHATTERTON. Random House Australia Pty Ltd, North Sydney NSW 2060.


VISUAL ART:  MONA RYDER “LONE STAR” – A SIGNIFICANT SOLO EXHIBITION. Nationally and internationally respected, this evocative artist has for almost half a century, challenged audiences with her unique visual language and unmistakable explorations into relationships, memory and gendered rituals.

Carefree and barefoot Mona Ryder grew up gathering seashells on the beaches and foreshores of Maroochydore, Queensland. When women artists were few, she juggled her blossoming career and a young family.

Exploring motherhood, marriage, birth and rituals of domesticity, her skilful crafting and juxtaposition of common household materials, old furniture and detritus, illustrate the exchanges of meaning, tensions and shifts in value for which Ryder is renowned.

ARTISAN: Bowen Hills Q’ld.


FILM:   “ON THE BASIS OF SEX” Her story made history!

“A rousing origin story. Humanizes a civil rights crusader who has since become an Icon and role model.” Variety.

Felicity JONES and Arnie HAMMER star in ‘ON THE BASIS OF SEX’, the inspiring true story of a young Ruth BADER GINSBURG, a passionate and dedicated lawyer who brings a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1975 that will change women’s lives for the better. Her claim: that the law discriminates on the basis of gender.

At the heart of Ruth’s journey is a moving romance with her husband Marty and a poignant relationship with her daughter, who embodies a new generation of woman following in Ruth’s footsteps. As Ruth struggles to be heard, even hired, in a profession dominated by men, Marty becomes her greatest ally in a partnership built on love and equality.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was later appointed Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, a position she holds to this day. See where her story begins in this stirring, heartfelt drama.

Bader Ginsburg’s mother taught her to persevere, to question and to believe in herself. A short quote from Eleanor Roosevelt could easily apply to this fine woman: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

NCWQ Music Report February 2019

By Jennifer Ann Davies

NCWQ Music Adviser


With harmony and beauty, we compose, play, sing and enjoy….

‘music’ (noun). Art of combining sounds of voice(s) or instrument(s) to achieve beauty of form and expression of emotion; sounds so produced; pleasant sound, such as: song of bird, murmur of brook, cry of hounds…The Concise Oxford Dictionary.

‘musical’ (adjective and noun). Of music. Of sounds, voice etc. Melodious, harmonious…set to or accompanied by music. The Concise Oxford Dictionary.


BRISBANE CITY SOUNDS! An all-inclusive group of Women Singers is asking “Would you like to experience the thrill of ‘a cappella’ harmony singing? Details have been distributed through the National Council of Women Queensland Incorporated, to member groups, so this is an additional reminder of new possibilities for those who love to sing and nourish the souls of others in the community!

A four-week vocal education programme is offering, in Paddington, from 14thFebruary through to 7thMarch 2019. The programme is for experienced and novice singers and the opportunity exists for singers to perform in celebration of International Women’s Day, on the evening of Friday 8thMarch, 2019. Information:


MUSIC BY THE SEA – February 2019 – SANDGATE. This annual music festival presents a line-up of classical, folk, jazz, popular and world music, by local, national and international musicians at venues around Sandgate.


  1. JEROME’S LANEWAY FESTIVAL – February 2019 – BRISBANE. A ‘boutique festival’ in which there may be some surprises to enchant audiences! Aha! What world famous artists could be performing in 2019?


ISRAELI SINGER, Yasmin LEVY, mostly performs ‘Latino’ music and uses violin and cello as well as more modern flamenco instruments. Yasmin has been celebrated by the BBC and World Music Awards and has progressed the generous, rich and beautiful world of Women and Song, with special acclaim in France and Sweden. On behalf of the National Council of Women Queensland Incorporated Australia, I would like to thank my contemporary Hedva BACHRACH for information on women in music, in Israel, and would like to continue to introduce our members to each of these women in music, as the year progresses. Shalom!

CENTRAL QUEENSLAND CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC – MACKAY, has a detailed, ‘user-friendly’ website to provide the public with information about:

  • Applications and Auditions
  • CQCM Performances and Events (needs updating for 2019*)
  • General Information about studying Performing Arts
  • Relevant Maps

To showcase the skills and talents of their music, the conservatorium hosts myriad performances annually. Performances range from full musical theatre productions, to drama, children’s theatre, jazz performances, recitals, concerts and community events.


OPERA QUEENSLAND welcomes patrons to the 2019 season! Events offering:

  • A Flowering Tree
  • Tosca
  • Orpheus and Eurydice
  • Requiem

“A Flowering Tree” explores themes of magic, transformation and the healing power of deep and selfless love. This is a majestic re-telling of a traditional Indian folk tale by world renowned composer, John Adams. 2-6thApril 2019 – QPAC.


‘MARILYA’ is a group of young indigenous singers based in Cairns. With mature and beautiful blending, the members of this choir sing with a warmth and richness unusual for their age-group! An interesting history of events, from 2015/2016/2017, is available online and the release of a 2017 collaboration ‘SPINIFEX GUM’ was celebrated on ABC television on Australia Day, 2019. This group, of whom we may be very proud; explodes with the freshest, most united exuberance, evident in joyful harmony with Life, Youth and Music! The group members and their song, music and utterly synchronised movement welcomes today and tomorrow! – A gift!


A BEAUTIFUL SOUNDTRACK for the Disney Fantasy Adventure: THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS, is composed by James Newton HOWARD and based on themes from TCHAIKOVSKY’S classic 1892 ballet score. This music was recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and features pianist, Lang Langas soloist. A beautiful ‘note’on which to bid you ‘au revoir’!

Arts and Letters Report, January 2019

By Jennifer Ann Davies

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser

“O tempora! O mores!”               Oh the times! Oh the customs! (Latin)

History opens up like a landscape for us to see through forgotten windows. Musee des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, France.

People, in general, are looking back at different times and different customs! Readers and viewers seek the truths and details of human histories written without the blurred boundaries of a post-truth era.

Many are reading books which have been published for some time, but which posit histories, facts, values and social mores which have not been devoured or compromised by the appetites and nuances of post-modernism.

 Writing is part of the thinking process and at times, a debate with self. It is a gift and a joy to read the work of writers who have engaged in that very debate and evaluated and interpreted research and the world’s human and socio-political histories well and have not just summarised these.

What, then, are Queenslanders reading?

ONE NIGHT IN WINTER, Simon Sebag MONTEFIORE Arrow Books, London, 2014, is a book that is currently circulating in diverse reading circles. The evaluation and interpretation of the world’s history, chaos and human survival informs and is of immense value; particularly for readers who are looking for Truth. Montefiore is the author of several prize-winning history books and his books are published in over forty languages.

A gripping, sobering, darkly enigmatic and enjoyable read, cleverly plotted, set in the heart of a violent society; this novel of passion, fear, bravery, suffering and survival is uniquely terrifying.

Much has been written about the thrill, love, emotions, redemption, passion, hope, heart-ache and romance of this masterly, historically authentic book, but the ‘liberalism’ with which many well-worn terms and clichés are used is quite disturbing, yet never misleading.

Chilling reminders are stark against the landscape of the darkest days of Communist Russia and the power one man can wield over a nation’s lives. You will wipe away tears and not because of the chill of Soviet Winters, but because love and death swirl…centrifugal. Human fragility and passions are still placed under the intimidating shadows of Stalin, Hitler and Lenin. Facing historical realities, instead of whisking them away; exposing genuine dualities and positing an informed evaluation and interpretation of such times, forges an amazing read!

AMANDINE, a novel by Italy’s Marlena de BLASI, is another wonderful book in circulation, with authentic details from human history; the natural world and undiluted socio-political events. Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest NSW 2065, 2010.

The ‘noble’ Czartoryski family – Krakow 1916 – betrayal, murder, chaos, bitterness…a new generation – a baby girl is born – AMANDINE – extravagantly ‘erased’ – removed to a convent in Montpellier!

De Blasi is praised, often, for her expertly wrought historical detail. Intricate, effective, engaging and exquisite, is the tight weave of the world at large; humanity, power and betrayal; love that fuses and forges newness and hope. Beautifully, this woman- author also uses direct parallels with the realities, ripples and rhythmsof the natural world.

“Amandine delights in the outdoors. She wanders about, touching, smelling, inspecting…She scrutinises a swallow’s nest, windblown and landed in the herb beds, and often she gossiped with the birds, standing under some branches where they perch, nodding, chirping. She answers them. They her. In the furrows beneath the vines, violets grow and, one by one, she gathers them – only the darkest blue ones will do. Lining up the gossamer stems in her trembling palm, she ties them with a blade of meadow grass…Her nose yellowed from dipping it into wildflowers, leaves tangled in her sweaty curls, cheeks red from the labours of her forage, she is pleased…” p.67

For Readers – for Women and Girls – for Mothers and Daughters – for all that we represent and all we reject, this is an abundantly rich and unforgettable read! ‘Amandine’ is published in many languages, for readers and speakers of languages other than English.

Email:      ISBN 978 1 74175 7125


What have Audiences in Queensland been viewing?

FILM – History is about to change! – COLETTE – based on a true story of a wonderful female writer, social constraints, the dichotomies of ‘ownership’, and a Woman who made her voice heard, long before others…..After marrying a successful Parisian writer, “Willy”, (Dominic West), Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightly) is transplanted from her childhood home in rural France to the intellectual and artistic splendour of Paris. Willy convinces her to ghost-write for him and Collette pens an autobiographical novel about a witty and brazen country girl named Claudine, sparking a best-seller and a cultural sensation!

Because of its success, Colette and Willy become the talk of Paris but Colette is FORCED to write consecutive novels, for which Willy received acclaim and income. Colette’s fight over creative ownership defies gender roles and drives her to overcome societal constraints, revolutionising literature, fashion and sexual expression. Inspiring – brave – lovely!


SCULPTED SAND WONDERLAND – Jino VAN BRUINESSEN was born in Holland but came to Australia 34 years ago; currently living in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. This artist has worked as a water-colour artist, prop maker, sculptor and scenic artist and has been involved in the Film/Entertainment industries for some decades.

Van Bruinessen has currently been travelling in Queensland and presented a beautiful ‘Dragon Themed Sand Wonderland’ in the Far North, with the stunning sand sculptures representing characters from the children’s film “How To Train Your Dragon: Hidden World”. Members of the public, including the kids, were able to watch this artist and two of his assistants, at work, sculpting the kinetic sand – interesting, beautiful and entertaining.



A NEW BODY OF WORK WAS PRESENTED TO VIEWERS, in 2019, demonstrating the artist’s keen observations and her affection for the familiar things of everyday life. ANDREA HUELIN is a Cairns based artist whose still-life paintings capture, with an incisive clarity and attention to detail, everyday objects that surround us in our daily lives.

In this new exhibition, however, Huelin experiments with new techniques and moves beyond portrayals of objects to capturing people at work and leisure. Her aim is to communicate fleeting moments of ordinary life – maintaining, nevertheless, her recurrent theme.

The artist says that she is “…approaching painting the figures in a similar way to my still life paintings – abbreviating details, yet aiming for a satisfying sharpness and sparkle. Of course, with people comes the challenge of communicating human attitudes, energy and movement, with which I aim to convey simple narratives like teamwork, concentration or boredom.” p.23, Cairns Art Gallery Members Newsletter 75, December 2018 – February 2019.

The opening event for ‘Everyday’ included Emma Fowler-Thomason, Partnerships Manager, Arts Queensland.                                


Having briefly journeyed through history, social mores, customs and change, perhaps this little ‘gem’ may be believable?  “tomorrow: (noun) A magical place where all productivity, achievement and motivation is stored.”



Environment Report, September 2018

By Pat Pepper

NCWQ Environment Adviser

Waste:  Australians are generating around 64 million tonnes of waste every year. This could cause health and environmental problems. To combat this problem the Federal and State Governments are updating the 2009 National Waste Policy: Less waste, more resources to provide a national framework for improving Australian waste management.  A circular economy is promoted in the discussion paper with five principles that underpin waste management, recycling and resource recovery: Discussion paper Updating the 2009 National Waste Policy: Less waste, more resources September 2018   In this report which forms the basis of feedback to the Government, these principles and strategies are discussed.


  • Updating the 2009 National Waste Policy: Less waste, more resources. Representation of a Circular Economy as it applies to resource use (reproduced by Department of the Environment and Energy with permission of the European Union)

Principle 1. Avoid waste  (National target 10% by 2030; Food Waste target  50% by 2030, problematic plastics by 2030))-

  • prioritise waste avoidance, encourage efficient use, reuse and repair
  • design products so waste is minimised, they are made to last and materials are more easily recoverable


Given the differences in % wastage of the various materials, it would appear advisable to encourage those industries which generate and use materials which can detrimentally affect health and the environment to have specific targets.  e.g. as well as plastics, fly ash and hazardous waste




Waste generation and fate by material category, Australia 2014-15

‘Masonry mat.’ means masonry material; ‘c’board’ means cardboard; ‘Hazwaste’ means hazardous waste; ‘En recovery’ means energy recovery. The stated percentages are the resource recovery rates = (energy recovery + recycling) / generation. Australian National Waste Report 2016


Designing systems and products that increase a product’s lifecycle including disassembly and repair is very important.  However the long term degradability of the material should be considered also.  For example plastic can break down into microplastics which could act as an agent for the transfer of many fat-soluble pollutants, such as persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic compounds, from the environment and into organisms such as fish. Lusher, A.L.; Hollman, P.C.H.; Mendoza-Hill, J.J. 2017.Microplastics in fisheries and aquaculture: status of knowledge on their occurrence and implications for aquatic organisms and food safety. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper. No. 615. Rome, Italy.


Principle 2. Improve resource recovery (80% from all resource recovery streams by 2030)

  • improve material collection systems and processes for recycling
  • improve the quality of recycled material we produce


While packaging is essential to protect the integrity and security of products, single use packaging can make a substantial contribution to waste.  In their Australian Packaging Covenant Strategic Plan (2017-2022), the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) aims by 2022 to have

  • developed proven viable approaches to remove 50% of current problem packaging types or materials including soft plastics, takeaway coffee cups and expanded polystyrene from the waste stream with 90% of its members actively participated in closed loop collaboration of circular economies.
  • delivered a packaging Recycling/Disposal Labelling Scheme in market covering 85% of packaging; and the collective efforts of APCO members will have resulted in a decrease in labelled recyclable packaging going to landfill , and have reduced single-use Business to Business packaging, as a proportion of turnover, by 30%, based on 2017 reported levels.Australian Packaging Covenant Strategic Plan 2017 – 2022

Does APCO membership cover the majority of firms in the packaging supply chain?  Perhaps membership could be extended to businesses in the packaging supply chain with less than an annual turnover of $AUD5 million.  Packaging on imported products must be a contributing factor to waste.


The current review of the Product Stewardship Act of 2011 should determine whether the Voluntary accreditation of product stewardship arrangements and the Co‐regulatory product stewardship schemes delivered by industry and regulated by the Australian Government are effective.  And it should be clear whether Mandatory product stewardship schemes are needed to label products, to make arrangements for recycling products at end of life, or require a deposit and refund to be applied to a product, or ban certain substances or materials from use in products.


Having different bins for each type of waste would be advantageous.  It should not be necessary for every householder to have every bin, provided depots are conveniently located.  For example, in Kamikatsu, Japan, the population of about 1,500 take their rubbish to the recycling centre and sort it into 45 different categories.  Volunteers collect the rubbish of the elderly once a month.  Food scraps are mostly composted and more than 80% of the town’s other waste is now recycled.  The remaining 20% that can’t currently be processed — things like nappies and certain types of plastics — get sent off to be incinerated.  By 2020 the town aims to be waste free.  The sheer inconvenience of having to take one’s rubbish to the recycling centre also acts as a deterrent to excess consumption in the first place..

Photo: Kamikatsu’s waste station manager, Kazuyuki Kiyohara.  Photo: Kamikatsu residents bring their waste to the recycling plant. (ABC News: Yumi Asada)


Principle 3. Increase use of recycled material and build demand and markets for recycled products

The importance of commonly accepted working definitions of what constitutes recyclable, compostable or reusable across the States and Territories is crucial for success.  At present these differ by State and Territory.  The milestone of having national standards and specifications for high priority recycled materials or applications in place by 2020 should start to address this.

Unless there is a strong domestic market for recyclable materials all the effort of collecting and sorting will be in vain.  For example, the lack of market for recycled plastic appears to have been a disincentive.  One recycling business which turns soft plastics such as milk cartons and squeezable shampoo bottles into sturdy plastic play equipment, termite-proof boardwalk decking and bollards, processes about a third of what it has the capacity to.  This firm with at least one other only accepts plastic waste from organisations willing to buy back the recycled products.  Increased awareness of the waste problems and participation in recycling by organisations and the public is needed.  The current ABC TV series may help.

Converting plastic waste to fuel has potential.  Geyer et al note the vast majority of monomers used to make plastics, such as ethylene and propylene, are derived from fossil hydrocarbons.  None of the commonly used plastics are biodegradable so they accumulate, rather than decompose, in landfills or the natural environment.  The only way to permanently eliminate plastic waste is by destructive thermal treatment, such as combustion or pyrolysis. Geyer, Jambeck, Law Sci. Adv. 2017;3: e1700782; (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700782)  Some types of plastics e.g. pure hydrocarbons, such as polyethylene and polypropylene are more suitable than others for using this technology.   A commercial scale facility capable of converting waste plastics to fuel at a rate of 50 feedstock tonnes per day was commissioned in NSW by Integrated Green Energy (IGE) with Foyson Resources using a catalytic restructuring process.  A plant was also planned to be built at Hume in the ACT.  The company claimed their technology removed ash, dealt with hydrocarbon contaminants, and used waste gas for heating to burn off gas at a high enough temperature to destroy noxious compounds.  An independent panel reported the company’s environmental impact statement failed to sufficiently address key risks, including the risk of explosions, the potential damage to surrounding land, and the effects on air quality.  They also recommended ACT should have a “proof of performance” requirement.  Hence the plan was shelved.   Could these problems have been addressed? Maybe, given the waste disposal problem exasperated by China’s ban on imported solid waste, the need for sustainable continuous energy supply and that Australia only has 48 days aggregated fuel reserves, the limitation on resin type to be used in waste to energy plants should be reconsidered.


Principle 4. Better manage material flows to benefit human health, the environment and the economy

Although the megatonnes of organic waste is much greater than that of plastic and hazardous waste the latter two pose a greater threat or risk to public health, safety or to the environment.


Recycled plastics aren’t able to continually serve the same purpose after recycling.  The process of melting down and recycling plastic produces volatile organic compounds that can harm plant and animal life including humans near the industrial site if not carefully controlled.  Plastic is manufactured from petroleum and this substance can leech into foods stored in recycled plastic containers.  Plastic manufacturers only use a small portion of recycled plastic, if any, when producing food containers and packaging.  Because of the potential health threats recycled plastic poses, much plastic recycling is actually down-cycling e.g. a plastic water bottle may be down-cycled to become artificial turf or plastic furniture.   Hence, the aim of the National Waste Policy to phase out problematic and unnecessary plastics is strongly supported.

There are many reasons to support the target of the National Food Waste Strategy of halving the volume of organic waste sent to landfill by 2030, not least to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by diverting food waste from landfill, but also to make better use of resources such as land, water, energy and fuel to produce and distribute food.  Innovative Australian Food waste solutions such as turning imperfect-looking vegetables and fruit into other products and identifying most cost-effective transport option from farm through to processor, storage facility or manufacturer, through to retailers and export ports should help.. The National Food Waste Strategy.

Principle 5. Improve information to support innovation, guide investment and enable informed consumer decisions.

Baseline data being collected and referred to in National Waste Policy and the National Food Waste Strategy as well as data on hazardous materials in Hazardous Waste in Australia 2017 are essential information.  Should not national strategies such as National Waste Policy and the National Food Waste Strategy be developed for other materials, in particular hazardous waste and plastics, under the auspices of the Department of the Environment?


Recently, Integrated Green Energy Solutions (IGES), announced a joint venture agreement with the Chinese Crown World Holdings to construct a waste plastic-to-fuel facility in Weifang in Shandon Province of China.  The facility will have an initial production capacity of 200 tonnes per day, producing 70 million litres of road-ready fuels per annum.  IGES’s patented plastic-to-fuel process is claimed by the company to reduce the environmental impacts of waste plastic, that would otherwise be used in landfills or discarded into the environment. .

This followed the shelving of the plastic to fuel facility in Hume.  It is regrettable the expertise could not be kept and exploited in Australia.  Strategies to support innovation and research and development in waste management and recycling, and support creating and maintaining markets for recycled materials are crucial.

Download the full report with graphics, here.

Consumer Affairs Report, November 2018

By Val Cocksedge, OAM

NCWQ Consumer Affairs Adviser

From February 2019, energy retailers will be required to give customers five days advance notice of price changes in their energy contract.  More than a third of us have searched for a better energy deal in the last five years.  Inactive, lazy or loyal customers who don’t seek a better deal are most valuable to the three big energy retailers (AGL, Energy Australia, Origin).  Pay on time discounts abound.  The ACCC reports one in four miss deadlines (the higher the discount, the bigger the penalty – even if you miss payment by one day) – a big windfall for the energy companies, a big loss to consumers.

In July 2016, the ACCC released the voluntary Industry Code for consumer goods containing button batteries.  Regulators have resisted calls for these to be made mandatory.  Some companies have complied sealing the battery compartment with a simple screw, but in poorly made products, when dropped the screw may drop out or pull out easily.  Currently only toys designed for children under 3 years are required by law to have secured battery compartments.  Everyday household items containing button batteries- including car keys, baby thermometers, remotes have no mandatory safety standards.

At least ten people are injured by faulty products and require medical attention every day in Australia.  More than 4-5 million products were recalled in 2017-18 financial year.  Australians would be surprised to hear it is not illegal to supply to supply unsafe products in Australia but is in the UK, European Union, Canada, Malaysia and Brazil.

Twenty four consumer organisations from around the world have won grants for programs to promote sustainable consumption and a culture of sharing.  Funded by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and administered by Consumers International, the grants will help deliver projects for Green Action Week –October, in Mexico, Ivory Coast, Nepal and Togo.

The Consumer Data Right (CDR) will give better access to the information that businesses collect about you.  Commencing July 2019 for the banking and energy sectors, the CDR aims to open up opportunities for consumers to find services and products that suit their needs and wants.  The CDR will ensure that data is accessible, consistent and easy to share.  It is important these opportunities are balanced with appropriate protections – must be consumer focused and ensure how businesses use consumer data for benefit.  Choice is consulting with Treasury to ensure the legislation puts people first, is simple, efficient and fair.  To learn more visit

The recall continues for potentially faulty air bags installed in more than one million cars in Australia.   Manufacturers were given till July 2018 to publish a recall schedule with a searchable data base and all to be corrected by December2020 with fines of one million  dollars per breach.  For further information visit  Choice are calling for a general safety provision  to be written into Australian Consumer Law.

All building cladding materials will have to be permanently marked with an Australian Standard in future to help prevent tragedies such as London’s Grenfell Tower blaze.  A three year Senate Inquiry into flammable cladding and asbestos building products has called for companies to carry out independent testing of high rise imported products before shipping them to Australia.  Queensland like other States is going through the process of identifying and rectifying dodgy cladding products in buildings.

Human bodies are becoming polluted with plastics, scientists have confirmed for the first time –from sources which could include the eating of fish or drinking water from plastic bottles.  The most common plastics were polypropylene and PET (polyethylene terephthalste) often found in food and drink packaging.

Mars, L’Oreal, Unilever and Coca Cola producers and waste management firms are among 250 groups pledging to end plastic waste at source.  Unilever has announced the plastic bottles used by its brands will be made from 25% totally recycled HDPE plastic packaging (a more rigid plastic) by 2019.  This will result in about 750 tonnes of plastic in Australia being recycled each year (the equivalent of 100 million single plastic bags).  This move diverts plastic away from landfill.  The bid is backed by governments, the UN, environmental charity WWF, universities financial institutions and other campaign groups.  There will be focus on innovation to ensure all plastic packaging can be easily reused, recycled or composted by 2025.  Synthetic fibres are also significant source of microplastics in the environment as fibres from clothes end up in the sea and from treated and untreated sewage being released into rivers.

The Brisbane City Council is committed to reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill – to help keep Brisbane clean, green and sustainable.  According to the Australian Government National Food Waste Strategy 2017, Australians throw out $8 billion worth of edible food.  Brisbane residents throw 97,000 tonnes of food every year.  The Council has joined the International Love Food Hate Waste Movement in order to help reduce food waste.  At home we can avoid and reduce food waste with practical changes to the way we plan, prepare and store food – plan ahead, shop mindfully, store correctly, cook with care and love leftovers.  Go to a monthly e-newsletter to subscribe and help reduce food waste at home.

A Queensland company, Nexgen Plants, has made a major breakthrough in development of drought proof crops.  An Advance Queensland grant of $200,000 will help develop commercial deals in Australia and abroad.  Nexgen Plants director said the company was able to manipulate the plants’ existing genetics to add in traits such as virus and drought resistance.  No foreign DNA has been added.

In a small greenhouse, University of Queensland’s start-up incubator lab, Russian born Nikolai Kinaeo, chief executive of agribusiness, Sustainable Organic Solutions, is testing organic fertiliser made from chicken manure on tomato plants.  Centuries of farming in Australia using inorganic fertiliser made from hydrogen and phosphorus have taken a toll on the soil and micro flora in the soil.  Farmers were encouraged by the fertiliser companies to overuse fertiliser, resulting in damaging run off in waterways.  This new soil repairing fertiliser is being trialed in Bundaberg, Townsville and the Darling Downs with outstanding yields and the reduction of nitrogen runoff by between 30 to 50%.  MFS, one of the nation’s largest sugar producers, is a trial participant.

The University of Queensland has received a $3.5 million Federal grant to create a training centre to teach local agribusiness and food producers to take indigenous communities to identify native plants and critters that could be marketed overseas.  Bush tomatoes from Alice Springs, Kakadu plums, bunya nuts from North Queensland, wattle seeds are among the products to be investigated.  With Australia’s high profile globally on safe foods there is a lot of trust to be traded on.

A report released  by Australia 21 ( independent, not for profit) think tank predicts algae farming could grow into a major new industry worth millions of dollars to regional economies providing a range of products – livestock feed, health foods, plastics, textiles, paper and petrochemicals. Algae is already hailed as a super food and a staple food of Japan, Korea and China (sushi, miso soup, seaweed, edible algae-dried snacks)

Every  week in Australia about 500 tonnes of perfectly good greenn bananas are dumped by farmers because they are too big, too straight or too bendy for supermarkets.  Queensland rural Women of the Year, Krista Watkins initiated Nutra Lock which reduces green bananas to powder in under 25  minutes to produce five key products – flour, cake pre-mixes, resistant starch, an ointment and a  vegan protein mix.  Demand is soaring locally and overseas.  The next move is to address the sweet potato market.  About 300tonnes is ploughed back into the soil in the Atherton Tableland and Bundaberg.



Environment Report, November 2018

By Pat Pepper

NCWQ Environment Adviser

Update on Climate Change – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report:  Under the Paris Agreement 197 nations agreed to reduce global warming emissions and limit the increase in global temperature to well below 2°C relative to 1850-1900, with an aspirational 1.5°C target to avoid dangerous climate effects such as sea level rise, extreme weather and droughts.  If the planet continues to warm at the current rate of 0.2℃ per decade, the 1.5℃ increase is likely around 2040. Impacts are already being felt around the world, with declines in crop yields, biodiversity, coral reefs, and Arctic sea ice, and increases in heatwaves and heavy rainfall.  Communities and ecosystems around the world have already suffered significant impacts from the 1℃ of warming so far, and the effects at 1.5℃ will be harsher still. Small island states, deltas and low-lying coasts are at risk of increased flooding, and threats to freshwater supplies, infrastructure, and livelihoods.  Warming to 1.5℃ also poses a risk to global economic growth, with the tropics and southern subtropics potentially being hit hardest. October 8, 2018 Mark Howden & Rebecca Colvin ANU  ; NCWA Hot Habitats2018 Report Wendy Rainbird

The IPCC Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) illustrates climate-related risks are higher for global warming of 1.5°C than at present, but lower than at 2°C.  These risks depend on the magnitude and rate of warming, geographic location, levels of development and vulnerability, and on the choices and implementation of adaptation and mitigation options

e.g. coral reefs, heat waves, vulnerability, global scale disintegration, biodiversity  flooding, exposure, degradation of ice sheets, hot spots, monetary damage.

Warming greater than the global annual average is being experienced in many land regions and seasons, including two to three times higher in the Arctic.  Warming is generally higher over land than over the ocean.sr15_spm_final.pdf;

To limit warming to 1.5℃, carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030, reaching near-zero by around 2050.  However current national pledges under the Paris Agreement are not enough to remain within a 3℃ temperature limit, let alone 1.5℃.  Many economists advocate putting a price on emissions to do this. October 8, 2018 Mark Howden & Rebecca Colvin ANU 

The argument against carbon tax has been put that for many countries a carbon tax it would have no detectable impact on global temperatures or climate but impose financial disadvantage.  In the U.S. which has withdrawn from the Paris agreement, coal-fired generation fell from 2,000 TWh in 2007 to 1,200 TWh in 2017 – without a carbon tax. Three decades ago, coal-fired power plants produced 38 percent of the world’s electricity or about 3,700 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year.  It was over 9,700 TWh in 2017.  In 2017, U.S. carbon emissions were around 5,100 billion metric tons from all sources, an almost 20 percent drop below emissions in 2007.

In contrast, world carbon emissions have kept increasing: by an average of more than 300 gigatons each year for the last decade, driven primarily by China’s and India’s increasing demand for energy.  The USA questions whether it should burden itself with a carbon tax when its competitors do not.

Similarly, some Australians are questioning why Australia which only contributes about 1% of global dioxide emissions should phase out fossil fuels.  They claim the only way to have reliable baseload power is through coal and gas.  While the traditional approach of steady, constant ‘baseload’ generation from coal augmented by flexible, dynamic ‘peaking’ generation from gas is one way of ensuring reliable electricity supply, today there are alternatives to this model.  These systems have:

In addition to the environment issues there are other issues to consider.  Small island states like Marshall Islands (an Australia’s neighbour) were pivotal in the inclusion of the 1.5°C goal.  Increasing warming amplifies the exposure of small islands, low-lying coastal areas and deltas to the risks associated with sea level rise for many human and ecological systems, including increased saltwater intrusion, flooding and damage to infrastructure (high confidence).  Populations at disproportionately higher risk of adverse consequences of global warming of 1.5°C and beyond include disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, some indigenous peoples, and local communities dependent on agricultural or coastal livelihoods (high confidence). sr15_spm_final.pdf  International cooperation is paramount.


Australia’s Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel , recommends working towards zero-emissions while maximising Australia’s economic growth.  This will require an orderly transition to be managed over several decades.  An alternative to fossil fuels could be hydrogen since Australia has the resources to produce clean hydrogen for the global market at a competitive price, on either of the two viable pathways: splitting water using solar and wind electricity, or deriving hydrogen from natural gas and coal in combination with carbon capture and sequestration.  Building an export hydrogen industry will be a major undertaking. But it will also bring jobs and infrastructure development, largely in regional communities, for decades


Update on the impact of plastic on the environment and health: Previously I have reported that packaging was the major source of plastic waste with 40% ending up in landfill and 32% as litter in the environment.  Four to 12 million tonnes of plastics leaked into the oceans in one year.  NCWQ Environment Adviser’s Report, May 2018); The plastics industry is highly reliant on finite stocks of oil and gas, which make up more than 90% of its feedstock. Four to eight % of the world’s oil production is used to make plastics with roughly half of this is used as material process.  Considerable greenhouse gas emissions are associated with the production and sometimes the after-use pathway of plastics.  In 2012, these emissions amounted to approximately 390 million tonnes of CO2 for all plastics.  Thus the circular economy which aims to conserve resources, reduce pollution and promote efficiency would appear highly relevant to the plastic industry.


World Economic Forum, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey & Company, The New Plastics Economy — Rethinking the future of plastics(2016,


The potential health threats of plastics have previously been reported.  Supporting information for submissions on micro and nano plastics from NCWA & NCWQ Environment Adviser,  NCWQ Environment Adviser’s Reports, May 2018,September2018);Phthalates  is used as plasticizers to convert polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from a hard plastic to a flexible plastic. PVC is a widely used material, including extensive use in toys and other children’s products such as chewy teethers, soft figures and inflatable toys. Phthalates can be released from soft PVC by surface contact, especially where mechanical pressure is applied e.g. during chewing of a PVC teether.  Phthalates are also used as additives in ink, perfumes etc. Neeti Rustagi, S. K. Pradhan,1 and Ritesh Singh Indian J Occup Environ Med. 2011 Sep-Dec; 15(3): 100–103

In the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), USA Congress permanently prohibited children’s toys or child care articles containing concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of three types of phthalates: di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP); dibutyl phthalate (DBP); or, benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP). The CPSIA also established an interim prohibition on children’s toys that can be placed in a child’s mouth or child care articles that contain concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), or di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP), On October 27, 2017, the Commission issued a final phthalates rule (16 CFR part 1307) effective April 25, 2018 making the interim prohibition on DINP permanent in addition to similar prohibition of diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP), Di-n-pentyl phthalate (DPENP), di-n-hexyl phthalate (DHEXP), and dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP). but lifting the interim prohibition on DIDP and DNOB. The rule applies to products manufactured or imported on or after April 25, 2018.–Manufacturing/Business-Education/Business-Guidance/Phthalates-Information

From 2 March 2010, certain children’s plastic products that contain, or have a component

that contains, more than 1 per cent by weight DEHP, are intended for use by children up to

and including 36 months of age and can readily be sucked and/or chewed were banned from

supply in Australia.  SupplierGuide-Children’s plastic products with more than 1percent diethylhexyl phthalate.pdf Should Australia be concerned about the other phthalates which have more than 0.1 percent in children’s toys that can be placed in a child’s mouth or child care articles and which the USA have banned?


To address public concern about chemicals migrating from packaging into food FSANZ undertook a project to assess whether there were any unmanaged risks from packaging chemicals migrating into food.  FSANZ has determined that estimated dietary exposure to these chemicals is low and not of concern for human health.


There has been an ongoing dispute about Bisphenol A (BPA) in the literature.  Several epidemiological studies and controlled animal (mainly rodent) experiments found associations between exposure to plastic compounds such as BPA and di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate DEHP and destructive effects on health and reproduction, such as early sexual maturation, decreased male fertility, aggressive behavior. Halden Rolf U., Plastics and Public Health  Ann . Rev. Public Health 2010. 31:179–94.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of polycarbonate plastics made from BPA in baby bottles.  Canada and the European Union followed suit. . However FDA’s current perspective, based on its most recent safety assessment, is that BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in foods.


In June 2010, the Australian Government announced the voluntary phase-out by major Australian retailers of polycarbonate plastic baby bottles containing BPA.  This was reported to be in response to consumer preference and demand and not an issue about product safety.  In 2016 Food Standards Australia New Zealand  (FSANZ) published the 2nd phase of the 24th Australian Total Diet Study, which screened food for packaging chemicals.  BPA wasn’t found at all in many samples and where it was detected levels were well below safety level.

With regard to the several epidemiology studies where apparent associations between BPA exposure and adverse health effects. The FSANZ found that none of these studies had demonstrated a causal link between BPA and adverse effects in humans. Despite the occurrence being below critical threshold values in many cases, exceedances in certain susceptible populations, such as pregnant women and children, are known to occur in some instances.  If BPA and DEHP have endocrine-disrupting properties, there is cause for concern.  Halden Rolf U., Plastics and Public Health  Annu. Rev. Public Health 2010. 31:179–94

Surely it is safer to err on the side of precaution?


Download the full PDF with graphics here.


Arts and Letters Report, November 2018

By Jennifer Ann Davies

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser

‘Underline’- Every quarter, Underline publishes a collection of extracts, interviews, articles, short stories, reflections and much more, to celebrate brilliant writing in its many forms. Designed to be dog-eared and devoured at your leisure, this is a chance to delve a little further into some fine literature and the minds behind it.

Deep purple

Hot pink


Pumpkin yellow


For the love of reading!

Extract: ’21 Lessons for the 21st Century’ – Yuval Noah HARARI takes readers on a thrilling journey through 21 of today’s most urgent issues. Many reflect those confronting us at a national and international level. In this exploration, the author asks HOW do we maintain our collective and individual focus in the face of constant and disorienting change? In a passage on education, the question is HOW can we prepare our children for a world of unprecedented uncertainty and radical change? Harari argues that all our old stories are crumbling and that no new story has so far emerged to replace them. This is not an easy read, but an extraordinarily interesting and challenging one, full of truths, questions and warnings! Books featured in ‘Underline’ are available at all good bookstores.

Change and Continuity… “This Changes Everything” by bestselling author, Naomi KLEIN, tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the war our economic model is waging against life on Earth.

Alice NELSON, a new, strong and beautiful young female ‘voice’, tells us of the possibility of feeling pure, blinding love for the children of others; as one of her book’s narrative strands. This emerged from a cluster of unanswerable questions – of memory, loss, motherhood, inheritance and the possibilities of restoration and solace. Nelson says she was able to draw upon her experiences working with newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers in the USA and later with Holocaust survivors in Australia. Her Interview is well worth reading – complex thinking, music, immense beauty and writing “…from a place of enormous inner hopefulness…”infuse the ‘Underline’ interview and her brave book “The Children’s House”. Vintage October 2018.

‘Here comes the candle to light you to bed,

Here comes the chopper to chop off your head.’

Anna MAZZOLA’s is another female ‘voice’ that grapples with key themes of women’s rights in the Victorian period; how the criminal justice system treated vulnerable people and victims of crime; and who believes that historical fiction IS relevant to the world we live in today, helping to put our own lives into perspective.

‘Whilst researching and writing “The Unseeing”,’ the author says, ‘I was continually struck by the contrast between now and then – …women couldn’t travel unaccompanied, could own no property when married, nor had any rights over their own children. Terrible poverty, hardship, injustice and ignorance pervaded society. History is always relevant! We need to know what has gone before in order to make sense of our place in the world.’ From 1830s London, Newgate Gaol, and the Old Bailey; to the Thames and overcrowded convict transport to Australia, the reader is taken on an intricately plotted and extremely convincing literary journey.

Tinder Press/Headline Publishing Group, London EC4Y 0DZ 2017

In the FILM “Ladies in Black” change and continuity is unmissable! A classic Australian story of love, hope and the perfect dress, the adaptation for the big screen is heart-warming!

Set in the summer of 1959, when the impact of European migration and the rise of women’s liberation is about to change Australia forever, Lisa, aged sixteen, takes a holiday job at the prestigious Sydney department store, Goode’s. There she meets the ‘ladies in black’.

Beguiled and influenced by Magda, the vivacious manager of the high-fashion floor, and assisting sales ladies, Lisa is awakened to a world of possibilities. As she grows from a naïve schoolgirl into a glamourous and positive young woman, the impact they have on each other changes lives.

The film is based on the best-selling novel “The Women in Black” written by Madeline St. John, whose name was not included in the filmed presentation. The story, however, could so easily have been set in Brisbane, Queensland, at McWhirter’s in the Valley or at David Jones’ which was purchased in 1955 from Finney Isles. The authenticity and poignancy of the characters, stores, nuances, practices, attitudes, dress, trams, heartache and triumph is wonderful! Enjoy!


VISUAL ART – A history-making collaboration between Cairns Art Gallery and Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane. GOOBALATHALDIN: Dick Roughsey “Stories of This Land” will be available to the public, beginning with the exhibition opening, on Friday 16th November 2018, at the Cairns Art Gallery, and will be open until 10th February 2019, after which it will tour to Brisbane.

Many of us who worked in the worlds of Arts and Letters knew Dick, and he not only taught others of his life, cultural traditions, ceremonial dance and body painting, but encouraged others to make the transition from traditional bark to canvas and acrylic. This transition from bark to canvas allowed the art and stories to survive, to be archived and shared – a wonderful gift!  Dick Roughsey died in 1985, at the age of 65, and my children and I ran and swam and harvested some pipis and I cried salty tears into the sea at Holloways Beach, where we had met and worked and fished and laughed and learned and loved and painted and sketched and written, remembering him. I will advise details of the Brisbane Exhibition when these are confirmed.

REGIONAL SERVICES – Many Queensland regions are home to a diverse population and celebrate the resultant cultural vitality through many community festivals.

In addition to a range of multicultural services, Regional Councils provide useful information to new-comers, in a range of languages. In the Far North of our State, Cairns Regional Council now provides information to help people prepare and stay relatively safe during cyclone season. Currently the website provides guides in: Chinese, French, Hmong, Italian, Japanese, Nepalese, PNG Pidgin, Swahili, Tagalog and Arabic. (Some regional websites are also being upgraded)*