Australian Greens spokesperson for communications Senator Scott Ludlam warned against further extending the loosely defined and already over-reaching online surveillance powers of Australia's intelligence agencies.
"[The] announcement starts the next chapter of the 'data retention' debate (#ozlog) which the Government should have backed away from. This is the idea that all our personal data should be stored by service providers so that every move we make can be surveilled or recalled for later data mining. It is premised on the unjustified paranoia that all Australians are potential criminal suspects."
"Australians are already under a phenomenal amount of government surveillance. Nearly a quarter of a million telecommunications data warrants were granted in 2010-11 according to the annual Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act report.
"This includes detailed locational data logged by every smartphone, every minute of the day," says Ludlam.
Six workers in Albury-Wodonga have been back-paid a total of $48,700 following recent intervention by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The largest recovery was $31,100 for two workers at a Wodonga consultancy.
The employees - a male and female in their 40s - lodged complaints with the Fair Work Ombudsman after they were incorrectly classified as independent contractors and underpaid annual leave and long service leave entitlements.
After a Fair Work inspector contacted the business and explained its obligations, the workers were reimbursed all the money owed without the need for further action against the employer.
The two workers were back-paid $17,700 and $13,400 respectively.
In a separate case, three retail workers in Albury have been back-paid $11,100 after they were underpaid the minimum hourly rate.
And in another case, an Albury shop assistant has been back-paid $6500 after she was underpaid annual leave entitlements.
Between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2011 the Fair Work Ombudsman recovered a total of $68.2 million for 41,224 underpaid workers nationally.
“When we find mistakes, we’re here to assist and give practical advice to employers on how to voluntarily fix them,” says Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson.
Mr Wilson says that the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Assisted Voluntary Resolution team is now achieving resolution of about half its referrals with the first month.
“These Albury-Wodonga businesses have now corrected the errors that led to the underpayments and put processes in place to ensure they will not happen again.”
More information about independent contracting and sham contracting is at www.fairwork.gov.au/contractors.
The NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, has announced the completion of three Cap and Pipe the Bores schemes in the state’s north-west, providing a combined savings of 1,400 ML of water annually.
Twenty landholders participated from the Goodooga, Burren Junction and Walgett areas.
“Replacing the free flowing artesian bores and bore drains with efficient piped systems, ensures landholders receive a clean, reliable stock and domestic water supply,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“The well-designed piped systems will prevent water being lost through evaporation and seepage as previously experienced with the open earth drains.”
Ms Hodgkinson said as well as saving water, the schemes will stop around 1,300 tonnes per year of salt from entering the Murray-Darling River system.
The construction of the schemes has supplied and installed a combined total of 323 km of pipeline, four new bores, 212 tanks and 480 troughs.
“The landholders will benefit from the schemes through improved water use efficiency, and opportunities for more sustainable land and stock management practices.”
“Capping and piping these artesian bores also assists the recovery of artesian pressure in the Great Artesian Basin.”
“In addition, the new piped schemes will help prevent pests, weeds and land degradation.”
The program has been jointly funded by the NSW and Australian Governments, through the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI).
“This valuable work will help protect and restore the Great Artesian Basin for future generations,” said Ms Hodgkinson.
“This infrastructure investment is a great benefit to many landholders and the environment across a vast area of north-western NSW,” Mr Humphries said.
“As well as saving water, the capping and piping of these bores will restore artesian pressure and stop large volumes of salt from entering the Murray-Darling Basin system.”
Additional information regarding the Cap & Pipe the Bores Program is available on the NSW Office of Water website: www.water.nsw.gov.au
A property manager employed by a Sydney commercial property management company has been convicted of seven counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception and sentenced to a maximum of 18 months imprisonment, suspended on him entering into a bond.
Paul Francis Charles Stevens worked as a property manager at a Sydney commercial property management company for more than six years and in that time he stole tenants’ rent cheques from his employer and deposited cheques into his own account.
Unlawfully having possession of the cheques, he over-wrote the payee name particulars with ‘P Stevens’ and overlayed it with a ‘Not Negotiable’ stamp imprint to disguise the true payee.
Later, he presented the forged cheques to cause deposit credit entries to be recorded in a bank account of Paul Stevens Property Services Pty Limited, trading as Paul Stevens Property Services.
The District Court in August last year upheld the sentence of an unlicensed real estate agent, Phillip Chau, to 18 months imprisonment, with a non parole period of 12 months, for misappropriating monies from clients’ property trust accounts. Mr Chau was ordered to pay $123,830 to the Property Services Compensation Fund.
Earlier in 2011, Fair Trading prosecuted Navid Azzati, the director of a company formerly trading as Raine & Horne Fairfield. Mr Azzati was sentenced to seven months imprisonment, suspended on him entering a bond, for fraudulently misappropriating monies. He was ordered to pay $58,855 to the Property Services Compensation Fund.
The Queensland Government has announced a new wages framework providing pay increases of up to 3 per cent to public servants in return for productivity savings that deliver better services and value for money for Queensland taxpayers.
Treasurer Tim Nicholls said the State Government was committed to good faith bargaining and delivering fair wage outcomes for public servants.
“With headline inflation running at 1.6 per cent nationally, the Newman LNP Government’s wages framework is very fair and reasonable and fulfils our commitment to good faith bargaining," he said.
“The Newman LNP Government is removing Labor’s arbitrary 2.5 per cent wage cap because we know the public service can and will deliver real benefits through savings and improved productivity in return for higher wages.
“This is about delivering fair wages in return for fair outcomes.
“Labor left the state’s finances in a mess, with a $2.8 billion deficit and debt heading towards $85 billion, and we need the assistance of unions and public servants to identify waste and deliver real, bankable productivity savings.
“We believe it is possible to properly reward staff, while also ensuring financial sustainability and good returns for the public.
IP Australia has launched its online service, eServices, which provides a secure electronic business portal to register, login and conduct selected transactions.
In the first release of eServices customers can renew all IP rights and submit trade mark registrations electronically, and pay for them online using VISA or MasterCard. You can also access new features such as the option to save your requests, access your eServices transaction history and update your details.
The services and transactions within eServices have built-in checks and pre-populated fields to save time and help ensure the accuracy of the information.
Over the coming months IP Australia will be adding more transactions and services to the portal to make it a one-stop-shop to help in the management of IP assets.
Poor demand and subdued workloads - particularly in the apartment building sub-sector – has pushed the national construction sector further into the red over April, according to the latest Australian Industry Group Australian Performance of Construction Index (Australian PCI).
The Index, prepared in conjunction with the Housing Industry Association, was 1.3 points weaker at 34.9 in April (readings below 50 indicate a contraction in activity with the distance from 50 indicative of the strength of the decrease).
Continuing the recent trend, apartment building was the weakest of the four sub-sectors with an index reading of 22.9. The index of house building (33.3) and commercial construction (35.2) activity also remained well below the expansion-contraction threshold of 50, reflecting the persistence of weak demand conditions in both sectors. Despite declining in the month, engineering construction continued to be the sector showing the greatest resilience due to the strength of resource related projects.
Australian Industry Group Director Public Policy, Peter Burn, said: "The fall in construction activity in April is further evidence of the widespread nature of the current slowdown in the broader economy.
The ongoing weakness in the residential and commercial construction sub-sectors was exacerbated by the slowing in engineering construction activity that has now been in train since the start of the year.
Last week's reduction in interest rates will help counter the existing headwinds while the construction industry will have a close eye on tomorrow's Budget and the impacts it may have on business, household and public sector demand over the year ahead," Dr Burn said.
Housing Industry Association Economist, Geordan Murray, said: "Evidence of a persistent weakening in Australia's residential construction industry is continuing unabated in 2012. This latest, softer, Australian PCI result vindicates the larger interest rate cut from the Reserve Bank last week and justifies the case for further action. Federal and state government support and policy reform is a vital plank in restoring confidence and activity in the residential construction industry - interest rate relief can't do all the heavy lifting," Mr Murray said.
Australian PCI Key Findings for April:
- The national construction sector contracted again in April with particular weakness in apartment building, housing and commercial construction.
- The latest Australian Industry Group Australian Performance of Construction Index (Australian PCI) in conjunction with the Housing Industry Association, dropped 1.3 points to 34.9 in April (readings below 50 indicate a contraction in activity with the distance from 50 indicative of the strength of the decrease).
- The Australian PCI has now been in negative territory for almost two years.
- While resource-related projects are giving some support to the engineering construction sector, weak demand and difficulties securing funding for work continue to hamper the apartment building (22.9), house building (33.3) and commercial construction (35.2) sub-sectors.
- New orders sub-index contracted for the 23rd straight month in April - recording 32.3.
- Employment continued to contract at a broadly unchanged rate in April (39.6).
The Australian Water Association (AWA) and Opus International Consultants (Opus) have established a new registered training organisation for the water sector, AWA Opus Water Industry Training Institute (WITI).
AWA Chief Executive Mr Tom Mollenkopf says WITI has been set up to ensure that AWA can continue to assist industry to meet skill needs.
“Through this unique partnership, we will be able to deliver efficient and responsive training programs to industry. The establishment of this joint venture RTO will bring a sharp commercial focus to the challenge of delivering quality training particularly in hard-to-service areas of rural and regional Australia”, said Mr Mollenkopf.
Initially WITI will focus on delivering NWP30107 Certificate III in Water Operations and intends to provide NWP20107 Certificate II in Water Operations in the future upon application. Qualifications initially focusing on Water Treatment, Wastewater Treatment and Reticulation and Distribution will be offered and can be customised to suit workplace needs.
In the future WITI will also offer short courses based on clusters of units of competency as required for the accreditation of employees.
Australia may need to consider selling off some of its National Parks if it is to be able to afford to conserve its most important landscapes and species for future generations, according to Professor Hugh Possingham, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) at The University of Queensland.
“Basically, Australia is facing some very tough decisions," Professor Possingham said.
"For all our present nationwide investment in conservation, we are still losing both species and ecosystem integrity.
"We clearly need better ways to decide what we can afford to save, because the current system plainly isn't working as well as we'd hoped.
“The evidence indicates that Australian native species are still disappearing at a rate 100 to 1000 times faster than normal.
"Over the past 200 years, 22 mammal species have become extinct, over 100 are now on the threatened and endangered species list, and 6 more bird taxa were recently declared extinct.
"Fourteen species of frogs are on their last legs.”
With limited funds, both government and private, for conservation the nation may have to look at a new system for allocating those funds where both the need and the prospects of success are greatest, Professor Possingham said.
This implied that public funds may have to be withdrawn from some areas and reinvested in others.
“You could liken it to triage in a World War II military hospital: tough decisions may need to be taken about which patients have the best chance of survival and the resources allocated accordingly.
"Otherwise you spread your effort too thinly and achieve too little.
“This is not a popular point of view – but it is grounded in reality.
“While 12 per cent of the continent is enclosed in National Parks, few have sufficient resources to manage their biota intensively.
In the absence of major new sources of funds, we need to consider where the prospects of success are greatest and, indeed, what success in conservation actually consists of.”
In the past, Australian conservation tended to be driven by a wish to restore parts of the continent to a pre-European state – but this had proved impractical.
“It can't be done in a dynamic world, where human influences and changing climates are constantly altering the rules for survival,” Professor Possingham said.
Across the whole of Australia, current conservation investment was probably about a tenth of what would be needed to protect most species and ecosystems and reduce rates of extinction, he estimated.
“As funding at this level is unlikely to become available in the short run, we should look at putting resources into those National Parks and species where we have the best chance of achieving something - and that may mean selling off smaller parks that are not viable,” he said.
However, selling national parks need not mean their loss in a conservation sense – many well-off Australians now had a strong desire to look after native bushland and its species on a private basis, while many farmers were revegetating cleared land with native trees, leading to recovery in native species.
“Also there are enough covenants and restrictions in force now to ensure conservation of the landscape even when it is managed privately,” he said.
“If we have to refocus public investment on the National Parks where we can achieve the best conservation results, then maybe we should also find ways to encourage more Australians to take care of their own landscapes and endangered species privately.”
For effective decisions to be taken about which aspects of Australian biodiversity we can afford to manage well, there are two requirements, he said: better quantification of the actual costs of conservation – and better mathematical models for predicting the probable outcomes of various conservation actions.
Both were now becoming available.
“This thinking is exactly the way business operates – where can we invest to get the best return on our investment.
"The logic is equally compelling when applied to conservation.
“In short we have a basis for taking much better decisions about our environment which can ensure quintessential landscapes and key species are better protected.
"But those decisions will not happen without some losses and public controversy.
"It's a case of deciding which battles we can win with the resources available – and fighting those.”
CEED is an Australian Research Council funded Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and is part of the Commonwealth's National Environmental Research Program (NERP). CEED's research tackles key gaps in environmental decision-making, monitoring and adaptive management.
Twelve new offshore petroleum exploration permits have been awarded in waters off Western Australia and Victoria, and will see $303 million in new investment over the next three years.
A total of 46 bids were received for 16 release areas of the first 2011 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release round, which closed on 13 October 2011. Exploration permits were awarded to eight companies, including BHP Billiton, Bass Strait Oil Company, WHL Energy and Woodside.
The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson said the new permits would continue the growth of investment and employment in the resources sector.
"LNG exports are forecast to significantly expand in Australia over the next two decades," Minister Ferguson said.
"We already export $11 billion of LNG, making Australia the third largest LNG exporter in the Asia-Pacific region and the fourth largest LNG exporter in the world.
"With these new permits, we hope to see discovery of new oil and gas reserves, which could translate into more jobs and growth for our economy."
Since 2007, over $175 billion in capital expenditure has been committed to LNG projects and there are seven projects under construction.
In the last financial year, new capital expenditure across the mining sectorã€€was valuedã€€at over $47ã€€billion, up almost $10 billion from the previous year, with Australia’s LNG industry underpinning this growth.
In 2011, Australia exported 18.9 million tonnes of LNG, with a value of around $11.1 billion. The Australian Government’s Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics forecasts the value of Australian LNG exports for 2011-12 will increase to $11.6 billion.
A full list of the exploration permits awarded is below and further information on acreage release is available at www.petroleum-acreage.gov.au
AC/P55 (released as AC11-2) on the Ashmore Platform of the Bonaparte Basin off the Territory of the Ashmore and Cartier Islands has been awarded to Finder No 13 Pty Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program comprising licensing 80km2 of pre-existing multi-client 3D seismic data, 400km2 3D seismic survey, 320km2 3D seismic reprocessing and geotechnical studies to an estimated value of $4.95m. The secondary work program consists of geotechnical studies and one exploration well to an estimated value of $17.3m. There was one other bid for this area.
WA-471-P (released as W11-1) in the Caswell Sub-basin of the Browse Basin off Western Australia has been awarded to IPM Browse Pty Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of geotechnical studies, 600km2 3D seismic surveying and one exploration well to an estimated value of $24.0m. The secondary work program consists of geotechnical studies and one exploration well to an estimated value of $15.6m. There were three other bids for this area.
WA-472-P (released as W11-10) straddling the Lambert Shelf, Beagle and Dampier Sub-basins of the Northern Carnarvon Basin off Western Australia has been awarded to Woodside Energy Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of geotechnical studies, 3023km2 3D seismic survey and two exploration wells to an estimated value of $54.89m. The secondary work program consists of 1000km2 3D seismic reprocessing, geotechnical studies and one exploration well to an estimated value of $19.38m. There were two other bids for this area.
WA-473-P (released as W11-11) straddling the Lambert Shelf, Beagle and Dampier Sub-basins of the Northern Carnarvon Basin off Western Australia has been awarded to Woodside Energy Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of geotechnical studies and 1541km2 new 3D seismic surveying to an estimated value of $11.33m. The secondary work program consists of geotechnical studies, one exploration well and 600km2 seismic reprocessing to an estimated value of $19.09m. There were three other bids for this area.
WA-474-P (released as W11-12) on the Central Exmouth Plateau of the Northern Carnarvon Basin off Western Australia has been awarded to Hess Australia (Offshore) Pty Limited. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of geotechnical studies and 1045km2 3D seismic reprocessing to an estimated value of $9.75m. The secondary work program consists of one exploration well and geotechnical studies to an estimated value of $51.0m. There was one other bid for this area.
WA-475-P (released as W11-13) on the Central Exmouth Plateau of the Northern Carnarvon Basin off Western Australia has been awarded to BHP Billiton Petroleum (Australia) Pty Ltd and Apache Northwest Pty Ltd. The companies proposed a guaranteed work program of 192km2 3D seismic survey, 884km2 3D seismic reprocessing, two exploration wells and geotechnical studies to an estimated value of $107.58m. The secondary work program consists of one exploration well and geotechnical studies to an estimated value of $51.0m. There was one other bid for this area.
WA-476-P (released as W11-15) in the Exmouth Sub-basin of the Northern Carnarvon Basin off Western Australia has been awarded to Murphy Australia Oil Pty Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of 641km2 3D seismic reprocessing, 100km 2D seismic survey and geotechnical studies to an estimated value of $1.8m. The secondary work program consists of one exploration well and geotechnical studies to an estimated value of $20.4m. There were no other bids for this area.
WA-468-P (released as W10-7) in the Beagle Sub-basin of the Northern Carnarvon Basin off Western Australia has been awarded to Finder No 14 Pty Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of 1200km2 3D seismic reprocessing, licensing 450km2 reprocessed 3D seismic data, 200km 2D seismic survey and geotechnical studies to an estimated value of $1.8m. The secondary work program consists of geotechnical studies and one exploration well to an estimated value of $17.3m. There was one other bid for this area.
WA-469-P (released as W10-21) on the Exmouth Plateau of the Northern Carnarvon Basin off Western Australia has been awarded to BHP Billiton Petroleum (Australia) Pty Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of 923km2 3D seismic survey, 161km2 3D seismic reprocessing and geotechnical studies to an estimated value of $12.25m. The secondary work program consists of geotechnical studies and one exploration well to an estimated value of $49.0m. There were five other bids for this area.
WA-470-P (released as W10-22) on the Exmouth Plateau of the Northern Carnarvon Basin off Western Australia has been awarded to BHP Billiton Petroleum (Australia) Pty Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of 235km2 3D seismic survey, 721km2 3D seismic reprocessing and geotechnical studies to an estimated value of $8.98m. The secondary work program consists of geotechnical studies and one exploration well to an estimated value of $49.0m. There were five other bids for this area.
VIC/P67 (released as V11-2) in the Otway Basin off Victoria has been awarded to WHL Energy Limited. The company proposed a guaranteed work program comprising 1000km 2D reprocessing, 811km2 3D seismic acquisition and processing, 650km 2D seismic acquisition and reprocessing, two exploration wells and geotechnical studies to an estimated value of $62.1m. The secondary work program consists of geotechnical studies and one exploration well to an estimated value of $27.0m. There were six other bids for this area.
VIC/P68 (released as V11-5) in the Gippsland Basin off Victoria has been awarded to Bass Strait Oil Company Ltd. The company proposed a guaranteed work program of geotechnical studies and 225km2 3D seismic survey to an estimated value of $3.5m. The secondary work program consists of geotechnical studies and one exploration well to an estimated value of $20.5m. There was one other bid for this area.
Australasian data centre company, Harbour MSP, is set to commence operations from its Melbourne data centre, creating 20 new technology jobs in Victoria over the next four years.
Harbour MSP, a subsidiary of NTT Communications, specialises in fully-integrated co-location, private cloud and managed IT services. It has a global network of 150 data centres.
Harbour MSP is investing capital expenditure of $15 million in the new Port Melbourne IT facility included a new data centre and a network operations centre.
The facility will offer a full suite of services including co-location, 24/7 infrastructure monitoring, management, security, networking, private cloud deployment and disaster recovery.
The Melbourne operations will help the company support its business partners and expand its customer base in financial services, ICT and cloud computing sectors.
Harbour MSP commercial director and co-founder Andrew Hardy said the new facility will allow the company to tap into demand for high quality services in Victoria, and serve local organisations who are in need of highly accessible, secure facilities.
Further information about Harbour MSP is at www.harbourmsp.com.au
The Federal Government ihas announced it will provide $490 million over five years for the Medicare Teen Dental Plan.
Since 1st July 2008, Medicare has provided vouchers to eligible teenagers towards an annual preventative dental check, including an oral examination and, if required, x-rays, a scale and clean, removal of calculus, fluoride treatment, oral hygiene instruction, dietary advice, and/or fissure sealing.
Vouchers may be used through either a private dentist, or through the public oral health service.
The University of Ballarat’s Technology Park, established in 1995 as an information and communications technology (ICT) hub, is set for $155 million expansion, following rezoning of the land by the Victorian Planning Minister, Matthew Guy.
Currently there are nine buildings within the technology park and tenants include Ambulance Victoria, Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority, IBM Aust/NZ, iGlass Pty Ltd and the State Revenue Office. The park also hosts numerous small enterprises and two ICT business incubators.
The NSW Minerals Council has released a research report undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Monash University which claims that NSW will lose billions of dollars in mining revenue and thousands of jobs if the current draft Strategic Regional Land Use Policy goes ahead.
The economic study carried out for the NSW Minerals Council found that under a medium impact scenario the draft plans will result in the loss of an average of around $1 billion a year in royalties for the next twenty years.
The study also found that under the same scenario, the draft plans would cut a full one percent from the State's forecast economic growth in 2018, lower consumption and investment, and result in over 8000 less jobs across NSW.
"Slowing the State's biggest export industry will have an impact that will be felt right across the economy," NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said.
“Losing a billion dollars a year is a big budget cost that will hit hard. It's funding that could be spent on better infrastructure and services for the community. It's also funding that’s needed in regional NSW where mining occurs,” Mr Galilee said.
“To put this in context, current mining royalties of $1.2 billion a year are estimated to be enough to fund 13,000 nurses or 11,000 teachers or 2,500 buses every single year,” he said.
The research found that the regions covered by the draft Plans will be hit hard:
- Nearly 16 per cent lower gross regional product of the Upper Hunter region by 2018;
- 5000 fewer coal mining jobs in the Upper Hunter in 2018, leading to an overall impact of nearly 1000 fewer jobs across the Upper Hunter region;
- 5 per cent hit to gross regional product of the New England North West region economy by 2021 and nearly 800 fewer coal mining jobs in the region over the next decade.
“This research confirms that the draft Plans are skewed against mining in NSW,” Mr Galilee said.
The research also finds that the decline in mining triggered by the draft Plans will lead to declines in other sectors, including construction, hotels and cafes and transport services.
The findings form part of the NSW Minerals Council’s submission on the NSW Government’s draft Strategic Regional Land Use Plans released for the Upper Hunter and New England North West regions in early March.
The NSW Minerals Council’s submission provides a detailed assessment of the impact of the draft Plans, including the economic cost to the State of more restrictions on the already heavily regulated mining sector.
“The Government intends to roll-out this policy across the entire State so it’s critical that we get it right. The economic price is too high to ignore the facts and get the balance wrong.”
The NSW Minerals Council has also launched www.landusefacts.com.au to outline facts about mining in NSW and dispel myths about land use and the minerals sector.
A copy of the economic modelling is available here.
Prospects for trades employment in South Australia have received a boost from the Federal Government’s announcement that the $36 billion project to build 12 future submarines will go ahead in the state, with initial funding of $214 million to be provided for further detailed studies and analysis on the design of the submarines.
The Government’s commitment to acquire 12 new Future Submarines to be assembled in South Australia over the next three decades was outlined in the 2009 White Paper outlined the.
Mr John Coles is currently undertaking a review of the Sustainment of Australia’s Collins Class submarines to avoid repeating the mistakes of the Collins class submarine project and minimise risks.
The Coles Review involves a detailed examination of complex engineering issues associated with submarine sustainment and support from international experts and companies in this field.
The Government is considering four broad options for the Future Submarines:
- An existing submarine design available off-the-shelf, modified only to meet Australia’s regulatory requirements;
- An existing off-the-shelf design modified to incorporate Australia’s specific requirements, including in relation to combat systems and weapons;
- An evolved design that enhances the capabilities of existing off-the-shelf designs, including the Collins Class; and
- An entirely new developmental submarine.
The results of the newly funded studies will be available to the government next year and will inform its decision on the combat systems, torpedos, sensors and other weapons systems.
The studies will be conducted across three broad areas:
- Design studies;
- Scientific and technological studies; and
- Future Submarine Industry Skills Plan. The Future Submarine Industry Skills Plan will identify what is required to build and sustain the skills required to successfully deliver Australia’s Future Submarine capability. The plan will be developed by a team be led by the Chief Executive Officer of the Defence Materiel Organisation Mr Warren King. It will be supported by an Expert Industry Panel headed by Mr David Mortimer, AO. The Expert Industry Panel will include representatives of DMO, Navy, the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, Skills Australia, unions, the CEOs of the four principal Australian naval shipbuilding companies; ASC, Austal, BAE Systems and Forgacs Engineering and the CEOs of the principal naval systems integration companies: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Thales, Saab Systems and BAE Systems. This group will consult widely with State Governments, Australian industry, industry associations, universities and other academic organisations to develop this plan.
These studies are in addition to the Government’s announcement in December that it had approved the release of Requests for Information to three overseas submarine designers (DCNS, HDW and Navantia), and that Defence had entered into a contract with Babcock for a study into a land-based propulsion site.
Second Pass approval is scheduled for around 2017 with construction expected to begin following Second Pass.
Two Queensland councils have received top awards at the 2012 Planning Institute of Australia Awards for Planning Excellence.
Brisbane City Council's Urban Renewal Program Urban Renewal Brisbane - 20 years took out the inaugural category From Plan to Place Award.
Urban Renewal Brisbane is a program of rejuvenation started by the council in 1991. It is responsible for managing and revitalising Brisbane's inner city areas and has been awarded a dozen PIA planning awards in the past 20 years.
The project was judged to be a clear demonstration of a long-term vision being delivered in partnership with the private sector and the community over two decades.
Redland City Council played a key role in the Best Planning Ideas Award which was presented for a project called Child and Youth Friendly City. The project was classified by the judges as a case study for city planners to consider. The project team of Redland Council, Griffith University, Laurel Johnson and Play Environment Consulting provided an important insight into how planning and design of the built environment should consider young people with exercise at the centre of child and youth happiness.
New disability support workers in southern Tasmania recently benefited from a virtual induction training session delivered from the other end of the State, through the Skills Institute’s new Mobile Training Centre (MTC), connected to the National Broadband Network.
The MTC – part of the Institute’s NBN Speed on Wheels project – aims to capitalise on the roll-out of the NBN in Tasmania to trial the provision of accessible training solutions for apprentices, trainees and employers in remote locations.
Equipped with 15 computers, it will provide a model for an alternative training strategy, particularly for remote and small workplaces that often find it hard to function without their apprentices required to attend training off site.
Skills Institute CEO Malcolm White said the MTC was visiting the three stage 1 NBN areas in Tasmania – Smithton, Scottsdale and Midway Point – providing the opportunity for remote facilitation in a virtual classroom environment in areas such as horticulture, hospitality, human services and natural resources.
“Today’s visit to Midway Point will provide disability support trainees with a two-hour session conducted by Skills Institute teacher, Mark Krause, who will remotely deliver the training from Smithton,” Mr White said.
“The training will be centred on two modules from the Certificate III in Disability qualification, covering topics such as dignity and respect, behaviours of concern, communication and sexuality and intimacy, through high resolution video resources.
“In addition, a live Q & A session will be held with a group of disability support workers from the Wyndarra Community and Resource Centre in Smithton, who will share their wealth of knowledge and experience in residential and community-based care, with up to 14 OPTIA students in the South.
“As both Midway Point and Smithton are Stage 1 sites for the NBN roll-out, the speed will be fast and should cope with the virtual classroom software as well as several High Definition videos, created for this project.
“Making use of the stage 1 NBN sites around the State by means of a virtual classroom will allow this type of simultaneous audio and video streaming, live questioning and feedback, virtual blackboards, workplace simulations and linkups with industry experts.
“We believe this mobile NBN training model has the potential to showcase a new VET training strategy across the Nation and improve the VET sector generally through responsiveness and flexibility to address workforce development needs.”
The NBN project was funded by the National VET E-Learning Strategy 2012-2015 to stimulate innovative approaches using the National Broadband Network to increase participation in training and improve the skill levels of the Australian workforce.
The strategy provides incentives and support for VET providers to use the new NBN system to improve and extend training opportunities, while furthering Australian Government policy objectives for greater participation and enhanced workforce skills.
The Federal Government has announced it will start work on a new Defence White Paper, to be delivered in the first half of 2013.
The Minister for Defence has asked Dr Allan Hawke, Mr Ric Smith and Mr Paul Rizzo to form a Ministerial Advisory Group to assist in the development of the 2013 Defence White paper.
Dr Hawke and Mr Smith are both former Secretaries of the Department of Defence. Mr Rizzo is a Director of a number of major Australian corporations including the National Australia Bank and Mallesons Stephen Jacques and is the Independent Chair of the Defence Audit and Risk Committee. He led the development of the plan to address problems in the repair and management of the amphibious and support ship fleet.
The 2009 Defence White Paper proposed that a new White Paper be produced at least five yearly, but the Government has decided to it bring forward by a year in the light of “significant developments internationally and domestically since the 2009 White Paper which are influencing Australia’s defence posture, future force structure and defence budget”.
These developments include:
The Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) operational drawdown
As recently outlined by the Prime Minister, training and mentoring forces in Afghanistan will be drawn down and return to Australia in line with the ISAF transition strategy.
In addition, it is likely the ADF’s deployments in East Timor and Solomon Islands will potentially start to draw down during 2013.
These transitions will involve a major readjustment to ADF posture and Australia’s defence priorities.
The Australian Defence Force Posture Review (FPR)
The FPR assessed whether the Australian Defence Force is correctly positioned, geographically, to meet Australia’s current and future strategic challenges. It was the first review since work done in the mid 1980s by Professor Dibb for then Defence Minister Beazley.
The FPR also addressed the range of present and emerging global, regional and national strategic and security factors which require careful consideration for the future.
The judgments outlined in the FPR report will be considered in the White Paper process.
The ongoing effects of the Global Financial Crisis
The 2009 Defence White Paper noted that the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) was the most serious global economic and financial crisis in decades, and that its strategic impacts were still unfolding.
Since then, the GFC has continued to have a significant impact on the global economy.
Following the GFC, the defence forces of major developed countries have increased efficiencies and reduced their budgets, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.
Australia’s 2009 Defence White Paper was completed before the unfolding of these events. Financial circumstances clearly present a real challenge to the 2013 White Paper.
Strategic change in our region
The Strategic change described in the 2009 White Paper has continued, particularly the shift of economic weight to our region.
In 2011, Defence commenced implementation of a wide ranging reform program, including in the areas of capability development, procurement and acquisition, the Defence Budget and the strengthening of personal and institutional accountability.
Australian defence industry skills
Australia needs to have the necessary skills and capacity in the Australian defence industry to support the future requirements of the Australian Defence Force, including building and sustaining new capabilities.
The 2013 White Paper will build on work already completed or underway since 2009, including:
The Defence Planning Guidance
The classified Defence Planning Guidance (DPG) is Defence’s lead strategy document. It articulates the strategic priorities that guide Defence to produce the military outcomes sought by Government.
The DPG includes analysis of the future strategic environment, identifying the contingencies Australia might face in the bracketed timeframes of 0 to 5, 5 to 15 and 20 or more years.
The DPG is updated annually to set strategic guidance for force structure and capability development, corporate planning, resource planning, preparedness management and critical enabling functions.
The update to the 2011 DPG has been completed and will be considered by Government in the near future.
The Australian Force Structure Review
In the Defence White Paper 2009, the Government determined a development process for future White Papers, with Defence to prepare, prior to a White Paper, a Force Structure Review (FSR).
The FSR will provide costed force structure options for use in developing the White Paper – assessing the equipment and capabilities the ADF needs to deliver national security and defence priorities.
Defence commenced its FSR in November 2011.
The Defence Capability Plan Review
Defence has completed a full review of the Defence Capability Plan (DCP) including an audit of the plan and the development of new frameworks and methodologies for its management.
The DCP Review was considered in the 2012-13 Budget process.
The Australian Force Posture Review
The range of strategic and security factors addressed by the Australian Force Posture Review include:
- the rise of the Asia-Pacific as a region of global strategic significance;
- the rise of the Indian Ocean rim as a region of global strategic significance;
- the growth of military power projection capabilities of countries in the Asia Pacific;
- the growing need for the provision of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief following extreme events in the Asia Pacific region; and
- energy security and security issues associated with expanding offshore resource exploitation in our North West and Northern approaches.
The Defence Budget
At the time of the 2011-12 Budget it was determined that there would be a $1.6 billion underspend for the 2010-11 financial year.
In this context, Defence has conducted a comprehensive stock take of the Defence budgeting system, taking into account all budget processes, estimation methods and underlying budget assumptions.
This includes the way in which Defence’s Capital equipment budgets are formulated and managed, including the ongoing utility of contingency, slippage and over-programming.
The latest Trades Report by the Housing Industry Association (HIA) has found only very modest growth in skilled labour prices, but a persistent shortage of skilled labour in some trades despite very weak housing conditions.
“The key finding of the Trades Report is that despite March 2012 representing the seventh consecutive quarter of weakness for new home building post the GFC, the availability of skilled trades people is only marginally in surplus,” said HIA Chief Economist, Dr Harley Dale.
“Furthermore, five trades – bricklaying, ceramic tiling, painting, plumbing, and ‘other trades’ – remain in short supply.”
“These results provide compelling evidence of a structural shortage of skilled labour within the residential construction industry. Otherwise a large surplus of skilled labour would have emerged by now amidst very weak housing conditions, but that simply hasn’t happened,” said Harley Dale.
“Now is the time to accelerate investment in skills and training, an area where progress is certainly being achieved. Now is also the time to reform the immigration system to support the specific skilled labour requirements of residential construction, something it currently fails to do,” Harley Dale noted.
“You can’t just turn the skilled labour tap on when new home building recovers, especially when you are competing with the resources sector for labour. Without further investment and reform, skilled labour shortages will inhibit the much-needed recovery in new home building activity, which would be detrimental to the entire economy,” added Harley Dale.
The HIA Trade Availability Index registered +0.04 in the March 2012 quarter, meaning that trades were just in the territory of moderate oversupply (a reading between 0 and 1 signals oversupply). Meanwhile the HIA Trade Prices Index increased by 1.4 per cent to be up by only 1.6 per cent over the year to the March 2012 quarter.
The High Court has ruled that seven former directors of James Hardie misled the Australian Stock Exchange about the company’s ability to fund compensation claims from asbestos victims.
In 2009, an initial decision by the NSW Supreme Court found that the directors misled the ASX and the directors were banned from serving on company boards for five years. However, that ban was overturned in 2010 by the NSW Court of Appeal, which found that a draft ASX announcement by the company was not a breach because the directors had not approved it.
The High Court’s decision, made in regard to an appeal by the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) against the decision of the NSW Court of Appeal, found that the directors of James Hardie did approve the draft ASX announcement made by the company and, in doing so, breached their duty to the company.
The President of the ACTU, Ged Kearney, has welcomed the decision, saying it was a step towards justice for the families of those who suffered at the company’s hands.
“These people were at the helm of a company which was responsible for one of Australia’s worst corporate crimes and it is incomprehensible that they sought to get off scot free,” Ms Kearney said.
“Australia has the highest death rate from mesothelioma in the world, and the death toll continues to rise.
“Unions are determined to hold James Hardie to account and ensure that James Hardie fulfils its responsibilities towards people who have contracted diseases from its asbestos products.”
The Victorian TAFE Association has called on the Federal Skills Minister, Senator Chris Evans and the Federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Hon. Bill Shorten to intervene in the Victorian TAFE sector following last week’s State Government budget cuts to the TAFE sector.
The Association claims the Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu is in breach of a commitment he signed off on the National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform on 13th April agreeing to; “implement strategies which enable public providers to operate effectively in an environment of greater competition, recognizing their important functions …” (source NPA clauses 6d and 29b)
It has called for the State Government to immediately review its budget announcement and restore the “full service provision” payments to public TAFE providers of approximately $150million per annum. This amount has been progressively paid over the last two decades for TAFE community service obligations, staff legal entitlements and student disability support payments. The Federal Government contributes over $290 million through COAG agreements per annum to Victoria.
The State government has confirmed to TAFE CEOs that the budget cuts to TAFE equate to about the same amount, in the order of $290million in 2013 according to their financial modeling.
The Executive Director of the Victorian TAFE Association, David Williams said that early indications are for massive job losses in the sector.
“Early indications of the impact of the budget cuts to TAFE are job losses which will clearly exceed 500 effective full time roles, as many as 1,200 to 1,500 teaching and support staff over the coming year,” said David Williams.
“These losses are in excess of those threatened in the Victorian automotive and manufacturing industry, which the government has rightly sought to protect. It should apply no less principle to TAFE.”
“It is clear Premier Baillieu’s promise of no job losses to front-line public sector jobs has been shattered and many of these critical jobs will be in regional Victoria where alternative work options are limited, particularly for teachers and associated staff such as librarians and counseling support staff.”
“We wrote to the Federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Hon. Bill Shorten over a month ago outlining our concerns that the cuts to TAFE funding from November last year represented a shift of work from the public to private sector. This is in clear breach of the principles of the Federal Workplace Relations Act. We have not received a formal response from the Minister and eagerly await his response.
“The massive additional cuts in this Victorian budget call for an urgent response from both Minister Shorten and Senator Evans.”
“We will be writing to Federal Skills Minister, Senator Chris Evans over the next day or so outlining our concerns and the obvious breaching of obligations by the Victorian Government under the COAG National Partnership Agreement” said David Williams.