Australia’s no Asian food bowl: Joyce

Australia is not the food bowl of Asia, nor should it claim to be.

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That was the message from Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce at a farmers conference at Sydney’s Grace Hotel on Friday.

He said Australian farmers needed to focus on being recognised for the quality of their produce, not the quantity.

Produce from Australia feeds about 60 million people in Asia.

While that is more than double Australia’s population, it’s a few blades of grass in a paddock compared with the output of nations such as China and Indonesia.

“Even if we double it to 120 million, we couldn’t feed Indonesia,” Mr Joyce said.

“Food basket of Asia? That’s an absurd statement.”

Aside from the figures being far from food bowl levels, Mr Joyce believes promoting Australia in this way could be politically detrimental.

“As soon as the farmer in Indonesia finds out that (Australia is) apparently going to be the food basket of Asia, he starts asking himself what job he’s got,” he said.

“And the political pressure will start mounting.

“We’ve got to make sure that people understand we produce a premium product, in a premium market, and we are not a threat to other farmers in other areas.”

But Mr Joyce was not playing down the economic and trade opportunities in agriculture; far from it.

He noted the burgeoning middle class of Southeast Asia and rising demand for quality produce from the Middle East as strong causes for optimism.

He said the “clean, green” image of Australia’s produce was crucial to maintaining premium prices for exports such as beef, lamb and dairy.

“Mothers care about what they put in their babies’ mouths. It’s the premium image that counts,” Mr Joyce said.

He said 12 per cent of agricultural land was foreign-owned, which he called “substantial”.

And the family farm remained the backbone of Australian agriculture.

“The family farm is still the most fundamental unit to economics in rural Australia,” he said.

“This is a strong belief I still hold.”

The aerodynamics of a Tour de France time trial

By Timothy Crouch, Monash University

As the Tour de France approaches its final days, teams will be looking to place their top riders in the best possible position for the all-important individual time trial in the penultimate stage, where the winner of the Tour is determined.

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There’s no better example of the importance of this stage than Greg LeMond’s legendary Tour victory in 1989. Fellow rider Laurent Fignon had a 50-second lead heading into the stage, but lost to LeMond by just eight seconds, the smallest winning margin in Tour history.

In 2011, our very own Cadel Evans gained the yellow jersey in the final time trial stage, winning the tour by 94 seconds.

Evans in time trial mode. EPA/Guillaume Horcajuelo

 

Unlike the gruelling mountain stages the tour is renowned for, the final 2014 individual time trial stage – a 54-kilometre race from Bergerac to Perigueux tomorrow – will take place over relatively flat terrain.

This stage exposes individual riders with no team members to support them across the finish line. It showcases individual speed (typically around 55km/h) and those who can cycle from start to finish in the shortest time possible.

Cycling to win

There are two critical factors that govern the time taken for a rider to complete the stage:

    the power output they sustain over the duration of the coursethe magnitude of the resistive forces that oppose their forward motion.

At these speeds and with shallow hill gradients, up to 95% of the total resistance is attributed to the aerodynamic drag force. This is why aerodynamics is particularly critical to time trial stages, and why teams invest so many resources in finding ways to minimise drag force.

The drive to improve aerodynamics over the past two decades has impacted the positioning of riders on their bicycles, leading to advances in frame design and equipment geometry.

For the final stage of the Tour, riders will replace their standard road bicycles with more aerodynamically shaped frames and wheels, assume positions of lower aerodynamic drag, and utilise streamlined helmets and skin-suits.

Many attribute Greg LeMond’s famous 1989 victory to a last-minute decision to race with revolutionary time trial bars (which are now standard) and a streamlined helmet.

LeMond in 1989. Note his helmet and handlebars. BeWePa/Flickr, CC BY

 

We now understand that this decision likely provided him with a competitive advantage over Fignon, who rode with the less streamlined standard circular-tubed cow-bars and no helmet.

Optimising aerodynamics

To continue to gain a competitive advantage, athletes in the Tour need to take full advantage of the latest research in cycling aerodynamics, which investigates new ways to further reduce aerodynamic drag force and optimise rider position and equipment.

The primary tool used to optimise the aerodynamics of the bicycle-rider system is the wind tunnel, fast becoming a necessity for top-performing teams across the world.

The Monash Wind Tunnel being used in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympics.

 

Once these were constructed for the primary purpose of aerospace and automotive applications. However recently we have seen leading bicycle manufactures develop their own wind tunnels in order to optimise the aerodynamic performance of their bicycle designs and cycling teams.

Finely tuned wind tunnel testing simulates different environmental conditions – even the interactions between multiple riders. Current cycling research investigates the complete system and all interactions between the cyclist, their bicycle, and the equipment choices available to them – rather than treating each as a separate component.

 

Monash University, Author provided

 

According to David Burton, manager of the Monash Wind Tunnel:

“Aerodynamics is critical to these types of events, which are often reduced to seconds. Using force measurements performed in the wind tunnel, we often see that minor changes in rider position, equipment or test conditions could easily account for the small margins seen over the duration of a 50-kilometre time trial.”

Due to the large role that the aerodynamic forces play in cycling speed, the largest gains in cycling performance are most likely to arise from research that pushes the boundaries of equipment design, rider position and race tactics, with a focus on optimising aerodynamics.

One thing is for certain: aerodynamics will have played a significant part in the success of the rider who comes down the Champs Elysees and is named the winner of the 2014 Tour de France.

Timothy Crouch receives funding from the Australian Research Council (project number LP100200090).

No Hird at Bombers until 2015

Essendon say senior coach James Hird has agreed he won’t have any involvement preparing the team or on match days for the rest of the AFL season.

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Hird, whose 12-month ban for his role in Essendon’s use of supplements in 2012 is due to expire next month, said on Friday in a club statement that he didn’t want to be a distraction.

There’s no doubt he would have been one by creating a huge sideshow through his mere presence.

AFL coaching great Leigh Matthews is wondering how this situation could have been allowed to drag on.

Matthews says it’s ridiculous.

“Hirdy should have come to that conclusion himself,” Matthews told Radio 3AW.

“You don’t need the club to be telling you that. It is so obvious.”

Hird returned to Australia from a study tour of France earlier this week, with uncertainty surrounding his role at the club.

Essendon chairman Paul Little met this week with Hird, general manager of football performance Neil Craig, new chief executive Xavier Campbell and interim coach Mark Thompson.

The meeting was called to discuss what was in the best interests of the club, Little said.

“We have all agreed that when James is eligible to return to the club on 25 August, James’ focus will be entirely on the 2015 season,” Little said in a statement.

“He will not be in the coaching box or have an active coaching role at training.

“In that time period between 25 August until our final game of the season, James will take the opportunity to begin planning the upcoming pre-season, list management, recruiting and preparation for 2015 away from the club.

“Due to the considerable interest in this matter, we think it is important to clarify this today so that everyone understands how the club is approaching the next couple of months and there is no room for confusion or speculation.”

Club great Tim Watson has led calls in the past week for Hird to stay out of the spotlight in August and September.

Thompson, a two-time premiership coach at Geelong before becoming Hird’s assistant coach, has been appointed on a one-year deal before Hird takes charge for the 2015 season.

The Bombers have a 10-7 record this season under Thompson and are strong contenders for a top-eight finish.

“As much as I would dearly love to have jumped straight back into working with the team, I am determined that whatever role I play should in no way act as a distraction from the 2014 campaign,” Hird said.

Hird had said on July 23 he definitely wanted to return to the club during the 2014 season.

A Federal Court trial between Essendon and Hird against ASADA, launched after the anti-doping body issued show-cause notices to 34 current and former players, is scheduled to begin in August.

Campbell’s appointment was announced on Friday.

The 34-year-old former SANFL player previously held the position of Essendon’s chief operating officer.

Milk proteins may help relieve eczema

Special proteins found in milk are being investigated by scientists to see if they can help relieve eczema.

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Many people with eczema shun milk and other dairy products as they can often make the debilitating skin condition worse.

But a study underway in Sydney is investigating whether two specific milk proteins can actually help relieve the dry, itchy skin symptoms associated with eczema.

The pilot study involves giving adults with eczema a daily supplement containing the whey proteins lactoferrin and immunoglobulin.

It was devised after a separate study examining the effects of the two proteins on people with colds and flu found that participants who had eczema noticed improvements in their skin.

One of the scientists involved in the study, Griffith University researcher Nic West, says the test now is to determine whether the improvements in eczema symptoms witnessed in the cold and flu probe were coincidental or linked to the proteins.

“Anecdotal observations from people with a range of skin conditions say it helps with the severity of the symptoms they are experiencing,” Dr West told AAP.

“There is something going on. Whether we can actually determine it in a study is going to be interesting.”

It is estimated that between 15 and 20 per cent of school children and up to 10 per cent of adults have eczema.

With no cure available, people with eczema often turn to cortisone creams and make dietary changes to help ease the itch.

Some people with eczema can suffer flare ups after drinking milk because they have an allergic reaction to the protein lactoglobulin.

The two proteins being used in the supplement for the pilot study help bolster the body’s immune system.

Lactoferrin acts as a barrier to foreign bodies trying to enter the body, while immunoglobulins can remove them.

Dr West said it is possible that there is some sort of aberration in the normal function of those proteins in people with eczema.

He expects results from the pilot study in February and hopes it will lead to a full scale clinical trial involving thousands of people with eczema across Australia and overseas.

The study is being run by the St George Dermatology and Skin Cancer Clinic in Sydney, along with Griffith University and Sydney University’s Centenary Institute.

Forty five adults aged 18 to 55 and with mild to moderate eczema are needed to take part in the 12-week study. As part of the study participants receive free appointments with a dermatology specialist.

* People interested in taking part can email [email protected]广西桑拿,

Hoax media release activist walks free

An activist who temporarily wiped $300 million off a mining company’s value by issuing a hoax media release has walked free.

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Jonathan Moylan, 26, was released on a two-year good behaviour bond on Friday after the judge decided he was unlikely to attempt a similar stunt in future.

The anti-coalmining activist sparked market upheaval after he issued the bogus release on January 7, 2013.

It claimed ANZ Bank had withdrawn a $1.2 billion loan from the company Whitehaven, which was intended to develop its Maules Creek open-cut coalmine in northern NSW.

The email bore the ANZ logo, email address [email protected]广西桑拿, and used the name of actual ANZ employee Toby Kent.

“We want our customers to be assured that we will not be investing in coal projects that cause significant dislocation of farmers, unacceptable damage to the environment or social conflict,” Moylan quoted Kent, ANZ’s group head of corporate sustainability, as saying.

Within 10 minutes it had sparked the first media report.

As a vast number of shares were traded, Whitehaven had about $300 million temporarily wiped off its market price.

After the fallout, Moylan said his intention had been to get ANZ to admit to funding the controversial project so customers knew where their money was being invested.

Sentencing him in the NSW Supreme Court for disseminating false information, Justice David Davies accepted he did not mean to hurt investors, which included superannuation and retirement fund holders.

“If he had thought the matter through a little more carefully, he would have realised that some investors would undoubtedly be injured,” Justice Davies said, adding later that “some investors lost money or their investment in Whitehaven completely”.

He said it was “quite hypocritical” of Moylan to point the finger at journalists for running the story, after it was clear he set it up with the idea that at least some would accept it as genuine.

The judge also remarked that Moylan had committed a number of minor offences pursuing what he believed but this hoax “was the most successful … in drawing public attention”.

While Justice Davies considered it likely that Moylan would continue to engage in “minor breaches of the law”, he said there was a “low likelihood” the activist would reoffend by committing one “similar in nature and scale”.

Moylan’s supporters cheered as he came out of the court complex.

While he apologised to the shareholders who had lost money, Moylan told reporters: “When governments and mining companies work so closely together … then people have no choice but to take action and sometimes those actions fall foul of the law.”

He said he “stands with” the other people arrested for protesting at Maules Creek.

“Good on you. They’re the people who are doing it not for themselves but they’re doing it for all of us,” he said.