Tasmanian waters have become the newest training ground for the Royal Australian Navy

Off Tasmania’s coastline, Royal Australian Navy personnel have started to get acquainted with their newest allies.

The Navy and the Australian Maritime College (AMC), based in northern Tasmania, struck a $4.7 million three-year autonomous marine systems training deal last August.

Under the deal, up to 80 Navy personnel will study in Tasmania each year and be taught by AMC staff how to use autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), also known as aquatic robots, to enhance the country’s war fighting efforts.

The deal is now one year in and training has ramped up.

The latest Navy team to complete its training at Beauty Point, right near the top of the island state, was a hydrographic one.

Damien Guihen is teaching Navy personnel how to use AUVs.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

The AMC’s autonomous marine system specialist Damien Guihen said the team would use the device to help map the world’s oceans.

“So they use it for mapping out areas maybe around beaches or places where they might need to bring ships,” Mr Guihen said.

“Using a robotic platform such as an AUV, it allows us to make measurements where maybe you don’t want to send somebody or it allows us to get closer to the seabed, so it makes operations generally safer and it allows us to free up people to do other tasks.”

Two people stand on a boat pulling an autonomous underwater vehicle on board.
Learning how to use AUVs is one way the Navy is helping bolster Australia’s war fighting efforts.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

‘It’s finally made them cool’

The training is also helping the navy find more underwater sea mines.

Chris White, who is the AMC’s Defence and Autonomous Systems manager, used to be a Royal Australian Navy diver.

A man stands on a dock in front of a ship.
Chris White says using AUVs helps reduce the risk to Navy personnel when searching for mines.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

He said the Navy had recently started using AUVs as part of its mine countermeasures — in other words, finding underwater mines.

“They’re using that technology to either remove the risk from the operator or the person or make it faster,” Mr White said.

“Certainly as a diver, the ability of that technology to search or go and look at large areas underwater is 10 to 20 times faster than what an actual human diver could do.

“Autonomy isn’t going to remove the people. You still need the people to understand the technology and that’s really what AMC is trying to help the Navy with.

“It’s getting those skills, knowledge and experience to use those new systems safely, effectively and reliably.”

Two Navy personnel bring an AUV on board a boat.
Learning how to use AUVs will help the Navy search underwater faster.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

It is unclear exactly how many sea mines planted during world wars and other conflicts are still out there.

“They’re probably inherently safe because they’ve been sitting on the bottom and batteries will have run down, but autonomous technology allows you to go and look for those safely without needing to expose people to extra risk,” Mr White said.

“Obviously there’s still the need for the human to deal with it once it’s been found.”

The $4.7 million training deal has helped the AMC secure four jobs.

Reuben Kent, who is one of AMC’s trainers, said it was good to see other agencies using the devices.

What makes Tasmania the ‘ideal’ AUV training base?

Apart from Tasmania having the country’s only maritime college, Mr White said the state’s topography and diversity of waters helped with AUV training.

The main AUV training grounds used by the AMC and Navy this year have been at Beauty Point, Lake St Clair and Macquarie Harbour, on the west coast.

“The ability for us to access things like high tidal flows, like in the Tamar River, or deep waters up in Lake St Clair or the central highland or stratified waters, which is like layered water over on the west coast — you just can’t get that anywhere else in Australia, so Tasmania is an ideal training environment,” Mr White said.

View of Lake St Clair
The deep waters of Lake St Clair are an ideal training ground for the Navy.(Supplied: Charles Chadwick)

Royal Australian Navy Commodore John Stavridis said the Navy had been working with the AMC for some time and first worked together with autonomous systems in 2017.

“They are at the forefront of advances in this technology, so we’ve been able to work with them and they actually teach us the basics and more higher capabilities for what robotics can do,” Commodore Stavridis said.

Five people stand around a computer looking at data.
Up to 80 Navy personnel will learn how to use AUVs in Tasmania each year.(ABC News: Manika Champ)

He said the Navy was moving more toward autonomous devices to enhance its capabilities.

“This is just the advancement of technology rather than something new or a step change in what we’re doing,” Commodore Stavridis said.

“These robots and autonomous systems help us do our job as war fighters.

“The actual intent is to use robotic and autonomous systems largely to keep our sailors and our war fighters out of the minefield.

Mr White said as well as working with the Navy, the maritime college was also working with the University of Tasmania to provide short, undergraduate and postgraduate level autonomous marine systems course so the public could learn more about AUVs.

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Sequoia Capital raises $195 million for its newest seed fund

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Brisbane’s newest ‘worst house’, unliveable and inhabited by pigeons

A house that made headlines in 2019 for being “Brisbane’s worst house” has some new competition — and it’s in the same street.

The three-bedroom low-set at 47 Birch Street, Marsden, described at the time by its marketing agent as the worst house he had ever seen, featured kicked-in walls, stolen floorboards, obscene graffiti and a bedroom that had been set on fire.

Naturally, buyers went crazy for it.

It sold at a rapid-fire on site auction for $253,000, after a whopping 40 registered bidders turned out for the chance to own it.

The inside of 47 Birch Street, Marsden, which was described as the worst house its marketing agent had ever seen. Photo: Ray White East Brisbane

Now, another opportunity to own an unliveable house has come up — in the same street in Marsden — and while this time there is no graffiti or burnt-out bedrooms, there is an entire downstairs filled with hundreds of pigeons.

“It is like an aviary down there,” said marketing agent Rebecca Cuderman, of Ray White Marsden.

The downstairs at 54 Birch Street, Marsden, which hundreds of pigeons have become quite fond of and made their home. Photo: Supplied

“The owner tried to shelter it up but they’re still getting in there. If you open the door, there’s pigeons everywhere.”

Pigeon settlement aside, the high-set brick house at 54 Birch Street, which was listed for sale last week, also has no kitchen, bathroom or toilet. Walls have been knocked out, tiles removed and the front balcony is in a less-than-sturdy looking state.

54 Birch Street, Marsden QLD 4132

54 Birch Street, Marsden QLD 4132

It is officially considered to be unliveable and has been vacant for seven years.

But unlike number 47, 54 Birch Street has not been trashed by vandals, Ms Cuderman said.

“The owner bought it as a renovation project seven years ago. He did the demolition work straight after he bought it — ripped out the asbestos, the bathroom and the kitchen,” she said.

Demolition work on the bathroom has already been done. Photo: Supplied

“Then he met his wife, moved out west and had some kids. He left the power on for seven years thinking he’d get back to it but never did. The house has been vacant all that time but never even had a break-in attempt.”

The house is set on a 718-square-metre corner block and features hardwood floors, double garage, internal staircase and three bedrooms.

Ms Cuderman said there were already two registered bidders after the first open house following a flood of interest from buyers keen to take on a renovation project.

54 Birch Street, Marsden. Photo: Supplied

“They’ve all actually said it’s great he’s done the demo work already. I’d say 99 per cent of our buyers are property flippers, most of the them from Queensland, but maybe 30 per cent from interstate, all keen to buy it sight unseen and manage a renovation project remotely.”

And, despite the two unliveable houses both being located in the same street, Ms Cuderman insists it’s not a reflection of the neighbourhood as a whole.

“Location-wise, this is actually a nice street,” she said. “It’s also really convenient with the local high school around the corner and a park across the road. The shops are a few minutes walk away.”

54 Birch Street, Marsden. Photo: Supplied

The latest Domain data puts Marsden’s median house price at $390,000 but Ms Cuderman said in this particular part of Marsden, a more typical average price was about $340,000.

54 Birch Street, Marsden will go to auction Saturday, March 6 at 2.30pm.

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North’s newest community hub celebrates Phase One opening

Phase one of the city’s $80 million Pimpama Sports Hub is now complete and open to the public.
Facilities include a clubhouse, 12 courts spanning almost one hectare, six court shade structures, a new community park and events space catering for 3000 patrons.
Mayor Tom Tate said the Pimpama Netball Centre would be a huge drawcard for young players in the northern suburbs, in the lead up to the 2021 netball season. 
“These first-class facilities are capable of hosting both local and regional level events and will cater for future demand in our growing northern corridor,’’ he said.
“Once complete, we expect around 750,000 visitors annually. The complex will employ 42 full-time employees when fully operational at the end of this year.’’
The project, more than halfway into its completion timeline, is generating 409 jobs during construction. 
Deputy Mayor Donna Gates said: “We’re committed to keeping the coast moving with much-needed community infrastructure. Importantly, we are also undertaking key road and transport improvements to support the centre,” she said. 
Netball Queensland has leased the clubhouse and is coordinating events, sign-on days and training with nearby netball clubs. 
Phase two of the project has started and is on track for a late-2021 opening. 
Phase One – complete: 
Clubhouse includes a kiosk, administration area, storage, amenities for public and club use, first aid room and additional under building storage
12 netball courts that can be fully lit for night games and equipped with audio for announcements
Six court shade structures
275 solar panels have been installed on the clubhouse and court shade structures, generating 12 per cent of the sporting hub’s total power
Outdoor events space with stage area for crowds up to 3000
Community park with shaded playground and picnic facilities
One kilometre walking, running and cycling trail with distance markers 
Phase Two – on schedule for a late 2021 opening: 
Aquatic centre with five pools, including a 50-metre Olympic standard pool and fitness centre
Community centre with multi-purpose hall, meeting and function rooms
Tennis centre with eight competition standard courts
For information visit: cityofgoldcoast.com.au/pimpamasportshub

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REVEALED: Newest store planned for Lismore CBD arcade

Lismore is set to get an injection of fresh ink in 2021 with a development application submitted for a new tattoo shop in the heart of the CBD.

The studio, called the Halls of Amenti Tattoo, is looking to move into shop eight in the Strand Arcade, with a hot water system and basin to be added and some work done to the floor.

The works submitted as part of the DA are valued at $1,899.

Mallory Hammond, the DA applicant, has worked out of Byron Temple Tattoo (formerly Ajna Temple, Ocean Shores) in Byron Bay on staff but also did guest spots in Melbourne including at Soul Inn House Tattoo.

Halls of Amenti Tattoo would be her own studio.

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Tasmania’s newest ambulance helicopter touches down

Tasmania’s medical flight capability has been bolstered with a third emergency helicopter, a Bell 412, which can carry two critical patients at a time.

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How cricket star De Villiers became Dusty’s newest fan

Richmond’s Dustin Martin has yet another new fan, Simon Katich has explained.

While coaching Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League in Dubai between September and November, Katich was able to watch his beloved Tigers in the AFL Grand Final in late October.

Katich explained how South African star AB De Villiers took an immediate liking to Martin while watching him in action as the Tigers defeated Geelong to claim their third premiership in four years.

“Dusty’s got a new fan,” he said on SEN Test Cricket.

“AB De Villiers wanted to be named Dusty De Villiers after seeing him play for the first time.

“His first ever game of AFL he watched and he was very, very impressed.”

The former Aussie batsman was also pleased to witness the reaction of Aaron Finch, who is a staunch Cats fan.

“What a great day that was,” Katich added.

“The best part of it was watching it in Dubai in our team room and seeing Aaron Finch, who is a mad Geelong supporter, throwing bottles of water at the TV in the third term when Richmond were coming home strong.

“He wasn’t happy, Finchy. So I got a bit of humour out of that.”

Katich also suggested to Anthony Hudson, another Cats supporter, that perhaps we could see some more Richmond premierships in the coming years.

Asked if he fit the stereotype of an arrogant Tigers supporter, Katich said: “Not at all mate!”

“Three out of the last four years, and more to come while Dusty is playing the way he is.

“We got time to keep going on that, being a Geelong man Huddo?

“Dusty’s 29, still got his best days in front of him. A couple of the other boys are starting to climb up the ranks as well.

“Shai Bolton, Tom Lynch, the list goes on and on…”

De Villiers was lucky enough to witness Martin kick four goals and collect 21 disposals in the Grand Final as he claimed his third Norm Smith Medal.

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Southeast Asia’s newest impact investor is Japan’s Credit Saison

TOKYO — Japanese financial services group Credit Saison will start investment that benefits society in Southeast Asia, beginning with roughly 1 billion yen ($9.6 million) in funding for local lenders.

The company, one of Japan’s top credit card issuers, will finance such projects as lending to low-income borrowers and microenterprises, in a practice known as impact investing.

Vietnamese and Indonesian companies are likely to be among the first to receive backing through this initiative, which will go through its Singapore investment subsidiary Saison Capital.

In the next fiscal year, Credit Saison and other Japanese investors will establish a fund and eventually branch out to India and other areas in South Asia.

As Japan’s credit card market matures, Credit Saison looks to turn the international business into a core segment. In Vietnam, the company will partner with local banks on consumer loans for motorcycles and appliances, as well as begin issuing credit cards broadly.

Credit Saison says it has provided around 20 billion yen in financing overseas in conjunction with business collaborators. The impact investment will use the existing partner network.

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Newest ADF leaders told they need to rebuild public trust following Afghanistan war crimes

The Governor-General has told the military’s latest graduates they will need to “reassure and reaffirm” the relationship with the Australian public following last month’s explosive Afghanistan war crimes report.

Retired General David Hurley, who served as Chief of Defence between 2011 and 2015, acknowledged the damning findings of the inquiry while delivering a graduation speech for officers at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in Canberra.

“[The ADF has] an enormous task of protecting our country while reassuring and reaffirming its relationship with the Australian people following the findings of the Brereton inquiry,” General Hurley said.

“Bringing the Australian people along with the ADF will be an enormous part of your work in the future.”

A four-year-long inquiry by Justice Paul Brereton recommended 19 soldiers be investigated by police for the alleged murder of 39 Afghan prisoners and civilians, and the cruel treatment of two others.

General Hurley told the audience they were “extremely well equipped to make an important contribution to your country” but needed to ensure as military leaders they listened to their troops.

“Leadership is not easy — I think you’ve learnt that by now — you’ll have to make decisions that have consequences for people and often make those decisions under pressure,” he said.

“The good lord gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason: listen.”

Many veterans of the war in Afghanistan have expressed frustration that no senior officer has yet accepted any responsibility for the wrongdoings which occurred during the 12-year conflict.

Anger is also growing over a decision by Defence Chief General Angus Campbell to revoke the Meritorious Unit Citation for members of the Special Operations Task Group who served after 2007.

Any recommendation to revoke the military honour would have to be made to the Governor-General, meaning General Hurley could strip the citation from numerous soldiers who served under him.

In total 316 Navy, Army and Air Force trainee officers, as well as 24 international graduates, took part in Sunday’s graduation at the ADFA Parade Ground, following the three years of study at the military academy in Canberra.


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5 reasons not to miss North Coast’s newest markets

TWO new ways of shopping for Christmas gifts and festive foods have launched on the North Coast.

The Tweed Heads Farmers Market will launch this Saturday and become a staple in the region on the first and third Saturday’s of the month.

Tweed Festive Twilight Market will also be popping up on December 11 to return every second and fourth Friday of the month.

Market Manager Tony Horrigan said the Jack Evans Boat Harbour setting will be the ideal place to meet up with friends, bring kids to the playground and unwind beside the Tweed River.

‘It’s a beautiful thing to be able to offer an event that brings the community together and adds to the visitor experience. It’s going to be a real pleasure to showcase local producers and growers at such a wonderful site,” he said.

Will Everest from Everest Farms will be at the new Tweed Farmers Market.

“We have such an impressive array of local produce and eclectic foodie delights across the Tweed and we’re really looking forward to bringing this riverside.”

Tweed Festive Twilight Market organiser Peita Gardiman, founder of the Murwillumbah Makers and Finders Market, said the new event would bring fairy lights, food, music and local designs and encouraged market-goers to bring friends, family, the kids and a picnic blanket to make a night of it.

“Our markets are all about honest producers, makers, shapers, creators and other passionate individuals who want to share their gift with the community. We celebrate collaboration, creativity, and community,” she said.

“We’ll have one hundred local makers lining the scenic harbour selling creative, handmade gifts ranging from ceramics and jewellery to vintage clothing and artworks. If you’re keen to pick up some unique, handmade gifts this Christmas that you know nobody else can find, this will be a good one to get all that shopping done.”




1. It’s a riverside market = cool breezes on a warm day

As the days warm up with the first rays of summer, you’ll want to get somewhere cool for your food-foraging – and this market, set right on the Tweed River and just a stone’s throw from Duranbah Beach, is ideally placed for refreshing sea breezes. Tip: bring your market basket as well as your togs.


2. Taste and take home food, food, glorious local food

What’s a local food market without freshly harvested or baked goodness? The Tweed Farmers Market will have Deb Allard cheeses, Everest Farm produce, honey from Jim’s Busy Bee and irresistible breads and pastries from Baked at Ancora. Stock up!

Deb Allard from Cheeses Loves You will be at the new Tweed Farmers Market.

Deb Allard from Cheeses Loves You will be at the new Tweed Farmers Market.


3. There’ll be fun for the whole family

Set beside Ebenezer Park and playground, there’s plenty of room and space for kids to run about, play and build up an appetite for the market’s refreshing and replenishing food offerings. Gather your market picks, throw out a picnic rug and make a family day of it.


4. Community spirit runs high

The Tweed Farmers Market crew are also working in with two other local markets – the Kingscliff Beachside Markets (second and fourth Saturday in Kingscliff) as well as the Tweed Festive Twilight Market (second and fourth Friday from 5pm to 9pm at Jack Evans Boat Harbour) which will showcase handmade pieces from dozens of local art, craft, jewellery and clothing makers.


Musician Juzzie Smith will be at the new Tweed Farmers Market.

Musician Juzzie Smith will be at the new Tweed Farmers Market.

5. And – live music!

Each market will be set to a soundtrack of live tunes by local talent, and the first Tweed Farmers Market will feature the dynamic one-man band Juzzie Smith, known for his energising and uplifting blues/folk inspired shows that combine the sounds of up to six instruments.

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