Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 404. Updated Tuesday, 08 April 2014

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News in brief

Environment shrinks to meet budget

The Department of the Environment has announced it will streamline its structure in July 2014 and open a new voluntary redundancy round for 250 staff.

The Department will move to a three Group structure, comprising an Environment Protection Group, a Climate Change and Water Group, and an Office of Environmental Science and Economics that will include the Australian Antarctic Division.

The Department’s operating budget would shrink by around a quarter over the forward estimates and a further reduction of 250 staff during 2014 was required to operate within the budget profile, Secretary of the Department, Gordon de Brouwer said at an All Staff Meeting.


Honouring Elizabeth O’Neill

Fitria Sofyani and Bernard Lane have been presented with the journalism award named in honour of Liz O’Neill, a Public Affairs Counsellor from the Australian Embassy in Jakarta who died on duty in a plane crash in Indonesia in 2007.

The Award is sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australia-Indonesia Institute and is conferred annually on one Australian and one Indonesian journalist.

Ms Sofyani, a features editor at Marie Claire Indonesia, and Mr Lane, the deputy higher education editor at The Australian, will spend two weeks reporting in each other’s countries.


Gov't caps NBN spending

The Government has issued an updated Statement of Expectations to NBN Co, confirming that the company should continue the NBN rollout using an optimised multi-technology model proposed in the Strategic Review.

The Government's investment will be capped at $29.5 billion, with the balance of the $41 billion project to be funded by the private sector.

The Statement of Expectations can be viewed at this PS News link.


Alcohol intake drops to 15-year low

Australians are drinking less alcohol overall than at any time in the previous 15 years, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data.

The Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, Australia 2012-13 data showed, across all alcoholic beverages, there were 9.9 litres of pure alcohol available for consumption in 2012-13 for every person in Australia aged 15 years and over, the lowest level since the mid-1990s.

"In terms of pure alcohol, consumption of beer has more than halved since the peak in the mid-1970s, and is now at the lowest level since 1945-46,” ABS Director of Health, Louise Gates said.


The Green Army wants you

The Department of Environment is calling for applications from community organisations for potential Green Army Projects.

Successful projects must involve teams of 10 engaged for a period of 20-26 weeks in activities that support environmental and heritage conservation outcomes across urban, regional and remote Australia on public land, Indigenous-held lands, or private land.

More information on Round 1 applications, which close on 9 May 2014, is available at this PS News link.

RIJK and Kim Melck and family consider themselves “custodians of Muratie Wine

Earlier this week

Geoscience shopfront to close

The Geoscience Australia Sales Centre shopfront , located at the Agency's building in Symonston, Canberra, will be closed from 17 April.

The closure is in line with the Agency's focus on effective delivery of services at a national level, as well as increasing demand for online access to products.

Many Geoscience Australia products are available online via the Discovery and Delivery System at this PS News link.

Some hard copy maps and publications can be ordered via email, fax and phone from the Sales Centre at this PS News link.

Change to credit reporting privacy code

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has announced that the registered credit reporting privacy code (CR code) has now been varied.

Following an application by the Australian Retail Credit Association, the Information Commissioner approved a variation to extend the five-day 'grace period' to 14 days, for repayment history information to be classified as a missed payment.

According got the Office, the varied CR code had been registered on the OAIC's Codes register.

ATO takes super clearing house

The Australian Taxation Office has taken over responsibility for the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House.

There are now 58,000 employers registered with the clearing house, and the other 700,000 businesses that are potentially eligible to use the clearing house are being encouraged to sign up.

The Department of Human Services was previously responsible for the free online clearing house service that helped businesses with 19 or fewer employees pay superannuation contributions to all staff in one transaction.

The clearing house is contactable 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1300 660 048 or searching the new Small Business Superannuation Clearing House website at this PS News link.

Environmental nominations close

The Department of Environment has advised that the nomination period for listing under the national environment law has closed for 2014.

The assessment period for any species, ecological communities or key threatening processes to be considered for listing under the national law will start on 1 October.

For details regarding future call for nominations, please email

Fanning back for breakfast

Ellen Fanning has been appointed as the presenter of ABC's RN Breakfast, filling in for Fran Kelly, who will be hosting Insiders on ABC TV from 27 April.

Ms Fanning joins RN's popular flagship morning program from 22 April 2014 while RN Breakfast regular reporter James Carleton will take over as presenter on the show from 9 June.

Ms Fanning became the first woman to host PM at age 24 and has served as the ABC's Washington correspondent, a reporter on 60 Minutes and presenter of the Sunday program.

More airport investment needed

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released its annual Airport Monitoring Report for 2012-13.

The ACCC has found that more investment will be required if airports are to adequately deal with current congestion, accommodate future passenger growth and improve service levels.

Chairman of the ACCC, Rod Sims said the 2012-13 report showed that all monitored airports continued to be profitable, however, for the second year in a row, only one airport achieved a quality of service rating higher than 'satisfactory'.

For further details visit this PS News link.

Intellectual property toolkit

Public consultation is under way on a proposed IP Toolkit for Collaboration which aims to assist collaborative parties to navigate more easily through intellectual property (IP) negotiations.

The objectives of the Toolkit consultations are to develop a practical set of resources to enable and improve collaborations between publicly funded research organisations and industry, reduce the time and effort required to secure agreement; and provide examples of best practice.

A discussion paper has been released to seek views on the elements that should make up the proposed Toolkit.

To find out more about the Toolkit consultation visit this PS News link.

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