Notting Hill Carnival 2015photos

Notting Hill Carnival 2015 | photos LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)
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LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: An attendee wears a colourful wig at the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: An attendee wears a colourful wig at the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Attendees dance during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Attendees dance during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Attendees dance during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Attendees dance during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Attendees dance during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A carnival attendee in costume drinks a beer at the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: A performer in costume during the Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 30, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images)

TweetFacebookHundreds of thousands of people headed to west London over the next two days for Notting Hill Carnival.

Although there is some argument over when the inaugural event was held, the consensus is the first carnival was staged sometime between 1964 and 1966.

Organisers say they are marking the 50th anniversary of one of Europe’s biggest street parties during the 2014, 2015 and 2016 events.

Held every August Bank Holiday weekend, Sunday is reserved for Children’s Day.

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Oliver Sacks: his best quotes

Obituary: Neurologist investigated our brain’s strange waysThe strange case of Dr Oliver Sacks
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Dr Oliver Sacks, who died Sunday morning, aged 82, held a unique place in both the worlds of science and popular culture – his exploration as a neurologist of the quirks of the human brain, and his ability to share his knowledge in an engaging way with a broad audience outside the medical fraternity brought him fame rarely afforded to scientists.

Across his 13 books – and of course the 1990 film adaptation of Awakenings, starring Robin Williams as the doctor himself  – Dr Sacks imparted his findings and encounters with his case studies through accessible, often moving prose, all of which touched on things to which we can all relate.

Here are some of his best words, from his “neurological novels” as he called them, from interviews and from his recently released autobiography, On The Move: A Life.

On religion: “My religion is nature. That’s what arouses those feelings of wonder and mysticism and gratitude in me.”

On sex: “… sex is one of those areas—like religion and politics—where otherwise decent and rational people may have intense, irrational feelings.”

On his brief period of body-building, when he became known at Venice’s Muscle Beach as “Dr Squat”, after setting the California state record in 1961: “I sometimes wonder why I pushed myself so relentlessly in weight lifting. My motive, I think, was not an uncommon one; I was not the ninety-eight-pound weakling of bodybuilding advertisements, but I was timid, diffident, insecure, submissive. I became strong — very strong — with all my weight lifting but found that this did nothing for my character, which remained exactly the same.”

On music: “Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.”

“Now that we can listen to anything we like on our iPods, we have less motivation to go to concerts or churches or synagogues, less occasion to sing together. This is unfortunate, because music-making engages much more of our brains than simply listening. Partly for this reason, to celebrate my 75th birthday last year, I started taking piano lessons (after a gap of more than sixty years). I still have my iPod (it contains the complete works of Bach), but I also need to make music every day.”

On his four-year addiction to amphetamines: “I do not know how much a propensity to addiction is “hardwired” or how much it depends on circumstances or state of mind. All I know is that I was hooked after that night with an amphetamine-soaked joint and was to remain hooked for the next four years. In the thrall of amphetamines, sleep was impossible, food was neglected, and everything was subordinated to the stimulation of the pleasure centers in my brain.”

On being gay, a fact about himself he revealed publicly in February this year: “My analyst tells me he’s never encountered anyone less affected by gay liberation. I remain locked in my cell despite the dancing at the prison gates.”

On life: “People will make a life in their own terms, whether they are deaf or colourblind or autistic or whatever. And their world will be quite as rich and interesting and full as our world.”

Some of his most moving words came just a few months ago, when he revealed in a New York Times article that he had terminal cancer, and only months to live, saying he felt “intensely alive”. “Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure”.

Farewell Dr Sacks. “When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it the fate – the genetic and neural fate – of every human to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

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World’s friendliest cities for tourists: Sydney named number one

Meet the locals … Sydney has been named the world’s friendliest city for tourists. Photo: Simon Alekna Meet the locals … Sydney has been named the world’s friendliest city for tourists. Photo: Simon Alekna
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Meet the locals … Sydney has been named the world’s friendliest city for tourists. Photo: Simon Alekna

Meet the locals … Sydney has been named the world’s friendliest city for tourists. Photo: Simon Alekna

Residents of Australia’s other major cities might disagree, but international travellers have voted Sydney the world’s friendliest city for 2015.

Readers of the highly-regard luxury travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler named Sydney the friendliest city for visitors in the publication’s annual rankings, saying there was “nothing not to like”.

“Such friendly people,” enthused one reader, “so much so that after we met an Australian woman on our flight there, she offered to pick us up at our hotel and spent a whole day showing us her favourite parts of the city.”

Sydney’s highlights for visitors were the usual suspects, with the tours of the harbour and the Harbour Bridge climb cited as highlights.

The city tied last year as the fifth friendliest in the world, when Melbourne was named No.1. But Victoria’s capital failed to make Condé Nast’s top 10 list this year.

Melbourne may not have topped the list for visitors, but it remains No.1 for residents, clocking up the title of ‘world most liveable’ city yet again earlier this month.

Dublin was named second in the friendliness stakes, with the locals praised for their sense of fun and their welcoming pubs and restaurants.

Our neighbours New Zealand also did well, with Queenstown named the third friendliest city and Auckland coming in at No.9.

Condé Nast Traveler’s readers also ranked the least friendly cities, with Caracas, Venezuela rated the worst, followed by Casablanca in Morocco and Guangzhou in China.

The results were determined by the publication’s annual Reader Choice Awards survey, which received over a million votes from nearly 77,000 readers. FRIENDLIEST CITIES

1. Sydney, Australia

2. Dublin, Ireland

3. Queenstown, New Zealand

4. Kraków, Poland

5. Bruges, Belgium

6. Edinburgh, Scotland

7. Kyoto, Japan

8. Budapest, Hungary

9. Auckland, New Zealand

10. Reykjavik, Iceland UNFRIENDLIEST CITIES

1. Caracas, Venezuela

2. Casablanca, Morocco

3. Guangzhou, China

4. Guatemala City, Guatemala

5. Nairobi, Kenya

6. New Delhi, India

7. Cairo, Egypt

8. Moscow, Russia

9. Jakarta, Indonesia

10. Cannes, France

See also: The best things about the world’s most liveable cities See also: Why some cities don’t like tourists any more

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Arthur Sinodinos slams cabinet ministers for ‘political sabotage’ of Abbott government

Senator Arthur Sinodinos has accused colleagues of engaging in political sabotage. Photo: Nic WalkerTony Abbott urged to dump Joe HockeyFarewell Joe, hello Scott Morrison?
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Respected NSW senator Arthur Sinodinos has launched an extraordinary attack on his former ministerial colleagues for leaking against Treasurer Joe Hockey, calling on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to sack anyone found guilty of destabilising the government.

And Social Services Minister Scott Morrison says he “wouldn’t have a clue” which cabinet ministers are briefing against the man he could replace as Treasurer.

Mr Morrison also dismissed suggestions a reshuffle could take place if the Canning byelection goes badly for the Coalition, describing such a move as “speculative nonsense”.

In a rare statement on Monday, Senator Sinodinos said that ministers “should be working hard to win the Canning byelection rather than back grounding against a colleague to scapegoat a potential loss”.

“Holding out the prospect of a reshuffle and even a double dissolution election smacks of defeatism and a lack of focus on the substantive issues of governing,” he said.

“The Prime Minister should sack any minister or adviser who is engaged in such deliberate leaking and destabilisation. We should be working to achieve a swing to us in this by-election.

“Mr Shorten is the real enemy, not fellow Liberals.”

Senator Sinodinos was chief of staff to former prime minister John Howard, and voted in favour of the spill motion against Mr Abbott in February.

Two cabinet ministers have told Fairfax Media that Mr Abbott is being urged to dump Mr Hockey, while an early federal election, to be held in March next year, is also being discussed at the highest levels of the Abbott government.

The move to sacrifice the Treasurer would designed to shore up Mr Abbott’s own leadership and quell a potential backlash after the September 19 poll.

The Liberal Party holds the seat of Canning with a margin of 11.8 per cent but recent polling in the seat shows it is now on a knife edge, with swings to Labor of as much as 10 per cent forecast.

Cabinet ministers have told Fairfax Media that a swing of more than six per cent against the Coalition – which would still see the Liberal Party’s candidate Andrew Hastie win the seat -€“ would be bad news for Mr Abbott and more than 10 per cent would be “dire”.

Mr Morrison told Fairfax radio station 2GB on Monday that Mr Hockey was a great bloke who was doing a tremendous job.

“We are all focused on the issues of jobs, growth and community safety,” he said.

“These stories are better placed in Who magazine, not in a serious newspaper.”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, meanwhile, said that “instead of criticising Joe Hockey, people should recognise the enormous task he has in repairing the budget that was so trashed by Labor in its six years in office”.

Asked about the prospect of an early election, Ms Bishop said didn’t believe such a move was being considered but did not rule it out.

Former Liberal Leader John Hewson said the leak suggested MPs were positioning should the Canning byelection go badly and warned: “There’s a risk that Canning will go worse than they presently expect.”

“You could imagine them coming from those who aspire to the position and those who want to protect Abbott,” he said.

Dr Hewson did not express a view on whether Mr Hockey should remain Treasurer, but said “a lot of people in the broader community, business people and so on” had publicly criticised his performance since his first budget.

“My view is he’s rusted on to Abbott and vice versa,” he said.

“I don’t think Abbott would easily make that decision unless it was to preserve his own position…the amazing thing is he [Mr Hockey] hasn’t been able to get the economy on the front page. All the turmoil of the last few weeks, changes in world markets and all these things you’d expect it would be front and centre.”

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Science is Golden podcast episode 3: How chemist Cyril Callister made Vegemite Australia’s national spread

Jamie Callister became obsessed with the story of how his grandfather, Cyril, invented Vegemite. Photo: SMHMore than 23 million jars of Vegemite are produced each year, but Australia’s national spread was so unpopular when it launched in 1924 that it was almost scrapped.
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The only reason you can still spread it on your toast (with lashings of butter) is due to the determination of its inventor, a chemist named Cyril Callister.

In Vegemite’s early days Callister was so determined to promote it as delicious, and nutritious, that he sent a sample to a scientist in Britain who used it treat his sick pigeons.

The birds had something called polyneuritis – damage to their central nervous system – which is similar to beriberi, a disease in humans caused by Vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency.

“This was his Eureka moment,” said his grandson, Jamie Callister.

In the same way food manufacturers spend millions advertising their product’s health benefits today, Callister and his boss, food entrepreneur Fred Walker, started promoting Vegemite as a great source of thiamine.

When a nursing mothers association advocated Vegemite as a good food for babies, the spread’s popularity started to grow.

It would finally cement itself as the country’s national spread when it was included in the army rations for Australian soldiers in World War II.

The story of Cyril Callister and Vegemite remains relatively unknown, despite the spread’s popularity today.

In the latest episode of Science is Golden I interview Cyril’s grandson, Jamie Callister, who has spent the past two decades getting to know his grandfather, a man he never met.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, RSS or Pocket Casts.

Episode 1: The untold story of Dora Lush

Episode 2: Human guinea pigs

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State’s new mine policy unveiled

THE NSW Government has removed a controversial mining policy provision that opened the door to Rio Tinto’s third attempt to expand the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine.
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The amended State Environmental Planning Policy known as the Mining SEPP will come into effect on Wednesday, and ensure the economic, environmental and social impacts of mine projects are appropriately considered, Planning Minister Rob Stokes said.

It replaces amendments in 2013 that gave priority consideration to the economic benefits of mine projects after the Mount Thorley Warkworth proposal was rejected by two courts because of social and environmental impacts.

“Mining plays an important role in the NSW economy, however we must ensure that our policies reflect the importance of balance in assessing the likely impacts of mining developments,” Mr Stokes said.

“A crucial pillar of our planning system is that decision makers consider environmental impacts on both the natural and built environments, and social and economic impacts in their assessment of development applications.’’

More than 2400 public submissions on the proposed change were received, with 98 per cent supporting it.

A report on the change will be published online on Wednesday along with public submissions.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW welcomed the change.

“Premier Mike Baird and Planning Minister Rob Stokes deserve credit for acknowledging that the amendments introduced by the disgraced former Minister Chris Hartcher were unacceptable because they put industry interests ahead of local communities and the environment,” council chief executive Kate Smolski said.

“Repealing this clause is an important step towards restoring balance to the planning system, and marks a significant victory for communities campaigning against it.’’

While the Nature Conservation Council welcomed the decision, ‘‘it only takes us back to where we were two years ago, when the community was expressing many substantial concerns about the approval and assessment process for mining projects’’.

‘‘The real test will be whether or not the Planning Assessment Commission takes this change into account when determining the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine and other mining projects now in the planning system.”

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National Parks and Wildlife Service plan for Watsons Bay headland draws opposition

Locals are taking a stand against redeveloping old government buildings at Watsons Bay. Photo: James Alcock Watsons Bay as the locals like it. Photo: James Alcock
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Green Point Cottage at Watsons Bay. Photo: James Alcock

Constables Cottage at Watsons Bay. Photo: James Alcock

Sydney Now: Get the city news that matters

A proposal to redevelop six historic buildings on the south head of Sydney Harbour to host private functions is drawing opposition from local residents and even within the Baird cabinet.

Opponents say the National Parks and Wildlife Service plan could bring up to a thousand visitors a day to the cliffs at the tip of the Watsons Bay peninsula.

Buildings next to Camp Cove Beach and set inside the Sydney Harbour National Park would be leased to a private operator for use as function centres, a restaurant and short-term accommodation.

Claudia Cullen, a spokeswoman for residents’ group Save Watsons Bay, said the proposal would turn a secluded beach into a noisy and chaotic “wedding precinct” with more than 1000 incoming guests a day.

“It’s one of the rare parts of the eastern suburbs that hasn’t been hit by over-commercialisation,” she said. “This isn’t about allowing the public access and it affects an historic beach that hasn’t much changed since 1841.”

The buildings are not currently in use but in recent years many have been rented out by the state government for functions and holiday rentals.

But the plans would see the buildings renovated and expanded by a private operator.

The Constable’s Cottage, a 19th Century home, would become a restaurant for seating for up to 70 diners.

An extra floor would be added to the heritage-listed Armoury Building, which would cater for 280 people and two functions. The adjacent Officers Mess would be landscaped and refurbished with capacity for up to 140 guests.

Guests would be driven in and out by minibus through a new path through the National Park.

The tender to operate the buildings was won by a company run by Chris Drivas, whose Dockside Group runs large function centres in Darling Harbour and the Rocks.

Mr Drivas said finding a commercial use for the buildings would, in the long-term, help preserve their heritage.

“We’re not talking about a large increase [in guests],” he said. “We are open to the local community and what they recommend; it’s all preliminary”.

The NSW Attorney-General and member for Vaucluse, Gabrielle Upton, says the proposal risks overrunning a “small peninsula of precious and fragile natural beauty”.

“It substantially increases the intensity of use for [the area] bringing with it more traffic, noise and activity,” she said. “It would seriously and negatively impact on the amenity of local residents.”

Mrs Upton said she would continue to lobby the Environment Minister, Mark Speakman, who must approve the plan.

The function centre would run until midnight, about two hours later than other local venues.

Three nearby cottages would be turned into short-term accommodation, likely to be used by wedding party guests.

Michael Wright, the deputy head of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, said the proposal was “adaptive reuse” of empty buildings and could turn them into “attractive, contemporary offers”.

The designs are open for comment until November 10.

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MH370: Science writer casts doubt on flaperon finding

The debris found on Reunion Island in July was covered in barnacles. Photo: Video still from ReutersA month after part of an aircraft wing was found on an island in the Indian Ocean, French investigators are yet to confirm it is debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. And an American science writer who has followed the case from the beginning is starting to wonder why.
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Jeff Wise – a pilot and author who commented on the mystery for CNN before writing a book called The Plane That Wasn’t There – has drawn attention to the particular type of barnacle encrusted on the flaperon that washed up on the French island of Reunion, near Madagascar.

Writing in New York magazine, he says the “goose barnacles” found on the object can only survive underwater and their distribution suggests the flaperon spent several months submerged.

Wise acknowledges that his observations are based on the comments of an unnamed aeronautics expert quoted in an article that appeared in French news outlet La Depeche on August 21. According to the source, the wing fragment “would not have floated for several months at the water’s surface but would have drifted underwater a few metres deep”.

This would defy the expectations of physics, Wise writes, because the object should either sink or swim. He quotes oceanography professor Curtis Ebbesmeyer, who says: “My experience is that things will go up or down – they will never stay statically neutral.”

Wise is a serial contrarian on matters MH370. His aforementioned book touted a theory that the plane had not headed south into the Indian Ocean but north to Kazakhstan, landing at a disused airstrip. He claimed the electronic signals that informed the southern arc theory could have been tampered with by the hijackers to conceal their true movements.

In his latest work, Wise speculates that the barnacles could be accounted for by “as-yet-unidentified natural processes” or “purposeful intervention by conspirators”. He notes that “the implausibility of it all is quite maddening” but says “when it comes to MH370, maddening and implausible are par for the course”.

Not to mention red herrings. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced in early August that it had been “conclusively confirmed” the part was from MH370, only to be contradicted immediately by the French, who said they needed to undertake more tests.

It has now been a month, and the delay is understandably being questioned. A source “close to the investigation” told CNN that a Spanish subcontractor could not confirm their part’s serial number because their staff was “on vacation”. “We’ll have to wait for next week to get their guidance,” the source said.

In the meantime, the surest bet is pure logic. US and Malaysian officials have already said it is “almost certain” the part came from a Boeing 777 aircraft, of which there is only one missing. And the investigator who spoke to CNN at the weekend reiterated: “What we know so far is that it is for sure from a 777. We know that this is the only 777 that is missing in that specific region.”

Other debris, including a suspected plane window, had washed up on the island, but the search was called off in mid-August after nothing further was located. Australia continues to lead the wider search effort to find the plane, which has been missing since March 8, 2014. There were 239 souls on board.

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$70 million budget cut and job losses in Department of Family and Community Services: Labor

Labor claims vulnerable children will be put at risk by cuts.Internal documents have revealed a state government plan to cut the Family and Community Services budget by $70 million and reduce staff numbers by 30 per cent.
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The document titled Changing the Way We Work on the department’s letterhead says that starting in July this year, the department must make an annual saving of $70 million.

“The majority of these savings will come from staff reductions in the central parts of FACS where we will need to be 30 per cent smaller,” the document says.

“Savings are allocated across the NSW Government and FACS is no exception.”

Tania Mihailuk, the Family and Community Services spokeswoman for Labor, which obtained the internal document, said a 30 per cent reduction in staff across the department could see a large number of jobs lost.

But the Secretary of the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, Michael Coutts-Trotter, said only 91 jobs would be cut.

“Documents published inside our department and provided to unions and to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission make plain we will reduce our central office by 91 positions, with 86 of these being executive positions,” he said.

“It hasn’t been easy, but we make no apology for making savings by halving the size of our executive team, while increasing our frontline workforce.

“In addition to the 91 net job losses, we are also reducing our use of contractors and eliminating some vacant positions in central offices.

“No savings have come from frontline child protection positions”.

Ms Mihailuk said Mr Coutts-Trotter’s response failed to fully explain a 30 per cent reduction in staff and $70 million in savings. She said the figures had not been identified in the state budget despite the internal document being dated in December last year.

“These are explosive figures,” Ms Mihailuk said.

“A massive cut of $70 million per year from the FACS budget will see an end to any meaningful, rigorous oversight of our most vulnerable children in care.”

Ms Mihailuk said the job cuts follow those outlined in the May budget including a 9 per cent cut to the Office of the Children’s Guardian, 82 jobs cut from Statutory Child Protection and 26 jobs cut from Out of Home Care.

After months of “talking tough on child protection and claiming the FACS budget will “continue to increase substantially” the state government had failed to protect the state’s most vulnerable, she said.

Family and Community Services Minister Brad Hazzard would not confirm the $70 million figure when asked about it during a budget estimates hearing in NSW Parliament on Monday.

He said there would be efficiencies across the board and that frontline staff would be exempted from any job cuts. He was committed to ensuring there were “adequate funds” to maintain services.

“The department will have adequate staff to do the job,” Mr Hazzard said. “There has been no cut back to frontline staff.”

Mr Hazzard later said “there  are currently five non-executive head office  positions that will go over the next few months” and “over the last year there has been a reduction of 86 executive positions in head office.”

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Are Australians getting sick of beer? Summer peak beer consumption is on the slide

As summer rolls around, Australians naturally drink more beer. But each yearly peak in consumption is on the decline. Photo: Arsineh Houspian Peaks and troughs: Ten years of Australians drinking beer, red wine and fortified wine. Photo: Roy Morgan.
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As summer rolls around, Australians naturally drink more beer. But each yearly peak in consumption is on the decline. Photo: Arsineh Houspian

Summer is to beer as winter is to log fires. Or so the theory goes. Each year Australia’s peak in consumption is dropping by a greater amount, new data shows.

The percentage of Australians who said they chugged beer in the past month between January and March steadily declined from 46 per cent in 2006 to 41 per cent in 2014, according to research firm Roy Morgan.

Between January and March this year, for the first time, the figure dropped to below 40 per cent. This summer, it is expected to fall much further.

Andrew Price, general manager of consumer products at Roy Morgan, said it was not just beer rapidly losing fans.

Yearly consumption peaks for red wine dropped from 36 per cent of Australian adults to 31 per cent, and for fortified wine, from 10 per cent to six per cent, over the past decade.

“The peaks soften as the years roll on, a trend consistent with the broader overall decline in liquor consumption, whereby the total proportion of Australians aged 18 and over who drink any kind of alcohol in an average four weeks has fallen from 72 per cent to 68 per cent in the past decade,” Price said.

The data reinforces analysis by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in May that people are drinking less alcohol now than at any time in the past 50 years.

Beer once accounted for three-quarters of all alcohol consumed, the ABS findings showed. It now makes up 41 per cent.

Rohan Miller, a senior marketing lecturer at Sydney University, said beer companies, now largely consolidated, were struggling to appeal to young men shunning drinks enjoyed by their fathers and aspiring to be in white collar jobs.

“It’s definitely a concern for the beer industry. It’s a pressing business issue, a mature category that’s going into decline,” he said.

“They’re trying to introduce new flavours to the palate and, rather than merely advertising on television, going for social media. They’re trying to make it a cooler type of product.”

Michael Livingston, research fellow at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, said slowing alcohol consumption was almost entirely driven by young men and women.

He said the decline appeared across genders, socioeconomic groups, and in regional or urban areas. It was part of a global shift.

“One possibility is that the increase in the use of social media has altered the way young people interact, reducing the centrality of drinking in socialising,” he said.

“Exercising, eating well and avoiding alcohol and other drugs are important lifestyle choices for many young people, research has also shown.”

He said further research was crucial so that the decline in consumption could be sustained through appropriate interventions.

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