The NSW Public Service Association warns job cuts and budget reductions at the Centre for Road Safety could compromise more than a decade’s progress on reducing the state’s road toll.
PSA Assistant Secretary, Steve Turner, says job cuts will jeopardise the ongoing safety of pedestrians, cyclists and road users across NSW.
"The State Government's decision to slash jobs at the Centre for Road Safety will apply the brakes on innovative policy programs designed to save lives on NSW's roads," Mr Turner said today.
"Cutbacks at the Centre for Road Safety will compromise the centre's ability to deliver specialised work including road safety education programs for children and high-impact public campaigns such as the 'pinkie' advertisement telling young drivers that "no one thinks big of you" when you speed.
"The NSW Government has denied frontline services will be affected by its 1.2% cut in staffing across agencies, but what could be more frontline than effective road safety programs?
"Only last month, Minister for Roads Duncan Gay announced that for the first time revenue raised from speed cameras would go towards road safety programs, yet we now hear the specialist staff driving these initiatives will lose their jobs.
"We need an explanation from the NSW Government on how it can possibly make our roads safer while taking the axe to our road safety experts and their support staff," Mr Turner said.
The NSW Opposition claims that the Coalition Government plans to axe almost 900 jobs from local courts and prisons in NSW.
Opposition Leader John Robertson said confidential NSW Treasury documents showed an estimated 881 jobs would be cut from the sector over the next four years.
Some cuts have already taken effect, with recent closure of the Youth Drug and Alcohol Cour.
The Victorian Government has unveiled its long-term strategy to help guide the Latrobe Valley through future changes and challenges being imposed by the Federal Government’s carbon tax.
"The Roadmap, which delivers on a key election commitment, showcases the region's competitive strengths and advantages and provides a long term plan for industry and employment growth in the Latrobe Valley," State Minister for Regional and Rural Development Pater Ryan said.
The Roadmap outlines the following initiatives:
- An expanded Latrobe Valley Industry and Infrastructure Fund (LVIIF) - An extra $5 million is being provided to expand the LVIIF to $15 million to support business and deliver greater employment outcomes. The Fund will also be redesigned to be more flexible and responsive to business needs;
- Industry Planning – Funding is being provided to develop growth plans for energy, food, aviation and tourism in the Latrobe Valley. This includes $80,000 towards a new Gippsland aviation industry plan and $80,000 provided to Destination Gippsland Inc to develop a new tourism industry plan;
- Investment prospectus - $400,000 has been allocated to support the development of a marketing and investment prospectus highlighting key competitive attributes and opportunities and attract new investors to the Latrobe Valley
- Accelerated business growth program – $300,000 is being allocated to target high performing firms to expand their potential and look at strengthening supply chains across the region;
- Small business support – An additional $225,000 will be provided to the region's local governments to provide business advice, broker support and unlock further potential in the small business sector;
- Competitive advantages from brown coal - The Victorian Government believes that brown coal can, and should play a key role in our energy future. The Victorian Government is encouraging companies developing low emission coal upgrading technologies in the Latrobe Valley and is progressing a new coal allocation framework to open up new reserves of coal.
"The Roadmap will guide future development in the Latrobe Valley by providing an immediate and co-ordinated set of actions and, importantly, leverage Commonwealth Government assistance and funding opportunities," Mr Ryan said.
The Roadmap is attached and also available at
A report released by an expert panel has found that Victoria’s energy consumers are being disadvantaged by the appeals system for regulatory decisions on energy network charges.
State Minister for Energy and Resources Michael O’Brien welcomed the report from the Standing Committee on Energy Resources, saying it backs the State Government’s push for changes to the regulatory regime for network changes.
"This report strongly backs the Coalition Government arguments that the current appeals regime is not delivering the best results for consumers," Mr O'Brien said.
The current appeals regime in the National Energy Market, known as the Limited Merits Review, determines how electricity companies can challenge regulatory decisions regarding what they can charge for “poles and wires” infrastructure, which make up over 40 per cent of consumers’ bills.
The review is in two stages. Stage one considered how the regime has operated to date. Stage two will make recommendations for improving the regime for the future.
The first stage of the process has now been completed and the panel has found the Limited Merits Review process is not fulfilling the intended policy objectives and does not appear to be providing adequate consideration of the long term interests of energy consumers.
The full review can be found here
The Western Australian Government has called on businesses to submit their Expression of Interest (EOI) for the General Industrial Areas (GIA) to be developed near Onslow.
State Lands Minister Brendon Grylls said interested companies were invited to provide information and their requirements through a LandCorp EOI survey.
The 100ha GIA will form part of the Ashburton North Strategic Industrial Area (ANSIA), being developed 12km south-west of Onslow in support of major new gas resource projects.
Spanning 8,000ha, the ANSIA also encompasses a State port; a common-user-coastal area; multi-user infrastructure corridors; and a heavy industry area for liquefied natural gas and hydrocarbon processing.
Mr Grylls said the GIA would play an important role in helping to optimise the ANSIA’s overall capabilities, and assist in developing functionality, by accommodating businesses which would support the ANSIA’s proponents in construction and operation.
“The State Government is committed to providing enough industrial land within the area and supporting the Onslow community,” he said.
The Minister encouraged businesses to register their interest quickly. The EOI opened Wednesday July 11 and closes 12pm Wednesday August 8.
The survey can be accessed here
The Queensland Government has outlined its interim response to the recently released Commission of Audit into the state’s finances, with Treasurer Tim Nicholls pledging the Government will return the state’s finances ‘to a position of strength’.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Nicholls outlined the Government’s initial response to the Independent Commission of Audit’s Interim Report, which was released on June 15.
Mr Nicholls outlined the need for a savings target of over $4 billion over the next three years, revealing a four point plan that will underpin the State Government’s strategy.
The four principles outlined by Mr Nicholls are:
- To stabilise then significantly reduce debt;
- To achieve and maintain a general government sector fiscal balance in 2014-15;
- To maintain a competitive tax environment for business; and
- To target full funding of long term liabilities in accordance with actuarial advice
“The Commission of Audit found that achieving an operating surplus is not sufficient for the Government to attain fiscal sustainability or to improve or even maintain its credit rating,” Mr Nicholls said.
“A fiscal balance is a more accurate reflection of a state’s true financial picture, as it combines the operating balance with capital expenditure.
“This is why the Government is now aiming to achieve a fiscal balance in 2014-15.”
The full response can be found here
Protests of up to 3000 people are continuing outside the Grafton Gaol following an announcement by the NSW Government that it will sack 108 workers and close part of the facility.
According to news reports, the police riot squad has been deployed to Grafton, ahead of an expected attempt to break picket lines with trucks to transfer inmates.
NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson visited the picket line, stating that a State Labor Government would re-open the gaol.
"These jobs inject up to $29 million into the local economy. When you remove this sort of investment from the Clarence, the flow on impacts will be disastrous,” Mr Robertson said.
The Queensland Government has announced it will streamline the procurement process for the Moreton Bay Rail Link by bringing the delivery of the project under a single entity within the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.
“I met with Minister Anthony Albanese this morning and confirmed the Queensland Government is committed to this project to be delivered in partnership with the Federal Government and Moreton Bay Regional Council,” State Minister for Transport and Main Roads Scott Emerson said.
The project was previously split between the Department of Transport and Main Roads and Queensland Rail.
“By bringing the project under one agency I am looking for better more innovation and savings for the funding partners and the people of Queensland,” Mr Emerson said.
“An industry briefing will be held soon to give members of the construction industry a chance to find out more about delivery of the project.”
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese said that work would soon start on the next road component of the Moreton Bay Rail Link.
“Works will start on the road-over-rail bridge at Kinsellas Road East in a matter of weeks and is expected to be completed by mid 2013,” said Mr Albanese.
“This region is growing fast and is currently forced to be largely car-dependent, so it is important that we build sustainable transport options now before traffic becomes untenable.
“The Moreton Bay Rail Link is a prime example of all three levels of government coming together to develop the infrastructure required for a region’s long term development.”
The $1.147 billion project is jointly funded by the Australian Government ($742 million), Queensland Government ($300 million plus land) and Moreton Bay Regional Council ($105 million).
The rail component is scheduled for final delivery in 2016.
The ACTU has called for tougher penalties for employers who do not keep aside funds for their workers’ entitlements, following the release of a report that shows costs of up to $1 billion to workers and taxpayers over the past decade.
ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said there should be tougher penalties for company directors who breach corporations laws, including trading insolvent or failing to make superannuation contributions.
“This is a shocking report – that in the last 10 years, $1billion of workers’ hard earned money has been taken by employers, leaving workers without their entitlements,” Mr Oliver said.
“I would like to hear the arguments against tougher penalties from business and their supporters in the Liberal Party, considering how hard they have argued for further regulations for unions.
“The General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS), which the Gillard Government has promised to legislate this year, plays an important role protecting workers from losing their entitlements due to company mismanagement or illegal behaviour.
“But the GEERS scheme is only intended to be a last resort, and it should not be left to taxpayers to increasingly pick up the tab for poor corporate behaviour.
“The amount of money being covered by taxpayers highlights the important role this scheme plays, but also backs up union calls for greater penalties.
“It should be the responsibility of employers to make provision for workers’ entitlements, and directors who run their companies into the ground with no funds left for workers should be punished. These entitlements have been earned over years of loyal service, and employers have a legal obligation to pay them.
“But all too often businesses go broke leaving nothing in the bank. Frequently, companies treat workers’ entitlements as a kind of unsecured, interest-free loan – without telling the workers and often with no intention of ever paying it back. It is left to taxpayers to come to the rescue. This type of behaviour must be punished through tougher penalties.”
“In recent times, unions have been quite clear that any misuse of workers money by any individual should be fully investigated and punished with the full force of the law.
“Given the Liberal Party’s tough position on this issue, we especially look forward to Tony Abbott’s support for an increase in investigations and tougher penalties for employers who are misusing up to a billion dollars of workers’ entitlements.”
Before the Gillard Government acted to protect workers from losing their entitlements during a company collapse, unions had been campaigning to establish an employer-funded scheme.
“Industry groups have resisted these schemes, but if employers cannot be responsible, they must accept tougher penalties for senior managers who fail in their responsibilities or break the law. This could include forcing company directors to take personal responsibility to cover costs they have failed to meet.
Griffith University's Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre has been awarded $1 million in research funding by the State government to develop production processes for a silicon carbide microchip.
Lead researcher of the Semiconductor Microfabrication Program, Professor Sima Dimitrijev, said silicon microchips are the foundation of our electronic age, and these new silicon carbide microchips could revolutionise the way we live.
"The superior properties of silicon carbide enable smaller, more efficient, sensitive and robust devices that able to operate in harsh chemical and temperature environments," said Professor Dimitrijev.
The silicon carbide microchips have potential for a broad range of applications. Just one example of how this technology might be harnessed is in cheaper and better quality lighting which would be not only kinder to household budgets but also the environment.
Operations Director of Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre, Alan Iacopi, said there is a potentially enormous global market.
"This Griffith University breakthrough has far reaching implications in terms of engaging with major international industry and bringing frontier technologies to Queensland," Mr Iacopi said.
The potential of the new platform technology has resulted in a joint development agreement with a major global semiconductor equipment manufacturer, SPTS Technologies, which will develop the thermal process and equipment expertise necessary to commercialise the technology.
"Our industry partner, SPTS will help us take the next critical step of making our SiC production processes ready for industry to adopt," Mr Iacopi said.
Ultimately, this will permit the exploration of new market opportunities with the world's largest semiconductor manufacturers. The funding boost will also open up opportunities for research students and enable three new research fellows to be appointed.
The Semiconductor Microfabrication Program is just one of three Griffith University projects to be awarded a total of $3 million under the Queensland Government's science funding scheme.
The City of Stonnington has lost a bid to block the construction of a major new development in Melbourne’s south east after the Victorian Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT) ruled in favour of Lend Lease, granting the permit for construction.
“Council is extremely disappointed with the decision by VCAT to approve the permit, which, in our view, represents an overdevelopment of the 590 Orrong Road site,” Mayor Cr John Chandler said.
“The outcome is a significant loss for Council and the community and will have a long-term negative impact for the Armadale area – with building heights now set to soar to 12 storeys, and significant overdevelopment to take place on the site.
Cr Chandler said: “This is one of the most important sites in Stonnington and Council has worked with all stakeholders over the past two years to try and achieve a balanced planning outcome for the site – developing an urban design framework to set out provisions that would influence the height and development to ensure a responsible outcome for all.”
The City of Sydney has announced it will boost spending to nearly $370 million this year on vital community services.
The City's Financial Plan and Budget for 2012-13 shows substantial increases in operational spending across the board, from maintaining critical assets such as roads and stormwater drains to world leading events such as Sydney New Year's Eve.
Among the major commitments are:
- $48 million on cleansing and waste, including waste and recycling services and graffiti removal, up from an estimated $45.3 million in 2011/12;
- Almost $41 million on managing buildings, including community, operational facilities, up from $35.7 million;
- $53 million on libraries, children's services, addressing homelessness, and a wide range of community, cultural and environmental grants and services, up from $49 million;
- $30 million on flood mitigation, improving traffic and pedestrian accessibility and other public infrastructure maintenance, up from $26.6 million;
- $27 million on Rangers, up from $24.7 million;
- $17 million on maintaining key assets such as the City's vehicle fleet and network of depots, and managing car parking stations and parking meters, up from $16 million
- Nearly $14 million on food safety inspections, investigating noise complaints, regulating building fire safety codes and other public health issues, up from $11 million;
- $12 million on informing and engaging with the community and key stakeholders; and
- $10 million on assessing development applications to maintain environmental, community and heritage standards, up from $9 million.
"Services such as keeping footpaths in good shape and collecting garbage are among the most important things the City does for the community. Without these bread-and-butter services Sydney would not function," Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP said.
"Much of this work goes unnoticed, but as the community expects, the City does it every day. Where things go wrong the impact affects many people, so getting the basics right is essential."
Operational spending in the 2012-13 Budget totals $368 million, a rise of almost $27 million on the $342 million forecast spending in the 2011-12 financial year.
The Federal and Northern Territory governments have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that cements a partnership approach to investment in Regional Development (RDA) NT.
Territory Regional Development Malarndirri McCarthy and Federal Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean signed the MoU at the fourth meeting of the Northern Australia Ministerial Forum (NAMF) in Alice Springs.
Mr Crean said the agreement built on the first MOU signed in 2009, and represented a significant strengthening of regional development ties between the two governments.
"This is a landmark agreement which confirms the importance of a partnership approach to regional development in the Northern Territory," Mr Crean said.
"The agreement is based on a strong partnership between governments that will join the dots between regional development activities, policies and programs.
"As a result, a new regional officer will be permanently located in Alice Springs to be the eyes and ears of the RDA and help identify and develop local projects.
"It underscores the importance of partnerships, because no one government alone can fund the massive demand for infrastructure in this country.
Minister McCarthy said the revised MOU refreshes the partnership between all governments on regional development.
"The RDA NT committee is chaired by Damien Ryan, President of the Local Government Association of the Northern Territory and represents interests from sectors across the Territory including two representatives from the local government sector to ensure local government is engaged in regional development," Ms McCarthy said.
A new national paint standard has been developed by Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA), excluding solvent-based paints, all carcinogenic and mutagenic substances and, for the first time, covers artist and student paint.
The GECA 23-2012 Paints and Coatings standard recognises best-practice, environmentally responsible products and was developed with industry leaders.
“This new standard is great news for professional painters, home-owners , artists and students alike. It was revised to reflect current industry knowledge and innovation, with a focus on environmental impact, public health and green building,” GECA’s CEO Judy Hollingworth said.
“Importantly, the standard excludes all solvent-based paints and coatings. With advances in paint technology it’s now believed that water-based paints can offer the same performance as solvent-based products but without the health and environmental issues related to petroleum-derived solvents.”
“The Standard also sets Lower VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) limits. These are major contributors to both smog and health problems, from headaches to respiratory issues and cancer, especially for trades professionals who have daily, extended exposure to paint and coating products.”
The new standard requires any product claims regarding ‘solar reflectance’ to be verifiable and also covers:
- glycol ethers
- ozone depleting substances
- heavy metals
- effective product labeling
More information can be found here
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has agreed to register the new Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code, which will aim to give ‘long-suffering telco customers’ greater protection on issues such as bill shock, confusing mobile plans and poo complaints handling.
“The industry has developed initiatives in its code to deliver world’s best protections for Australian consumers which should give rise to a much needed, much improved, customer experience,” said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.
“What industry players will be delivering to their customers is access to the information, tools and remedies to equip them to demand and drive better service. Telecommunication companies, having established the clearest possible roadmap of what they need to deliver, will now have to perform.”
The release of the code comes after ACMA issued a warning in 2010 that unless there was significant improvement to consumer protection the industry would lose its right to develop its own protection rules and would face direct regulation.
The industry then promptly responded with participation in the Reconnecting the Customer public inquiry in 2011, which went beyond the consumer protection methods and examined the root causes of the industry’s system issues in service and complaints-handling woes and mandated the material improvements required.
The subsequent Reconnecting the Customer report addressed all the various customer lifecycle: better advertising practices, more effective information for consumers, tools to avoid bill shock, streamlined complaints-handling, a customer care reporting framework and changes to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) scheme.
More information can be found here
The Federal Government has released figures that show university enrolments by regional and indigenous students have ‘increased to record levels.’
Federal Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, said the some of the greatest increases in enrolments were among those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"We are increasingly tapping into the potential of all Australians, not just the privileged, and developing the talent that will drive high skilled and productive industry in Australia," Senator Evans said.
Commencements for students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds increased by 3.3 per cent to 56,710, while total enrolments of low SES increased by 26,456 since 2007, or 23.9 per cent.
In 2011, a total of 5,381 Indigenous students commenced a university course, an increase of 6.1 per cent from 2010. Since 2007 the number of Indigenous students studying at university has increased by 2,437, or 26 per cent.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced Brisbane as the host city for the G20 Leaders Summit in 2014, the premier forum for global economic co-operation and decision making.
“It is a real honour for Australia to host the G20, and provides a vital platform to build on Australia’s role in global economic decision-making,” Ms Gillard said.
“Our international standing goes from strength to strength, having fought off the global recession, achieved strong growth, low unemployment, a return to a budget surplus and key economic reforms.
“With Queensland a driving force behind the nation’s economy there could be no better place to welcome the world’s leaders than Brisbane.
The Summit will be attended by 20 leaders, five non-G20 leaders, seven heads of major international organisations, and up to 4,000 delegates and almost 3,000 media on November 15 and 16, 2014.
Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan said Brisbane had played a key role in Australia’s economic success in the face of huge setbacks presented by last year’s floods, and would be an outstanding host city the Summit.
“The benefits to Brisbane of hosting this Forum will extend across the hospitality, transport and tourism sectors, as well as many other service providers, delivering a major boost to countless Brisbane businesses over the five days of the Summit.
The New South Wales Government has released its long awaited Destination 2036 Action Plan, outlining the ‘new direction’ for local government in NSW and setting out how councils will deliver services to their communities in the future.
State Local Government Minister Don Page the Action Plan gives the state’s residents, communities and Councils a clear explanation of how the local government sector will modernise, reform and improve how they function over the coming five, 10 and 26 years.
The initiatives identified in the Action Plan are:
- Efficient and effective service delivery in local government,
- Quality governance and leadership in local government,
- Financial sustainability in local government,
- Appropriate, flexible structural models in local government, and
- Strong relationships within local government
“The Destination 2036 Action Plan gives the residents and communities of NSW an insight into how councils will improve the delivery of services to ratepayers and modernise to meet the challenges of a changing world,” Mr Page said.
The Action Plan is the key outcome from the Destination 2036 conference in August 2011, which was attended by representatives of all 152 councils in NSW.
The Destination 2036 Action Plan was developed jointly by the Chief Executive of the Division of Local Government, and the Presidents of the NSW Local Government Association, the NSW Shires Association, and the Local Government Managers Australia (NSW).
Commonwealth, State and Territory ministers responsible for regional development have attended the inaugural meeting of the COAG Standing Council on Regional Australia to discuss the ‘ambitious cooperative agenda’ to deliver real and lasting growth across regional Australia.
The Council has outlined the following agenda:
- work together on an integrated infrastructure investment strategy
- development of a framework for regional economic development
- the key determinants of long-term regional economic growth
- further develop a regional engagement framework, and
- cooperate on testing alternative approaches to providing local infrastructure.
Over the course of the two day meeting, the Council settled on the broad scope of the strategy to ensure that existing and future investments across tiers of government compliment large scale investments and align with the priorities of local communities on infrastructure investments valued between $15 and $100 million.
The Council committed to a way forward on a framework for regional economic development and as a first step, agreed the key determinants of long-term regional economic growth.
- human capital, particularly education and skills
- sustainable (economically, environmentally and socially) communities and population growth
- access to international, national and regional markets
- comparative advantage and business competitiveness, and
- effective cross-sectoral and intergovernmental partnerships (including through place based approaches) and integrated regional planning .
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese, has attended the unveiling of the Mount Isa to Townsville Economic Zone: 50 Year Freight Infrastructure Plan, an ambitious long-term blueprint aimed at expanding the economic activity within the region almost six-fold to $84 billion within five years.
“It's a Plan this Federal Labor Government endorses and is prepared to invest in,” Mr Albanese said.
“Indeed, we will use monies raised by our new mining tax to assist in turning the Plan's aspirations into reality. Specifically, we will provide almost $1.7 million to fund the appointment of a Supply Chain Coordinator.”
Developed by the councils covering the vast section of Queensland between Townsville and the Northern Territory border in close collaboration with industry and local communities, the Plan takes stock of the region's existing infrastructure and identified what will be needed to unlock its economic potential.
The Federal Government has released a report into the effects of money laundering and other serious offences to Australian businesses and the broader community.
Released by the Australian financial intelligence unit, AUSTRAC, the AUSTRAC typologies and case studies report 2012 includes 21 real-life case studies featuring an array of offences, including large-scale tax evasion, advance fee fraud and investment scams, identity theft and drug trafficking.
These case studies show that Australia’s strong economy makes us a tempting target for transnational and high-tech crime,” Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Jason Clare said.
AUSTRAC analyses financial information and shares this information with a range of government law enforcement and other agencies, which has led to asset seizures and the arrest and conviction of criminals.
Case studies from the 2012 report show how AUSTRAC and its partners uncovered a range of serious offences, including:
- manufacturing companies using shell companies, cheques and secret cash payments to undertake large-scale tax evasion;
- an extensive Nigerian ‘advance fee’ fraud, where more than 20 Australian victims lost millions of dollars; and
- a criminal syndicate which stole the identities of victims to perpetrate a multi-million dollar superannuation fraud.
The report analyses two established money laundering methods, the use of cheques to launder money and evade tax and the use of third parties to carry cash across borders, as well as a number of emerging money laundering vulnerabilities.
“Authorities and Australian businesses should be alert to the potential threats posed by new payment systems, including digital currencies and virtual worlds, voucher system products and offshore online money remitters,” Mr Clare said.
“This report examines these risks, and lists a number of ways to help business and the wider community identify the possible misuse of these emerging systems.”
The AUSTRAC typologies and case studies report 2012 is available from http://www.austrac.gov.au/typologies_2012.html.