The Australian Constructors Association has announced the appointment of Lindsay Le Compte as the association’s new Executive Director. Mr Le Compte will take the role after Jim Barrett retires after 17 years in the position.
"Lindsay Le Compte brings to the Association sound experience in construction industry advocacy and a good working knowledge of government. The Board believes Mr Le Compte has the right skill set to lead the Association in the next stage of its development," ACA President Peter Brecht said.
Mr Le Compte was the Chief Executive NSW and ACT Chapters of the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) from 2007 - 2011.In previous roles Mr Le Compte was General Manager, Home Building Service, NSW Department of Fair Trading, Inspector General of NSW Corrective Services and Chief Executive of the NSW Casino Control Authority.
Mr Brecht thanked Mr Barrett for his contribution to the Association and the Australian construction industry.
"Jim Barrett has been an outstanding construction industry leader for many years. He joined the Association in its formative years and has provided great support to the ACA Board. Jim has represented the Association with distinction on a number of industry organisations and his contribution has been highly regarded by Governments and his colleagues across the industry," Mr Brecht said.
A study conducted by Sydney based telecommunications specialist Market Clarity has found that Australian and New Zealand Internet Service Providers (ISP) pay comparable costs for services such as domestic international IP Transit.
The study, which is based on interviews with retail ISPs on both sides of the Tasman, found that Australian ISPs devote more average revenue per users (ARPU) to wholesale service costs (such as ADLS access services, domestic backhaul and IP transit) than their counterparts in New Zealand.
“There is a widespread perception, particularly in New Zealand, that the costs of international services drive the difference between the allowances offered Australian and New Zealand broadband customers,” Market Clarity CEO Shara Evans said.
“However, our research suggests that other factors are more significant. These might include the different domestic regulatory regimes in the two countries, and the competitive pressure brought about by Australia’s much larger number of retail ISPs.”
After all costs are taken into account, the research found that Australian retail broadband ISPs retain a median profit markin of 26.3 percent of ARPU, while New Zealand ISPs have posted a median margin of 38.8 per cent of their ARPU.
“Our interviews with ISPs in Australia and New Zealand also revealed different concerns about what might prevent business growth in the future,” Ms Evans said.
“In Australia, ISPs are concerned at aspects of the NBN pricing model. In particular, they are worried that the NBN’s CVC pricing could emerge as a future constraint to growth in customer allowances. ISPs are also worried about the large number of NBN POIs (Points of Interconnect).
“However, New Zealand ISPs were more likely to nominate lack of consumer access to content as holding back growth.
“Although some New Zealand respondents to our study said their broadband growth is constrained by factors like IP Transit costs, this was not corroborated by our comparison of their cost base relative to Australian providers,” Ms Evans said.
The study can be found here
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a report that indicates a steady increase in the number of older Australians requiring hospitalisation following a fall.
The Hospitalisations due to falls in older people, Australia 2009-09 found that there were 78,6000 hospitalised injury cases due to falls in people aged 65 over in that period, a 4,000 increase from the 2007-08 year.
Women made up most of the hospitalisations for falls, and the rate of fall cases was higher for women than for men across all older age groups.
“The rate of hospitalised falls for older women is now more than 3,000 per 100,000 older women, continuing the steady increase observed since 1999–00,” AIHW spokersperson Professor James Harrison said.
About one-third of fall injury cases involved injuries to the hip and thigh, and the majority of these were hip fractures.
“Despite a decrease in the rate of hospitalised hip fractures among older people over the 10 years to June 2009, the number of hospitalisations due to falls in older people is rising,’” Professor Harrison said.
Head injuries accounted for about one in five cases and were more common for men than women.
“Falls resulting in head injuries increased at a particularly high rate between 1999 and 2009,” Professor Harrison said.
Falls on the same level due to slipping, tripping, or stumbling (rather than, for instance, a fall involving furniture or stairs) were the most common cause of a hospitalised fall injury.
The majority (about 70%) of hospitalised falls occurred in either the home or an aged care facility. Older people who lived in aged care facilities had a rate of falls nearly six times as high as that for people of the same age who lived in the community and fell in their home.
The report can be found here
Australia Post and Telstra have announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see the ISP become a participant in Australia Post’s Digital Mailbox system.
The MoU will also enable Australia Post to use use Australian based hosting and network services, while Telstra expects to be able to boost its capability to deliver more products and services through the Australia Post IT network.
Launching later this year, the Australia Post Digital MailBox will enable consumers to connect to their secure, individual MailBox anywhere, anytime to receive statements and bills, set reminders and make payments using any internet enabled device.
As part of this memorandum, Telstra will also work with Australia Post towards an agreement for the Digital MailBox service to be hosted on Telstra’s Australian based secure cloud computing platform.
“Part of our digital customer strategy is to provide our customers with access to information through a variety of channels of their choice. The Australia Post Digital MailBox will extend this choice to complement our existing digital options such as our website, and mobile applications,” Telstra CEO David Thodey said.
“Telstra is investing more than $800 million across the next five years to further grow our cloud computing services. We are very pleased Australia Post has chosen to work with us on finalising an agreement that will see the new Digital MailBox Service hosted on the secure Telstra cloud computing platform.”
The Federal Government has warned ‘the clock is now ticking’ on up to 2000 Victorian jobs after the Victorian Government announced its plans to cut $300 million from the state’s training organisations.
The frank warning from Federal Minister for Tertiary Education and Skills Senator Chris Evans comes as a recent analysis shows that up to 550 Victorian jobs will be lost by July this year as a result from the State Government cuts.
Projections indicate that a further 1320 positions are ‘on the line’ by early next year, with 400 positions likely to be shed from regional TAFE providers and a further 950 at metropolitan and dual sector providers.
"These cuts will seriously undermine the national training effort and see hundreds of Victorians lose their jobs in the coming weeks,' Senator Evans said.
"These are teaching job cuts - they go right to the heart of our training effort and the future of Victorians across the state.
"If the Victorian Government goes ahead with its training funding cuts, we will not have the skilled workers we need to fill the jobs of tomorrow and employers will be forced to rely more and more on skilled foreign workers.
The NSW Legislative Council’s State Development Committee has received terms of reference for an inquiry into the adequacy of water storages in NSW.
The Committee, chaired by Nationals member, Rick Colless, will examine:
- the capacity of existing water storages to meet agricultural, urban, industrial and environmental needs;
- models for determining water requirements for the agricultural, urban, industrial and environmental sectors;
- storage management practices to optimise water supply to the agricultural, urban,industrial and environmental sectors;
- proposals for the construction and/or augmentation of water storages in NSW with regard to storage efficiency, engineering feasibility, safety, community support and cost benefit;
- water storages and management practices in other Australian and international jurisdictions; and
- any other matter relating to the adequacy of water storages in NSW.
The closing date for submissions is 3 August. More information is here.
The Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, will open the 2012 Cybersafety Summit in Canberra on the 12th of June.
At the Summit 150 participants, including members of the Youth Advisory Group on Cybersafety (YAG), will have the opportunity to discuss cybersafety issues in person and get expert advice from industry representatives.
“The 2012 Cybersafety Summit will provide a great chance for me to hear directly from YAG members about how the Government can continue to strengthen our approach to cybersafety issues,” Senator Conroy said.
“Last week we finished our online YAG consultations with over 800 secondary students from 95 schools across Australia. We received some fantastic advice and I look forward to continuing these conversations at the Summit.”
Members of the government’s Consultative Working Group on Cybersafety, including Facebook, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, will be at the Summit provide expert advice to participants.
Preliminary findings by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has found that the numbers of students enrolled in the public vocational education and training has risen for its fourth consecutive year to 1.9 million.
Recording a total increase of 4.6 per cent from 2010 to 2011, the Australian vocational education and training statistics shows a snapshot of training activity from the annual collection of student enrolments.
Student numbers increased in most states and territories, with the greatest increases reported in Victoria (14.8%), Northern Territory (1.5%) and Western Australia (1.1%).
Compared with 2010, the largest increases in student numbers occurred in Victoria (77 000 more students) and New South Wales (3 500 more students) and Queensland (2 800 more students).
he largest increase in student numbers occurred in qualifications at Certificate III and higher: Certificate III (9.9%), Certificate IV (20.4%) and Diploma or higher (12.7%).
Hours of delivery and full-year training equivalents in 2011 also increased by 8.6% nationally.
NCVER will release detailed data on training activity in July this year.
Copies of Australian vocational education and training statistics: Students and courses 2011 – preliminary data are available from www.ncver.edu.au/publications/2504.html
Findings released by data specialist RP Data show that the interest rate hike in November last year is seriously effecting elements of the housing market.
The RP Data-Rismark Home Value Index found an average -0.3 contraction in the sales of an 85,000 home sales control group, with values falling in capital city dwelling values by 1.2 per cent in the three months to April. Expensive suburbs have recorded the largest contraction in the market.
In the 12 months to April, the capital city housing market recorded a 1.5 per cent contraction, with the trend closely followed in regional markets.
RP Data’s research director, Tim Lawless, said that expensive suburbs had dragged the market down, which over the last 12 months have recorded a total 5.4 per cent contraction. RP Data found that the cheapest suburbs had performed well, contracting by only -0.9 per cent.
“The solid performance of cheap suburbs runs against the grain of popular claims that default rates are rocketing up amongst first time buyers, which the RBA recently rejected,” Mr Lawless said.
“The luxury end of the housing market is also showing its volatility. During the growth phase of the cycle the most expensive homes realised the highest capital gains. Yet as the market cools premium home values seem to be losing steam the fastest.”
The national median dwelling price in capital cities is $468,000 based on sales over the three months to April. In the ‘Rest of State’ (i.e., non-capital city) markets, the national median dwelling price is a far lower $325,000. Across all Australian regions, the median dwelling price is currently $418,000.
The South Australian Government has outlined $30.4 million over four years for the development of a new digital system for pathology testing.
“The new Enterprise Pathology Laboratory Information System (EPLIS) is a state-wide electronic storage system for all pathology tests and is an important step in the moving SA Health to a digital health system,” Treasurer Jack Snelling said.
Currently the use of different systems in different hospitals means the results of some tests done in one hospital cannot be viewed in another hospital.
“EPLIS will make test results accessible across the system, including electronic links to private pathology testing. This will result in a reduction in duplication of tests and provide faster results for patients,” Mr Snelling said.
The EPLIS spending forms part of the state's broader $191.7 million in e-health services spending across three major initiatives.
“This includes a new system for electronic health records, the Enterprise Patient Administration System (EPAS), which will transform health care in South Australia, saving lives, time and money and making the health system much more efficient,” State Health Minister John Hill said.
The South Australian Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department for Water will form a single agency after the State Government handed down its 2012-13 Budget.
Treasurer Jack Snelling said the merger will bring together all the policy makers, project managers, natural resource planners and scientists in the areas of environment, conservation, water and natural resource planning.
“Bringing together the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department for Water will result in a more integrated department able to more effectively manage our natural and water resources with increased efficiency," Mr Snelling said.
“The new Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources will continue to focus on managing our unique natural environment and achieving long term water security for South Australians.”
The new agency will also see a new Taskforce secretariat entirely committed to the State's efforts with regards to the Basin Plan will be created. The taskforce will focus on the next steps in the process and on engaging the community in South Australia's response. The Chief Executive of this Taskforce will be Mr Scott Ashby, the current head of the Department for Water.
The State estimates the formation of the new agency will save an estimated $6.7 million.
The South Australian Government has outlined its planned $10.8 billion spending package over the next four years to further develop key infrastructure assets.
Treasurer Jack Snelling said despite record revenue write-downs, the Government was committed to continuing rolling out a record infrastructure build.
Mr Snelling said in 2012-13 alone, the State Government would be spending $2.9 billion in work on infrastructure building and upgrades, including;
- $230 million for the South Road Superway from the Port River Expressway to Regency Road;
- $191.2 million on the redevelopment of Adelaide Oval into a world class multi-sports venue;
- $165.5 million on the duplication of the Southern Expressway;
- $135.8 million on the electrification of rail line and station upgrades on the Noarlunga line;
- $110 million on the grade separation of the Goodwood rail junction NEW;
- $80.7 million on the Riverbank Precinct redevelopment;
- $78.9 million on the North-South Interconnection System Project;
- $76.3 million on developing the Sustainable Industries Education Centre at Tonsley;
- $59.5 million on the construction of an electrified rail line from Noarlunga to Seaford;
- $53.9 million on the Glenside Campus redevelopment, building a new 129-bed mental health hospital;
- $50 million on the Lyell McEwin Hospital Stage C redevelopment;
- $35.5 million on construction of new or improvements to existing houses in Aboriginal communities;
- $30.5 million to extend the capacity of Adelaide, Marryatville and Glenunga International high schools and Brighton Secondary School;
- $30.5 million on the purchase of new electric railcars for operation on the upgraded electric rail lines;
- $22.5 million on the pedestrian bridge over the River Torrens connecting the Riverbank precinct to the Adelaide Oval;
- $20.8 million on upgrading infrastructure at Northfield prisons;
- $19 million to build a dedicated Mining and Engineering Industry Training Centre at Regency Park; NEW
- $13.2 million on the upgrade and signalisation of the intersection of Tiver Road and Main North Road at Evanston NEW;
- $12.2 million on the upgrade to the public transport ticketing system;
- $11.9 million on the Parks Community Centre redevelopment NEW; and
- $8.1 million upgrading interchanges along the O-Bahn corridor
The South Australian Government has announced major cuts to the state's rail infrastructure spending after Treasurer Jack Snelling handed down a lean 2012-13 State Budget.
Mr Snelling blamed a 'record revenue write-down' on his Government's decision to suspend a number of major projects in the state's rail sector.
“A total saving of $372.9 million through to 2015-16 will result from the suspension of electrification while we wait for revenues to return to more normal levels before proceeding with the electrification of the Gawler and Outer Harbor lines.”
Mr Snelling said the changes to the rail system also included:
- From the end of 2013/early 2014, electric railcars will exclusively service southern commuters with increased services;
- The State Government will spend $110 million in 2012-13 for the grade separation at Goodwood. This is the first stage of the joint State and Commonwealth Government funded $443 million upgrade of the Goodwood and Torrens rail junctions;
- This will coincide with the Noarlunga line upgrade and electrification works;
- A suspension of the proposed standardisation of the metropolitan rail network that was meant to commence in 2015-16, saving $35 million in 2015-16 and meaning the suspension of light rail plans to Port Adelaide, West Lakes and Semaphore;
- The construction of a new rail station at St Clair and the completion of the Elizabeth turnback will continue as planned with the turnback to support increased frequency of rail services between Adelaide and Elizabeth;
- The rail re-sleepering works will continue as planned across all lines;
- The train protection system will be rolled out across the rail network as the system is electrified; and
- Savings of $12.9 million over two years through the deferral of a program to purchase land for a future rail corridor between Seaford and Aldinga to 2016-17
The South Australian Government has announced $212.5 million in disability support, with $20 million being directed to fund the roll out of the Federal Government's National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The funding represents a 15 per cent increase for the disability sector over last year's budget and will cover accommodation, care and respite.
“The demand for disability services is increasing and the State Government is reforming the way we provide support to people with a disability," Treasurer Jack Snelling said.
In an otherwise lean Budget, the spending forms the largest single new initiative.
The 2012-13 State Budget also includes an additional $1 million over two years to support not-for-profit organisations plan and prepare for the transition from the current block funding arrangements to a more competitive disability services environment in line with a proposed NDIS.
The South Australian Government has handed down its Budget for 2012-13, with Treasurer Jack Snelling announcing broad cuts to the public service as his Government aims to restore surplus in 2015-16.
Mr Snelling delivered the $284 million deficit budget after the state declared a "record revenue write down."
The State's Budget will see some 1,000 full time equivalent positions cut from the state's public service, which will save the state an estimated $160 million over four years.
Despite cuts to a number of large projects, Mr Snelling said he remains confident in the South Australian economic fundamentals.
“The economy is growing, unemployment is at historic lows, mining and exports continue to excel despite a relatively high Australian dollar and globally we are in a position of strength," Mr Snelling said.
“For the moment however we are faced with challenges which are being felt across the country, we have been faced with a $2.8 billion dollar revenue write-down from the last Budget - largely due to soft consumer spending and a subdued property market."
Major spending initiatives outlined in the budget papers include:
- $212.5 million to boost to disability services, the largest injection into disabilities in more than 25 years;
- $45.7 million on a one-off Water Security Rebate to help alleviate the costs of increased water prices;
$38.3 million on a new Mining and Engineering Industry Training Centre to ensure South Australians have the skills for the mining jobs of the future;
- $30.4 million on a new digital system for pathology testing for better patient care in our health system;
- $28.7 million to redevelop the Parks Community Centre in Adelaide’s north-western suburbs;
- $20 million to make sure South Australia is ready for a launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme
- $19.8 million in additional funding to boost support for our children in need of alternative care;
- $8.3 million to boost equipment and training for our emergency services;
- $8.3 million on an Advanced Manufacturing Strategy to support growth in this vital sector;
- $5.6 million to extend the $8000 First Home Bonus Grant for at least another 12 months;
- $5.1 million for a stamp duty concessions for people buying off-the-plan apartments in the City; and
- $3.3 million for a pilot program in Adelaide’s northern suburbs for early support for vulnerable families with infants with young children
While major cuts include:
- $372.9 million on the suspension of the electrification of the Gawler and Outer Harbor rail lines. The electrification of the Noarlunga line through to Seaford and the network train capacity will increase;
- $255.6 million on making the public service more efficient by increasing their efficiency dividend from 0.25% to 1.0% from 2013-14 to be offset by $81.9 million of spending on a new public sector skills and retention entitlement to retain experienced public servants;
- $166.8 million on the reduction of 1000 full-time equivalent employees in the public service through either targeted voluntary separation packages (TVSP) or natural attrition to be offset by $60.4 million of spending to the cost of providing TVSPs over the same period;
- $121.2 million on deferring the abolition of stamp duty on non-real property transfers;
- $120.4 million on the abolition of payroll tax exemptions for eligble apprentices and trainees to be offset by $48.1 million of spending re-target support directly to registered group training organisations;
- $77 million on deferring a redevelopment of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and a rehabilitation in-patient unit at the Modbury Hospital.
- Merging the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with the Department of Water, not renewing the Government’s lease on corporate facilities at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and ending funding for the Thinkers in Residence program and the Integrated Design Commission.
The South Australian Government has announced it will cut 1000 full time equivalent positions from its public sector over the next three years, while setting greater efficiency targets.
Treasurer Jack Snelling announced the cuts will save the state $166.8 million over the three years and will be balanced by $60.4 million in targeted voluntary separation packages (TVSPs).
“Savings measures are needed to reduce the size of the Government, reducing the pressure on the state’s finances while creating a leaner Government,” Mr Snelling said.
Mr Snelling also announced the state expects to save over $255.6 million through improved efficiency targets.
“This represents an increase in the current efficiency dividend from 0.25 per cent to 1.0 per cent from 2013-14,” Mr Snelling said.
“As is currently the case, agencies will have the flexibility to tailor the savings to their particular structures but we believe agencies will be able to find these efficiencies.”
“A smaller public sector needs to be more productive and it is, therefore, vital we retain the skills of our most experienced public servants,”
Internet Service Provider Internode’s founder Simon Hackett has announced he will step down from his executive duties to assume a seat the board of the company’s new owner, iiNet.
“The integration between Internode and iiNet technical systems has gone much faster than expected,” said Mr Hackett.
“While I will continue to represent Internode as I always have, I am keen to contribute at a group level, influencing the strategy of the entire iiNet group.”
Mr Hackett announced the selling of Internode to iiNet in December for $105 million in cash and iiNet shares.
“Simon Hackett has an enormous amount of experience and credibility in the industry. We are very pleased that he is willing to step up and join the board,” iiNet CEO Michael Malone said.
Other Internode staff are also stepping into key group roles within iiNet.
Internode’s Chief Technology Officer John Lindsay was recently appointed as iiNet Chief Technology Officer, now responsible for the network and operations for iiNet as well as Internode. “Internode has had a reputation for running a first class national and international network,” said Mr Malone. “It makes sense for the Internode and iiNet engineering teams to get together and for John to head it up.”
Fair Work Australia has announced a 2.9 per cent increase to the country’s minimum wage, with the national wage rising to $606.40 per week, or $15.96 an our. The increase equates to an additional $17.10 for the country’s lowest paid.
The increase applies to minimum wages for junior employees, employees to whom training arrangements apply and employees with disability, and to piece rates through the operation of the methods applying to the calculation of those wages.
"In this review we have decided that the relevant statutory considerations favour a moderate increase, which will improve the real value of award wages and assist the living standards of the low paid," Fair Work President Justice Ian Ross said.
Researchers at Switzerland’s Federal Polytechnic School have announced a breakthrough in spinal chord research after scientists restored voluntary lower body movement to a paralyzed rat.
Scientists used a system of neurorehabilitation involving a robotic harness and electrical-chemical stimulation to bring the rat’s central nervous system back to full operational capacity. The findings surpass our previous understanding of neuroplasticity, the way in which the brain and spinal chord recover from minor injuries, proving that under certain conditions, plasticity can take place in far more severe cases.
To achieve this degree of neuroplasticity, lead author Grégoire Courtine and his team injected a chemical solution of monoamine agonists into the injured rates, triggering cell responses by binding to specific dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin receptors located the spinal neurons. This cocktail replaced the neurotransmitters released by healthy subjects.
Five to 10 minutes after the injection, the scientists electrically stimulated the spinal cord with electrodes implanted in the outermost layer of the spinal canal, called the epidural space.
It is still unclear whether or not this method can be applied to human patients, but Mr Courtine said the findings hit at new methods for treating paralysis.
The results, published in the June 1 issue of Science, are the culmination of a five year study that promise to radically change our understanding of the central nervous system.
The Victorian Government is urging the public to submit their comments on the future of the state’s water management fter a number of the sate’s water aurthorities released consultation papers on their draft water plans.
The four-month consultation period will allow Victorians to review and comment on their local water plan and proposed water pricing which will cover proposed services and prices from mid 2013 to mid 2018.
Minister for Water Peter Walsh said he strongly encouraged all members of the community to provide comment on the draft plans which will outline the pricing structure for water.
"Victorians have an opportunity to provide their feedback on how much they will pay for their water in the future, and what services will be included in this cost.
Mr Walsh said Melbourne water retailers had proposed price increases of between 19.4 per cent and 21.8 per cent over the five-year period.
Public comment is sought on these plans prior to submission of final Water Plans in September 2012 to the Essential Services Commission (ESC).
More information can be found here
The South Australian Government has announced it will abolish the payroll tax exception for apprentices and trainees, while re-targeting support directly to registered group training organisations.
The abolition of the exemptions will save the Government an estimated $120.4 million over four years, while the direct funding to support training in critical areas will cost $48.1 over the same period.
“Payroll tax does not appear to be a critical factor in the decision to employ apprentices and trainees for the majority of employers,” Treasurer Jack Snelling said.
“Instead funding will be targeted to encourage organisations to employ apprentices and trainees undertaking qualifications which are of strategic importance to the State.”
Mr Snelling said the direct funding in the form of Government grants allow for a more targeting support of training organisations.
The Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology will administer the grants.