Cloud service provider, Rackspace Hosting has announced it will open its new data centre in Sydney, creating an expected 50 jobs in Western Sydney over the next three years.
Speaking at the company's media event, NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Stoner, said the data centre at Erskine Park met the guidelines of the NSW Office of State Revenue’s Jobs Action Plan, and the 50 data centre employees were therefore eligible for the Payroll Tax Rebate Scheme. He said that Rackspace had received no direct financial support from the NSW Government to establish it in Sydney.
“This datacentre confirms NSW and Sydney as the home of the expanding digital economy,” he said.
Mr Stoner said that the NSW government had not signed on as a customer with Rackspace but was “certainly ... able to do that” when their IT systems had been updated to a Cloud model.
Rackspace Hosting has eight other data centres around the world.
Research released by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) confirms that Australian Government agencies are moving closer to an open access and proactive disclosure culture.
Reforms to the federal Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) in November 2010 were designed to progress open government in Australia. These reforms included an Information Publication Scheme that came into effect on 1 May 2011. Under the scheme, Australian Government agencies are required to publish a range of documents on their websites, and are encouraged to publish additional information over and above that required by the FOI Act.
In early May 2012, the OAIC conducted a survey of Australian Government agencies to assess how they are complying with the new publishing requirements of the FOI Act. Seventy eight per cent of Australian Government agencies completed the survey.
'Proactive publication is a core element of transparent, accountable and accessible government,' Australian Information Commissioner Professor John McMillan said. 'I am pleased that 85 per cent of agencies publish the required categories of information on their websites, including information about their structure, functions, appointments and consultation arrangements. Ninety four per cent are publishing operational information that shows how decisions that affect members of the public are made.'
Professor McMillan said the new proactive publishing requirements require action on many fronts. For example, agencies must publish a plan, decide what information they will publish and ensure that it is accessible and useable by the community. Agencies must also consult the community about its needs and expectations and regularly review the agency's performance.
While pleased with the survey results, Professor McMillan said that many challenges have been identified that agencies must overcome to meet the requirements of the new FOI regime.
'Our survey also sought to measure agencies' implementation of the Principles on open public sector information. These Principles, issued by the OAIC last year, set out the central values of open public sector information — information should be accessible without charge, based on open standards, easily discoverable, understandable, machine-readable and freely reusable and transformable.'
When asked to identify which of the Principles were most challenging to implement 30 per cent of agencies identified making public sector information discoverable and useable, 28 per cent identified providing open access to information. Seventeen per cent identified robust information asset management as being the most difficult principle to implement.
Reasons for these difficulties included outdated agency record keeping systems, differing information management practices operating in the same agency and a lack of resources to reformat old documents for digital publication.
'Going forward, agencies will need help in making information more discoverable, including by applying metadata. Ensuring that online information is accessible to the community, in particular to people with disabilities, is another area where some agencies are struggling,' Professor McMillan added. 'For this reason the OAIC will continue to work with information management stakeholders to share best practice experiences and offer as much support as possible.'
The survey results are available on the OAIC website: www.oaic.gov.au/publications/reports/IPS_survey_report.html
A summary of the survey findings about agencies' implementation of the Principles on open public sector information is available on the OAIC website: www.oaic.gov.au/publications/reports/open_psi_government_transition.html
Wealth management company, Perpetual Limited, has signed a five-year $68 million ourtsourcing agreement for its IT functions with Fujitsu Australia Limited.
Under the partnership, Perpetual plans to modernize its IT infrastructure and applications, and improve a number of service and capability functions in a bid to deliver the IT cost savings outlined in the company’s Transformation 2015 strategy which targets $50 million in annual savings in FY2015. The first stage of the outsourcing process will occur in the second half of 2013.
According to a company statement, around 100 roles will be affected by the outsourcing, with a small IT team retained by the company to focus on governance and vendor management.
The NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher has announced that 139 new apprentices will start training next year across the NSW electricity network.
The new recruits will start work with the State’s three electricity network business – Ausgrid, Endeavour and Essential Energy as apprentice line workers, cable jointers and substation technicians.
Mr Hartcher said the three network businesses were now recruiting for the new roles which included applications, exams, and interviews to help select the brightest bunch of new trainees.
“These new recruits will learn their trade as they work, ensuring they stay safe while maintaining a reliable and efficient electricity network for the people of NSW,” Mr Hartcher said. “They will become the next generation of frontline workers, learning from some of the best and most experienced power workers in the country.
“More than half of these new apprentices will be based in regional and rural NSW, helping to support local communities and local economies.”
The apprentice class of 2013 will learn their trade in both the classroom and on the job training throughout NSW.
Mr Hartcher said that the three electricity networks expected to employ a total of 1,200 graduating apprentices over the next four years.
The latest Longhaus-ITCRA Australian Tech Index has suggested the ICT sector is facing increasing uncertainty as new job advertisements drop, available jobs are filled, and shorter contract roles become more popular.
The Index is a composite of eight indicators which together provide a summary of changes in the level of ICT business activity within Australia. The Index draws on information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), the Australian Stock Exchange and ITCRA’s SkillsMatch data.
Peter Carr, Managing Director of Longhaus, said that while the Tech Index has remained at the same level during 2012, a longer-term downwards trend is evident.
“The Longhaus-ITCRA Australian Tech Index has fallen each quarter since the beginning of 2011, aside from a minor two point increase in the fourth quarter of 2011. The most significant contributor to this trend has been the fall in DEEWR’s internet vacancy index, which shows a 29 per cent drop in ads for ICT professionals since the beginning of 2011,” said Mr Carr.
“This softening has been particularly pronounced for software and applications programmers, and ICT business and systems analysts,” he said.
“This comes on the back of strong growth in employed ICT workers, according to data available from the Australian Workplace and Productivity Agency and the Clarius Skills Index.
With higher employment overall, the gap between supply and demand has narrowed over a relatively short period of time.”
“With falling job demand, low unemployment and employed labour trending at historically high levels, we expect that the number of employed ICT workers will continue to increase. However, many placements will be made as a function of regular turnover, particularly due to the trend towards shorter contract durations that we’ve also seen.”
Julie Mills, CEO of ITCRA, said that more organisations were looking to take on workers rather than downsize their workforce in the coming quarter.
“Forty-six per cent of organisations plan to significantly or slightly increase the number of permanent or contract ICT staff. While 24 per cent plan to significantly or slightly decrease their contract ICT staff, only 6 per cent are planning to do the same with permanent staff,” said Ms Mills.
“In the second quarter of 2012, we saw the number of ICT contractor placements increase. However we also saw a trend towards shorter contract durations of 1-3 months, which we believe may be a strategic move in response to prospective cost cutting,” she said.
As part of the Longhaus-ITCRA Australian Tech Index, 50 ICT decision makers from medium-to-large Australian ICT organisations were polled on their forecasts for ICT spending, project approvals, and demand for ICT permanent employees and contractors in the third quarter of 2012.
“We found that poll respondents are no less optimistic for the coming quarter than they were over the preceding 12 months, however they predict slightly more turnover of ICT contractors than in previous quarters,” said Mr Carr.
“For the remainder of 2012, we expect that ICT economic activity will be sustained by the continuation of initiatives begun in late 2011 and early 2012. We’ll also see continued confidence in the financial and insurance industries, which are significant employers of ICT,” he said.
“However, growth will be constrained by low unemployment, decreasing job demand and uncertain employment prospects for contractors.”
“In light of shorter contracts and the expected completion of a number of projects, new projects will become increasingly important to maintain existing employment,” added Ms Mills.
“However, we do expect that there will be a drop in the number of employed ICT workers, albeit from a relatively
The WA Government has announced the investment of $27.24million into the Northern Planning Program (NPP) through the State Government’s Royalties for Regions Northern Towns Development fund to develop high priority strategic and statutory planning activities in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Mid-West and Gascoyne regions.
The Northern Planning Program was established in early 2010 for the Kimberley and Pilbara regions and in 2011 was extended to cover the Mid-West and Gascoyne regions.
Regional Development and Lands Minister Brendon Grylls said the NPP provided funding for projects that addressed the facilitation of land release for residential development.
“It will support the diversification of the local economy and local governments to undertake planning and development work within five years,” Mr Grylls said.
“Funding of this initiative is fundamental to assist regional shires to facilitate development by creating or amending local planning schemes as well as discuss and plan with communities for their future.”
Planning Minister John Day said applications for NPP funding had been collected through an Expression of Interest (EOI) process.
“We have received a considerable amount of EOIs and applicants are now submitting business cases for approval to be granted the funds allocated to this financial year,” Mr Day said.
“The previous year’s funding allocations have been issued and we are seeing great results with 47 projects, totalling $12.786million being delivered throughout the regions.”
The Western Australian Government has released its response to the review of the Country Local Government Fund (CLGF) which was undertaken earlier this year by the Western Australian Regional Development Trust.
Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls said the State Government accepted 23 recommendations, and partially accepted the remaining three, which ensured that all country local governments would continue to receive a funding allocation.
“The partial acceptance of some recommendations means there will now be a transition towards an increase in contestable funding,” Mr Grylls said.
“Local governments will receive ratings, but only on capability/capacity and prospectivity, not on risk, and this will inform the decision about future funding amounts.”
The Minister said these changes would ensure CLGF funding was directed towards projects that achieved significant regional development outcomes for the State and that there was alignment between CLGF projects and broader regional and state planning approaches.
“It’s not about the size of the project but the outcomes achieved for the local community,” he said.
The Trust provides independent advice to the Minister for Regional Development on the allocation and management of all Royalties for Regions funding. $243million has been disbursed to individual country local governments and as regional groupings for 1,400 projects with a value of more than $450million.
More information is at http://www.rdl.wa.gov.au
The South Australian Urban Renewal Authority, Renewal SA, will host a series of panels with the private sector and non-Government organisations aimed at developing new development ideas and fast tracking construction growth.
The panels will be held in Adelaide, north, south and Port Augusta by Renewal SA, the new trading name for the Urban Renewal Authority the State Government formed in March this year. They will be led by Renewal SA Chief Executive Fred Hansen.
Minister for Housing and Urban Development Patrick Conlon said the panels are aimed at bringing forward ideas and looking how Government can partner or assist in getting housing and jobs on the ground. He said working with local governments would form an important part of the discussions.
Last month, the Premier Jay Weatherill announced that an Economic Development Board taskforce would investigate the fast tracking of construction projects worth up to $20m.
Mr Hansen said there was a fundamental need for change in the State’s approach to planning.
“Smart planning and delivery will be essential to take advantage of our expected population growth. The 30 year plan recognises that we cannot continue with urban sprawl and calls for change in our approach to development.
“The challenge for all of us is to be smarter, more creative in how we meet our housing needs, connect our communities and increase sustainability.
“This means more effective partnerships, better delivery models, solutions that address affordability and cutting edge design in both built form and the public spaces in between.
“The State Government is taking up that challenge and through Renewal SA is calling on industry to share ideas and innovations on every aspect of development.”
Renewal SA is charged with delivering and increasing the supply and diversity of affordable housing and accelerating the renewal of social housing stock to upgrade and refresh South Australia’s suburbs and communities
The Queensland Government’s overhaul of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines will see the loss of 413 positions and around 360 retrenchments.
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps said the restructure minimises the impact on rural and regional Queensland and maintains investment in mine safety.
“I am satisfied that, in consultation with senior Departmental managers, our savings program will protect the frontline services this Department offers to all Queenslanders, and that we have minimised job losses in the bush.”
He said the majority of the job losses are in south-east Queensland.
“I’d also like to make it very clear there will be absolutely no loss of frontline mine safety and health officers from my Department, to ensure Queenslanders working in the resources sector remain protected by one of the world’s best mine safety systems.
“Instead we have identified savings in areas of the Department that had, under Labor, become fixated on over-regulating landholders in areas such as vegetation management and been drowning resource companies in red tape, rather than supporting sustainable economic growth.”
The Queensland Local Government Minister David Crisafulli has received 19 proposals from communities interested in resurrecting their former Councils.
Mr Crisafulli said the process was a valuable opportunity for residents still hurting from the forced amalgamations in 2008 to gauge the mood of their community.
“I commend the groups which have gone to a great deal of effort to put forward a case to de-amalgamate and we will now assess each of these according to the criteria we set out,” Mr Crisafulli said.
Successful submissions needed to provide a strong, evidence-based, community-backed proposal based on the pre-amalgamation local government boundaries.
They needed a petition signed by at least 20 per cent of the voting population that showed an understanding of all the cost implications.
They needed to provide a detailed estimate of the potential financial costs and demonstrate an understanding that the former shire wishing to de-amalgamate would have to meet all costs involved, including their own, and those of the Council they wished to break away from.
Strong submissions will be passed on to the Boundaries Commissioner who will work with Queensland Treasury Corp to determine the financial viability of both the shire wishing to break away and the remaining Council.
“This is more than just names on a piece of paper,” Mr Crisafulli said. “This will be a difficult and costly process, but if a proposal stacks up, the community will get to vote at a referendum.”
Mr Crisafulli said those groups who did the right thing and made their submissions on time deserved to know as soon as possible if they will go to the next stage.
A final report, including recommendations, will be given to the Minister by 28 November 2012.
The Queensland Government has approved the Strategic Plan 2012-2016 for the newly created National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing (NPRSR) department.
The Minister, Steven Dickson, said savings were essential to help the Government turn the State’s finances around. He said that approximately 130 positions had been identified which could not be supported.
“After careful deliberations, we have identified reforms across the department to reduce red tape and consolidate administrative services,” Mr Dickson said.
He said the Strategic Plan will guide the department’s key objectives of ensuring Queensland’s National Parks are well managed and can be enjoyed by all Queenslanders; increasing participation in sport and active recreation across the state and rejuvenating the Queensland racing industry.
Mr Dickson said senior NPRSR managers would hold a range of information sessions and meetings over coming weeks, providing in-depth briefings to staff, and giving them a clear understanding of the future shape of the department.
The Queensland Government’s Skills and Training Taskforce has handed its interim report to the Minister for Education, Training and Employment John-Paul Langbroek.
The Taskforce, Chaired by Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Resources Council Michael Roche, was created to take an in-depth look at TAFE and how it could be revitalised.
“This interim report contains the preliminary findings of the Taskforce, which will help us assess what actions should be taken to reinvigorate TAFE and ensure it is more responsive to the economic demands of the State,” Mr Langbroek said.
Minister Langbroek said Mr Roche had worked with members from key Queensland industry sectors including construction, agriculture and tourism to overhaul the State's training sector and meet current skills shortages and future skills needs.
He said the Taskforce was consulting interest groups and considering recent reviews and reports to assist them in developing recommendations for the future of Queensland’s VET sector.
“The Newman Government is determined to grow a four pillar economy and reduce the State's unemployment,” he said. “We’re not interested in whether or not people have certificates or diplomas if they don’t have jobs.
“That’s why we want to make sure TAFE courses align with Government priorities and meet demands in the marketplace.
“This is about making sure that there are real career outcomes for vocational education students and it’s not a case of training for training’s sake.”
Minister Langbroek said a full government response would be given after the final report is handed down.
The final report will be handed down by the end of November.
A new report by Geoscience Australia and the Northern Territory Geological Survey has identified potential uranium and geothermal energy-related resources in the southern part of the Northern Territory.
The assessment has been conducted in the region by combining newly acquired deep earth imaging, seismic data with geological and geochemical data. It identified potential for uranium-rich iron oxide-copper-gold deposits in the southern Aileron Province south of Tanami and Tennant Creek.
The area is currently being actively explored for iron oxide-copper-gold mineralisation and has potential as a future mineral province.
Analysis for geothermal energy systems revealed low to moderate potential across the assessment area with indications of moderate to high potential in the Pedirka Basin, on the border with South Australia.
Spending on mineral exploration in Australia continues at high levels. Mineral exploration expenditure in 2010-11 rose by A$718 million to A$2.95 billion, an increase of 32 percent.
Exploration expenditure increased for most commodities including coal (up 62 percent to A$520 million); copper (up 60percent to A$323 million); lead, zinc and silver (up 46 percent to A$76 million); nickel and cobalt (up 33 percent to A$271 million); iron ore (up 27 percent to A$665 million); uranium (up 27 percent to A$214 million); and gold (up 13 percent to A$652 million).
In addition to the report, associated maps and digital data have been prepared.
The report is available at:
The NSW Government is looking to appoint Chief Executive Officers for its new agencies, NSW Trains and Sydney Trains.
The Government announced the creation of two new rail operators, NSW Trains and Sydney Trains, to replace RailCorp as part of its recent ‘Fixing the Trains’ initiative.
NSW Trains will serve intercity, regional and country customers.
Announcing the international search, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said businessmen David Gonski and Peter Coates had agreed to lead the hunt for no cost. Andrew McCusker, former director of operations for the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railways Corporation, will also assist in the recruitment process.
Abacus, the industry body for the Australian mutual financial services sector, has released figures which it claims show that the customer owned banking sector – credit unions, building societies and mutual banks - are in an even stronger position than the latest APRA data indicates.
The industry body has done its own performance modelling which includes data from mutual banks which weren't captured by APRA’s report.
Six institutions that became mutual banks were not included in the 2012 APRA data, but were previously part of the 2011 data, which led to results that prevented accurate year-on-year comparisons.
By including mutual banks, figures show that for the year to 30 June 2012, the customer owned banking sector has:
- Grown total assets by 4.5%;
- Recorded annual housing loan growth of 5.1%;
- Performed strongly in the deposit market, with 7.0% growth.
Abacus Chief Executive Louise Petschler said credit unions, building societies and mutual banks have delivered a strong performance in a market that remains challenging.
"Our sector is delivering a customer driven alternative to the major banks and has recorded a stable and sustainable set of numbers," Ms Petschler said.
"It is important we report the performance of mutual banks so our industry can truly reflect its performance."
Abacus is continuing to work with APRA to enable mutual banks to be included in future quarterly reports.
The Institute of Public Accounts (IPA) has called on the Government to reconsider proposed changes to superannuation in relation to fund notification requirements.
"It is unacceptable that employers should deny their employees their full superannuation entitlements, even if only a small number of employers. The Government needs to address this issue. However, the mechanisms proposed will be ineffective and costly to administer," said IPA chief executive officer, Andrew Conway.
Financial stress is the major reason why employers fail to pay superannuation entitlements to their employees. As superannuation payments are separate from PAYG deductions, employers have greater latitude to hold on to money that should be put in their employee's superannuation fund.
To address this concern the Government has proposed that superannuation funds report actual contributions received either quarterly or half-yearly. The expectation is that employees will notice any reduction in superannuation payments and contact the relevant regulator.
"This might sound simple in theory; however, it depends on employees being actually engaged in their superannuation. Research indicates that the majority of Australians are disengaged with superannuation. An email or SMS from your fund may not be sufficient to attract the attention of the employee," said Mr Conway.
For superannuation funds these new requirements will be expensive to implement and will mean additional effort in ensuring that all personal details, including email addresses and mobile phone numbers, are always up to date.
"As we believe the mechanisms will be ineffective, the regulations will merely increase the cost to funds and members without addressing the problem.
"There is an alternative; a simpler, lower cost and more effective mechanism. By aligning the requirement to pay superannuation payments with PAYG payments and having these payments made direct into the fund or a clearing house, the problem will be more effectively and efficiently addressed.
"Funds will not have to implement expensive changes. Employees will be assured their superannuation entitlements are paid and employers will have one less different payment period to worry about. Everyone wins," said Mr Conway.
University of Sydney researchers will be looking for ways to slash energy consumption for the heating and cooling of buildings at Australia's first comfort laboratory, a research facility that will also improve homes and workplaces in Australia and internationally.
Professor Richard de Dear, director of the laboratory, said that people now spend an average 90 percent of their time indoors.
“By helping us understand how humans react to temperature, light and sound in an office or at home, this laboratory will let us improve the quality and comfort of that time."
"While there is a widespread belief that the 'optimal temperature' for human productivity is 21.5 degrees, a figure that has been enshrined in many tenancy contracts, there is no scientific basis to this belief."
"By understanding the most efficient way to provide comfort, we can also lower energy and other resource costs. This has significant impacts on the sustainability of Australian businesses, drives productivity and increases our competitiveness in the low carbon future."
The laboratory consists of two rooms fitted with a multitude of sensors and controls, allowing researchers to control indoor conditions such as temperature, ventilation, air-flow and direction, acoustics and lighting level, direction and intensity. As these conditions change researchers will monitor occupants' impressions of comfort.
The comfort laboratory is the cornerstone of the University of Sydney's research into Indoor Environmental Quality, a field of architecture and design science that combines psychology, physiology, sustainability and architecture to investigate how sustainability and human experiences influence productivity at work and comfort at home.
The laboratory is located at the University of Sydney's Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning.
Professor de Dear is an internationally recognised expert in Indoor Environmental Quality and the world's most cited researcher on thermal comfort. His work forms the backbone of national and international energy efficiency and building standards.
Ship engine exhaust emissions make up more than a quarter of nitrogen oxide emissions generated in the Australian region according to a recently-published study by CSIRO and the Australian Maritime College in Launceston. Nitrogen oxide is a non-greenhouse gas, unlike similarly named nitrous oxide.
The remainder comes from road and air transport, energy generation, and industrial processes. Global studies indicate that shipping emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulphur contribute to the formation of photochemical smog and particles near land and in ports.
"Shipping is a major driver in the Australian economy, with 753 Mt of international exports worth $202 billion passing through Australian ports in 2008-2009."
The authors, Dr Ian Galbally from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, and the Australian Maritime College’s Dr Laurie Goldsworthy estimate that approximately 30 per cent of anthropogenic nitrogen oxide emissions and 20 per cent of oxides of sulphur emissions generated in the Australian region may come from shipping.
These are non greenhouse gases which have the potential to affect the air quality near coastal regions, and have consequences for human health and amenity.
Dr Galbally said around 10 per cent of global shipping freight passes through Australian ports annually. “Shipping is a major driver in the Australian economy, with 753 Mt of international exports worth $202 billion passing through Australian ports in 2008-2009.”
“There is limited knowledge about the emissions from ships in coastal regions and ports in Australia, the effects of these emissions on air quality in the surrounding coastal and portside urban regions, or potential effects on human health” he said.
The ports of Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are located where seasonally-prevailing onshore winds dominate and the pollutants from shipping frequently will be carried into the air-sheds of these major urban population centres.
“We’re seeing increasing regulation of land-based emissions but limited regulation of shipping emissions and expect that in the near-future there will be a need to monitor more closely emissions from shipping,” Dr Galbally said.
The authors commenced this study with measurements of ship exhaust emissions on the coastal cement carrier MV Goliath.
Dr Goldsworthy said it is possible to quantify emissions generated based on knowledge of fuel type, fuel origin, engine size, cargo, and speed.
“We know from previous studies and the Australian Pollutant Inventory that ship emissions off the coast of Australia are substantially larger than in-port ship emissions.”
“Nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide emissions at sea are comparable in magnitude with other national sources such as energy generation and industry. They are potentially significant contributors to the air-sheds of major coastal cities,” he said.
The study appeared recently in the journal Air Quality and Climate Change.
The final round of grants under the National Solar Schools Program has been announced, resulting in nearly 60% of primary and secondary schools across Australia now having received more than $217 million to install renewable energy, rainwater tanks and boost energy efficiency on campus.
Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mark Dreyfus, visited Earnshaw State College in Banyo, Queensland, to announce the final grants.
"In Queensland alone, more than 1,330 schools have shared close to $43 million in grant funding from the Federal Government to put in place 'energy smart' improvements while teaching students about consumption, conservation and different forms of energy generation," said Mr Dreyfus.
Earnshaw State College will use its $25,000 grant to install a new 6.5 kW solar power system and extend its existing solar system by a further 2 kW to improve energy efficiency and cut the school's energy bills.
"A web-based metering system will allow students to see the amount of electricity generated from the solar panels and monitor energy consumption. The school will incorporate the data into its classes including maths, science and society and environment studies," said Mr Dreyfus.
Mr Dreyfus said the National Solar Schools Program allows students, teachers and parents to learn from and enjoy the benefits first-hand.
Applications were assessed using merit-based criteria, with schools demonstrating value for money, as well as environmental and educational benefits. Schools applying from remote or low socio-economic areas received additional weighting.
The 2012-13 funding round was the final opportunity for schools to apply for an NSSP grant. Further information about the National Solar Schools Program, including a list of successful grant recipients, is available at www.climatechange.gov.au/nationalsolarschools/
The Chairman of the Australia Post Board, David Mortimer AO, has stepped down from the Board having served since 2001, including the past six years as Chairman.
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy said Mr Mortimer has overseen significant changes at Australia Post during his time as Chairman, including the growth in eCommerce and digital communication, a marked increase in parcel volumes, and declining volumes of traditional letters.
“Under Mr Mortimer’s leadership, Australia Post has adapted to the pressures of a rapidly changing environment and come through the difficulties of the Global Financial Crisis as a stronger, more resilient organisation.
“During a period in which many overseas postal operators have lost money, Australia Post has continued as a successful and profitable business.”
Mr Mortimer’s term concludes on 11 September 2012. Until a successor is appointed, Mark Darras, Deputy Chairman of the Board, will serve as Acting Chairman.
The Federal Minister for Local Government Simon Crean has announced a review into the Local Government Financial Assistance Grants program to be conducted by the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
The Australian Government has provided over $37 billion in Financial Assistance Grants to local government since 1974.
Mr Crean said the $2.1 billion allocated to the program this financial year is made up of a general purpose grant and local roads grant that are paid through the states and territories to local government and used by councils according to local priorities.
"Whilst the program has been a successful one and allowed local governments to invest in key local priorities, a comprehensive review of the Local Government Financial Assistance Grants program has not occurred for many years—a lot has changed since then," Mr Crean said.
"The review will identify tangible measures for improving the impact of Financial Assistance Grants on the effectiveness of local governments and their ability to provide an equitable level of service to their residents.
"The review will be conducted in two stages to allow time to take into account the Commissions other key activities.
"The initial stage will examine the policy and administration of the Financial Assistance Grants program to make the most of existing funding.
"This will include making sure the National Principles that guide the distribution of Financial Assistance Grants to local governments are still valid.
"This review will take ongoing input from the States, Territories and local government as it progresses.
"The Commission is expected to report to Government in December 2013."