The CSIRO and Boeing have signed a five-year, $25 million strategic research program that will aim to develop new innovation in space sciences, advanced materials energy and direct manufacturing with an objective to drive improvements and productivity in the Australian economy.
"A partnership, with a global company such as Boeing, helps CSIRO get its science from the laboratory into industry so that people can benefit from the discoveries and developments," Senator Chris Evans, said today.
During the 23-year partnership, CSIRO and Boeing have jointly invested about $110 million across a wide range of projects, including world-leading technology innovations in sustainable aviation fuels, aircraft assembly processes, fire retardants and aircraft maintenance management software.
"This new $25 million agreement represents the next stage in what has been an extremely successful relationship between CSIRO and Boeing that has delivered real technological breakthroughs for the industry," Ian Thomas, President of Boeing Australia & South Pacific said.
WorkCover NSW will hold a free webinar this week to help businesses and workers better understand the recent changes in work health and safety laws regarding working with asbestos.
The webinar is part of WorkCover’s program to support NSW business, industry and workers adjust to the new laws and will cover all asbestos removal and demolition requirements.
“On 1 January 2012 new work health and safety laws commenced in NSW as part of harmonised national laws,” General Manager of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division Joh Watson said.
“The webinar will provide an opportunity for employers and workers adjusting to the new laws to ask questions and seek clarification on how the new laws affect their workplace.
The Asbestos Removal and Demolition Requirements webinar will explain when asbestos work can occur, licensing requirements and changes, and the general requirements for WorkCover. Other subjects include:
- Asbestos in soil – new changes
- The Asbestos Register
- The Asbestos Management Plan
- Equipment use
- Health monitoring
- Role of the supervisor
- What to do in an emergency situation
The webinar will be held on Wednesday, 4 April from 11am – 12pm. All webinar participants must pre-register at: http://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/newlegislation2012/assistance-and-support/Pages/whs-webinars.aspx
Carter Holt Harvey Woodproducts Australia, a subsidy of BSG Holdings, has had its initial fine of $120,000 fine regarding workplace safety breaches doubled after it lost an appeal.
The company will now pay $230,000 for breaches in workplace safety that lead to the death of an employee after a one-and-a-half tonne timber pack hoist fell on her as she dislodged a jamped piece of timber.
The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the initial fine, saying that it was manifestly inadequate.
While the company was found not to have blatently disregarding workplace safety, it had been blind to a common enough problem that should have been addressed.
In his ruling, Judge Michael Tinney of the Victorian County Court said more should have been done given the size and nature of the machine.
WorkSafe’s Executive Director for Health and Safety, Ian Forsyth, welcomed the increase saying timber milling was high-risk work requiring employers to provide the highest possible level of protection for their workers.
“We expect a company which is part of a major player in the forestry industry to be leading the way on health and safety – clearly this wasn’t the case,” he said.
The company was prosecuted under Section 21(1)&(2)(b) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. This section covers the responsibility of employers to provide and maintain a safe workplace. In particular it requires them to make arrangements for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, safety and the absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage or transport of plant or substances.
The Australian Government’s Stronger Futures package will provide children in the Northern Territory a $583 million investment over 10 years after Aboriginal people telling the Government that education is a priority.
This will provide students with better access to improved education, with school attendance and enrolment rates in many communities a priority.
The funding will ensure that 200 teaching positions are retained in remote Northern Territory schools to ensure children have access to quality teaching. It attempts to enhance the quality of teaching to ensure children learn vital literacy and numeracy skills resulting in the best chance of getting a job in the future.
This investment will ensure that all remote teachers, including local Aboriginal teachers, have the skills they need to provide specialist teaching in intensive numeracy and literacy for students with English as a second language, or who may experience learning difficulties.
The funding will also assist the Northern Territory Government to invest in professional development for Aboriginal school staff. This will help to increase the number of Aboriginal people with education qualifications and create pathways to assist local people to become teachers and education workers in their communities.
The Government will also continue to fund the School Nutrition Program, providing nutritious meals to about 5,000 students in 67 schools every school day to help them learn over the next decade.
About 170 local Aboriginal staff are employed through this program to help in the preparation and delivery of meals.
Also on the agenda is providing funding to build up to 100 teacher houses in remote Northern Territory communities to tackle the shortages in staff housing.
The education funding includes the Government’s previously announced $85.6 million enhanced Improving School Enrolment and Attendance through Welfare Reform Measure (SEAM).
This measure will be closely aligned with the Northern Territory Government’s Every Child Every Day strategy, to ensure greater engagement between schools and families and give parents extra support when they need it.
Under this initiative, if children fall below the set attendance benchmark, schools and Centrelink will work with families to develop attendance plans that will work to address barriers to attendance. This funding for SEAM includes providing Centrelink social workers and other support services to assist families.
The Federal Government’s Clean Energy Regulator has commenced operations, with responsibility over a broad range of Government initatives.
The statutory authority will administer both new and existing regulatory schemes, including the Federal Government’s carbon pricing mechanism, the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting scheme, the Renewable Energy Target, the Carbon Farming Initiative and the Australian National Registry of Emissions Units.
According to the Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Chloe Munro, the Clean Energy Regulator’s first priority will be to “ensure continuity of service for people who are involved with existing regulatory schemes which support business and industry to reduce their carbon emissions.”
A series of guidance notes and applications forms about the carbon pricing mechanism and associated schemes will be published by the Clean Energy Regulator.
The list of entities expected to be liable under the carbon pricing mechanism will be published to the Clean Energy Regulator website.
The Liable Entities Public Information Database will be published in a staged approach of updates as information is available to the Clean Energy Regulator.
More information on the new statutory authority is available on the Clean Energy Regulator’s website.
The Federal Government has announced 21 companies to share in $60 million to help construct community-based accommodation for adults with severe or profound disabilities.
“People with disability need access to a range of supported accommodation models that will allow them, and their carers, to participate as valued members of their communities,” Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.
“The Supported Accommodation Innovation Fund will help address a shortfall in supported accommodation and respite for people with disability.”
Negotiations for funding agreements are in progress with the successful 21 organisations, which will be responsible for 27 projects, providing 169 new supported accommodation and respite places across the country.
These projects, which are to be completed by June 2014, build on the Australian Government’s $100 million capital injection in 2008 to build more than 300 supported accommodation places, which are on track to be delivered this year.
For more information on the Supported Accommodation Innovation Fund go to www.saif.govspace.gov.au
Parliamentary Secretary for School Education, Senator Jacinta Collins, launched the second phase of the Gillard Government’s Positive Partnerships to provide classroom and family support for students with autism.
Senator Collins said the Gillard Government reinvestment of over $21 million is a great kick start to Autism Awareness Month throughout April.
“The first phase of the Positive Partnership initiative was so widely successful that the number of teachers and staff we expected to train in helping students with autism was exceeded,” Senator Collins said.
Since 2008, Positive Partnerships has trained more than 8,000 parents, carers and school staff across Australia in how better to meet the needs of students with autism, and has provided online resources for more than 28,000 people.
Senator Collins said Australia’s significant progress in supporting school-aged students with autism spectrum disorder is also making the jobs easier for their parents, their carers, their teachers, school leaders, teaching support assistants and occupational specialists.
"I am pleased to announce that a new consortium will train more than 450 additional teachers and 1,450 parents each year until 2015,” Senator Collins said.
The Partnerships between the Education and the Autism Community (PEAC) group will deliver the program between 2012 to 2015.
Members of this group include Autism Queensland, Autism South Australia, Flinders University and Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) who will lead the consortium.
Global consultancy firm Golder Associates has announced the appointment of Adam Kilsby as the company’s new leader for Australasia.
Effective from April 6, Mr Kilsby will lead a division of over 1,200 employees and an annual turnover of $200 million.
Mr Kilsby will replace Darren Watt as Managing Director for Australia and Region Vice President for Australasia, a key position for the expanding global company.
Having joined Golder in 1997, Mr Kilsby has led Golder's environmental services team in South Australia for four years. Between 2003 and 2007 he managed the Adelaide office, before being appointed National Operations Manager in 2008.
Mr Watt has been appointed Golder's global Vice-President, People after over seven years successful leadership. He will assume his new role in May.
Welcoming the appointments, Golder Associates President and CEO, Brian H. Conlin, said Mr Kilsby brought a wealth of experience to his new and important role.
"Adam has made an impressive contribution to Golder, representing our company as a civil and geotechnical engineer, environmental services consultant, project manager, operations manager and Principal," Mr Conlin said.
"I am very confident he will continue the Australasian region's record of outstanding achievement."
The Federal Government and the European Union have confirmed their ‘strong commitment’ to working towards linking their respective Emissions Trading Schemes (ETS), during bilateral talks in Brussels.
Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Minister Greg Combet said that the move will further develop a strong international carbon market.
"Linking our schemes is a priority for the Australian government. The European Union's ETS is the largest emissions trading scheme in the world. Together, the schemes will provide access to a wider range of options for cost-effective emission reduction," Mr Combet said.
The Federal Government has announced close to $12 million in funding to bolster developments in the solar technology sector.
The Round 3 funding for the Australian Solar Institute is aimed at accelerating solar energy technology development in Australia.
Amongst those projects to receive grants are the CSIRO’s solar hybrid fuels initiative (A$1.6 million), and collaboration between BlueScope Steel Limited and German researchers (A$0.5 million).
A total of A$2.3 million has been committed to projects of the successful Australia-Germany Collaborative Solar Research and Development Program to accelerate the commercialisation of solar technologies.
Australia’s Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, said the latest round of ASI funding would build on the significant solar technology advances made by Australian researchers to date.
“From a CSIRO project looking at how to reduce peak electricity grid demand by "turning on" a guaranteed solar driven air conditioner, rather than a conventional air conditioner, to a trial by Chromasun Pty Ltd of an advanced rooftop product to simultaneously provide electricity and hot water, the projects reflect Australia’s excellent track record in developing game-changing solar technology," Minister Ferguson said.
The practice of companies asking for potential employee’s Facebook usernames and passwords has become increasingly mainstream in recent months, prompting a statement from Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan.
The statement, found here, reiterates Facebook’s commitment to their user’s privacy and their ongoing attempts to engage policymakers, initiate legal action and shut down applications that abuse their privileges.
Egan touches on unforeseen circumstances that could confront the employers when undertaking such a practice, including possible discrimination if an employee is dismissed based on information found on the social networking site. For example, if a potential employee is not hired based on questionable photographs, he/she could argue unfair dismissal based on his/her religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation, all of which is revealed when gaining access to a Facebook site.
Other problems arise when an employer is privy to private information and has no training to handle the repercussions and responsibility of this information I.e. information which suggests the commission of a crime.
Swinburne University of Technology has awarded Baulderstone the $70 million contract for the construction of the university’s Advanced Manufacturing Centre.
Baulderstone has described the contract as a significant addition to the company’s portfolio of education and research facility projects in Victoria.
The AMC will house a new research and teaching facility comprising laboratories, academic and administrative offices, auditorium, office suites and student amenities. The new building will have a gross floor area of 16,700m2 over eleven storeys with associated basement parking and restoration of the existing Burwood Road and John Street facades.
Baulderstone General Manager Pat Cashin explained the project represents a critical piece of infrastructure for the leading university.
"Baulderstone has a strong background in delivering a range of major education projects so we are delighted that we have been selected to deliver this important centre for Swinburne University of Technology. The project will be undertaken within a fully-functioning university campus and we'll be working closely with the University to minimise disruption.
"This building will be a demonstrable example of the University's Engineering & Design research excellence as well as their strong links with industry.
"We pride ourselves on our ability to deliver complex, time-critical projects within budget, whilst maintaining our absolute commitment to safety. We look forward to a successful partnership with Swinburne University of Technology," Mr Cashin added.
The Commonwealth Bank, ANZ Bank, Westpac and GE Money have applied to Fair Work Australia to include weekends in the definition of ordinary hours of work under the banking, finance and insurance award, arguing that it would promote flexibility in the workplace.
In their joint submission to Fair Work Australia, the banks say they will retain existing penalty rates for employees who work on weekends.
“"The banks are, in substance, in no different position to many retailers or other retail providers such as telecommunications service providers and contract call centre operators, each of which has access to a modern award facility permitting ordinary hours to be worked on Saturdays and Sundays," the banks said in their submission to FWA.
Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten said that while he will meet with banks regarding the move, he remains cautious.
“I'd be pleased to meet with the CEOs of Australia's leading banks and to hear the case why they want to extend ordinary hours from Monday to Friday the bank workers are under, to Saturdays and Sundays. I've also contacted the Financial Services Union. They're happy to attend the meeting,” Mr Shorten said
Mr Shorten stressed that the move would be heavily scrutinized, with the Financial Services Union being involved in any consultation process. He also warned that the move might compromise childcare.
“So if all of a sudden as part of your ordinary time, absent penalty rates, you've got to also find childcare. If you're trying to make ends meet on thirty-five or forty-five-thousand dollars, this proposal to just cut - the proposal which a consequence of is to cut penalty rates, can have a disastrous effect on the bottom line of the family,” Mr Shorten said.
The Fair Work Ombudsman found a woman dismissed by a Melbourne real estate agent because of her “overall young look” as unfair.
Buxton (Sandringham) Pty Ltd, a franchise of the Buxton Group, has agreed to pay the woman $1200 compensation and revamp its workplace policies following investigations by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The woman was employed as a personal assistant on a casual basis in June, 2010, when she was 23, but dismissed a month later, shortly after she had assisted at an auction by recording bids.
A male sales consultant told her that some of the company’s directors who had seen her at the auction were concerned she looked too young, was too short and would not have the presence to effectively negotiate at auctions.
He said he “needed someone he could turn into a sales person and that this was not possible for her because of her overall young look.”
The consultant terminated her employment, saying: “The reason I have done this now is because the training I would need to do would be a waste of time if I then have this concern six months later”.
The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated the matter after the employee lodged an official complaint. â€¨Following the co-operation of Buxton (Sandringham), the Fair Work Ombudsman has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the company as an alternative to litigation.
As part of the Enforceable Undertaking, the company has agreed to apologise to the former employee and pay her $1,200 compensation for the six weeks following her dismissal in which she was not able to gain alternative employment.
The company has also agreed to develop new recruitment and termination policies, commission workplace relations compliance training for its directors and alert other Buxton Group franchisees to its breach.
Under the Fair Work Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against employees on the grounds of pregnancy, race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer responsibilities, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.
Discriminatory behaviour can include dismissing an employee, threatening to dismiss an employee, denying training and promotion opportunities or refusing to employ, promote or train an employee.
The South Australian Government has blasted the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s (MDBA) draft plan, saying the allocated 2750 gigalitres for environmental flow is not enough to return the system to a state of health.
The government’s attack is backed by the Goyder Institute for Water Research, who’s investigation into the draft plan shows that the proposed quantity for environmental flow is inadequate.
Releasing the Institute’s review, Premier Jay Weathrill and State River Murray Minister Paul Caica warned of the consequences of following the draft plan.
“As the state at the end of the Murray Darling Basin South Australia has the most to lose if we don’t get the plan right,” Mr Weatherill said.
“The science shows that less than half of the MDBA’s own environmental water requirements for the internationally-significant Riverland-Chowilla floodplain would be achieved.
“The State Government has always maintained that the Basin Plan must be based on the best available science.
“The Goyder Institute has found that while there could be some improvements with an extra 2750GL, it is not enough to ensure we can withstand droughts and protect our Ramsar-listed sites.
Mr Caica said the analysis shows that, in its current form, the Basin Plan is unlikely to maintain the ecological character of the Riverland-Chowilla and Coorong Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth Ramsar sites.
“The Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth remain at risk of low water levels and high salinities which will have serious consequences for the aquatic animals and plants in this region,’’ Mr Caica said.
“Under the proposal, there will still be insufficient flows to export salt out of the Basin and ensure the Murray Mouth will remain open during times of drought.”
The analysis shows under the 2750GL proposal:
- The middle and high elevation areas of the floodplains, where most black box and river red gum woodlands occur, will receive little or no additional water and declining vegetation health is likely to occur
- In the longer term, the contraction of river red gum and black box distributions on floodplains, with losses of organic carbon production and habitat
- Ongoing degradation of mid-and high-elevation floodplain wetlands caused by salinity and other factors, with a loss of habitat
- An accumulation of salt in the lower Murray region during drier periods as a result of insufficient salt export through the Murray mouth
- Extreme low water levels and salinities may still occur in the Lower Lakes and Coorong under extended drought conditions, which would reduce the habitat available for fish and migratory water birds and may threaten several endangered native fish in the CLLMM region.
- The likelihood that the Murray Mouth will still require some dredging to be kept open during extended droughts.
The report can be found here
$41 million in funding is being allocated to up to 29,000 Queensland school students with disabilities. The Gillard Governement’s More Support for Students with Disabilities initiative will provide greater access to classroom support and specialized equipment.
This will enable students with disabilities to finish their schooling and secure a job.
“Parents, carers, teachers and health specialists in QLD and around the country have been calling for action to help students with disability stay in school and get the best education possible,” said School Education Minister Peter Garrett.
“This funding, part of our overall $200 million national initiative, will provide much-needed specialist support and assistance to many thousands of students in government, independent and Catholic schools across the state.”
Under the More Support for Students with Disabilities initiative, QLD students and schools will receive:
- $1.8 million to pay for allied health services in up to 100 schools, such as occupational therapists, audiologists, nurses, psychologists and speech pathologists
- $8.9 million to help employ 450 new teacher aides or train existing aides
- $15 million to train up to 1250 staff in adapting their curriculum to the needs of students with disability, including individualised learning plans
- funding for up to 185 students in Catholic schools to participate in work readiness programs and work placements
- more options for assistive technology and ‘hands on’ courses for teachers;
- training for teachers to strengthen their skills in classroom assistive technology, for example, to support students with learning disability such as dyslexia
- more support for classroom teachers to undertake post graduate study in the area of special education.
The Federal and Victorian governments have announced work has begun on the next section of the $2.25 billion M80 upgrade, marking the commencement of the state’s largest road infrastructure project.
“As Victoria's biggest road project on the ground, the M80 Upgrade is providing a much needed boost to the state's economy, directly supporting up to 6500 jobs over the life of the project, with thousands of other flow on jobs for services and suppliers,” Victorian Transport Minister Terry Mulder said.
“When completed, the improved freeway with extra lanes and better access will help ease congestion, and reduce travel times and costs for commuters, and importantly for road freight industry, with 20,000 trucks currently using the Ring Road each day.
So far, the Federal Government has invested $900 million in the project, while the State Government has contributed $300 million.
The project is considered a vital part of the Federal Government’s Nation Building Program.
Work has begun on the next stage of the $172 million rail upgrade at Port Botany to improve freight efficiency and reduce associated congestion on Sydney roads.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese announced the next stage had begun, saying the project will significantly contribute to efficiency of the port’s operations and reduce congestion in the surrounding region.
It will also add additional capacity, increasing the number of containers which can be transported along the line from 700,000 to around 1 million a year,” Mr Albanese said.
“With more freight on the back of trains, there will over time be up to 300,000 fewer trucks coming and going from the Port each year.”
Five new work health and safety Codes of Practice have been opened for a 12-week public comment period.
The Codes released for public comment today are:
- Safe Design, Manufacture, Import and Supply of Plant
- Working in the Vicinity of Overhead and Underground Electrical Lines
- Traffic Management in Workplaces
- Scaffolding Work, and
- Formwork and Falsework.
The Chair of Safe Work Australia, Mr Tom Phillips AM said that the public comment period provides businesses, industry, workers and the wider community with the opportunity to contribute to work health and safety issues that directly affect their workplaces and working lives.
“Despite significant improvement in work health and safety in recent years, there is still more that can be done to keep our nation’s workers free from work-related death, injury and illness.
“The Codes of Practice will provide businesses across Australia with important practical guidance to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under the work health and safety (WHS) laws.”
This is the third set of Codes of Practice developed to support the WHS Act and Regulations. They are part of a suite of documents being developed by Safe Work Australia, the Commonwealth, states and territories, unions and employers as part of harmonised work health and safety laws across Australia.
The public comment period for these Codes of Practice will close on 22 June 2012.
For more information on how to submit comments or on the work health and safety laws, visitwww.safeworkaustralia.gov.au.
The Productivity Commission has released its Economic Regulation of Airport Services report after the Federal Government requested an investigation of current economic regulation of airports in supporting ongoing investment in infrastructure.
The Commission’s review suggests that the current regulatory framework should be maintained but ongoing oversight by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is required to ensue pricing abuses do not effect the industry.
The Federal Government has committed to the following:
- Extending monitoring of airport pricing by the ACCC for another seven years to 2020, including airport car parking prices and costs;
- Improving how the quality of service provided by airports is measured and monitored to make sure it is accurate and relevant;
- Encouraging the ACCC to use its existing powers to investigate if it believes there are concerns about airports abusing market power, including being able to recommend a full pricing inquiry to the Minister responsible for competition; and
- Continuing to implement the Government’s initiative of planning coordination forums and community aviation consultation groups to address ground transport and planning issues and improve community engagement.
“We will continue to monitor airport pricing closely and reserve the right to look at any regulatory options necessary if we find evidence of inappropriate behaviour by the major airports,” Federal Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese said in a statement.
The Commission’s inquiry report can be found here
Legislation introduced into the parliament will give eligible dads and partners financial support to take time off work to bond with their new baby from 1 January next year.
The Paid Parental Leave and Other Legislation Amendment (Dad and Partner Pay and Other Measures) Bill 2012 builds on the Australian Government’s successful Paid Parental Leave scheme, by introducing Dad and Partner Pay - a dedicated two-week payment to gives dads and partners the opportunity to stay at home for two weeks with their new baby.
Eligible working dads and other partners, such as same-sex couples, will have access to two weeks government-funded Dad and Partner Pay at the National Minimum Wage (currently about $590 a week before tax).
This new payment will give families more options to balance work and family commitments.
To be eligible for Dad and Partner Pay, a person must have an annual income of $150,000 or less. The new entitlement will be available to full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal, contract and self-employed workers who have worked at least 330 hours (just over one day a week) in 10 of the 13 months prior to the start of Dad and Partner Pay.
This payment will be especially important for dads and partners who work in casual jobs without annual leave entitlements, and self-employed people such as tradespeople, small business owners and farmers.
Dad and Partner Pay will cost the government $188.5 million over five years.