Ronnie O’Sullivan turns down 147 break opportunity at Welsh Open snooker tournament

Colourful character: Ronnie O’Sullivan. Photo: Getty Images English snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan was a few pots away from achieving perfection in a frame of snooker on Monday. But, with a maximum break of 147 in his grasp, the sport’s most charismatic player turned down the chance to complete the coveted feat – because he felt the prize money of £10,000 ($20,220) was “too cheap”.

In the final frame of his 4-1 win over Barry Pinches during a first-round match at the Welsh Open on Monday – and on track for the 14th maximum break of his career – O’Sullivan made the bold move.

The player, nicknamed ‘The Rocket’, asked the match referee midway through his break what the bonus prize was for a 147, and appeared disappointed when told he could win up to £12,000 ($24,260) comprising of £10,000 ($20,220) for the 147 and £2000 ($4040) for the highest break of the tournament.

He also asked TV commentators in the commentary box for information.

Apparently disappointed with the information, he opted to play a simple positional shot and the pink ball off the next-to-last red instead of continuing his bid for the perfect break with the more difficult black.

The world number five then proceeded to clear up for a 146 break and a beatable marker for the tournament’s high-break prize.

O’Sullivan told BBC Wales, “I could have got on the black and possibly made a 147.”

“I knew it was 10 grand and I just thought that’s a bit too cheap really,” he said.

“To make a maxi, it’s such a massive achievement and if they’re going to pay us 10 grand, I think its worth a bit more than that.”

“Once the prize goes up a bit, I’ll go for the 147. A 146 is just as good!”

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn described O’Sullivan’s actions as “unacceptable” and “disrespectful”.

“This is not a crime, but a shame.”

“Players have a duty to the fans to deliver the best standard and entertainment they can. Anything less than playing to their best ability is unacceptable and disrespectful to the paying public.”

The incident revived memories of a frame O’Sullivan played at the World Open in Glasgow in 2010.

On that occasion, he just needed to pot the black ball to complete a 147 when he decided to end the frame, on a break of 140. But after the match, the referee pleaded with him to “do it for the fans,” so O’Sullivan returned to the table and sank the black.

There wasn’t a prize for a 147 in that tournament.

with AP

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Sky rail: can we tell the difference between petitions and parody any more?

Murrumbeena residents Karlee Browning and Tracey Bigg attend a protest against a proposed elevated railway line. Photo: Penny StephensSky rail project scores a skyfail on proper consultation

Residential campaigns in Melbourne are frequently beyond parody, so how can we tell when a petition is serious or satire?

It’s not easy these days.

Protests begin with serious concerns, but then they’re so often amplified with hysteria and hyperbole.

Level crossing removal was supposed to be the state government’s easiest infrastructure sell: a no-brainer, a building program everyone wanted, the solution to traffic congestion at boom gates.

But when Daniel Andrews unveiled plans for three sections of elevated rail to sail over intersections on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, local residents formed the No SkyRails campaign to fight the flight path past their Murrumbeena backyards.

The opposition was so fierce so fast that some wondered if it had been astroturfed, arranged by the Opposition. But no, it’s a genuine grassroots revolt  –  fuelled in part by the shock felt by locals who weren’t consulted on the scope and scale of the raised railway lines that will loom over their back fences, and in part by a reasonable suspicion that the underpasses won’t be maintained properly. 

Artist’s impression of Murrumbeena station sky rail proposal opposed by No SkyRail campaign. Photo: Supplied

And now there’s a new, rival petition, No More Train Trenches.

This latest campaign condemns separate state plans to lower the rail line below ground level on other swathes of the sandbelt, such as McKinnon on the Frankston line, so that trains can travel under the cross roads.

Could they be serious?

Artist’s impression of the train underpass at McKinnon Road opposed by the No More Train Trenches campaign Photo: supplied

Trench construction of rail lines is disruptive, the petition argues, and not in a good way: it’s noisy, dirty and ugly.

On completion, the new petition says, a trench will “be a scar that cuts through the suburbs forever. It will accumulate rubbish. It will be at risk of flooding. It will be a magnet for graffiti and tagging.”

What’s more, “train travellers deserve beautiful train lines”.

What?  “We deserve beautiful views from the train when we travel.”

At this point, we started to suspect someone was taking the micky.

But the dystopian future of the Pakenham rail line predicted by No SkyRails spokeswoman Karlee Browning also seems preposterous, with prostitutes lurking in rubbish-strewn archways full of burnt-out cars while paedophiles peer into backyards at children in swimming pools.

She’s hardly the first objector to paint an extreme worst-case scenario.

Indeed, Melbourne rail blogger Marcus Wong points out that the “paedophile card” has become the urban planning equivalent of Godwin’s Law, the Nazi argument produced once everyone’s lost grip of the debate.

Suburban campaigns often look unreasonable from other postcodes. The householders who move next to pubs, clubs and even the Showgrounds and then file noise complaints seem ridiculous, but the doof doof booming from the hotel near your place is appalling and must be turned down.

Anyway, we reached out to No More Train Trenches, checking if they were legit. Campaigners are not usually bashful about their causes, so ‘Trenchy’s’ reluctance to engage directly was suspicious.

A fake, we decided. A clever one that made some valid points, but a fake.

On Sunday, we received an email from the campaign. Still anonymous.

Yes, the author admitted, it is satirical. A little.

“Of course the ‘No More Train Trenches’ campaign is tongue-in-cheek,” the author admitted. “It includes some spurious objections and is deliberately emotive – you’ve seen what it’s up against!”

“But it does point out some legitimate concerns and serious deficiencies of train trenches, that we have blindly accepted with recent projects at Mitcham, Springvale and Gardiner stations, and that are going to be delivered at Ormond, McKinnon and Bentleigh. We absolutely must demand better outcomes.”

Campaigns supporting planning proposals don’t get traction, the author said.

“It’s almost impossible to execute a successful campaign that supports something in the affirmative, especially when a groundswell of negative opinion already exists…

“So, rather than launching a ‘Support the Sky Train’ campaign, in direct and ugly confrontation with the “No Sky Rail” folks, I started the ‘No More Train Trenches’ campaign to give some airtime to the flaws of the most probable alternative.”

The trouble is, Melbourne must invest in major rail lines and roads in the next decade to cope with congestion, just as we must build high-density housing to accommodate our population boom. But as our anonymous petitioner points out, there are no perfect solutions.

“The honest truth about rail lines and grade separation is there’s no perfect method. They all have some good features, and some bad features. But once they’re done, we’ll be living with them for more than 50 years, so we had better get them right.”

This is a campaign I can get behind.

To get the best for this city, we all need to calm down. The one thing that definitely makes our lives worse is constant trench warfare over every possibility.

Michelle Griffin is state topic editor of The Age. 

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Kittens strip club blaze latest chapter in bikie plans to muscle in on lucrative security contracts

Kittens Club on Glen Huntly Road, Caulfield South. Photo: Eddie Jim Firefighters outside Kittens strip club on Glen Huntly Road in Caulfield South. Photo: 3AW

The bar at Kittens before the fire. Supplied kittens南京夜网419论坛 Photo: Nino Bucci

The burnt out car in Hallam. Photo: Courtesy of Nine News, via Twitter

A strip club destroyed in an arson attack on Tuesday morning marks another flashpoint in an 18-month war waged by Comanchero bikie gang members on the security industry, police believe.

People were seen acting suspiciously around Kittens strip club on Glen Huntly Road in Caulfield South moments before the explosion about 3am.

It is the third time a Kittens strip club has been targeted since November, and the latest incident in a vicious campaign that has included seven non-fatal shootings.

While not naming the outlaw gang responsible for the violence, Detective Inspector Ian Campbell from the anti-bikie Echo task force said one particular club had been responsible for standing over security companies in a bid to claim lucrative contracts.

He said police were working with the state government to ensure bikie gang members could not work in the security industry.

Detective Inspector Campbell conceded that the violence would end if bikies were unable to be employed in the industry.

“The security industry at this stage is troublesome,” Detective Inspector Campbell said.

“We have a number of persons associated with outlaw motorcycle gangs trying to muscle in on the industry and endeavouring to take a larger slice of the pie.”

Detective Inspector Campbell said arrests were expected to take place soon, and that a witness had seen a person leaving the scene of the Kittens fire.

It took firefighters more than an hour to control the blaze, which destroyed the venue.

The strip club was closed at the time and no one was inside. The venue was set to close at 3am, according to the Kittens website.

A burnt-out BMW was found in Hallam, about 30 kilometres away, at 6am. The light-coloured car found in Basil Close was not reported stolen, but could be linked to the shooting, police said.

A car was heard idling in the laneway behind Kittens before the fire.

Another Kittens venue in South Melbourne has recently been targeted in two drive-by shootings.

Burnt-out cars were also found after each of these shootings.

A security guard was struck in the forehead by three shotgun pellets during the most recent drive-by shooting in January, and a door was damaged by another shotgun blast in November.

It is the first time another Kittens venue has been targeted. There is also a Kittens car wash in Bentleigh East, and a party boat and bus associated with the club.

The stand-over of security companies by members of the Comancheros appears to have started at a time when the gang was severely weakened by the arrests of key members.

In October, 2014, police claimed that almost half the Comancheros in Victoria were behind bars.

Commander Mick Murray, the head of the gang in Victoria and one of the most senior Comancheros in Australia, vowed to quit the club in 2014 as a condition of his bail.

Mr Murray has a variety of business interests, including in the security industry.

Two of the shootings referred to by Detective Inspector Campbell are believed to be the shooting of Clay Auimatagi, a former kickboxer who co-owns a gym and has links to a security company, in September, and the gunning down of Roberto Morando the following month.

Detective Inspector Campbell said that although Kittens was the only venue targeted, there was no evidence bikies had a particular vendetta against the club.

A security company associated with Mr Auimatagi provided services at Kittens until late last month, when the venue’s ownership and the company agreed to part ways, Detective Inspector Campbell said.

One of the venue’s owners did not return a request for comment.

Police have investigated reports that a Comanchero associate was bashed badly by Mr Auimatagi’s guards when he was kicked out of a CBD venue last year, and whether this resulted in an escalation of attacks on security.

The bashing happened about a month before Mr Auimatagi was shot, but his business partner said last month he was not convinced the Comanchero associate was linked.

The man was released from prison early last year, after being jailed in relation to a vicious bashing at another strip club.

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Geelong police search for man, boy thrown from motorbike in Robin Ave Norlane

The crash occurred on Robin Avenue, Norlane, a northern suburb of Geelong. Photo: Google MapsA man and a young boy were thrown from a motorbike in a crash on Monday afternoon only to casually walk away from the scene, leaving the driver of a car injured and confused.

Geelong police are now searching for the motorbike rider, who was wearing only shorts and thongs and no helmet, when the crash occurred on Robin Avenue in Norlane.

The boy, who is described as being around seven years old, was wearing a helmet and what appeared to be a school polo shirt.

The motorbike crashed into a Toyota sedan, as its driver was making a U-turn about 4pm.

The two riders were thrown over the bike, and the car, and landed on the road.

With the help of an unidentified passerby, the rider and the young boy got up and walked away without exchanging details with the Toyota driver.

Police have been unable to find the motorcycle, the rider, or the child.

The driver of the car suffered minor cut to the head from some smashed glass.

Senior Constable Jamie Kahle from the Geelong Highway Patrol said investigators were confident they would be able to track down the rider and the damaged motorcycle with the help of the community.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or with any information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Teenager Ahmed al-Hamza shot outside Campbellfield restaurant in second Melbourne shooting in a day

The victim of the Campbellfield shooting being wheeled into the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Photo: Courtesy of Nine News, via Twitter Police at the scene of the Campbellfield shooting outside the Al Diwan mediterranean restaurant. Photo: Courtesy of Nine News

A teenager with links on social media to organised crime figures was shot near a Campbellfield restaurant on Monday evening, the second shooting in a day in Melbourne’s north.

It is not clear if Ahmed al-Hamza, 18, was shot in the thigh at the Al-Diwan Lebanese restaurant in Mahoneys Road, or shot nearby and arrived at the business with the injury.

Police believe a Triple-0 phone call was made from the restaurant about 9.30pm on Monday, but none of the five people who were there at the time are co-operating with police.

Mr Hamza was taken to the Royal Melbourne hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. He was in a stable condition on Tuesday afternoon.

The restaurant’s owner, Amer Taiba, said the shooting did not happen at his business.

“Everything happened across the road,” Mr Taiba told Fairfax Media.

He said emergency services were across the road and paramedics were treating a man who was walking down the “middle of the street”. UPDATE: An 18-year-old is in hospital after an overnight shooting in Melbourne’s north. #TenNews 5pm pic.twitter南京夜网/vbU7qyrlTc— Ten News Melbourne (@tennewsmelb) February 16, 2016

“100 per cent it has nothing to do with the restaurant.”

Mr Taiba is linked on social media with an organised crime figure who is facing charges over a $6 million drug smuggling operation. He cannot be named for legal reasons.

One of the co-accused in the drug smuggling case, Rami Margus, is linked on social media with Mr Hamza.

Mr Hamza is also connected with George Marrogi, who has convictions for manslaughter and recklessly causing serious injury.

It is understood armed crime detectives are investigating links between Monday night’s shooting and others that have occurred in the city’s outer north and west in the past year.

There are no clear links between Monday’s two shooting incidents.

About 7am on Monday, people in two cars exchanged shots at the intersection of View and Glen streets in Glenroy.

More shots were fired a couple of hundred metres up the road, near the intersection of View Street and Cardinal Road, but no one was injured.

There are no detailed descriptions of the vehicles, only that they were dark and one was larger than the other.

It is understood the latest shooting was the 10th in the state this year, in addition to three in December.

Anyone with information on either shooting can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

– with Marissa Calligeros*/]]>

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Schoolgirl hit by garbage truck in Langwarrin in Melbourne’s south-east

The girl was flown in the Air Ambulance to the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Photo: Courtesy of Nine NewsA schoolgirl remains in a serious condition in hospital after being hit by a rubbish truck in Melbourne’s outer south-east.

The 17-year-old girl stepped off the kerb and was struck by the Frankston City Council rubbish truck at the intersection of Cranbourne-Frankston Road and Long Street in Langwarrin about 8.10am on Tuesday.

Paramedics treated the girl at the scene before she was flown by air ambulance to Royal Melbourne Hospital. She remained in a serious condition at 1pm.

A man, known only as Will, saw the collision and described the distressing scene.

“I just saw her rolling on the ground there, so unfortunately not a good scene,” he told radio station 3AW.

The truck belongs to the council’s waste disposal contractors, Solo Resource Recovery.  Detectives appealing for witnesses after 17-year-old struck by garbage truck in Langwarrin. #9Newspic.twitter南京夜网/7xwlg37imJ— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) February 16, 2016

The 54-year-old Frankston truck driver is assisting police with their inquiries.

The girl was the second pedestrian to be seriously injured on Melbourne roads on Tuesday.

A man was hit by a car on the corner of La Trobe and William streets in the CBD about 5.30am.

The man, aged in his 30s, suffered serious head and leg injuries and was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a serious condition.

A further five pedestrians have been killed in Victoria in the past week.

Last month, a cyclist was killed after colliding with a garbage truck in Ormond, also in Melbourne’s south-east.

The cyclist and the truck collided at the corner of North Road and Glen Orme Avenue about 7.30am on January 20.

The cyclist – a 25-year-old Ormond man – was taken to The Alfred hospital, but died a short time later.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via 梧桐夜网crimestoppersvic南京夜网419论坛.*/]]>

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Whooping cough rates soar

AS THE debate about vaccinations continues to rage, NSW Shadow Minister for Health, Walt Secord, has released figures showing NSW whooping cough has reached a five year high of 12,240 cases, compared with 3,135 cases in 2014.

Mr Secord said it was time the Baird Government stepped up its public health message on vaccinations.

“Vaccination is a 20th century public health achievement – it saves lives but sadly, large scale vaccinations have allowed a small fringe to become complacent about the welfare of our nation’s children – especially in regard to measles, whooping cough, mumps and other deadly diseases,” Mr Secord said.

“While the NSW and Federal governments have taken some steps in relation to this issue, there is still more work to be done.

“It is heartbreaking to see that immunisation rates in some parts of the state – such as the North Coast and Sydney’s east – have slipped to the levels of the developing world.”

Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a serious respiratory infection that causes a long coughing illness. In babies, the infection can sometimes lead to pneumonia and occasionally, brain damage or death.

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Industry touted in town

Cootamundra Shire is forging ahead with a proposedindustrial sub-division onthe corner of Turners Lane and Gundagai Road.

At Monday night’s council meeting, councillors were told it would cost$1,564,650 to create the sub-division.

Councillor Paul Braybrooks advocated for council to move ahead with the project.

“It is not acceptable that we (Cootamundra Shire) are in the position of not having any industrial land available,” Cr Braybrooks said.

“That situation is in the foreseeable future,” he continued.

To get the land to a salable state, council would have to construct a road, kerb, install sewer pipes, stormwater, telecommunication lines, powerlines, water supply, gas and purchase the land.

However, Cr Braybrooks believes it would be worth it.

“”As a country town, if there is no industrial land, we are not going anywhere,” Cr Braybrooks said.

He said it is imperative council seek to move forward with the project.

“This is for job creation, this is for our future,” Cr Braybrooks said.

The prospect of completing the project in stages was discussed, however council general manager Ken Trethewey pointed out that the first stage would cost a million dollars and said it would end up more cost effective to undertake the project as a whole.

Cr Braybrooks indicated that potential buyers for the property may already exist.

“I’d suggest we would sell two sizable lots quite quickly,” Cr Braybrooks said.

To undertake such a large project in the current political climate where merger decisions are yet to be finalised is not an easy task, but one with roadblocks which are not insurmountable, according to Mr Trethewey.

Currently, council can not enter into a contract for work worth more than $250,000. This is until a decision on amalgamation is made, however Mr Trethewey indicated dispensation avenues are available.

With a majority of councillors in favour of moving forward with the project now a costing has been put before them, they instructed council staff to come back to the next council meeting with a plan to fund the project.

Cr Braybrooks suggested council may be able to borrow from themselves to get started on the project.

“This is a priority for Cootamundra,” Councillor Rosalind Wight said.

She suggested council look at starting the project before the end of the financial year, if possible.

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Keep crown rot at bay


THE fungal disease crown rot is one of Australia’s most costly diseases in wheat, and with it generally doing most damage in years with dry springs, under the scenario of climate change it could foreseeably become an even bigger problem.

Yield losses from the disease, first spotted in the 1950s, can be up to 90pc in susceptible varieties, such as some lines of durum wheat, or 50pc, in bread wheats.

Looking to stop these losses, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has invested in a series of projects to minimise damage.

These projects cover pre-breeding, epidemiology, farming systems and pathology.

The GRDC also launched an extension program – Stop The Rot – in 2011.

Dr Jason Able makes a durum cross with an elite breeding line and a potential source of reduced crown rot susceptibility which has been provided through Dr Hugh Wallwork’s crown rot pre-breeding program at SARDI.

The campaign was designed to lift awareness of the need for a three-step program based on crop rotation, monitoring for basal browning as well as whiteheads in harvested grain and soil and stubble testing.

Crop rotation is a key method of stopping crown rot.

GRDC-supported research demonstrated that crop rotation reduces the incidence and severity of crown rot, resulting in average yield gains of between 17-23 per cent over continuous wheat rotations.

Precision planting techniques can also help.

NSW Department of Primary Industries research funded by the GRDC has also shown that inter-row sowing reduces the impact of crown rot and increases yield by up to 9pc in a wheat-on-wheat sequence.

Recent collaborative research between the Northern Grower Alliance and NSW Department of Primary Industries has also established that the presence of root lesion nematode (RLN) feeding within root systems increases the severity of crown rot.

This research highlights that cereal varieties differ in their tolerance to crown rot and RLN. This can have a significant impact on the relative yield of varieties in the presence of these various disease constraints.

In the heartland of crown rot, northern NSW, Garah grower Bill Yates emphasises the importance of rotations in controlling crown rot.

He says the cereal-legume rotations he and son Andrew have implemented have greatly reduced the incidence of crown rot in their wheat crops.

“The GRDC research results and the rotational changes we made as a result of them mean we are battling to find whiteheads (a key indicator of crown rot) now,” he said.

Mr Yates said it was quite rare now to plant wheat on wheat and only when crown rot levels had been measured and were a low risk.

But it is not just agronomics the GRDC has invested in.

It has committed funds to long-term genetics R&D to complement gains made through the adoption of recommended farm practices.

A range of new material is coming through breeding programs based on current commercial cultivars and recent additions to the set of crown rot resistance sources.

A new cereal research project began in 2013, aimed at boosting the resistance of durum wheat to crown rot.

This project aims to improve resistance in durum wheats by crossing them with hexaploid (bread wheat) and wild tetraploid wheats which carry good levels of crown rot resistance.

The national crown rot program is also focused on refining the PreDicta B ® pre-sowing test for this disease to enable growers to make more informed rotation and management choices before embarking on their cropping programs.

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Global temperatures leap higher in January, smashing records

Global temperatures spiked higher in January, setting records, international agencies say. Photo: Leigh HenninghamThis year has got off to a scorching start, with global temperatures marching to new highs as a giant El Nino rode on the back of creeping climate change, data from Japan and the US show.

Just a month after the world notched its hottest year on record, January’s  global land and sea-surface temperatures were 0.52 degrees above the average for 1981-2010, Japan’s Meteorological Agency reported.

The departure from the norm easily eclipsed the previous record of 0.29 degrees shared equally by 2002, 2007 and 2015, the agency said.

Temperatures in January are rising at the rate of about 0.75 degrees per century, the agency said.

While more data will be released in coming days by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a chart from fellow US agency NASA (see below) also shows January’s temperature spiking higher.

The data indicates last month had the biggest increase over the previous record for any month in more than a century of records.

January also had the largest anomaly – or departure from the long-term norm – for any month on record, Stefan Rahmstorf, a researcher from Germany’s Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research and a visiting professorial fellow at the University of New South Wales, says.

“The record is helped along a bit by El Nino, but most of it – more than 80 per cent – is due to human-caused global warming,” Dr Rahmstorf said.

“A strong El Nino event can elevate the monthly global temperature by up to 0.2 degrees, but this January is a whopping 1.1 degrees warmer than the average January during the baseline period of 1951-1980.”

During El Nino years, the usual westward-blowing trade winds stall or reverse, lowering the rate the ocean absorbs the excess heat being trapped in the atmosphere by rising levels of greenhouse gases.

Global annual temperature records were broken in 2014 and then again in 2015, with the UK Met Office forecasting 2016 may lift the temperature bar again.

“This sequence of new records every few years – and now even two in a row – reflects the on-going rapid global warming trend,” Dr Rahmstorf said.

“As the El Nino event winds down over the coming months we can expect somewhat lower global temperatures again for a while, but the global warming trend will continue until we phase out fossil fuels,” he said.

Research cut

The latest record-hot month comes as Australia’s premier scientific organisation, the CSIRO, has announced plans to axe 110 of its climate monitoring and modelling staff.

The cuts are part of a wider reorganisation that will slice 350 jobs before later recruitment in other areas restores the losses.

The move against climate research has been denounced by about 3000 scientists from almost 60 nations, who have signed a petition sent to the Turnbull government. They warn that Australia risks losing world-leading talent and will undermine the ability to observe the changes of the world’s climate, particularly in the southern hemisphere.

CSIRO’s chief executive Larry Marshall has said the two climate units targeted for deep cuts will eventually increase staff but numbers will be half current levels. The freed-up resources will be used for other research priorities including studying Australia’s adaptation needs for the inevitable climate impacts to come as the country warms.

For Australia, mean temperatures were 0.52 degrees above the 1961-90 level used by the Bureau of Meteorology as its yardstick.

All states and the Northern Territory recorded warmer than average mean temperatures, with Tasmania recording its second-warmest January on record, the bureau said.

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