The CSIRO has partnered with farmer and inventor Edward Evans to prevent farmer death and injury by helping to produce a new, safe cattle gate.
Gate related accidents have seen some 211 farmers injured between 2000 and 2005, while accounting for around 0.5 per cent of deaths among agricultural workers in Australia per year.
To assist Mr Evans in the development of his SaferGate technology, the CSIRO constructed a 60 kg test cow, complete with authentic hrons and hide, to simulate the force of a bull or cow charging a cattle gate, used on farms, feedlots, in trucks and abattoirs around the country.
After suffering a broken leg from a cattle gate related injury, Mr Evans put himself to work designing a new cattle gate that would swerve away from a farmer in the event of a cattle charging it.
Using a swinging pivot system, the gate is split into two different segments when struck, allowing aprt of the gate to swing away from the operator, while the other segment folds back on itself and away from them.
Mr Evans first came to national prominence when his design won ABC’s New Inventors grand final in 2011, and was awarded a testing and evaluation grant by the CSIRO.
More information can be found here
The Federal Government has urged companies keen to install electronic freeway management technology along the West Gate Freeway to register their interest with VicRoads before the 22nd of August.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said that once operational, the technology give VicRoads the operational tools required to better manage traffic flows as well as respond to accidents and breakdowns.
“As well as being good for taxpayers, this technology will deliver faster, safer and less frustrating driving conditions for the 160,000 motorists and truck drivers who use this vital part of Melbourne's road network every day.
“Indeed if applied nationwide, electronic freeway management systems have the potential to greatly reduce congestion and save Australian families and businesses more than $500 million a year. That's why we're providing funding to assist the states to retrofit their existing motorways with this technology.”
The West Gate Freeway project is being jointly funded by the Federal ($12.5 million) and Victorian ($12.5 million) governments. It will deliver variable speed limit signs; entry ramp signalling; CCTVs; digital message signs providing live updates on traffic conditions and delays; signs advising drivers of lane and speed restrictions around accidents; and improved communications and central control systems.
Victorian Public Transport and Roads Minister Terry Mulder said Victoria was a leader in the installation of electronic freeway management, with work to begin next year on the West Gate Freeway project.
“Once completed in 2014, there will be a seamless technology link between the M1 east of Williamstown Road and the current M80 Upgrade, with the full integration of these systems expected to improve safety and traffic flows along what are Victoria's two busiest freeways,” said Mr Mulder.
The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has lashed out at the Business Tax Working Group’s proposal to remove the statutory effective life caps on trucks and trailers, saying that it would incentivise trucking companies to keep older trucks on the road for longer.
In its recently released discussion paper, the Business Tax Working Group proposed the removal of stator effective life caps for a range of assets, including trucks and trailers. Under the proposal, businesses that do not self-assess the effective lives of their vehicles would be required to depreciate trucks and trailers over 15 years rather than 7 ½ years.
ATA’s chief executive, Stuart St Clair, said the move would remove the existing incentive for businesses to upgrade older trucks to safer and more environmentally friendly trucks.
Every new generation of trucks is safer than the last, with front underrun protection, stronger cabs and technology like adaptive cruise control, electronic braking and lane keeping support,” Mr St Clair said.
“That’s why the Australian Government’s national road safety strategy calls for ‘a substantial increase in the proportion of heavy vehicles with advanced braking systems and other safety technologies’ by 2020.
“In addition, every new generation of trucks is more environmentally friendly than the last. A new truck, bought today, puts out only 25 per cent of the nitrogen oxides and 8.3 per cent of the particulate matter emitted by a new truck bought in 1994.
“The working group’s proposal would remove the tax incentive for trucking businesses to keep upgrading their fleets. They would keep their older trucks, and Australia would miss out on the safety and environmental benefits of having new trucks on the road sooner.
“The ATA fought hard in 2004 to get the statutory effective life caps on trucks and trailers. The issues haven’t changed. We are now going to take up the fight with equal vigour again,” Mr St Clair said.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and the New South Wales Government have signed an agreement that will transfer management and operation of Sydney’s Metropolitan Freight Network (MFN) to the ARTC until 2064.
The agreement will see the ARTC take responsibility for the remaining 19 kilometre section of the freight network between Enfield West and Port Botany.
"As signalling separation works are completed along the MFN, train control and maintenance will be progressively transferred to ARTC from RailCorp,” ARTC CEO John Fullerton said.
Mr Fullerton said the transfer of the MFN was an important milestone in ARTC's plans to provide its customers with a more reliable freight transit through the Sydney area.
“The rail yard at Port Botany has been fully modernised and resignalled to handle increasing volumes of container traffic to and from the Port,” Mr Fullerton said.
"Additional tracks are now under construction at Enfield and signalling works along the MFN will commence in the coming months - supporting a 30 per cent increase in rail freight capacity to and from the Port.
Melbourne’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) has appointed Leighton Contractors as the managing contractor for the construction of its new $109 million firefighter training facility in the city’s north.
The Future of Learning and Development (FOLD) project will serve as a multi-agency State asset that all emergency services will be able to access for future training needs.
Leighton has been awarded a $70 million contract to deliver a range of emergency response and management learning environment designed and built specifically to meet the MFB’s requirements. These will include standard classroom training facilities as well as purpose-built structures and simulated environments to support fire, marine, specialist rescue, safety and other forms of practical emergency management training.
"In addition to classroom learning facilities, this new training centre will feature simulated learning scenarios that are unique to Melbourne including train and tram infrastructure, marine settings and retail shopping environments," State Minister for Emergency Services Peter Ryan said.
Construction on the new MFB training facility is scheduled to start in coming months with the centre set to be operational in late 2014.
The Victorian Government has lashed out at the rollout plan of the National Broadband Network (NBN), saying it has ‘left Victoria stuck in slow motion.’
State Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips said the pace of the rollout had fallen well below demand for high speed internet.
In releasing a telecommunications report by Deloitte Access Economics, Mr Rich-Phillips said that it showed that over 350,000 Victorian households and businesses want faster broadband than currently available to them.
"The rollout of the NBN is failing to keep pace with demand for high-speed broadband services in Victoria," Mr Rich-Phillips said.
"In just two years, the number of premises that would upgrade to high speed broadband services has increased by 63 per cent. More than 350,000 Victorian homes and businesses would take up high speed broadband services if it was available to them.
A study conducted by the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR) has found that skilled migrants to Australia who are unable to find jobs that utilize their education and qualifications are substantially more likely to suffer from mental health issues after three and a half years.
Led by Associate Professor Alison Reid, the study found that skilled migrants often take jobs well below their capabilities due to the cost of migration, and often end up stuck in the role for a number of years.
"Often those jobs include cleaning, waiting in restaurants, labouring, working in factories or driving taxis - even if they were university educated or have other skills,” Associate Professor Reid said.
"It takes a while to get skills recognised, but if people are still in those jobs after a period of time, that's when mental health problems such as anxiety disorders can affect them."
The study used a questionnaire which asked questions of migrants after six months, 18 months and three and half years. There was no significant difference in mental health during the first two periods, but if people had been unable to find a job which used their qualifications by three and half years there was a decline in their wellbeing.
"Skilled migrants are selected for immigration based on criteria such as age, language ability, qualifications and work experience because they are expected to fill gaps in the labour force," Associate Professor Reid said.
"However this study has shown that there is a large under-utilisation of skills among migrant workers to Australia up to three and a half years post migration," she said.
"Since the mid-1990s Australia's immigration program has focused on encouraging skilled migration. What is needed now are support programs such as employment training, mentoring and supervision if after one year of arrival in Australia they are unsuccessful in obtaining employment in their field."
The study shows evidence that skilled migrants are more likely than Australian-born workers to work in jobs for which they're over-qualified.
The ACT Greens have released their Industrial Relations election initiative, aiming to make Canberra the ‘work safety capital’ of the country.
ACT Greens Industrial Relations Spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan, said the initiative was particularly focused on the health and safety of workers, especially those in the building and construction sector.
“We have seen four tragic deaths on ACT worksites just in the last year and this simply isn’t acceptable. The ACT accounts for just under 1.3% of Australia’s construction industry employment, but in the last year it has accounted for nearly 10% of total fatalities in the industry,” Ms Bresnan said.
The Greens have released two key initiatives for the ACT building and construction sector:
- A proposal to raise approximately $2M annually for improving safety and for training apprentices, especially in recognised areas of skills shortage. The funds would accrue through an increase in the building and construction training levy from 0.2% to 0.3%, and be managed by the Building and Construction Training Fund Authority. The Greens will consult with building and construction industry participants about this proposed change.
- $500K to support proactive inspections of safety and employee conditions on Government construction sites to help prevent accidents, eliminate sham contracting and ensure best practice in Government procurement.
Details of the proposal are available here: http://act.greens.org.au/sites/greens.org.au/files/Safe_and_Healthy_Workplaces.pdf
Logistics specialist DHL has published its 2012 DHL Export Barometer, showing a recovering business outlook for exporters, despite the strong Australian dollar.
Exporter confidence has returned to rare form following a significant dip in 2011, which DHL attributes to a range of strong new business strategies, including exporting to new markets, product and service innovation and growing orders from existing destination.
The report, now in its ninth year, found that half of exports expect company profits to increase, compared to 41 per cent this time last year.
The report also found that New Zealand has emerged as a market of growing importance for Australian exporters. Not only did it top the list of current export destinations (50% this year compared to 39% last year), but New Zealand has replaced the UK as the third biggest export destination predicted in five years’ time (34%).
Gary Edstein, Senior Vice President, DHL Express Oceania, believes New Zealand is an important market for Australian exporters, commenting that “New Zealand has always been an uncomplicated trading opportunity for Australians with many using it as a testing ground for their business before launching into larger export markets.”
The key findings of the report are:
- 57% of exporters expect to increase their export orders in 2012, up from 48% last year
- 50% of exporters expect company profitability to increase in the next 12 months, up from 41% in 2011
- Innovation and product refinement identified as the top strategies to manage the strong Australian dollar
- Shift seen in future export destinations with New Zealand replacing the UK as one of the five biggest export destinations of the future
- Indonesia and Middle East also identified as biggest markets for growth
The Victorian Government has granted approval for the construction of the new $195 million 71 storey at Queensbridge Street, Southbank.
Dubbed ‘The Falls’, the 236-metre building is expected to create over 600 construction jobs and, when completed, will be Melbourne’s fourth tallest building.
"The approval of The Falls is consistent with the Victorian Coalition Government's commitment to grow a greater Melbourne CBD and to continue the transformation of the city centre to a world-class, 24-hour city,” State Minister for Planning Matthew Guy said.
The development will see a total of 586 apartments constructed as well as a large ground level retail arcade. The development will also include communal meeting rooms, a north facing lap pool and spa as well as function rooms, lounges and bars for residents and guests.
Details of the proposal are outlined in the planning permit available at www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning/permits
WorkSafe Victoria has announced it will be focusing its Return to Work inspectors in the western Melbourne suburbs of Laverton, Hoppers Crossing and Werribee, aiming to ensure that employees are complying with their return to work obligations for injured workers.
WorkSafe’s Return to Work Director, Ross Jones, said employers played a key role in helping injured workers get back to safe work.
“We know businesses are faced with a range of competing demands but it’s essential workplaces are addressing their legal obligations,” he said.
“Helping injured workers return to work in a safe and sustainable way can be a complex process so our inspectors’ role is to provide guidance and advice to employers as well as talk them through possible options.”
“We want employers to do all they can to maximise an injured worker’s chance of getting back to work, whether it be to their original job or on modified or alternative duties.”
“In many cases, you do not need to be 100 per cent recovered to return to work, in fact, getting back to work is an important part of the rehabilitation process.”
Almost 5000 injuries in the Wyndham region were reported to WorkSafe over the last five financial years to 30 June 2011, costing employers nearly $100 million in medical costs, wages and other expenses.
The Federal and Victorian Governments have struck a deal that will see the Barwon Region host one of the first National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) trial sites.
The trial in the Barwon Region is due to start in July next year and will see some 5,000 people with significant and profound disabilities, their families and carers have their needs assessed and start to receive individual car and support packages under the scheme.
Under an NDIS people with disability in the Barwon region will:
- be assessed to receive NDIS individualised care and support packages;
- have decision-making power about their care and support, including choice of service provider;
- be assisted by local coordinators to help manage and deliver their support; and
- access a system they can easily navigate and that will link them to mainstream and community services.The Australian and Victorian Governments will work together to provide people with disability, their families and carers with the care and support they need, when they need it.
This work will include developing a consistent approach to assessing people's needs; and working with service providers to build the capacity of the disability care workforce in the Barwon region.
The Victorian launch is in addition to launches already agreed with New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.
The Victorian funding contribution and governance arrangements are consistent with those agreed with other jurisdictions.
The Victorian Government will invest over $300 million for disability services for people in the Barwon Region over the trial period.
The Australian and Victorian Government's will hold further discussions regarding the location of the agency and a potential $25 million contribution from the Victorian Government for the establishment of the agency in Geelong.
The Victorian Government has officially opened the new $17.5 million Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal.
Deputy Premier and Minister for regional and Rural Development, Peter Ryan, attended the official completion of works at the facility, which is set to relieve supply chain bottlenecks in the rail and port handling facilities of the state.
It will also overcome the constraints that have existed with the ageing terminal in the middle of Horsham and pave the way for even better infrastructure to support the movement of containerised exports and bulk grain through a bulk loading facility also to be built at the site,” Mr Ryan said.
The facility was jointly funded by the State Government ($9.3 million), local councils ($1 million), the private sector ($660,000) and the Federal Government ($6.5 million).
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the modernisation of the Interstate Rail Network was central to Federal Government’s broader efforts to lift productivity, curb harmful carbon emissions and take the pressure off the nation's highways.
Within five to six years it's expected the new facility will be able to process up to 18,600 containers—more than twice the capacity of the existing Horsham facility.
The Federal Government has announced the process of appointing a board for the Government Business Enterprise to oversee the private sector delivery of the new freight handling facility at Sydney’s Moorebank has begun and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Penny Wong, was joined by Transport Minister Anthony Albanese in announcing that executive search firm Hudson Global Resources has been selected for identifying suitable candidates for the position.
“From the outset, we have been determined to put in place an experienced board made up of individuals with a strong commercial focus and capable of delivering the best financial and policy outcomes for both taxpayers and national economy,” Senator Wong said.
“This is an opportunity for the public and private sectors to work together to deliver a project which will boost national productivity, increase efficiencies for business, and ease congestion on Sydney's roads.”
From January 2013, the GBE will oversee the remediation of the site as well as manage the tender process to select the private sector company or consortium to design, build and operate the new facility.
Mr Albanese said the Detailed Business Case released earlier this year calculated that the Intermodal Terminal would generate $10 billion in economic benefits, take 1.2 million trucks a year off Sydney's roads and inject $135 million into the economy of Western Sydney annually.
“Over the longer term, this facility has the potential to transform the movement of freight along the entire east coast,” Mr Albanese said.
“Already there has been strong private sector interest in building and operating this vital piece of new infrastructure, with some 40 major domestic and international freight and logistics companies attending market briefing sessions in recent months.”
Subject to planning and environmental approvals, the new Moorebank Intermodal Terminal is expected to open for business in 2017.
The Federal Government has announced the appointment of three industry executives as the new Resources Sector Supplier Advocates.
Appointed by Federal Minister for Industry and Innovation. Greg Combet, the advocates are:
- Christian Larsen – Industrial, Precious and Specialty
- Paul Johnson – Energy
- Chris Chalwell – Iron Ore
"Their diverse and extensive industry experience, insight and leadership will help local firms get a fair go when competing for work in the resources sector," Mr Combet said.
Mr Combet said the advocates would build on existing industry programs, including Enterprise Connect, the Industry Capability Network and Austrade.
"They will work with major project owners, prime contractors, industry associations, unions and state governments on practical strategies to help Australian companies capitalise on opportunities from the resources boom," Mr Combet said.
The Federal Government has confirmed the appointment of Jillian Broadbent as the chair of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) Board for a five-year term. Also announced were the appointments of Michael Carapiet, Ian Moor, Anna Karbek and Andrew Stock as the inaugural members of the Board.
Ms Broadbent brings extensive experience in banking to the new role, having been made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2003 for her services to the economic and financial development of the country. Ms Broadbent is currently a member of the Board of the Reserve Bank, having held that role for over 14 years.
Mr Carapiet recently retired from a 22-year career as an investment banker in Macquarie Bank, where he headed the investment banking divisionof Mcquarie Capital and became executive chair in 2010.
Mr Moore brings over two decades of experience in the banking and fiancne sectors, having served at Banker’s Trust for the majority of his career in the sector.
Ms Skarbek is the executive director of ClimateWorks Australia. Before this, she worked in London's carbon markets, as vice president at Climate Change Capital a specialist investment manager and advisor dedicated to raising and deploying capital for low carbon activities.
Mr Stock recently retired after a long career at Origin Energy. As executive general manager, major development projects and an Australia Pacific LNG director, he was responsible for Origin's major capital projects in upstream petroleum, power generation, and low-emissions technology businesses.
The National Capital Authority has invited public comment on a draft Development Control Plan aimed at guiding future development of a 40-megawatt large-scale solar generation facility in Tuggeranong.
The release of the draft plan comes after the ACT Government announced a request for proposals to support the development of the facility.
Draft DCP 12/08 will establishes planning and urban design provisions for the area, including building height, setbacks and design, landscape character, access and parking.
The NCA's Chief Planner, Mr Andrew Smith said the draft DCP has been prepared to guide the future development of the site within the framework of the National Capital Plan and the Territory Plan.
"The draft DCP maintains the integrity of the approach route, and ensures the setting, buildings and purpose of development enhance the area," said Mr Smith.
An advertisement will appear in The Canberra Times tomorrow, inviting public comment.
The draft DCP can be downloaded here, or viewed at the NCA reception and National Capital Exhibition.
Community feedback is sought via:
The Queensland Government has ruled out the privatisation of any of its electricity assets ‘unless it has a mandate from voters.’
State Minister for Energy and Water Supply Mark McArdle said that selling its power assets would result in Queensland taxpayers losing over $1.5 billion through ‘massive devaluations of electricity assets due to the Carbon Tax.
Mr McArdle said that the coal fired power stations, through which the state derives almost 60 per cent of the Queensland-Government owned generating capacity, have been significantly devalued as a result of the introduction of the Carbon Tax.
Mr McArdle also took the opportunity to take a swipe at Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s ‘grandstanding’ over calls to control inflating electricity prices, which she likened to ‘this generation’s petrol prices’.
The New South Wales Government has released its long awaited Commission of Audit Final Report, outlying key ways to improve public sector management and service delivery in the State.
Its release comes after the State Government commissioned Dr Kerry Schott to produce the Commission of Auit last year in a bid to develop an improved framework for the future of the State’s public sector.
The final report touches on six key themes for future reform of the state’s public sector:
- Partnerships and outsourcing
- Workforce flexibility
- Transparent and evidence based decisions
- Collaboration and coordination
- Budget constraint
Infrastructure Partnerships Australia’s CEO, Brendan Lyon, says the release of the final report highlights the case for the full privatisation of the state’s electricity sector.
“The Schott Review provides a clear remedy to fix the State’s ailing finances and restore capacity to deliver the infrastructure that’s needed,” Mr Lyon said.
“Funding infrastructure in the immediate term demands the sale of assets, and in the short, medium and longer term, it means cutting waste in the public sector so that the State is living within its means and using debt to fund new projects, not to pay wages.
“Dr Schott correctly identifies the sale of electricity assets as a key opportunity to invest in new infrastructure and bring down the cost of electricity for the State’s consumers and businesses.”
Mr Lyon said that the sale of the state’s electricity assets is crucial to keeping prices down, an issue which has entered the public limelight since Prime Minister Julia Gillard declared electricity bills to be ‘the new petrol prices’, faced by Australian households.
“But since privatisation, electricity prices in Victoria and South Australia have risen at half the rate of NSW, because private companies are competing for customers. Meanwhile, the continued monopoly public ownership in NSW has seen inefficient work practices and infrastructure investments jack up prices, vandalising the competitiveness of NSW businesses and squeezing low income household,” Mr Lyon said.
International telecommunications hardware specialist has announced a $11 million expansion to its Dee Why fibre manufacturing facility in New South Wales.
The National Broadband Network Co (NBN Co) has welcomed the decision, with CEO Mike Quigley hailing the commitment to keep as much fibre manufacturing in Australia as possible.
"The expansion came about after a commitment was made to source approximately 80% of the value of the NBN Co Prysmian cabling contract within Australia," Mr Quigley said.
"It's great to see Prysmian, a global manufacturer of telecommunications cabling, investing here in Australia due to the Federal Government's decision to build the National Broadband Network," he said.
The expansion of the facility comes after the company was awarded a $300 million contract to provide cabling for the NBN project.
On top of the multi-million dollar investment, the five-year contract also secures job certainty for approximately 100 existing staff within the Dee Why facility, with the potential for up to 50 additional jobs to be created as the project ramps up.
Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings has lashed out at Liberal State Premiers for their opposition to the opt-out provisions in their NBN rollout agreements, urging them to cease their politically motivated opposition to this nation-building reform.’
The call by Ms Giddings comes after the National Broadband Network Co (NBN Co) released its updated Corporate Plan, which has adopted the Tasmanian opt-out policy.
The new policy will require businesses and households who do not wish to be connected to the NBN to opt out of the process.
Tasmania was the first state to adopt the opt-out model, which means optic fibre will be laid to all homes and businesses at no cost to residents, unless they advise otherwise.
"The opt-out model will be used in the current and final stage of the roll-out in Tasmania and we expect that it will assist with the take-up of this revolutionary new technology,” Ms Giddings said.