The South Australian Government has announced it is seeking feedback on a cross-government initiative aimed at ensuring the long-term success of the country’s automotive industry.
South Australia is taking a lead role in the Automotive New Markets Initiative, which also involves the Victorian and federal Governments, that will aim to critically analyse the Automotive New Markets Program (AMMP).
The ANMP is a competitive merit based grants which will provide direct financial assistance to firms over the next four years.
The objective of the ANMP is to assist Australian automotive supply chain firms broaden their customer and product base, domestically and internationally.
As part of the consultation process surrounding the formation and implementation of the program, a framework paper has been prepared by the Federal Government Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, in cooperation with the Victorian Department of Business and Innovation and Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade Resources and Energy (DMITRE).
To provide feedback on the ANMI Consultation Framework Paper:
- attend a public consultation session, to be held in Adelaide and Melbourne in early June, for further details please visit www.innovation.gov.au
All feedback must be received by close of business on 28 June 2012.
Results show that assumptions that Australia is an ‘anti-dobbing’ society are false, according to results of the first World Online Whistleblowing Survey.
The first stage of the survey, conducted by Newspolll, shows overwhelming concern for whisteblowers, with 81 per cent of respondents saying they should be protected and not punished for revealing inside information about serious wrongdoing.
However, only 53 per cent of the 1,211 respondents said they believed Australia was generally accepting of whistleblowing, with 49 per cent of organisation members saying they were confident that they own organisation was serious about protecting those that spoke up.
Project leader Professor A J Brown, of Griffith University, said the Australian results confirm the vital need for formal, legal protection of whistleblowing, to bring legal and social standards into line with what citizens believe is right.
“While many plainly still believe that Australia has an ‘anti-dobbing’ culture, these first results suggest it is not true; Australians are actually just as – if not more – interested in justice for those prepared to bring serious wrongdoing to light,” Professor Brown said.
Principal researcher Dr Suelette Dreyfus of the University of Melbourne, and two of Australia’s most important whistleblowers: former national security analyst and now Independent Federal MP, Andrew Wilkie, and Toni Hoffman, the nurse unit manager who exposed Bundaberg Hospital’s infamous “Dr Death” case.
Dr Dreyfus said the global survey would help experts understand the changing nature of whistleblowing and whistleblower protection.
“When you see serious wrongdoing, should you be protected if you have go to the media to expose it? What is the impact of new technology such as Twitter and Facebook? How do Australian attitudes and standards compare to other countries? This survey will help us answer these important questions,” Dr Dreyfus said.
“The results will be crucial for all organisations interested in increasing their accessibility to whistleblowers, and the effectiveness of whistleblowing in society,” Dr Dreyfus said.
The full survey, which can be answered by anyone, is at https://whistleblowingsurvey.org
The International Energy Agency has released a new report that predicts China will more than double its current demand for natural gas over the next five years, while the world will experience a 2.7 per cent growth in demand per year.
The Medium-Term Gas Market Report 2012 found that China will become the third-largest gas importer behind Europe and Asia Oceania. The report also predicts that North America will become a net LNG exporter over the next five years, while the formation of Japan’s new nuclear policy will inform its import demand.
“The Golden Age of Gas has dawned in North America, but its continued expansion worldwide depends on producing gas and bringing it to the market in a way that is friendly to investors and society as a whole,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said.
“As gas competes against other energy sources in all market segments, notably in the power sector, pricing conditions are a key element to keep it competitive everywhere. This medium-term report aims to facilitate investor decisions by providing a timely, in-depth analysis of the current trends and what we expect to take place over the coming five years.”
Other key findings of the report include:
- A quarter of new gas demand will come from China, another quarter from the Middle East and other Asian countries together, and a fifth from North America.
- Low gas prices will result in gas generating almost as much electricity as coal in the United States by 2017.
- Global gas trade will expand by 35%, driven by LNG and pipeline gas exports from the FSU region; most of this expansion occurs from 2015 onwards, following a period of further tightening of global gas markets.
- Natural gas is the most important commodity with no global market price yet. Divergence among regional gas prices will decline but remain a feature of global gas markets. The emergence of a spot price in Asia would aid regional producers and buyers.
The report can be purchased from the IEA here
The ancient Tibetan goji berry could help fight blindness caused by long-term diabetes according to studies conducted by University of Sydney researchers.
Faculty of Pharmacy researchers have conducted in vitro tests investigating the potential power of the berry which is now a popular natural remedy.
According to lead researcher, Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry Basil Roufogalis, the goji berry is abundant in taurine, an ingredient credited with anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulating properties which could protect the retina.
"Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness for people with diabetes, with up to 60 percent of people living with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes developing chronic hyperglycaemia, a condition which can damage retina cells," explains Professor Roufogalis.
"Typically what happens is proteins in the eye become oxidated and high glucose levels force retinal cells to die.
"What's more, blood vessels build up in the retina and grow over the vision spot, which can result in vision loss."
The pharmacy researchers initially undertook work showing the goji berry and its taurine component activated a nuclear receptor protein called PPAR-gamma. This protein plays a crucial role in regulating the retinal cells. This paved the way for further investigation of Lycium barbarum (goji) and its potential to activate the PPAR-gamma receptor.
"First we looked at the protective effect of pure taurine, and an extract of goji berry rich in taurine, in retinal barrier epithelial cells exposed to high glucose - a cell line that can serve as a model to emulate diabetic retinopathy," said Professor Roufogalis.
"We found that goji berry protected against the death of cells caused by high concentrations of glucose in the retina. This protection occurred in parallel with the activation by the extract of the receptor protein (PPAR-gamma). The pure taurine found in the extract mimicked the effects of the goji berry extract.
"We then wanted to see whether the same extracts of goji berry and its pure taurine had an effect on protecting the retinal barrier against toxin invasion when the barrier is typically damaged by high glucose in diabetes patients.
"What we found is that both the pure taurine and the taurine-laden goji berry extract protected the retina against increased permeability of the protective barrier through its actions on the PPAR-gamma receptor, thereby helping the epithelial cells that provide the protective barrier to the retina.
"We are hopeful that these promising results for treating or preventing diabetic retinopathy will lead to human clinical trials," said Professor Roufogalis.
Min Song, also from the Faculty of Pharmacy, received a National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) PhD scholarship to assist in the groundbreaking research. NICM, hosted by the University of Western Sydney, was launched in 2007 to facilitate strategic research in complementary medicine in Australia.
Professor Alan Bensoussan, director of NICM, hailed the novel research. "This is pioneering scientific research in the field of herbal medicine, and is to be applauded for investigating novel ways to address the debilitating effects of diabetes, which is such a pressing global health problem," he said.
The Federal Government has announced a $4 million investment to support the adoption of the eWater ‘Source’ platform to aid and streamline water planning and management across the country.
Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell, said the move to the system would formalize a 2008 COAG agreement to develop a national strategy to help ensure future water planning and development represents best practice in the industry.
“Source links science, policy and management to help policy makers and operators consider future scenarios and alternative water management options for catchments, urban environments and river systems across the nation,” Senator Farrell said.
“It will provide national consistency in water resource planning across jurisdictions, by integrating the economic and environmental uses of water to better assist how we plan and deliver water for cities, irrigation, industry, mining, wetlands and waterways.”
Federal Government contribution to the scheme is matched by State spending from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, the ACT and Northern territory, bringing the total level of funding close to $8 million.
“‘Source’ is the culmination of more than 20 years of research and development and significant collaboration with governments, national water authorities, private industry partners and Australia’s leading hydrologic and ecological scientists,” Senator Farrell said.
‘Source’ and the National Hydrologic Modelling Platform support the National Water Initiative, Australia’s blueprint for water reform, by providing an integrated approach to managing surface, ground and environmental water in rural and urban catchments across Australia.
The Tasmanian Government has announced the state will now have a single new public Vocational Education and Training provider, to be called TasTAFE.
The announcement follows the release of the Report of the Review of the role and function of Tasmania’s public VET providers, which made 60 key recommendations, the majority of which the Tasmanian Government has accepted.
"TasTAFE will be created for public sector VET in Tasmania, using the combined resources of the Tasmanian Skills Institute and the Tasmanian Polytechnic," State Minister for Education and Skills Nick McKim said.
"This decision means that we will move from what is currently a fragmented and inefficient structure to one that is coherent, connected and streamlined.”
The new body will headed by a CEO and a Board accountable to the Minister for Education and Skills.
"The CEO position will be advertised and filled as soon as possible to allow the candidate sufficient lead-in time oversee the implementation process and shape the vision and culture of TasTAFE,” Mr McKim said.
The Tasmanian Polytechnic and Skills Institute will continue to operate and deliver training to learners up until the time TasTAFE begins, with TasTAFE then taking on this role.
Other key recommendations included:
- VET in Tasmania being covered by one piece of legislation to create an integrated and connected VET system
- Building on the existing relationship between the public VET sector in Tasmania and the University of Tasmania to strengthen tertiary education.
Ten Network Holdings has announced it will seek to rise approximately $200 million through an Entitlement Offer, to be raised a selling of new shares at $0.51 per share. The offer represents a 20.3 per cent discount to TEN’s closing price on 5 June of $0.64.
The company said that the offer will raise the funds required to invest in future programming, while strengthening the company’s balance sheet during in uncertain revenue markets.
TEN’s Chairman, Lachlan Murdoch, said the move is a crucial step in for the future prospects of the company.
“Given the uncertain revenue environment and our strategy of investing in programming renewal, the Board felt it was important to strengthen our balance sheet at this time,” Mr Murdoch said.
A recent study by the WWF has found that Australia is lagging behind in the global clean tech race, falling to 26th spot in thethird edition of the Clean Economy, Living Planet study.
The study examines and ranks 40 countries based on the sales of clean energy products they manufacture, such as solar panels and wind turbines.
Although Australia did improve from being ranked 30th in 2009-10, we are still failing to capitalise on the good innovation innovation conditions.
This report should serve as yet another reminder of the huge economic opportunities being created by the clean tech boom,” said WWF National Climate Change Manager, Kellie Caught.
“While Australia’s ranking had improved this year, clearly more needs to be done if we are to keep pace with our trading partners in Asia.”
The report predicts that the global clean tech manufacturing sector is likely to rival that of the oil and gas equipment market by 2015, with the forecasted market size being between €240 and €290 billion.
n 2010-11 the top five fastest growing clean energy manufacturing hubs were Taiwan (+36%), China (+29%), India (+19%), South Korea (+19%) and the US (+17%). In terms of clean technology sales weighted to the size of the economy, the report found that Denmark maintained the top spot, followed by China, Germany, Brazil and South Korea.
“Australia now has the policy foundations in place to drive investments in clean tech, including the Renewable Energy Target and the carbon price,” Ms Caught said.
“The Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which is currently before the Senate, will further strengthen Australia’s policy support for clean energy and help secure our share of the global clean tech boom,” she said.
“Australia has a proud history in machinery and equipment manufacturing as well as strong supply chains. With the right policies, Australia is perfectly placed to take advantage of the clean tech boom."
The Clean Economy, Living Planet report was prepared by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and commissioned by WWF, with support from Eneco, and Rabobank and De Lage Landen.
The full report can be found here
The Tasmanian Government has officially opened the state’s new $84 million distribution centre for state Wide Independent Wholesalers (SIW) outside Launceston Airport.
Premier Lara Giddings congratulated the SIW for providing a ‘much-needed boost’ to the Northern Tasmanian economy.
"This distribution centre reinforces the strong relationship between Tasmanian Independent Retailers and Woolworths and secures the future employment of up to 250 employees in the Northern region," Ms Giddings said.
"It is a sign of confidence in our retail sector and an example of the $4.5 billion worth of private investment that is helping to drive Tasmania's economic recovery.
"The Government is committed to stimulating further growth in Tasmania's economy and a key goal of our Economic Development Plan is to maximise growth and jobs, particularly in regional areas."
The new wholesale distribution centre will replace three existing distribution centres in Hobart, Devonport and Launceston.
It will service over 230 stores comprising 29 Woolworths supermarkets, 25 BWS outlets, 80 IGA supermarkets and 100 other independent stores statewide.
The centre is designed to operate 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week and will also include parking for 320 cars, plus a separate 40-space truck car park.
The Victorian Government has announced it will roll out a ‘commonsense’ coastal planning framework after it released the Coastal Climate Change Advisory Committee Report.
State Minister for Planning Matthew Guy said clearer policy was required to enable appropriate development to continue with clarity and certainty.
To support effective adaptation at local and regional levels, the State Government has an important role to play in providing information about risks, as well as providing an effective planning system that supports responsible and sensible decision-making," Mr Guy said.
Mr Guy outlined the following strategies to be rolled out by the state Government:
- Revising the State Planning Policy Framework to recognise incremental possible sea level rises to the year 2040. As such floor levels will be increased by an additional 0.2 metres over current one-in-100-year flood levels for new urban infill development.
- Maintaining the existing long term commitment to plan for not less than 0.8 metre sea level rise by 2100 in new greenfield developments outside existing town boundaries.
- Issuing detailed guidelines to Catchment Management Authorities to assist them to provide clear and consistent advice to councils assessing land use and development.
- Releasing statewide inundation dataset and guidance material which will provide information to help state agencies, local governments, land managers, individuals and businesses undertake adaptation planning.
"The benchmark of 0.2 metre sea level rise is directly endorsed by the Coastal Climate Change Advisory Committee Report and will provide certainty for development to continue in coastal settlements," Mr Guy said.
The report and the Minister's response will be available at www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning
Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show that in seasonally adjusted, current price terms, the current account deficit rose $5,253m (55%) to $14,892m in the March quarter 2012. Exports of goods and services decreased $5,973m (7%) and imports of goods and services decreased $657m (1%). The primary income deficit fell $72m (1%).
In seasonally adjusted, chain volume terms, the net goods and services deficit rose $1,816m (14%) to $14,635m in the March quarter 2012. This is expected to detract 0.5 percentage points from growth in the March quarter 2012 volume measure of Gross Domestic Product.
Australia's net IIP liability position was $880.2b at 31 March 2012, an increase of $23.8b on 31 December 2011. Australia's net foreign debt liability increased $7.0b to a liability position of $742.1b. Australia's net foreign equity liability increased $16.8b to a liability position of $138.1b.
Further details can be found in Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (cat. no. 5302.0).
Rail logistics giant QR National has announced it has begun consultation on its restructuring process, which the company admits will result in a company-wide redundancy scheme that will see some 500 positions slashed from the company.
The company said that the proposed changes include reform and restructuring that will aim to reduce costs, improve efficiency and deliver enhanced customer service.
The company will begin the first steps in the redundancy scheme by asking for expressions of interest in voluntary redundancy. The company has assured its staff that there will be no forced redundancies and no forced relocations ‘for the majority of employees.’
“We continue to deal with a raft of legacy issues including higher than required staffing levels, high corporate overheads and bureaucratic structures after more than 145 years in government ownership,” QR National Managing Director & CEO Lance Hockridge said.
Mr Hockridge said the company can no longer continue to operate with such a high cost base compared to its competitors.
QR National Executive Vice President Human Resources John Stephens said QR National was aiming to address this problem by continuing to reduce management and supervisory levels, rationalising back-office support functions and non-core business activity, and consolidating the company’s operations and commercial functions.
The reforms are expected to be rolled out from mid-August this year.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has cut the country’s official cash rate by 25 basis points, reducing the interest rate to 3.50 per cent. The RBA’s board cited stagnant global growth and a deteriorating situation in Europe as the main influencing factors. The RBA found that financial market sentiment has continued to deteriorate over the past month, partially informed by the conditions in Europe.
The central bank warned that available indicators suggest continued modest growth in the first half of 2012, with significant variation across sectors. The RBA cited a gradual firming of the labour market, notwithstanding the spate of high profile job shedding.
“At today's meeting, the Board judged that, with modest domestic growth and a weaker and more uncertain international environment, the outlook for inflation afforded scope for a more accommodative stance of monetary policy,” RBA Governor Glenn Stevens said.
“As a result of earlier changes to monetary policy, interest rates for borrowers have declined to be a little below their medium-term averages. Business credit has increased more strongly in recent months, though credit growth remains modest overall.”
Alice Springs has been nominated as a finalist in the local government category of the United Nations World Environment Day Awards for their Cash for Containers scheme.
Territory Minister for the Environment Karl Hampton said that the Alice Springs Town Council were to be commended for implementing a Cash for Containers Scheme even before the Territory wide scheme was launched, affording Central Australian’s the opportunity to recycle their containers for cash.
“I congratulate Mayor Damien Ryan and the Alice Springs Town Council on this prestigious acknowledgement from the United Nations,” Mr Hampton said.
“When the scheme originally launched in 2009, the program proved very popular with the local community that more than seven million containers were voluntarily collected in the program’s first year of operation.
“The ASTC and Mayor Damien Ryan have shown initiative and environmental acumen which in turn reduced the cost to their waste management program, and encouraged recycling and produced local green jobs.”
Mayor of Alice Springs, Damien Ryan, said the overwhelming support from the local community for Cash for Containers proved Alice Springs was more than ready for the Territory container deposit scheme.
"We are proud our town has been acknowledged as a finalist in this award. It shows the community's commitment to the Council's Cash for Containers scheme,” Mr Ryan said.
“At more than 16 million containers already collected by local Centralian residents for the life of this scheme, it is the community who has made this scheme a success."
The Australian Rugby League Commission has announced David Gallop will stand down from his position as CEO following a ‘mutual agreement’ struck with the board.
“David understands the need for a fresh approach. Taking this into account and with the interests of the game at heart, the Board and David have reached an agreement that the game needs a different style of leadership detached from the past for the next stage of its development,” ARLC Chairman John Grant said.
Mr Grant thanked Mr Gallop’s role in navigating Rugby League through a decade of growth and change that culminated in the formation of the Commission earlier this year.
“This agreement should in no way detract from the job David has done over the last decade. He has proven his skills as an effective administrator despite having one of the toughest jobs in sports management and he can be justifiably proud of his achievements and the legacy he leaves,” Mr Grant said.
“His leadership and dedication through often challenging times has been a contributor to the commercial success of the NRL competition and the popularity Rugby League enjoys today.”
"The search for a new CEO will commence immediately and, in the interim, NRL General Manager of Strategy, Mr Shane Mattiske, who is leading the Executive’s role in the broadcast negotiations and development of the whole-of-game strategic plan, has agreed to lead the business.
The Western Australian Government has announced an extra $28 million in funding to investigate priority groundwater sources in a bid to keep up with the state’s rapidly expanding water demand.
State Water Minister Bill Marmion said $21 million will be derived from the Royalties for Regions scheme and will cover four years of investigations in the South Coast, South West, Mid-West, Pilbara and the Kimberley.
“We have come to the point where throughout the State, much of our existing water resources are already allocated and we need to increase our knowledge of available groundwater sources,” Mr Marmion said.
“These groundwater investigations will look into water availability in a number of aquifer systems. Some investigations will determine the potential to safely abstract more water from currently used sources.”
The Minister said the water was needed not only for town supplies, but also for economic growth tied to agriculture, mining and industrial processing. More than $13.6million would also be spent by the State Government to replace the Department of Water’s ageing State water management systems.
“Integrated and up-to-date knowledge of resource status and availability is becoming critical in meeting the requirements of government, industry and the community,” Mr Marmion said.
“These benefits will include better provision of services to industry stakeholders, including more direct processes and systems for water trading, and a reduction in processing time for water licence applications.
“The investment will also build on the commitment from the Federal Government to build a national computerised license registry as part of the National Water Initiative.”
WorkSafe Victoria has announced a safe work blitz of Traralgon in the state’s LaTrobe area in the state’s south-east. The week long blitz forms part of the Safe Towns campaign involves a dedicated team of inspectors visting the regional area to ensure health and safety compliance.
Businesses that do not address workplace health and safety issues will be issued with a safety improvement notice requiring they deal with the matter within a set timeframe.
WorkSafe’s General Manager for Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, said it was in everyone’s interest to address issues sooner rather than later.
“In the course of our investigations we often find that businesses were aware of a safety issue, but failed to fix it. In many cases this has resulted in an injury and ultimately led to a conviction and a large fine if the matter goes to court,” she said.
“Not addressing health and safety matters can have devastating effects for workers and businesses. We urge businesses to stay on top of potential hazards, no matter how small or large they might be.”
Statistics show 1948 injuries were reported to WorkSafe from the Latrobe region over the past five financial years, with treatment and rehabilitation costs exceeding $46 million.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two agencies to deliver their regulatory responsibilities under the carbon pricing mechanism.
Ms Chloe Munro, Chair of the Clean Energy Regulator, and Mr Greg Medcraft, Chairman of ASIC, welcomed the signing as a demonstration of their commitment to a whole of government approach to protect and promote confidence in the integrity of the legislative schemes each agency administers.
“Close collaboration between ASIC and the Clean Energy Regulator will send a strong signal to liable entities, financial market participants, and the public that we’re working together to optimise compliance with the carbon pricing mechanism,” said Chloe Munro.
“We have established the framework for a working relationship that will benefit both agencies to pursue common interests and administer our respective legislation. We welcome the opportunity to combine resources to provide the Australian community with co-ordinated and consistent information on how the carbon pricing mechanism works,” said Greg Medcraft.
The University of New South Wales’ Social Policy Research Centre has found that Australian attitutdes towards people with a disability are still largely negative.
The research project, which investigated public attitudes on disabilities, found that younger, more educated people and those with a personal familiarity with disability have more positive attitudes; people were more comfortable dealing with disability than with psychiatric illness; negative attitudes of both teachers and students are a barrier to inclusive education; and employer misconceptions stop people with a disability or mental illness gaining employment.
Co-author, Associate Professor Karen Fisher, said the most significant finding was the lack of understanding of the impact these negative attitudes have on people’s lives.
“There is a research gap in this area,” she said. “One of the reasons that change is slow in Australia is because we are not acknowledging that our approach is piecemeal.”
The report found that New Zealand and the UK have more strategically invested in campaigns to change attitudes and conduct regular surveys to measure the change. The introduction of the ABC’s online forum, Ramp Up, last year is an example of where Australia is also making positive moves.
The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has urged trucking businesses to review their costs and freight rates ahead of the introduction of the Federal Government’s carbon tax at the start of July.
The ATA has warned that although trucking businesses will not pay a direct tax on the fuel they use on public roads until 2014, they will face increased costs from July as their suppliers increase their prices.
“Like every other business, trucking businesses should review their costs and make a judgement about whether they are likely to increase as a result of the carbon tax. With just one month to go before the introduction of the tax, it’s time for every trucking business to talk to their accountant or go over their books,” ATA CEO Stuart St Clair said.
“The tax is likely to have a particularly large impact on trucking businesses that operate cold stores, because electricity typically accounts for about 30 per cent of their costs.
“In New South Wales, electricity prices are set to rise 16 per cent on average, with nine percentage points of the increase coming from the carbon tax. Businesses will need to take this cost increase into account, as well as the substantial increase expected in the cost of refrigerants.
Mr St Clair said trucking businesses would also face a 2.4 cents per litre increase in their effective fuel tax from 1 July 2012. Many registration charges will also increase.
“The fuel tax and registration charge increases will cost a typical owner-driver about $2,800 per year. For a trucking business with ten prime movers and semitrailers, the cost increase is likely to be about $41,800 per year.
“Every trucking business needs to talk to its customers about increasing freight rates or adjusting their fuel surcharges. It’s a hard ask, but the industry’s customers need to understand that our costs are going up and we cannot absorb them,” he said.
The Queensland Government has announced it will present a new strategy to put in palce for the Aurukun bauxite leases, with Deputy Premier Jeff Seeny saying it will put the leases back on the market in the near future.
“I will take a new strategy to cabinet over the next couple of months and we will look at putting the leases on the market to get value for Queenslanders,” Mr Seeney said.
Mr Seeney said in the interim the Government would focus on getting major projects in the Galilee Basin up and running.
“The South of Embley bauxite and Alpha Coal mines remain top priorities for the Government and we need to get these projects up and running for the benefit of the Queensland economy.”