The Nationals are set to lose the north coast seat of Lismore at the next NSW election, polling suggests, compounding the party’s loss of neighbouring Ballina to the Greens in 2015.
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A ReachTel poll shows the Nationals primary vote at 32.8 per cent, Labor on 23.9 per cent and the Greens on 22 per cent. One Nation is on 6.8 per cent, others on 5.6 per cent and nine per cent are undecided.

The Nationals primary vote is significantly lower than the 42.4 per cent secured by current MP Thomas George at the 2015 election.

Mr George, who is retiring at the 2019 election narrowly held on in Lismore two years ago against the Greens, leaving the seat one of the most marginal in NSW on just 0.2 per cent.

On a two-party preferred basis, the poll has Labor leading the Nationals by 57 per cent to 43 per cent, based on preferences stated by the 753 residents surveyed earlier this month.

The Nationals are conducting a community preselection – which involves inviting local non-party members to participate – to choose a candidate for Lismore.

Labor and the Greens intend to preselect their candidates early next year.

The polling was commissioned by the Nature Conservation Council.

Voters were also asked if the NSW government is doing enough to act on climate change, to which 60.2 per cent responded it was not. Only 28.6 per cent said yes and 11.1 per cent are undecided.

Sixty-seven per cent said they were more likely to vote for a political party that increases solar and wind power and reduces reliance on coal, with 17.8 per cent saying less likely and 15.2 per cent stating it wouldn’t change their vote.

Among Nationals voters, 40.5 per cent said they would be more likely to vote for a party with those policies, with 33.6 per cent saying less likely and 25.9 per cent saying it would make no difference.

Nature Conservation Council chief executive Kate Smolski said that if the Nationals want to retain Lismore “they should put forward a candidate who’ll put climate change high on the agenda and push the rapid shift to renewables”.

“People are crying out for [Premier Gladys] Berejiklian to lead on this issue – including conservative voters – but she still doesn’t have a plan,” she said.

Ms Smolski said the Climate Change Fund Strategic Plan for 2017-2022 was promised for mid-year “and now is months overdue”.

“The government has a commitment to make the state carbon neutral by 2050 but has no plans to replace the state’s coal-burners with renewable energy. Without an action plan it’s just a pipe dream.”

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generic ernst & young, ernst and young, ey, Sydney, Friday 30th october 2015, photo: Ryan StuartAt least $74 million has been spent on marketing, lawyers and consultants for the privatisation of NSW electricity network businesses in what the state opposition has criticised as a “feeding frenzy” for the big end of town.
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Treasury figures confirm that the biggest winner from the transactions was consultancy Ernst and Young, which reaped $24.5 million for providing financial, accounting and tax advice to the government.

Ernst and Young wrote the report used by the then Baird government to bolster its argument for partially privatising the NSW electricity network.

The report concluded that customers have paid lower charges in Victoria and South after privatisation.

Investment bank UBS was also a beneficiary, pocketing $13.9 million for financial advice.

The bank found itself at the centre of a political storm during the 2015 state election campaign over a report on the government’s power privatisation plans headlined “Bad for the budget, good for the state”.

The figures also show law firm Allens earned more than $20 million for legal advice, while public relations and lobbying firm Newgate earned over $900,000.

The costs are related to the government’s 99-year lease of all of high voltage transmission firm Transgrid and 50.1 per cent of distributors Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy for net proceeds of about $17 billion.

Total costs are expected to increase further as NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said finalisation of the transactions are due at the end of this year after which further payments will be disclosed.

Answers to questions on notice at a budget estimates hearing also reveal that in 2015 the then government controlled Ausgrid and Endeavour and state-owned Essential Energy spent $7.2 million taking the n Energy Regulator to court.

They successfully challenged its determination that slashed how much they can charge customers.

Labor energy spokesman Adam Searle said the transactions “created a feeding frenzy for big end of town consultants, bankers and public relations operatives”.

“The $75 million it has spent so far is roughly a third of the rebates it is paying out to households struggling to pay their higher electricity bills,” he said.

Mr Searle described as “a scandal” the cost of the court challenge “to keep electricity prices high”.

But Mr Perrottet said Labor had “no credibility” on the issue.

“It’s well publicised that Labor regrets its failure to sell the poles and wires, along with everything else they failed to deliver,” he said.

Mr Perrottet said the transactions “allowed us to invest $20 billion in infrastructure the state was crying out for, including Sydney Metro, Parramatta Light Rail and Sydney Opera House, but its broader value to the NSW economy is priceless.”

A Treasury spokesman said the decision to take court action “was a matter for the businesses and not the NSW Government”.

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12.10.17-A much needed Rain front moves through Cronulla from the South of Sydney today.Picture John VeageThe chances of a wetter-than-average summer for eastern are increasing, with the Bureau of Meteorology set to declare a La Nina weather pattern is likely to take hold in the Pacific.
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The bureau’s shift from neutral conditions to a “La Nina watch” will be formally stated in Tuesday’s fortnightly update, Rob Webb, the head of the bureau’s national forecast services, told Senate estimates on Monday.

Andrew Watkins, manager of climate prediction services at BOM, told Fairfax Media the declaration of a “watch” indicated at least a 50 per cent chance of a La Nina, although shy of the 70 per cent level that would prompt the declaration of an event as virtually certain.

“We’re not quite up to the 70 per cent yet,” Dr Watkins said.

Even so, the shift towards conditions favouring wetter conditions has become more evident in recent weeks.

During La Nina years, the easterly trade winds across the equatorial Pacific strengthen, shifting rainfall westwards to places such as northern and eastern , and Indonesia.

Lately, unusual cooling of waters off South America – a signal for the La Nina’s formation – had become clearer. That pattern typically shifts ‘s outlook “to the wet side of our cycle”, Mr Webb said.

In the most recent assessment of conditions in the Pacific, the bureau also noted the areas of unusually warm waters east of Papua New Guinea. (See map below).

Dr Watkins said La Ninas are usually evident from autumn or winter, unlike this year: “It’s quite unusual to be so late in the year.”

While La Ninas can bring heavy rain and floods to eastern , the “seasonal outlooks are not as roaring wet as they were in 2010”, Dr Watkins said. The back-to-back La Ninas of 2010-11 and 2011-12 included major flooding in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

Indeed, Indian Ocean conditions, another driver of ‘s climate, “have, if anything, been unfavourable for rainfall” over , he said.

The bureau’s nod to a likely La Nina follows similar calls by other international agencies, such by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA earlier this month rated the chances of a La Nina as a 55-65 per cent chance during the southern spring or summer.

Fire authorities are hoping a tilt towards a La Nina will bring extra rain to take the edge off a potentially severe bushfire season.

Mr Webb told Senate estimates, eastern had had “an incredibly dry winter…[with] deep drying of the soils”.

“Any rain that falls will drain away, and as those temperatures heat up, we are concerned [about] a busy fire season over most parts,” he said.

While Sydney just had its best rainfall in about four months, the best chance for follow-up falls will be 3-10 millimetres on Thursday, the bureau said.

The mercury, though, will start to climb, with Sunday and Monday likely to see Sydney reaching 32 degrees, or 10 degrees above the October average.

La Ninas, while bringing above-average rain to northern parts of the country, can also trigger more cyclones in ‘s region. For now, though, the bureau’s forecast is for a typical season.

One other impact of La Nina years, though, tends to be a moderation of global surface temperatures as the Pacific takes up more of the atmospheric heat.

So far this year global temperatures are running at about the second equal-warmest on record for the January-September period – marginally ahead of 2015 and behind only 2016. (See NOAA chart below.)

According to NOAA, this year will almost certainly be the third warmest on record behind only the two previous years, based on data that goes back to the 1880s.

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Sydney is running a “population deficit” with the rest of the country, new census figures show.
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The figures for population movement released on Monday show that although Sydney benefited from an enormous inflow of migrants (399,620) in five years leading up to the census, it lost population to every region of the country.

Sydney sent 27,670 locals to Melbourne, many more than the 19,100 Melbourne residents who moved to Sydney.

It sent 21,480 locals to Brisbane, many more than the 15,570 Brisbane residents who moved to Sydney.

It sent 27,670 to regional Queensland, many more than the 19,100 regional Queenslanders who moved to Sydney, and 10,200 to Perth, many more than the 8660 Perth residents who returned to Sydney.

The exodus was particularly pronounced in regional NSW, which benefited from an outflow of 105,060 Sydneysiders, easily surpassing the flow of 62,470 moving from regional NSW to the city.

The picture painted by the Bureau of Statistics is of a city that has become the primary destination for immigrants who displace locals who move to other parts of and other parts of the state.

The census shows a similar phenomenon in Melbourne, which in the five years leading up to the census gained residents from overseas and every region of but one. That region was rural and regional Victoria, which gained 76,210 ex-Melburnians, easily exceeding the 59,220 who moved to Melbourne.

So great were the outflows from Sydney and Melbourne to the rest of NSW and Victoria that those regions became two of the fastest growing in the nation, gaining a net 17,570 and 28,720 new arrivals from the rest of the country.

The other regions to grow at the expense of the rest of the country were Greater Brisbane (25,440), regional Queensland (14,620), Greater Melbourne (10,670) and Greater Perth (5910).

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The regions to lose locals to the rest of were Greater Sydney (77,590), Adelaide (9470), regional Western (5480) and regional South (3060).

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One in four of the nation’s professionals – including lawyers, doctors, accountants and engineers – now works in Sydney after their numbers in the city swelled by a third during the past decade.
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The latest figures from the 2016 census, which focus on employment, education and internal migration, show a bigger share of Sydneysiders work full-time and hold a bachelors level qualification or higher than the national average. But the city has a smaller share of tradesman and labourers than the rest of the nation.

The new census figures, released on Monday, revealed a nationwide surge in workers who provide personal services. Since the last census in 2011 the number of domestic cleaners has jumped 130 per cent while the tally of fitness instructors was up by 27 per cent and beauty therapists by 25 per cent.

Sydney’s professional ranks have grown by a third in the past decade, the 2016 census shows. Photo: Rob Homer

But Sydney’s workforce is dominated by professionals and managers with four in 10 of the city’s workers in those two broad employment categories.

The number of Sydney-based professionals has climbed by 145,000 during the past decade to almost 600,000. They now make up 26.3 per cent of the city’s workforce, up from 23.8 in 2006. Nationally, the census counted 2.3 million professionals, or 22.2 per cent of workers.

Macquarie University demographer Associate Professor Nick Parr said the growth in professionals has been driven by the expansion of higher education student numbers and the high rate of skilled migration.

The census data, released on Monday, showed women now make up 55.4 per cent of professionals nationally, up from 53.9 per cent in 2011.

“The predominance of females in these occupations reflects the greater numbers of females among university graduates over recent decades,” Dr Parr said.

“The retirement of more male-dominated cohorts, Baby Boomer cohorts out of the professional occupations is also contributing to the rising share of females in these occupations.”

The retirement of more male-dominated Baby Boomer generation managers has also helped lift the share of female managers from 35.4 per cent in 2011 to 37 per cent in 2016.

The share of Sydneysiders with a bachelors degree level qualification or higher has reached 28.3 per cent, more than six percentage points above the national average.

The healthcare and social assistance sector was the biggest employer in both NSW and . It now provides one in eight of the state’s jobs. Nationally, almost 80 per cent of the 1.35 million people employed in the healthcare and social assistance sector are women.

Occupations traditionally dominated by women including health care and education grew strongly between 2011 and 2016 but there were big declines in some traditionally male-dominated industries including manufacturing (-24.3 per cent) and wholesale trade (-23.8 per cent).

In Sydney, the share of technicians and trades workers has edged lower over the past decade to 11.7 per cent and is well below the national average of 13.5 per cent. Sydney also has a smaller proportion of labourers (7.5 per cent) than the national average of 9.5 per cent.

When it comes to commuting, Sydneysiders are much more likely to catch public transport to work than those in other capital cities. Even so, the majority of Sydney employees still brave the traffic and drive to their workplace.

Nationally, the number of child carers rose by almost 30 per cent between 2011 and 2016 and the number of early childhood teachers rose 48 per cent in that period.

Dr Parr said a “substantial increase in the number of births between 2006 and 2011” had contributed to those increases along with rising rates of participation in the labour force by mothers.

The ageing of the population is also having an effect on the way ns work with a 22.2 per cent increase in the number of aged and disabled carers between 2011 and 2016).

The most common individual occupational category for men and women remained “sales assistant”.

The latest figures followed the initial release of 2016 census data in June.

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