Adelaide City Council has announced a suite of city planning reforms and 77 new proposed heritage listings.
Announced by SA Premier Jay Weatherill, State Minister for Planning John Rau and Adelaide Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood, the measures aim to boost city development and encourage innovative architecture.
“Council is committed to working with the State Government to demonstrate that city development and sensible heritage protection can work together,” said Lord Mayor Yarwood.
“We have a common goal to grow the city and put a greater emphasis on design and planning, as reflected in the Capital City Development Plan Amendment and at the same time, Council also wants to retain the city’s unique character by proposing 77 buildings to be added to the local heritage list.”
Each of the proposed heritage listed properties have been individually reviewed by independent heritage experts and carefully considered by both Council and the Minister for Planning. Property owners are being personally informed by Council staff and the full list can be found here.
Consultation on the proposed changes is open from now until 1 June 2012. Council is encouraging feedback on the new planning regimes, set out in the Capital City DPA, via the DPTI website , while comment on Council’s proposed local heritage listed buildings can be provided on the Your Say website or at Council’s New Planning Lab at 25 Pirie Street.
The Western Australian Government has announced new community engagement resources are now available on the integrated Planning and Reporting website aimed at supporting local governments.
The Western Australian Department of Local Government has reiterated its support of the move, saying that community engagement is crucial to the Integrated Planning and Reporting process.
Elected members and practitioners will be able to find a range of information including how to understand the community engagement process, how to design the engagement process and implementation strategies.
There are also links from these tools to additional resources and case studies.
This resource was developed with input from the Strategic Planning and Community Engagement Working Group and local government representatives.
More information can be found here
The Local Government Association of South Australia (LGSA) has released a discussion paper canvassing a range of issues facing Local Government, including accountability and standards of conduct.
Local Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Russell Wortley, is urging people to express their views on what they expect from the State's 68 Councils.
"The paper also looks at other measures designed to help Councils and their elected members in fulfilling their duties and responsibilities.
"This paper builds on the legislative reforms from recent years and takes into account issues arising from recent investigations and reports, including recommendations by the Ombudsman for legislative change.
"Importantly, it fits into the context of the Government's proposed public integrity and anticorruption framework.
"These reforms stand to have significant implications for the Local Government sector and we hope that legislation to implement such changes will be presented to Parliament in the near future," Mr Wortley said.
The paper outlines issues and proposals in relation to:
- Implementation of a mandated, uniform code of conduct for council members and council
- Conflict of Interest provisions applying to council members;
- Training and education for council members;
- Consideration by councils of items "in confidence"; and
- Council meeting procedures.
The Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW (LGSA) has discussed concerns over the impacts on coal mining and coal seam gas extraction on local communities at a meeting of 13 northern NSW councils.
Held in Inverell, the meeting of B Division councils is the ninth in a series of Divisional Tours leading up to the Annual Shires Association meeting in June.
NSW Shires Association President, Cr Ray Donald, said much discussion revolved around coal seam gas mining and the need to address concerns by local communities and landholders about the impact mining developments will have on property rights, native vegetation, and water and food security.
"Greater community engagement and consultation is required before mining exploration licences and approvals are issued by the State Government," said Cr Donald.
"Whilst it's true that coal seam gas extraction and coal mining bring economic benefits and employment to townships, the environmental impact, the social and housing impacts, and the lifestyle of local communities and individuals needs to be taken into consideration."
"The cost and detrimental affect that mining and corresponding heavy freight vehicles have on infrastructure, such as local and regional road networks, also needs to be addressed by ensuring mining royalties are returned to local communities."
"Much of the unease felt by communities over coal seam gas mining is due to the disparity of compensation for landholders affected by drilling, compared to landholders compensated for the impacts of mineral and coal mining."
The Federal Government has announced appointments and re-appointments of the South Australia Regional Development Australia (RDA) committees.
Minister for Regional Development and Local Government Simon Crean announced the new appointments.
"Their input is central to our place-based approach because it will help us better respond to the challenges and opportunities different regions face and enable us to embed regionalism into the way we govern in a way that can't be unpicked,” Mr Crean said.
"Strong RDA committees are engaging with local communities to maximise economic growth, flexibility, diversity and resilience.
"Committee members are local leaders with diverse skills and experience, who understand the challenges, opportunities and priorities in their communities.”
"They volunteer their time and energy and work tirelessly for their regions, and we are committed to ensuring they have the support and resources to do their job well.”
The full list of RDA appointments are as follows:
Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island:
- Mayor Ann Ferguson – Chair
- Mayor Malcolm Schlein
- Mr Peter Dinning
- Mayor Graham Philp
- Deputy Mayor Peter Clements
- Councillor Janet Loveday
- Ms Sarah Hanna
- Mr Angus William
- Ms Joanne Thomas
- Ms Chris McCann
- Mr Tony Clark
- Mr Rolf Binder
- Mr Stephen Kerrigan
- Ms Lynette Seccafien
- Ms Victoria McClure
- Mayor Glenn Docherty
- Ms Skye Akbar
- Ms Pippa Webb
- Ms Mei Schwarz
- Mr Martin Milane
- Ms Renee Ellis
- Ms Christine James
- Mr Rob Gibb
- Mr Drew Potts
- Mr Colin Davie
- Councillor Tony Mitchell
Murraylands and Riverlands
- Deputy Mayor Barry Laubsch
- Councillor Trevor Norton
- Ms Robin Foley
- Mr Kym Webber
- Mr Jerry Wilson
- Ms Yvonne Smith
Whyalla and the Eyre Peninsula
- Ms Annie Lane
- Ms Sarah Adamson
- Ms Elizabeth McLaughlin
- Councillor Colin Carter
- Councillor Brian Trigg
- Mayor Alan Suter
- Councillor Malcolm Catt
Yorke and the Mid North
- Mr Barry Hay
- Ms Patricia Hamilton
- Mayor Paul Thomas
- Deputy Mayor Judy Partington
- Ms Jodie Gregg-Smith
- Mr Warren Luckraft
- Mr Neil Jericho
- Deputy Mayor Harvey Nolan
- Ms Ann Aldersey
- Ms Sally Klose
- Mr Rob Foggo
- Gail Gago
- Kym McHugh
The Northern Territory Government has passed two bills that will pave the way for increased protection for homebuyers and builders.
Planning Minister Gerry McCarthy said the bills were passed with the assistance of close work with the industry to produce the legislative framework.
“This is great news for Territory builders and consumers as they will enjoy the confidence that comes with growth in the industry and consumer protection,” Mr McCarthy said.
Mr McCarthy said the Residential Building Cover package would be introduced from January 1.
He said the next step was to work with industry to finalise regulations, and consult with Master Builders Association NT to develop the finer details of the fidelity fund.
The new Residential Consumer Package will include:
- A fidelity fund to cover consumers in the event of a builder’s death, loss of registration or insolvency. Also covers general non-compliance and poor workmanship.
- The requirement for regular payments as construction progresses
- Consumer guarantees to ensure work complies with the contract and building permit
- A dispute resolution process, managed by Consumer Affairs
- A requirement for builders to maintain$50,000 in assets for the duration of their registration
The South Australian Government has announced the immediate suspension of water trading with New South Wales to South Australia until the end of March to protect the state’s entitlement flow.
The suspension comes after the Victorian Government cut trade for the remainder of the 2011-12 water year from NSW.
Minister for Water and the River Murray Paul Caica said the Victorian and NSW suspensions demonstrate that when it comes to Murray-Darling Basin water the upstream states will always act in their own self-interest without regard to its broader impacts within the Basin.
“The trade suspensions announced by Victoria and New South Wales have forced the South Australian Government to suspend water allocation trade from New South Wales into South Australia from the close of business March 23 to March 31 inclusive,’’ he said.
“The Government will honour all trades that have been already lodged for processing between NSW and South Australia.
“While making this limited suspension of trade is unfortunate, taking no action could jeopardise SA’s entitlement flow for the 2012-13 water year – potentially leading to a reduction in water allocations for consumptive users and the environment.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has released its full findings of ‘shadow shopping’ research which examined the quality of financial advice given to people to assist in their retirement planning.
Report 279, Shadow shopping study of financial advice, investigated the quality of retirement advice provided and people’s experience of obtaining financial advice.
The research found that:
- over a third of the advice examples were poor (39%)
- there were only two examples of good quality advice (3%)
- the majority of advice examples reviewed (58%) were adequate.
The following problems were common in the advice we graded as poor or adequate:
- Inaccurate or incomplete investigation of the client’s personal circumstances
- Recommended strategies did not address the client’s needs or objectives - this included the failure of advisers to address areas that didn’t directly involve the sale of investment products.
- We saw examples of conflicted remuneration structures, such as product commissions and percentage asset-based fees, impacting on the advice and recommendations, and on the quality of advice.
- Poor scoping of advice – some advisers excluded crucial topics, such as clients’ debts, from the scope of the advice, or failed to clearly explain the limitations of the advice.
- Failing to provide appropriate justification for switching recommendations – sometimes the features that the client would lose as a result of changing products were not disclosed. In other instances the ‘benefits’ of the new product were not actually advantageous or useful for the client.
- Poor communication in the Statement of Advice.
- While in some cases there were valid reasons, approximately one third of advice did not provide cash flow projections to show how the recommended strategy would meet the client's income and expenditure objectives. And approximately 44% of the advice statements did not consider how long the client's money would last in retirement.
ASIC Commissioner Peter Kell said, “The results of ASIC’s shadow shopping research demonstrate that there is scope for significant improvement in the provision of good quality retirement advice in Australia. Our research found there are several areas where the financial advice industry needs to lift its game.
“Advisers are important gatekeepers who have a key role to play in helping consumers plan and manage their finances. This underlines the importance for the industry to remove conflicts of interest and improve overall professional standards to ensure that their client’s trust is not misplaced,” Mr Kell said.
ASIC has continued to stress that ‘realistic’ and ‘client focused’ communication and advice must be given at all times, including advising how long money will last despite it often being a ‘challenging conversation’.
Too much poor advice provided to our shadow shoppers was overly product focused and not strategic enough to help clients develop a realistic and achievable plan for their retirement and make the most of their financial resources taking into account their circumstances and attitudes to risk,’ he said.
ASIC’s research also found that people have difficulty in assessing the quality of the financial advice they have received. Participants in the study rated their advisers and the advice they received highly, even when they received poor advice.
Mr Kell said, ‘Consumers’ difficulties in assessing advice quality are not surprising. People who thoroughly understand personal finance are less likely to need a financial planner.’
ASIC has backed the recently announced Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) reforms, saying they will play akey role in lifting overall standards and giving a greater focus on the client.
Research conducted by the Australian Catholic University (ACU) and the University of Canberra (UC) has found the number of unfair dismissal claims taken by employees under Labor’s Fair Work Act has increased.
Research shows that the number of unfair dismissal claims lodged under the Fair Work Act has risen to around 17,000 per year, with claimant success rates increasing from 33 per cent to 51 per cent.
Professor Oslington and co-author Benoit Freyens constructed a database of all unfair dismissal cases arbitrated by Fair Work Australia and its predecessor bodies from 2000 to late 2010.
“We found that payouts were much the same under all of the three regimes, averaging about 12 weeks pay, remembering payouts are capped at six months,” Professor Oslington said.
“One of the interesting sidelines was the bunching of payouts around particular figures, which we feel flows from the incoherence of the Sprigg test used by judges to calculate compensation amounts. A better economically-based procedure for calculating expected future earnings of a dismissed worker is required.”
Professor Oslington said no other country has changed dismissal regulation as radically as Australia has done twice over a short period of time.
The Federal and NSW Governments have announced a $63 million initiative to assist over 100,000 NSW school students with a disability gain access to specialised support and equipment.
Australian Government Parliamentary Secretary for School Education, Senator Jacinta Collins and New South Wales Minister for Education, Mr Adrian Piccoli, said the boost in funding will help students with disability finish their schooling and secure a job.
The funding will assist government, Catholic and independent schools over the next two years.
Minister Piccoli said More Support for Students with Disabilities would feed into the NSW Government’s initiative Every Student, Every School.
“Every Student, Every School is about giving children with disability the best possible education, by ensuring teachers and schools are more able to meet their learning and support needs.”
Children with disability in all sectors will be benefit from this injection of funds; $47.9 million will flow to the NSW Government sector where more than 90,000 students with disability, learning difficulties or additional behaviour needs are enrolled in over 2,200 schools, $11.3 million will be for Catholic schools and $3.8 million for over 35 mainstream and special independent schools.
Executive Director of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW, Dr Geoff Newcombe said: “For many years we have called on Federal and State governments to improve the funding and support arrangements for students with a disability, and this is an excellent start.”
Executive Director of the Catholic Education Commission NSW, Dr Brian Croke, said: “This funding is a welcome contribution to improving the professional capacity of teachers supporting students with a disability in NSW Catholic schools.”
The More Support for Students with Disabilities initiative will:
- provide appropriate assistive technologies to support students to work more independently in inclusive environments
- train and mentor teachers and school leaders to build their skills and knowledge in special education
- support the establishment of specialist teacher support in every NSW government school
- develop materials and provide professional development and other support to help teachers to adjust curriculum to meet students individual learning and support needs of students with disability
- expand specialist support services and resource options for students with complex disabilities and high support needs
- provide health, allied health or other professionals to strengthen schools support for students with disability
The Western Australian Government has announced plans to streamline how local governments deal with local level misconduct allegations.
The proposal follows the Review of the Local Government Standards Panel which found that while the number of allegations has grown steadily, the allegations were attributed to only about one-quarter of all local governments.
“Currently the standards panel is required to deal with every single allegation made, it has no discretion to reject allegations it considers frivolous or vexatious,” State Local Government Minister John Castrilli said.
The review also found that in many instances the length of time taken to finalise a complaint was unacceptably long.
“The findings of the review have shown there is an opportunity to deal with low-level complaints through a more timely and efficient process,” the Minister said.
“Based on this, I am proposing a new model that will allow allegations of low-level misconduct to be dealt with at the local level - in the first instance by the mayor or president, and if unresolved, by a panel of peers.”
The review also found that in the 2010-11 period, more than 75 per cent of allegations made to the panel resulted in findings of no breach.
Mr Castrilli said the proposed model would ensure the standards panel could be more pointed in their address of allegations, resulting in more timely, efficient assessments made. The model was detailed in a paper currently with the local government sector for consultation through the WA Local Government Association.
The Minister said he looked forward to receiving the sector’s responses to the proposed model to progress the proposal further.
Around 3,500 miners at BHP’s central Queensland mines have walked off the job after enterprise bargaining talks broke down last Wednesday.
Workers at seven Bowen Basin mine sites agreed to down tools as negotiations broke down, continuing a 15-month long industrial dispute.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) spokesman Steve Smyth said that the strike had been prompted by BHP attempting to introduce changes to areas that had already been agreed upon, including a move that would see the worker’s rights to determine shifts revoked.
Workers at BHP’s central Queensland operations have been predominately concerned with quality of accommodation and flexible arrangements.
The Federal and Victorian Governments have announced nearly $100 million in joint funding initiative to keep the Melbourne based Australian Synchrotron running for the next four years.
Under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to be signed in the coming hours, the Federal Government will contribute $69 million, while the Victorian Government will contribute $26 million to the project.
The future of the research facility was thrown into doubt when the Federal Government and incoming Liberal Government refused to confirm funding in either of their budgets.
Federal Science Minister Senator Chris Evans said the funding will allow the facility to continue its cutting edge experimental research.
“Without this funding deal, the ongoing operation of the facility was in doubt, jeopardising important research here in Australia,” Senator Evans said
The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) is partnering with St James Ethics Centre to bring the popular live debate Intelligence Squared Australia (IQ2) to Adelaide for the first time on Wednesday, 11 July 2012.
This landmark event will see nationally and internationally acclaimed speakers debate the proposition: ‘Having a university degree is grossly overrated’ and will be held at the iconic Adelaide Town Hall.
The purpose of this debate is to advance the thinking on what is a crucial issue in education – the expansion of the tertiary education sector.
St James Ethics Centre Executive Director and debate chair, Dr Simon Longstaff welcomed this opportunity to bring IQ2 to Adelaide.
“IQ2 Australia is thrilled to be joining with NCVER in presenting one of its national debates in Adelaide,” Dr Longstaff said.
NCVER is Australia's leading provider of high-quality, independent research and statistics on vocational education and training (VET) to governments, the education sector, industry, and the community.
Tickets went on sale Tuesday, 27 March 2012.
For more information, click here
The University of Adelaide has welcomed its 20th Vice-Chancellor, Professor Warren Bebbington, commencing July 2012.
Making the announcement, Chancellor, the Hon. Robert Hill, said Professor Bebbington, who is currently Deputy Vice-Chancellor (University Affairs) at the University of Melbourne, was selected after an international search.
Professor Bebbington succeeds Professor James McWha AO, who retires after a decade as Vice-Chancellor and President.
"The University of Adelaide Council is very pleased that Professor Bebbington will be joining the University as Vice-Chancellor. He has an outstanding record of excellence in teaching and academic leadership."
"We are confident that Professor Bebbington has the vision and exceptional leadership qualities to continue on this path and take the University to an even higher level," he said.
The appointment is until the end of 2017.
Find more information about the appointment here
The National Water Commission (NWC) has launched its Groundwater Essentials publication, aimed at promoting a greater understanding of one of the country’s vital sources of fresh water.
In a bid to promote greater understanding of groundwater, the NWC launched the $82 million National Groundwater Action Plan to invest in projects that improve our knowledge and understanding of groundwater. As part of that plan, the Commission has developed an accessible and easy to understand booklet that sets out everything that readers need to know about groundwater including:
- groundwater’s place in the hydrological cycle
- the importance of groundwater
- the various uses of groundwater
- surface/groundwater connectivity
- risks to the groundwater resource.
It also includes links to various water departments and authorities in each jurisdiction as well as examples of how groundwater can be used for irrigation, potable supply, industrial use and stock and domestic use.
The booklet is now available from the National Water Commission website
The Victorian Government has announced it has scrapped its Labor predecessor’s carbon reduction target after an independent review found that keeping the state-backed target jeopodised the state’s growth.
The review of Victoria’s Climate Change Act warns against keeping the target of cutting emissions by 20 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020, when the national benchmark is 5 per cent.
State Environment Minister Ryan Smith said that keeping the target would jeopodise continued growth and cost the state $2.2 billion.
"There is a federal target of five per cent - I don't believe that Victorians should pay four times the cost of their state counterparts," Mr Smith told reporters.
"We will be working in concert with the federal government to see what programs that we currently have in place are appropriate to maintain."
"Victoria will play its fair share towards reducing Australia's overall greenhouse gas emissions," he said.
"However, we should not burden Victorians with paying for the share of other states or by sending money overseas to purchase emission permits."
The target was legislated by the previous Labor Government in 2010, with the Coalition saying it would commit to the legislation.
Australia has been named as the top investment country for mining and resources, remaining unchanged at 57 points, five above Canada, the closest contender.
Despite the introduction of the Mining Resources Rent Tax, Australia scored equal second on the overall highest-rated political systems, behind Canada and Chile.
Australia also scored highest at managing social issues, ahead of Chile and Colombia, while also recording the fewest permitting delays. The research also found Australia enjoys equal first in terms of least corruption in the system.
Despite a surging dollar, Australia notched up second place in terms of currency stability.
The full report can be found here
The Transport Workers Union has publically backed the passage of the Federal Government’s Road Safety Remuneration Bill through Senate, saying that the legislation will save the lives of both truck drivers and the public.
“All Australians can reflect today that their Parliament has made a historic decision that will make the roads that millions travel each day safer. The resounding vote late last night in the Senate in support of the Road Safety Remuneration Bill, together with the vote earlier this week in the House of Representatives, ensures that. This legislation will save lives each and every year by taking the pressure out of the truck cab,” TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon said.
“A campaign that has been building for almost 20 years can celebrate landmark legislation that will make the roads that all Australians travel on safer, ensure fair pay and conditions for truckies and finally begin to hold major retailers like Coles to account for the safe transportation of the goods. We have campaigned side by side on this with truckies, transport companies, committed politicians, families of people who were killed or injured in truck accidents and communities across for this legislation.”
Safe Work Australia has released a draft framework of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 for an eight-week public comment period.
The Chair of Safe Work Australia, Mr Tom Phillips AM encouraged workers, employers and policy makers across Australia to actively be involved with the development of this strategy.
“All Australians have the right to return home from work safely every day,” said Mr Phillips.
“I urge all interested Australians to be aware of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 and consider providing their views on it as it will influence their working lives over the coming decade.”
Mr Phillips said that although there had been significant improvement in the overall safety culture in the last decade, more must be done to decrease work-place related fatalities, injuries and illnesses.
“Safe Work Australia is seeking your views to develop a practical, overarching strategy with targets that all Australian workplaces can and should aspire to achieve,” Mr Phillips said.
The public comment period will be open from Monday 26 March to Monday 21 May 2012.
The full draft can be found here
A company has been convicted and fined $170,000 after pleading guilty to two workplace safety charges that led to the collapse of a scaffold in a busy inner Melbourne suburb.
In sentencing Asian Pacific Building Corporation Pty Ltd today, Magistrate Jan Maclean found the structure was overloaded with bricks and that the design was changed without reference to the designers or a qualified engineer.
The incident injured three bricklayers who were working on level four, with one suffering severe injuries including a punctured lung and broken bones in his neck and spine.
Magistrate Maclean found that the company had acted negligently and had seriously endangered the lives of its employees and the public, with a bus, a pedestrian and two cyclists passing the scaffold moments before its collapse.
In its investigation, WorkSafe Victoria found that each bay in the scaffold structure could hold up to 675 kilograms, but some had been loaded with up to three times the limit, leading to the collapse.
Magistrate Maclean said that while the company had undergone a cultural shift since the incident, the safety breaches were grave and that it could not be said to have been a momentary or transitory lapse in its system.
Although the original design did comply with Australian Standards, WorkSafe’s investigation found the scaffolding that remained standing after the incident had missing or damaged components and in places was severely overloaded.
Outside the court, the acting-Director of WorkSafe’s Construction and Utilities Division, Allan Beacom said the collapse had the potential to cause multiple deaths and was Victoria’s worst-ever scaffold collapse.
Mr Beacom said it was down to luck that most the workers had been on a morning break and that nobody was beneath the scaffold at the time of its collapse
“It is incredible that this incident did not result in multiple fatalities,” Mr Beacom said.