The Western Australian Government has announced the formation of a new water allocation plan for the State’s Peel region, aimed at providing water certainty for groundwater availability for a range of key industries.
State Water Minister Bill Marmion said the Murray groundwater allocation plan confirmed 40 gigalitres of water use for licencing.
“It supports agriculture, horticulture, mining, industrial, urban and recreational activities as well as the internationally recognised significant ecosystems and wetlands of the Peel region,” Mr Peel said.
“The Government has listened to concerns about over abstraction of groundwater resources and how declining rainfall could adversely affect the area’s groundwater-dependent ecosystem,” he said.
“The plan allows for water to be licenced, based on an improved understanding of the Murray system. The allocation limits have been set at 75 per cent of recharge, with the balance reserved to protect aquifer integrity and the environment.
“It therefore provides clarity for both water users and the broader community, so that the ongoing benefits from these water resources can be realised.”
The Tasmanian Government has announced it will allocate $52 million for the construction and further development of the Midlands, Lower South Esk and Kindred North Motton irrigation schemes.
“What we are seeing in Tasmania now is a once in generation investment in new irrigation infrastructure that will sustain growth and jobs in the agricultural sector for decades to come,” Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water Bryan Green said.
The funding will also support the establishment of an Irrigation Development unit within Tasmanian Irrigation.
“This will build on the work of the Wealth from Water pilot program in the Meander Valley Irrigation Area and part of the Midlands which is due to be completed by the end of the year,” Mr Green said.
The Federal Government has officiated the formation of the new Yanyuwa Indigenous Protected Area in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Stretching across 130,000 hectares, the protected area includes the McArthur River and the Sir Edward Pellew Islands, which are of wolrd conservation significance thanks to the large numbers of green and flatback turtles and seabirds that nest there.
The Federal Government will provide $2 million over two years to support the Yanyuwa Indigenous Protected Areas to support the formation and protection of the area.
For more information about Yanyuwa IPA: www.environment.gov.au/indigenous/ipa/declared/yanyuwa
The Chief Executive of Boral, Mark Selway, has stepped down, effective immediately, after two years in the position. Ross Batstone, currently Division Managing Director Boral Building Products, has been appointed Acting Chief Executive Officer while a successor to Mr Selway is recruited.
Boral Chairman, Dr Bob Every, said that Boral had undergone significant restructuring over the past two years, including closure of non-performing businesses, a focus on lean manufacturing processes, emphasis on sales and marketing and investment in innovation and growth.
“While operational improvements throughout Mark’s tenure have been excellent, the Board has decided that the stewardship of the company going forward requires a Chief Executive with a leadership style suited to harmonizing the changes that have occurred over the last two years throughout the company.”
Qantas has announced an extensive restructuring of its airlines business, with changes made to its executive team as it enters the next phase of its five-year transformation plan launched last year.
The restructure will see its Qantas International and Qantas Domestic split into two distinct businesses, each with their own CEO and operational and commercial functions. The new structure will start from 1 July, and both companies will post their financial results separately.
The new Qantas Group Executive Committee is as follows:
- Simon Hickey, CEO Qantas International. Mr Hickey is currently CEO, Qantas Frequent Flyer.
- Lyell Strambi, CEO, Qantas Domestic. Mr Strambi is currently Group Executive, Qantas Airlines Operations.
- Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO, Jetstar Group. Ms Hrdlicka is currently Group Executive, Strategy and Technology. The Strategy and Technology function will move under Chief Financial Officer Gareth Evans.
- Lesley Grant, CEO, Qantas Frequent Flyer. Ms Grant was formerly the Group Executive responsible for developing Qantas’ new international strategy.
- Jon Scriven, Group Executive, People and Office of the CEO.
- Olivia Wirth, Group Executive, Government and Corporate Affairs
- Brett Johnson, General Counsel
- Gareth Evans, Chief Financial Officer
Qantas also announced that Jetstar Group CEO Bruce Buchanan will depart the group, remaining for the next six months to assist transition.
The announcement comes after Qantas shed over 500 heavy maintenance jobs, closing down its Avalon operations to consolidate its Brisbane and Tullamarine operations.
The NSW Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Dubai International Finance Centre Authority Dubai to work closer together to grow their banking and financial services sectors.
In Dubai, the Premier Barry O’Farrell said the MoU recognises that Sydney and Dubai have common interests, expertise and objectives and can work together to achieve their objectives.
He said the agreement will facilitate greater contact between Sydney and Dubai and promote potential investment opportunities in NSW and in the Gulf Cooperation Council region.
“Sydney and Dubai will also collaborate on education and research projects and organise conferences and seminars on financial issues.
“The Centre has also expressed interest in attracting experts from Australian universities, institutes, companies and governments, particularly in innovation in finance, to develop the people who work in financial services in the region.”
Mr O’Farrell took part in an Islamic finance roundtable organised by the Dubai Government.
“Attracting conventional and Islamic finance investment into infrastructure and other sectors in NSW is an important part of my Government’s efforts to enhance Sydney’s position as a leading international financial services centre.
“The roundtable was an opportunity to discuss the potential of Islamic finance in NSW as the State embarks on funding infrastructure and other projects and to gain an understanding of what NSW needs to do to attract Islamic finance which is a growing source of funding.”
"I was honoured to have the man many consider to be the father of Islamic finance, Dr Hussain Hassan make a presentation. He made it very clear Middle Eastern countries are ready to explore the potential to invest in NSW.
"I've received some practical ideas on how NSW and Australia can better accommodate this type of investment and I intend to feed those into the Federal Government consideration of the Islamic finance which is currently underway."
The New South Wales Business Chamber has warned that over 12,600 jobs could disappear from the state economy if workers’ compensation premiums are allowed to increase by the projected 28 per cent.
The NSW Business Chamber told the Joint Select Committee on the Workers Compensation Scheme that a ‘kneejerk’ reaction to balancing the state’s scheme would have a major impact on the state’s economy.
“If premiums are increased by the 28% that the Actuaries assert is needed to get the scheme back to full funding in 5 years, our very conservative projections show there will be 12,600 jobs and job opportunities lost from across the NSW economy,” said Stephen Cartwright, CEO of the NSW Business Chamber.
“Even at the lower 8% needed to get the Scheme back in the black in 10 years; the potential job impact will be around 8,000.”
Mr Cartwright has argued for a move to structural reform of the scheme, which has recorded a $1.4 billion deficit, rather than an increase in premiums.
“This is not easy reform, but it is necessary reform if we are to have a Compensation Scheme that gets the balance right between supporting injured workers and helping employers to create jobs,” Mr Cartwright said.
Work Safe Australia has released the online version 22of the 2012 edition of the Comparison of Workers’ Compensation Arrangements in Australia and New Zealand report.
The Comparison of Workers’ Compensation Arrangements in Australia and New Zealand provides information on the operation of workers’ compensation schemes in each of the jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand.
This edition of the Comparison report has been substantially revised and reformatted to improve comparability and readability.
The Comparison provides background to the evolution of workers’ compensation arrangements in Australia and New Zealand, and discusses the way that each scheme deals with key aspects such as the size and nature of the schemes, coverage, benefits, return to work provisions, self-insurance, common law, dispute resolution and cross-border arrangements.
The majority of Tables contained in this report provide a snapshot of workers’ compensation arrangements as at 30 September 2011. However, because each jurisdiction may vary its arrangements from time to time, and because there may be some exceptions to the arrangements described in this edition, more up to date information should be obtained from the relevant authority.
The report is available here.
New data, released by the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia to mark Spinal Health Week (May 21 – 27), shows Australia is a nation of ‘sitters’ and it’s taking a major toll on our health.
Australian office workers face a back pain epidemic and risk developing chronic diseases by sitting for almost 16 hours a day with more than half never taking conscious breaks to stand and move around, according to new research from the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia.
The research found that not only is a dangerous amount of time spent sitting, but nearly 70 per cent of office workers are sitting incorrectly in a slumped or collapsed position and 60 per cent say they already experience regular or occasional lower back pain.
Women aged 18-34 years have the worst posture and are most at risk of spinal damage.
Alarmingly, office workers have only 73 minutes left in a day to stand or be active, after eliminating time spent sitting and sleeping.
According to the statistics, office workers are spending longer in front of a computer (almost nine hours a day) than sleeping (approximately seven hours a day), sit for almost one and half hours while commuting to and from work, and watch TV for more than two hours.
They are also sitting for up to three hours at a time without getting up.
CAA spokesperson Dr Billy Chow said the results were extremely worrying and were reinforced by an independent Australian study in 20111 which found that people who sit down for more than ten hours a day and don’t exercise had almost double the risk of dying sooner than those with active lifestyles.
“It’s critical we get off our backsides and move more because sitting for too long and in the wrong position can have a detrimental effect on our spine and on our overall health.
“If we’re spending a lot of time sitting down with the same posture, it will cause spinal degeneration and joint inflammation that sends messages to the brain to tell it the body is stressed,” he said.
Dr Chow said chiropractors are seeing a much larger number of office workers with sitting related injuries.
“Sitting is having a major impact on the way we function and our stress levels and is causing weight gain and lower energy levels.
“The problem we face in modern society and with modern technology is that we’re going from a sedentary workplace to a sedentary home so it’s essential we sit less and be more active.
“Getting up to walk around or stretch regularly just for a minute or two is a great way of releasing some stress. This resets your posture and gives your body a break,” Dr Chow said.
With 75 per cent of Australian workers having no clear workplace guidelines regarding sitting correctly and taking breaks from desks or computers, Dr Chow said employers need to start prioritising the health of their workers.
“If workplaces address what is a very serious situation, it will increase the health and wellbeing of their employees which means they’ll be happier and more productive,” he said.
To alleviate health problems associated with sitting incorrectly or for extended amounts of time, Dr Chow recommends taking regular breaks at least every hour and referring to the CAA’s Sit Right checklist.
To encourage Australians to take regular breaks from sitting, the CAA has launched a Sit Right desktop widget that is programmed to pop up on computer screens regularly to provide different break suggestions, as well as a range of stretching exercises people can do at their desks.
The widget and the Sit Right checklist can be downloaded at www.SitRight.com.au
The 2012 WorkCover NSW SafeWorks Awards are now open for nominations, with the agency inviting organisations and individuals who have ‘gone the extra mile to make their workplaces safer’ to apply for awards.
The Awards are an annual event that are designed to reward and promote high standards of workplace health and safety in workplaces around New South Wales.
Entry is open to any NSW business, organisation, individual or not-for-profit operation. There are four categories available, including:
- Best workplace health and safety management system
- Best solution to an identified workplace health and safety issue
- Best workplace health and safety practices in a small business
- Best individual contribution to workplace health and safety
Entries can be made at WorkCover NSW here
Gold mining company Newcrest Mining has been nominated as Australia's most attractive employer for 2012 at the second annual awards of international recruitment firm Randstad.
National broadcaster ABC took second position in the Randstad Awards, while third place went to 2011 winner, Virgin Australia .
The awards were made to companies that were voted the most attractive by more than 7,000 Australians of working age.
Newcrest Mining also took top honours in the mining and natural resources category and Westpac winning the banking and financial services category award.
In addition to being recognised as Australia's second most attractive employer, the ABC also received special recognition for offering the best work-life balance opportunities, and BHP Billiton was given special acknowledgement for having the strongest leadership and management in the country, according to the 7,000 participants.
Randstad CEO, Fred van der Tang, commended the winning companies on their victories, paying special tribute to Newcrest Mining, which performed particularly well when it came to people looking for a competitive salary and employee benefits, interesting job content, long-term job security, excellent training and development and career progression opportunities.
"With the mining boom in full swing in Australia and companies all searching for people in the same talent pool, it's clearly a competitive environment. Being the country's largest gold producer, a global top 10 gold mining company, and having a strong employer brand, working for Newcrest Mining is definitely seen as a very appealing and attractive employment option for many Aussies," says van der Tang.
"Over the last two years we've run the Randstad Awards and employer branding research in Australia, companies in the mining and travel industries have consistently performed well and are being perceived as attractive places to work. Testament to their perceived attractiveness, a quarter of the Top 20 most attractive employers in this year's results findings are mining and resources companies with two travel companies also featuring," said Mr van der Tang.
The Queensland Government has announced it will move to scrap the proposed expansion of the Abbot Point multi-cargo facility (MCF) after it has become ‘abundantly apparent’ that industry does not support the move.
“As a government we have a responsibility to ensure that any plans for the port at Abbot Point take into consideration the short and long-term needs of industry,” State Minister for State Development Jeff Seeney said.
The Government has announced it will instead focus on the development of the T2 and T3 terminals and the extension of the existing T1 facility.
“We consider that expansion at Abbot Point should be incremental. We will proceed with T2 and T3 and will discuss with industry what additional capacity is needed as that expansion is underway,” Mr Seeney said.
Mr Seeney said the recent Federal Government decision to push the approval process for Abbot Point back to the end of 2012 indicated that the T4-T9 and MCF proposals might never pass the regulatory approval process.
“The significant scale, complexity and potential impacts of the proposed infrastructure are extensive and it would be many years before the whole of the planned additional capacity would realistically be warranted.”
“Our focus on T2 and T3 is a more practical and efficient approach to expansion of infrastructure at Abbot Point,” Mr Seeney said.
The Queensland Coordinator-General has declared the $2.2 billion coal terminal at Yarwun in the Port of Gladstone a ‘significant project’, meaning the project will now undergo an environmental assessment.
State Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Jeff Seeney, has called for the public to submit comments on the project’s draft terms of reference that will form part of its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Mr Seeney said, that if approved, the project will provide significant benefits for the region and the state as a whole.
“The proposed terminal, to be delivered by Tenement to Terminal Limited (3TL), could export up to 50 million tonnes of coal per year, adding to Gladstone’s planned coal terminal capacity, such as Wiggins Island, Stage 1 of which is now fully committed,” Mr Seeney said.
“If this project goes ahead, it will help facilitate the efficient transport and export of coal, hauling in more dollars for Queensland’s economy.”
The Tenement to Terminal (3TL) project will include:
- a 14-kilometre dual gauge rail line
- a balloon loop and coal unloading facilities
- a coal stockyard
- two new berths
- an out-loading wharf, jetty facilities and associated infrastructure.
The draft terms of reference can be viewed on-line at www.projects.industry.qld.gov.au, or at the following locations from Monday 28 May to close of business on Monday 25 June 2012:
- Gladstone Regional Council, 101 Goondoon Street, Gladstone
- Gladstone Regional Library, 39 Goondoon Street, Gladstone
- Mount Larcom Library, Raglan Street, Mount Larcom
- National Library, Parkes Place, Canberra
- State Library of Queensland, Cultural Centre, Stanley Place, South Bank, Brisbane.
All public submissions should be made in writing and received by the Coordinator-General by 5pm on Monday 25 June 2012.
Post: The Coordinator-General
c/- EIS project manager – Yarwun Coal Terminal project
Significant Projects Coordination
Office of the Coordinator-General
PO Box 15517
City East QLD 4002
The Victorian Government has announced an agreement that will stop the last discharge of industrial wastewater into the Yarra River.
State Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Ryan Smith, said that Mobil Oil Australia will comply with an EPA Pollution Abatement Notice which requires the petroleum producer to halt its discharges into the Yarra River at Spotswood to the sewer system by June next year.
Mobil has held an EPA license that permitted the company to discharge wastewater produced at Spotswood into the Yarra River since 1973, which allowed the company to discharge 2.5 megalitres of wastewater per day.
"To allow Mobil to continue to discharge into the Yarra River is inconsistent with community expectations and is inconsistent with Victoria's environment protection policies," Mr Smith said.
The EPA has formed part of a new Ministerial taskforce charged with better management of the Yarra River. Other taskforce members include DSE, Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria, Port Phillip and Corangamite CMAs and the Port of Melbourne.
Recent figures published by WorkSafe Victoria show that more than 20 tradespeople are injured on Victorian construction sites per week, costing the industry around $17 million per year in medical costs, wages and other expenses.
Those figures might be significantly higher, according to WorkSafe Inspector Steve Thornely, as sole traders do not make claims under WorkSafe’s injury insurance scheme.
“Housing sites are constantly changing with different trades on site for short periods over the life of a project. As a result workers can face a continual and changing variety of hazards that require continual management,” Mr Thornely said.
“While not all incidents result in injury, we want to highlight the importance of workplace safety on construction sites by encouraging tradies in the domestic construction sector to take part in a competition using their smartphones.”
Mr Thornely said inspectors had addressed more than 1,250 safety breaches on housing constructions sites over the past year. Most were the result of inadequate planning, poor housekeeping and a lack of supervision.
“While many incidents can be easily prevented, serious injuries continue to happen on housing sites, and they often lead to work being stopped,” he said.
“Keeping a construction site safe is everyone’s responsibility. People working in this industry must stay on top of safety issues and not be afraid to speak up if something is unsafe.”
The release of the figures come after WorkSafe launched a new initiative to promote safety on site by getting tradespeople to talk about workplace safety and to do more to look after their employees, themselves and their colleagues.
The Top Tradie initiative will quiz participants on 10 sports and safety related questions, with weekly prizes including adrenalin sports packages, footy tickets and vouchers with the overall winning team getting four tickets to one of Victoria’s premier motorcycle events.
To find out more about the competition and to register for the Top Tradie quiz, visit:www.toptradie.com.au. To be eligible for prizes, entrants must have a Construction Induction Card (or equivalent) and work in housing construction in Victoria.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions has urged Fair Work Australia to rule in favour of a proposed increase to the minimum wage.
The workforce tribunal is currently deliberating on a proposed $26 per week increase to minimum wage, which would equate to a 68c increase per hour in the minimum wage from $15.51 to $16.19 an hour.
“The Panel needs to remember that its priority must be to provide and maintain a fair safety net for the one in six workers who are dependent on award wages,” ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said.
“It must reject any applications by employer groups that would cut the real wages of the low-paid to maximise business profits.”
Despite Government moves to protect those in the lowest income bracket, including moving the tax-free threshold to $18,000, minimum wages have continued to fall behind overall wages growth.
The Victorian Government has released modelling that it says shows that the health of the Murray River can be secured using significantly less water for environmental flow.
State Water Minister Peter Walsh said data provided by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority showed that environmental damage would be minimal if consumptive water use was reduced by 2100 gigalitres instead of the proposed 2750 gigalitres.
"The modelling shows very little environmental gain is achieved by the extra cuts to consumptive water," Mr Walsh said.
"The health of the Murray, including the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth can be secured by using less water than what has been proposed by the draft Basin Plan.
"This would leave more water for food production and provide a future for the hundreds of communities that rely on the Murray for their livelihoods.
"It would give the Commonwealth an extra $1.3 billion which could be invested in infrastructure works to improve the management of environmental flows.”
"This modelling is clear evidence that the money the Commonwealth plans to use to purchase more water to make up the 2750 gigalitres should instead be invested in works to improve the river's management," Mr Walsh said.
The ACT Greens have released the results of their ACT Workplace Bullying Survey, finding that workplace bullying is rife in most workplaces.
The key findings of the survey are:
- 75% of the 135 respondents said they had experienced workplace bullying and 63% of these incidents occurred in the last 12 months;
- 79% of respondents said they had witnessed bullying in the workplace;
- Almost half of all incidents went unreported;
- 85% of people who reported bullying incidents said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the response they received.
“The survey results not only show that bullying remains a real problem in ACT workplaces, but that bullying incidents commonly go unreported. People who do report bulling incidents are frequently dissatisfied with the response they receive,” said Greens Industrial Relations spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan.
The report found that 82 per cent of all respondents want WorkSafe ACT to employ inspectors who specialise in workplace bullying.
“Bullying is an issue that is seriously affecting people’s health and wellbeing, and costing billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. We’ll continue to pursue this issue because we know there are significant positive gains to be made,” Ms Bresnan concluded.
John Holland, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leighton, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Isaac Plains Coal Management group to extend its existing mining services contract.
The agreement, estimated to be worth around $200 million, will include clearing, topsoil stripping, drill and blast, truck excavator waste removal, coal mining, rejects haulage, dump profiling and rehabilitation work. Approximately 3.6 million ROM tonnes of coal will be moved and pass through the mine over the next 12 months.
Leighton Holdings’ CEO, Hamish Tyrwhitt, said that the MoU reflects the positive outlook the company has on its mining business.
“Contract mining offers stable earnings and opportunities for growth, fuelled by continued high demand from Asia for coal and other minerals,” said Mr Tyrwhitt.
The new contract will be finalised in the coming months.
Qantas has announced it has completed a review of its heavy aircraft maintenance and engineering operations in Australia, concluding it will consolidate all heavy maintenance work into Brisbane and Avalon, with all such work finishing at Tullamarine by August.
The announcement is expected to see over 500 positions cut as a result of the company’s restructure, with 422 positions lost at Tullamarine, and 113 positions at Avalon.
“Like the manufacturing industry, aviation maintenance is a labour and capital intensive sector. Our cost base in heavy maintenance is 30 per cent per cent higher than that of our competitors – we must close this gap to secure Qantas’ future viability and success,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.
“Qantas has invested heavily over the past 10 years in new aircraft that are more advanced, more efficient, attractive to our customers and require less maintenance, less often. But we cannot take advantage of this new generation of aircraft if we continue to do heavy maintenance in the same way we did 10 years ago.”
The airline defended its decision to cut down its operations, saying that there is not currently enough heavy maintenance work to necessitate three separate facilities, and that new technology and modern aircraft has contributed to a further 60 per cent reduction in maintenance requirements over the next seven years.
As a result of the restructure, heavy maintenance on Boeing 737 aircraft will move from Tullamarine and be maintained in Brisbane along with B767 aircraft and Airbus A330s. The base at Avalon will continue to maintain Boeing 747s. It will also conduct some work on B737s and B767s, some aircraft reconfiguration work and remain available for one-off maintenace tasks.
The airline anticipates the costs of the restructure, as well as redundancies, will cost an estimated $50 million.
Recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has found that the gender pay disparity continues to persist in Australia, with women, on average, earning 17.4 per cent less than their male counterparts.
The pay gap has remained almost unchained for two decades, with Western Australia having the dubious honour of possessing the largest inequality in pay of 25.8 per cent.
The average weekly earnings of full-time women in the workforce is $1,186.90 per week, $250.50 per week less than their male counterparts who were recorded an average wage of $1,437.40 per week. Over the course of a year, this discrepancy adds up to an average $13,036 per year.
"The lack of progress in closing the gender pay gap means the case for concerted action on pay equity is clear. It is intolerable to think that the career and financial prospects of a girl born today will be less than those of a boy,” Director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) Helen Conway said.
"When we consider the impact of the gender pay gap on women's superannuation, it is little wonder that women are two and a half times more likely to live in poverty in their old age than men."
Ms Conway said the disparity is a powerful disincentive for women in the workforce, and that if it persists; the Australian economy will be deprived of valuable skill sets. Ms Conway urged industries to rectify the issue to ensure productivity levels remain high and the skills shortage is offset.
"Organisations can start by doing a payroll analysis to determine if they have a gender pay gap. They can ask themselves whether working flexibly in their organisation limits a person's career. They can also examine whether their workplaces contain stereotypes and embedded bias in job design, evaluation and remuneration processes," Ms Conway said.
The full set of statistics can be found here