The South Australian Government has announced the opening of the new SA Arid Lands Natural Resource Centre in Port Augusta.
State Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Paul Caica said the new centre will be critical for all natural resource management issues.
"This centre is the second of eight to open throughout South Australia as part of the State Government’s commitment to support sustainable land use, water quality and conservation,” Mr Caica said.
“It will offer comprehensive advice and services to the region’s residents, ranging from land management issues and sustainable primary production to information on native plants and animals, National Parks, fire management and pest control.
“Ultimately the management of our natural resources and the conservation of native plants and animals are issues for all members of our community, and this centre will help people in the Port Augusta region get involved.”
The Federal Government has called for applications under the 2012-13 Grants to Voluntary Environment, Sustainability and Heritage Organisations (GVESHO) program.
"These grants are part of the Gillard Government's ongoing commitment to support groups across the nation to value and protect our natural environment and heritage,” Federal Minister for the Environment Tony Burke said.
"There are many great organisations working everyday at local, regional, state and national levels to achieve better protection for our environment and heritage.
"These groups and volunteers work tirelessly and make a real difference in our communities.
"That is why we are continuing the GVESHO program, which has provided funding for environment and heritage groups for many years.
"Last year, I expanded the program to also support sustainability organisations with their ongoing administrative costs, which has been welcomed by a broad range of community groups.”
Last year 163 not-for-profit community-based environment, sustainability and heritage groups received funding under the program to assist with the day to day running costs of their organisation.
Grant guidelines and application forms are available at www.environment.gov.au/about/programs/gvesho
The Western Australian Government has announced a suite of measures to help secure reliable water supply for the South-West town of Manjimup, following months of poor rainfall.
The two’s main local dams – Manjimup and Phillips Creek – have received well below average inflow since 2010, prompting the move form the State Government.
“A persistent drying climate has meant dam levels have dropped to 28 per cent, or just 529 million litres,” Mr Marmion said.
“This is well below the annual demand for water in the area, which is about 700 million litres.
“Taking this into consideration, along with the upcoming summer and little rain forecast, measures including stage six water restrictions, using contingency sources and possibly carting, will be put in place to secure adequate supplies to the people of Manjimup.”
The Minister said the Water Corporation would also launch a major water efficiency program in the area, including a behavioural change project and appliance retrofits in the coming weeks.
“The Manjimup community has done an excellent job in terms of saving water over the last few years and I encourage everyone to take up the new opportunities shortly on offer,” he said.
Stage 6 water restrictions, which include full sprinkler bans, will apply from September 1. The rainfall situation will be continually monitored to determine if these restrictions need to continue into summer.
New research conducted by the Australian National University (ANU) has found that drought significantly increases the risk of suicide among rural males aged 30-49 years.
The multi-disciplinary study, led by PhD student Ivan Hanigan from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at The Australian National University in collaboration with ANU researchers Colin Butler and Michael Hutchinson and CSIRO researcher Phil Kokic, took data on suicides in NSW between 1970 and 2007, and compared it with climatic drought information.
The research found clear evidence between the relationship between drought and the prevalence of suicide in farmers and farm workers, finding that around nine per cent of rural suicides in males aged 30-39 were due to drought over the entire study period.
“Nine per cent may not sound like a big number,” said Mr Hanigan. “But over the course of the 38 years of our study, it’s a significant figure. This estimate is an average - and we know that the majority of years are not droughts - so the percentage is much greater than nine per cent in the actual drought years, since these are episodic and confined to a distinct minority of years.
“Plus, importantly, a suicide doesn’t only affect one individual. For every person who takes their own life, there are many members of their family, friends, and communities that bear the brunt of that action. Suicide has a devastating impact, particularly on rural towns with close-knit communities.”
The study also revealed that while suicides in males increase during drought, the relative risk for female suicides drop. The absolute number of rural male suicides is much larger however, and so this equates to a larger number of rural male suicides attributable to drought.
The research team took advantage of recent developments in statistical software to fit sophisticated models that also controlled for other well-known trends in suicide data, including that times of unusually high maximum temperatures increased suicide risk, that there was a increased risk in spring and early summer, and that there was a marked drop in suicide rates over the last decade.
Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs and the Northern Territory Minister for Health Kon Vatskalis have turned the first sod in the construction of the new Indigenous health research centre in the territory.
The $45.7 million project includes a new building and upgrade to the MEnzies School of Health Research facility at the Royal Darwin Hospital, as well as a new building on Charles Darwin University’s Casuarina campus in Darwin.
The new buildings will be constructed by Lahey Constructions and will create capacity for an additional 244 staff (a total of 446 staff); and a 200-person auditorium on the RDH campus to support Menzies’ teaching and learning activities.
Menzies’ Acting Director, Associate Professor Ross Andrews said new infrastructure will enable the institute to continue its vital medical research in world class facilities.
“By mid 2013, two modern and ecologically sound buildings will be completed that are truly iconic, flexible and functional. This project will secure Menzies’ long-term, productive future, and pave the way for our researchers to continue to improve the health of Australians and those in our region.”
Associate Professor Andrews said Menzies is expanding rapidly in response to the increased demand for rigorous, evidence-based input that helps shape policy and services in the areas of Indigenous and tropical health.
The Queensland Government has announced a new Water Management Plan for the Upper Condamine Alluvium area, aimed at benefitting groundwater users in the Upper Condamine Alluvium area of the Darling Downs.
State Minister for Natural Resources, Andrew Cripps, said the plan will not change current management arrangements in the Upper Condamine, but was needed to ensure that groundwater users in the area were eligible for buyback provisions under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“This plan formalises the existing arrangements put in place by the State Government for managing the area’s groundwater,” Mr Cripps said.
“Such arrangements include the use of water licences, water sharing rules and the moratoriums that regulate access to groundwater in the area.”
Mr Cripps said the Commonwealth Government’s draft Murray Darling Basin Plan had identified groundwater in the Upper Condamine is over-allocated and that it was prepared to buy back a proportion of existing water licences from willing sellers.
“However, the Federal Government will only apply the buyback program if the State Government demonstrates it has a plan to ensure future groundwater use will not expand in a way that undermines the Commonwealth’s water recovery efforts,” he said.
“The new plan meets this Commonwealth requirement and Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) staff have ensured water users were consulted about the plan and its benefits.”
The University of Melbourne has released a review that investigates new methods of water conservation and the need to transform policies and attitudes surrounding the vital resource.
The paper examines three emerging methods of addressing shortages: substituting high-quality water for low-quality when appropriate, creating drinking water from wastewater and reducing leaks and the volume needed for basic services.
“This is the only path forward to provide water for humans as well as for ecosystems,” said lead author Stanley Grant, Professor at The University of Melbourne’s School of Engineering.
“We need to focus on improving the productivity and value of existing supplies, which basically means getting more out of a glass of water,” said co-author, Dr Michael Stewardson, Discipline Leader in Hydrology and Water Resources at The University of Melbourne’s Department of Infrastructure Engineering.
The team of international researchers has proven that addiction to opiates, such as morphine and heroin, can be blocked, while at the same time increasing pain relief.
The team from the University of Adelaide and the University of Colorado has discovered the key mechanism in the body responsible for the amplification of addiction to opioids.
The results - which could eventually lead to new co-formulated drugs that assist patients with severe pain, as well as helping heroin users to kick the habit - will be published tomorrow in the Journal of Neuroscience.
"Our studies have shown conclusively that we can block addiction via the immune system of the brain, without targeting the brain's wiring," says lead author of the study, Dr Mark Hutchinson from the University of Adelaide’s School of Medical Sciences.
"Both the central nervous system and the immune system play important roles in creating addiction, but our studies have shown we only need to block the immune response in the brain to prevent cravings for opioid drugs."
The team has focused its research efforts on the immune receptor known as Toll-Like receptor 4 (TLR4).
"Opioid drugs such as morphine and heroin bind to TLR4 in a similar way to the normal immune response to bacteria. The problem is that TLR4 then acts as an amplifier for addiction," Dr Hutchinson says.
"The drug (+)-naloxone automatically shuts down the addiction. It shuts down the need to take opioids, it cuts out behaviours associated with addiction, and the neurochemistry in the brain changes - dopamine, which is the chemical important for providing that sense of 'reward' from the drug, is no longer produced."
Senior author Professor Linda Watkins, from the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, says: "This work fundamentally changes what we understand about opioids, reward and addiction. We've suspected for some years that TLR4 may be the key to blocking opioid addiction, but now we have the proof.
"The drug that we've used to block addiction, (+)-naloxone, is a non-opioid mirror image drug that was created by Dr Kenner Rice in the 1970s. We believe this will prove extremely useful as a co-formulated drug with morphine, so that patients who require relief for severe pain will not become addicted but still receive pain relief . This has the potential to lead to major advances in patient and palliative care," Professor Watkins says.
The researchers say clinical trials may be possible within the next 18 months.
The director of National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) has urged Australia to take a leading role in tackling the emerging global crisis in groundwater management.
Professor Craig Simmons highlighted a report released by UNESCO that warns degradation and depletion of the world’s groundwater resources is continuing unabated on a global scale.
“There is undoubtedly a very serious situation emerging with respect to groundwater in certain parts of the world. In the 1990s, the world extracted about 102 cubic kilometres a year, but in the 2000s this rose to 145 cu kms – and there is every indication it has continued to increase,” Professor Simmons said.
“In many situations groundwater is a finite resource and is not renewed at anything like the rates it is being extracted. This poses real risks for economic growth, the sustainability of huge cities and vital industries like food and energy production, especially in dry, heavily-populated regions.”
Professor Simmons said Australia, with its experience and technological advancement, is obliged to assist other countries better manage their groundwater management.
The UNESCO study lists among areas of significant groundwater decline as California and the High Plains in the US, the Mexico Basin, several river basins in Spain, the Arabian peninsula, Iran, the Indus basin in India, the North China Plain and the Great Artesian Basin in Australia.
“In addition to these documented examples, there are numerous other aquifers around the world where groundwater levels have declined or are still declining, with variable impacts on society and the environment,” it says.
Ms Julia Bucknall, Manager of the World Banks’ central unit for water says “I would describe the global groundwater situation as one in which the world is eating into their savings account without knowing how much they have in savings, how much they are using, how long they can carry on doing it - or what will happen when the savings run out.”
The New South Wales Government has announced the formation of an inquiry into construction industry insolvency to help safeguard the interests of sub-contractors in the sector.
State Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce said the fragility of the sector was exacting a growing toll on workers and sub-contractors in the economy.
“Between 2009 and 2011, hundreds of companies in NSW collapsed owing billions of dollars, slamming the brakes on vital projects and investment,” Mr Pearce said.
“Up to 24,000 unsecured creditors, including suppliers and sub-contractors, have been left out-of-pocket, some by millions of dollars.
“The Commonwealth regulates insolvency and company practices, but the NSW Government won’t walk away from its responsibility to address this issue,” he said.
The State has appointed Bruce Collins QC as the chair of the new inquiry, which will be tasked with examining the extent and causes of insolvency in the construction industry.
The terms of reference for the inquiry include how initiatives such as insurance schemes, trust arrangements or mutual funds could help secure subcontractors.
Mr Pearce said the Government will also establish a taskforce to ensure government agencies are managing construction risks.
Melbourne has once again been named the world’s most liveable city by the Economist Intelligence Unit for the second year running.
Melbourne beat out other international cities including long running nemesis Vancouver, Vienna, Auckland and Helsinki.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the city’s parks and gardens, cultural precincts, restaurant scene and major events had all contributed to capturing the title.
“These rankings are always very close and the City of Melbourne is proud to be number one for two years in a row,” the Lord Mayor said.
“We are honoured to be considered the most liveable place amongst a field of truly international cities.
“This is a great result for Melbourne and for our tourism and international education reputation.”
The Universities of New South Wales and Queensland have secured two major photovoltaic (PV) research grants under the Federal Government’s Solar Flagships program.
Partnering with AGL Energy and First Solar, the grants will see the construction and operation of two solar power plants in western NSW over the next three years.
Using the stations combined capacity of 159 megawatts as a backdrop, the universities have secured $40.7 million from the Education Investment Fund Research Infrastructure Program to establish corresponding research projects.
Part of the EIF funding will be used to build a Power Systems Interface Research Facility to investigate significant areas related to the successful integration of solar PV stations into Australia's electricity grid.
"This grant is the most significant and historically largest single investment to build a piece of power system interface research infrastructure in Australia,” said Professor Vassilios Agelidis, Director of the Australian Energy Research Institute at UNSW. “It will deliver research skills and innovation towards our energy future."
UNSW's Professor Les Field, Vice-President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) said the new research facility would be housed in the recently completed Tyree Energy Technologies Building.
The building, and the new power systems facility, position UNSW as a national energy research hub capable of delivering much-needed energy technologies and solutions," said Professor Field.
UQ's Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Max Lu, said it was significant that UQ was forming a strategic partnership with UNSW, which has been an international leader in photovoltaic research for almost 30 years.
“UQ is making a strategic push into energy research — across the board — and renewables are a significant component of that work, which is taking place across the University and its institutes.
“We are also delighted to be working with AGL, First Solar and the NSW and federal governments on this landmark, large-scale project,” Professor Lu said.
Despite the breakdown of traditional barriers in the workplace, many women are increasingly encountering structural barriers that prevent them from entering management positions, a Women in Leadership Forum has heard.
Hosted by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Federal Minister for finance and Deregulation, Senator Penny Wong, told the forum that the Federal Government intends to launch a Women on Boards Network to identify candidates for government board positions.
Senator Wong said that the Government struggles to source senior women for their roles not because of their rarity, but rather because of structural barriers that prevent their promotion.
The Women on Boards Network, to be supported by the Department of Finance and Deregulation and the Office for Women, would focus on providing women with their first board position, removing the requirement for past board experience.
Senator Wong said the network will enable the Federal Government to hit its target of having 40 per cent of its board positions occupied by women by 2015 and will provide a springboard for women onto corporate boards.
"Unfortunately the arguments for equality have not sufficiently influenced the composition of our boardrooms. Currently just 14.4 per cent of board positions in the ASX top 200 companies are held by women," Senator Wong said.
"We shouldn't discount that this in an improvement from the 8.4 per cent in 2010. But clearly what the figures show is that something is still hindering the involvement of women on boards."
The panel, which included the Deputy Editor of the Australian Financial Review Boss magazine, Catherine Fox, and advertising industry commentator, Jane Caro, said it was unrealistic to rely on the idea that gender equality in the workplace would occur naturally.
The panel identified the following key policy issues for government and business to promote real workplace equality for women:
- Removing the gender pay gap which has remained static for the past 25 years, evidenced by robust data across all levels of work;
- Providing quotas and targets for women on boards with real consequences attached to their achievement; and
- Removing structural and cultural barriers to women in leadership rather than focusing on the deficits of women.
Move to mitigate to reduce carbon emissions can significantly improve the health of the country’s population and could save billions of dollars and thousands of lives each year, a new report has found.
The Our Uncashed Divided: The Health Benefits of Climate Action report, jointly released by the Climate and health Alliance (CAHA) and the Climate Institute, draws on a growing body of evidence that connects substantial health benefits from measures to cut emissions.
“Evidence from around the world suggests we’re missing out if we don’t cash in on the big health dividend that cutting emissions can deliver,” report author and CAHA Convenor Fiona Armstrong said.
“Cleaner energy, cycling and walking, protecting bushland, energy efficient buildings and low-carbon food choices all contribute to less chronic illnesses, including heart and lung disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes, and depression.”
“One recent global study, for instance, found that for every tonne of carbon dioxide they avoid countries could save an average of $46 in health costs—around twice Australia’s starting price for carbon.”
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has welcomed the release of the report, saying that it is evidence of a need to adopt a National Strategy for Health and Climate Change.
AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said the report is a welcome addition to the evidence for the need to develop such a strategy.
“The AMA wants to see a national strategic approach to climate change and health, and we want health professionals to play an active and leading role in educating the public about the impacts and health issues associated with climate change,” Dr Hambleton said.
The full report can be found here
The Victorian Government has released a report detailing the condition of wetlands throughout the state, concluding that despite over 13 years of drought, the majority of the state’s high value wetlands were in either ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ condition.
The Victorian Department of Sustinability and Environment (DSE) released the results of the assessment of almost 600 high value wetlands undertaken in 2009-10, marking the first time in Australia a state-wide assessment of wetland condition had ever been completed.
"The fact that more than half of Victoria's high value wetlands were in good or excellent condition, even though at the time of the assessment it had been incredibly dry, reflects the resilient nature of wetlands and the work undertaken to protect them," State Minister for the Environment Ryan Smith said.
"For the first time we now have a state-wide condition report of wetlands which can be used to identify threats, be a foundation for policy and help develop suitable management programs.
"The condition assessment results provide a baseline which will help monitor changes over time and measure the effectiveness of wetland protection and enhancement programs."
Victoria has around 13,000 natural wetlands which vary greatly in character, ranging from lakes, floodplain billabongs, alpine peatlands, marshes, shallow freshwater wetland and saline wetlands.
The high value wetlands for the 2009-10 assessment were chosen because of their priority for appropriate management.
High value wetlands are those that are recognised as being significant for their environmental values.
They include Victoria's Ramsar sites which are listed as internationally important under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and wetlands listed in A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia.
The wetlands were assessed using six components that are critical to the function of wetlands – the condition of the wetland catchment, the physical form, the hydrology, the water properties, the soil and the vegetation.
- 24% excellent condition
- 32% good condition
- 30% moderate condition
- 14% poor
- 1% very poor
The full report can be found here
Chevron Australia has congratulated transformer producer Wilson Transformer Company on becoming the first Australian firm to become a qualified global supplier for Chevron.
The Wilson team was joined at the company’s Glen Waverley plant by the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency; Industry and Innovation, Greg Combet and Chevron Australia’s General Manager for the Wheatstone Project, Eric Dunning, to celebrate the company’s achievement and first purchase order.
The $21 million purchase order for all power and distribution transformers for use in the Chevron-operated Wheatstone Project was awarded recently by Wheatstone’s Liquefied Natural Gas plant engineering, procurement and construction contractor Bechtel.
Chevron General Manager Wheatstone Development, Eric Dunning praised the Wilson Transformer Company on its achievement.
“This demonstrates Australia’s manufacturing capability on the world stage. This is a win for Australian industry and signals the capability of Australian manufacturing firms to supply to large resource projects,” Dunning said.
Being qualified as a global supplier recognises the firm’s alignment with Chevron’s procurement requirements and pre-qualifies it as a supplier for more than 100 Chevron projects in 40 countries worldwide. It also serves as a reference when bidding for work with other project developers.
The Wilson Transformer Company was identified by Chevron Australia in 2009 as a candidate for global supplier status due to its export history, innovation track record and investment in new facilities.
Over two years Wilson’s participated in Chevron’s global supplier qualification process and achieved Chevron’s comprehensive Corporate Supplier and Contractor Health, Environment, Safety and Management qualifications.
Speech can measure the severity of depression as well as a patient’s response to treatment, a new collaborative study between the University of Melbourne and the Center for Psychological Consultation in Wisconsin, USA has revealed.
The study, the largest of its kind in the world and published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, found that improvement in patients diagnosed with depression and undergoing treatment can be monitored over the phone by looking at changes in their speech.
Dr Adam Vogel, Head of the Speech Neuroscience Unit at the University of Melbourne, said that speech is a strong marker of brain health, and changes in how we sound reflects how well our brain is working.
“The speech of people with depression changes when they respond to treatment, becoming faster and with shorter pauses. Those with more severe depression produce longer pauses and have slower speaking rates,” he said.
The randomized controlled trial of 105 patients looked at vocal acoustic properties such as timing, pitch and intonation to see if they could provide reliable biomarkers to depression severity and responses to treatment.
Patients were required to call an automated telephone system and leave samples of their speech, such as saying how they felt, reading a passage of text and reciting the alphabet.
“This offers greater treatment flexibility as we can now check on our patients remotely, looking at their speech patterns even from remote or rural areas,” said Dr James Mundt, Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Psychological Consultation in Wisconsin, USA.
“We know that depressed patients have difficulties expressing themselves, so if we can improve how we assess depression, then we can improve how we treat it.”
A new study from The University of Queensland shows that monitoring the brain of stroke patients using Quantitative EEG (QEEG) studies could inform treatments and help minimize brain damage of stroke victims.
EEG stands for electroencephalogram and is a medical test which is used to measure the electrical activity of the brain.
Dr Simon Finnigan from UQ's Centre for Clinical Research and Professor Michel van Putten from Medisch Spectr`um Hospital and University of Twente in the Netherlands, recently reviewed all published QEEG studies of stroke worldwide.
“The main goals of this research were to evaluate key findings, identify common trends and determine what the future priorities should be, both for research and for translating this to best inform clinical management of stroke patients,” Dr Finnigan said.
“Our studies have real potential to eventually contribute to better outcomes for stroke patients and for me this is the ultimate goal,” he said.
The review of outcomes from hundreds of patients has highlighted that QEEG indicators are particularly informative in two ways.
“Firstly they can help predict long-term deficits caused by stroke,” Dr Finnigan said.
“In addition, they could provide immediate information on how patients are responding to treatments and guide decisions about follow-on treatments, even before stroke symptoms change,” he said.
Currently, tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), a drug which can dissolve blood clots, is administered intravenously to stroke patients within 4.5 hours after the onset of symptoms and clinicians wait for visual signs that symptoms are improving.
If this doesn't occur after approximately one hour, follow-on treatments may be used.
“This is where QEEG could indicate whether or not the brain is responding to the drug. Plus, it could do so up to an hour before the symptoms might improve," Dr Finnigan said.
"This is a critical difference when “time is brain” and clinicians are trying to get blood back into the brain before it's too late. If QEEG can enable clinicians to start other treatments faster, this could help minimise brain damage and deficits," he said.
Dr Finnigan is working with neurologists, Dr Wong, Dr Read and Dr Sheikh and other clinicians at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (RBWH).
The University of Sydney has acquired the first ground state depletion (GSD) super-resolution microscope in the Southern Hemisphere, which will enable researchers to see materials at a cellular level and open the way for improvements in the diagnosis of diseases including cancer.
Access to this technology was made possible by the University's Charles Perkins Centre initiative - a research collaboration of scholars across many disciplines which aims to address the increasing problems associated with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease worldwide.
The funding for the microscope was secured by a multidisciplinary team from the centre, Bosch Institute, Centenary Institute and the Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis and will allow viewing of cellular structure at a resolution well below the normal diffraction limit of light.
In a recent University-wide user survey, super-resolution microscopy was identified as a core infrastructure capability required to support the Charles Perkins Centre's research strategy, including other researchers across the broader University and the Sydney basin.
The centre's Cellular Imaging Facility (CIF) working group consisting of Filip Braet (Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis), Louise Cole (Advanced Microscopy Facility - Bosch Institute) and Adrian Smith (Cytometry and Imaging Facility - Centenary Institute) have been working for nearly two years on the blueprint of the CIF. The working group was able to acquire the latest addition in the family of super-resolution microscopes as the initial investment in CIF equipment.
This acquisition has been made possible with support from the centre, Sydney Medical School, Faculty of Science and School of Medical Sciences, and and microscope giant Leica. This type of optical nanoscope that is based on ground state depletion (GSD) technology will be the first of its kind to be delivered in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere.
Stephan Hell, inventor of GSD-based super-resolution microscopy, is quoted as saying:
"The ability to view life in nanometre dimensions via super-resolution technology opens the door to an understanding of intracellular life processes which was never thought possible before and which may lead to revolutionary discoveries on the subject of how diseases originate. This is exactly in line with the research mission of the CPC to facilitate ground breaking discoveries concerning chronic diseases that represent the greatest threat to health worldwide."
The Leica GSD super-resolution microscope will initially be based in the Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis (Madsen Building) and will be relocated to the CIF upon completion of the Charles Perkins Centre building.
From September 2012 onwards, the instrument will be accessible to all researchers at no operational costs for the first 12 months. During this period, the working group hope that many users will generate exciting new data that will support future research grant applications, and that this will lead to the start of a new era in cellular microscopy networking at the University.
The Federal Government has proposed a streamlined, nationally consistent licensing scheme for plumbing and gas fitting, property refrigeration and air-conditioning occupational licensing with an aim to boost labour mobility, productivity and save an estimated $86 million.
Federal Minister for Skills, Senator Chris Evans, released the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement for each of the occupational areas and forms a key area of skill and labour reform under the Council of Australian Government’s commitment to regulatory reform.
"Having one set of national licences for key occupations is a challenging reform but will make it easier for businesses and individuals to operate across state and territory borders and improve business productivity," Senator Evans said.
"National licensing means these workers will only need one licence to work anywhere in Australia - boosting productivity and labour mobility.
"Doing away with multiple licences for people working in more than one state or territory will save licensees millions in additional fees over the next 10 years.
"Under the national licensing reforms, a central licensing body will administer one set of requirements for each of the licensed occupations.
"The national system will replace current arrangements where each state and territory regulates an occupational area in a different way.
The Consultation Regulation Impact Statements are aimed at seeking views from licence holders, business and other stakeholders around the country. Information sessions on the proposed changes will be held in all capital cities, starting in the last week of August.
Coal miner NSL Consolidated has received official approval of the first of four thermal coal exploration tenements for its Eromanga Basin operations in southwest Queensland.
The company’s four tenements cover around 2,585 square kilometres in the coal rich area, with previous testing estimated an exploration target of between 6.6 billion and 18.7 billion tonnes of thermal coal.
The company expects to receive complete approval for its works during the third quarter of this year.