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Australia announces sweeping changes to Citizenship laws

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has made sweeping changes to Citizenship laws unveiling tighter requirements for new applicants. This announcement follows the recent scrapping of the 457 visa program for foreign workers, which was used majorly by the Indians. The 457 programme was scrapped to tackle the growing unemployment in the country.

Salient highlights

As per the new requirement, applicants for obtaining citizenship must be permanent residents for at least four years, which is three years longer than the present requirement.

The applicants must be committed to embrace “Australian values” and respect the country’s laws. The applicant should not have got involved in criminal activity, including family violence or involvement in organised crime, which is thoroughly inconsistent with Australian values.

The applicants have to pass a standalone English test which will focus heavily on respect for women and children.  English language proficiency test is meant for economic participation and integration into the Australian community and social cohesion.

The number of times an applicant can fail the citizenship is determined as three. At present, there is no restriction on the number of times an applicant can fail. In addition, applicants will be automatically disqualified if they are found cheating during the citizenship test.

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Mass coral bleaching occurring in Great Barrier Reef for second year

Great Barrier Reef in Australia’s eastern coast is experiencing an unprecedented second straight year of mass coral bleaching. This is for the first time Great Barrier Reef has bleached two years in sequence.

Earlier in March and April 2016, 2,300-km reef suffered had its most severe bleaching on record due to warming sea temperatures. 

Key Facts
  • Coral Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.
  • The 2016 bleaching was more severe in the northern areas of the bio-diverse site. But now more bleaching was being observed in the central part of the reef, which earlier had escaped widespread severe bleaching.
  • The back-to-back occurrence of widespread bleaching is resulting in decrease in stress tolerance of these corals, which means that they may not fully recover.

About the Great Barrier Reef

It is the biggest coral reef system in the world composed of over 2,900 individual reefs. It was recorded as a World Heritage site in 1981. The reef is located in the Coral Sea, north east of Australia and covers an area of approximately 348,000 sq km. It is credited as the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms and is visible from the outer space.

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Scientists develop high-quality graphene from soybean

Scientists from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have made world’s strongest material graphene commercially more viable by using soybean.

They have developed a novel “GraphAir technology” which transforms soybean oil, a renewable, natural material into graphene films in a single step.

Background

Earlier, graphene was produced in a highly-controlled environment with explosive compressed gases that required long hours of operation at high temperatures and extensive vacuum processing. This production process was costly and was major roadblock in its commercialisation.

About GraphAir technology

  • The technology grows graphene film in ambient air with a natural precursor, making its production faster and simpler. Soybean oil breaks down into a range of carbon building units when heat is applied. It makes it essential for the synthesis of graphene films.
  • Significance: This unique technology makes graphene fabrication fast, simple, safe, potentially scalable and integration friendly. It results in good and transformable graphene properties, comparable to graphene made by conventional methods. It is expected to reduce cost of graphene production and improve uptake in new applications. Besides, it can also help to produce graphene from waste oil, leftover from cooking.

What is Graphene?

Graphene is a carbon material that is one atom thick. It is the world’s strongest and lightest known material derived from carbon. It has high conductivity and excellent electronic, mechanical, thermal and optical properties. It is used in many applications ranging from miniaturised electronics to biomedical devices, water filtration and purification, renewable energy, sensors, personalised healthcare and medicine etc. It also used to improve battery performance in energy devices, to cheaper solar panels.

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