SearchArchives for August 2010
31 August, 2010
Union throws light
The Community and Public Sector Union has produced a “Question and Answer” section of its website explaining the issues associated with a hung Parliament and the caretaker conventions.
on caretaker rules
Drawing on information from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Australian Public Service Commission and media reports, the union answers 17 questions ranging from “What is a caretaker government?” to “How long can this drag on?”.
According to the Union’s Q&A, caretaker conventions prevent major decisions being made that would be likely to impose a commitment on an incoming government or from entering major contracts or undertakings.
It says the caretaker period would continue until the election result was clear or, if there was a change of Government, until the new Government was appointed.
On the question of Ministerial staff travelling overseas, the Q&A says the Government was expected to defer discussions or adopt an observer-only status on any international negotiations.
It said the Prime Minister would be able to travel abroad, but the Opposition would expect to be fully briefed.
The document said if there was a national security crisis requiring the Government to make a major decision, the appropriate Minister would usually consult the Opposition spokesperson.
It said that Government information campaigns could only continue if there was bipartisan agreement, and that advertising on issues in contention could not be run.
To the question “How did we get here?” the union’s Q&A explained there were 150 members of the House of Representatives which required an outright majority of the 76 seats for one group or other to hold power. The 21 August election result failed to deliver that many seats to either major party.
It said the likely result of the election meant a Government could only be formed with the support of the independents or minor party representatives.
The union said the deadline for ending the impasse was whenever Parliament sits and the Constitution said Parliament must sit within 30 days of the return of the election writs and the last possible date for the return of the writs was October 27.
The Q&A document can be accessed at www.cpsu.org.au/news
31 August, 2010
The marriage of the Governor-General’s daughter to a member of the Australian Parliament would have no bearing on her power to appoint the Commonwealth Government, according to the Solicitor-General, Stephen Gageler.
Mr Gageler was responding to a request from the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, for a legal opinion on a potential conflict of interest following the matter being raised in the media.
Mr Gageler said there would be no conflict of interest.
“The notion that the Governor-General might in such circumstances be constitutionally inhibited in the performance of her functions by reason of a perception of bias or of a conflict of interest is one that, in my opinion, finds no foothold in the structure or text in the Constitution,” Mr Gageler said.
“To imply such a constitutional inhibition, in my opinion, would not enhance the performance of the high constitutional functions of the Governor-General.
“To the contrary, it would have the potential to undermine them.”
Mr Gageler noted that some past Governors-General had had personal relationships with politicians or been former politicians themselves.
He said these political relationships “must be recognised as realities” in an office where people were often selected on their backgrounds in politics or law.
“In my opinion, the existence of connections and relationships of that kind can give rise to no disqualification from holding the office nor to any legal impediment to the performance of the functions of the office,” he said.
Mr Gageler said Ms Bryce’s right to exercise her powers would not be impeded, even if she appointed a deputy.
“The appointment of such a deputy does not prevent the Governor-General personally exercising a function,” he said.
“My advice to her Excellency is that the marriage of her daughter to Mr Shorten gives rise to no constitutional or other legal impediment to the proper discharge of her functions of office.”
31 August, 2010
New newsletter for
The Department of Finance and Deregulation has launched a new newsletter dealing with issues facing Agencies governed by the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997, otherwise known as the CAC Act.
Introducing the new publication, Deputy Secretary of the Financial Management Group at Finance, Stein Helgeby said the newsletter – known for now as CAC Act Matters - would be another way to keep readers up-to-date on issues relevant to their operations.
He said the newsletter was designed to provide assistance to people working under the Act to understand their obligations and to assist in their Agency’s roles and responsibilities.
Mr Helgeby said CAC Act bodies play an important role in the Australian community and it was important to maintain good communication on related matters.
He said the first issue looked at what the CAC Act body was and how they benefitted from working together. It also provided an update on legislative changes affecting them.
Contributing to the first edition, the First Assistant Secretary of the Financial Framework Division, Lembit Suur said the newsletter included the CAC Act side of Finance’s ‘flipchart’ with Finance’s guide to the chart and a legislative update to the CAC Legislation booklet published in August 2008.
Mr Suur said Finance was looking for a name for the newsletter and ideas would be welcomed as would comments, questions, or ideas for articles, which should be emailed to CACAct@finance.gov.au
The first edition of the newsletter was available on the Finance website at www.finance.gov.au
31 August, 2010
The Acting Ombudsman has warned the Child Support Agency to be fair and even-handed with both paying and receiving parents when investigating child support payments.
child agency to be fair
The Acting Ombudsman, Ron Brent said his report looked into the CSA’s power to go beyond a parent’s taxable income to assess child support obligations.
He said the Agency did this through its ‘Capacity to pay’ (CTP) investigations which typically targeted parents who were self-employed or ran a business through a corporate structure and looked into such things as property holdings, tax minimisation arrangements, income which was not taxable or lump sum payments received.
“We examined 34 cases where child support had been reassessed and in almost every case the amount that had to be paid increased,” Mr Brent said.
“The CSA has prioritised cases that increase child support liabilities, whereas their advertising suggested targeting both payer and payee parents – that is, that they would investigate both those parents suspected of understating their incomes in order to pay less and those understating their incomes to receive more.”
He said in practice, the majority of investigations targeted only those suspected of paying too little and he suggested that the CSA change its case selection procedures, to be more even-handed in its approach to the two parties.
“It is also important that investigations are carried out with sensitivity and without implying that all investigated parents are trying to avoid child support obligations,” Mr Brent said.
The Child Support Agency’s acting National Manager for Specialised Assessments, Michelle Bentley welcomed the Ombudsman’s report.
“The Ombudsman has highlighted some key areas where we can improve,” Ms Bentley said, “however it’s important to note the CSA has either already implemented or is in the process of addressing many of the issues raised in the report.
She said all the CSA’s Financial Investigators had been trained to Certificate IV accreditation to help them assess what can be very complex financial situations.
“However, to complement this existing training we will implement a more structured ongoing training program and ensure knowledge gaps are identified and addressed through regular quality checks.”
The Ombudsman said other recommendations made in his report were directed at ensuring adequate information was provided to parents about the investigation process itself, what information was required and which factors would be taken into account; the accuracy of the CSA’s decisions, that they be based on complete information; and that training and support for the CSA’s investigation officers was of a high standard.
31 August, 2010
Phones have numbers
A report into technological developments in the digital economy prepared for the Australian Communications and Media Authority has found that smartphones will be the driver of future opportunities.
for digital future
Entitled Technology developments in the digital economy, the report is an analysis of major developments in information and communications technologies and explores the implications of those changes.
Chairman of ACMA, Chris Chapman said digital technologies were starting to have an enormous effect on the interactivity of individuals and organisations that now communicated using multiple forms of media in environments that were mobile, fast, and virtual.
“The report assists the ACMA, government, industry and the community to understand just how rapid is the pace of technology change,” Mr Chapman said, “how it is impacting Australia and how we might ensure all Australians reap the benefits.”
He said the report found three broad groups of technologies were relevant to the development of networks and the services that supported the digital economy—these were infrastructure technologies, smart technologies and developments in the digital community.
He said according to the report, infrastructure developments had continued the trend towards high bandwidth network upgrades and the transition to internet protocol platforms.
He said sustainability concerns were creating a new convergence between the telecommunications industry and utilities and were driving smart applications’ development.
Mr Chapman said the report showed smart technologies were being used to control the growing demands of the information and communications sector as well as manage the increase in information being made available through the internet.
He said the combining of location-based information with other information sources in the digital community had provided a range of commercial and social applications that offered features beyond those of the original information sources.
The consumer experience of those enhanced features was equally raising interest in their privacy and security impacts.
Mr Chapman said a copy of the report was available on the ACMA’s website www.acma.gov.au
31 August, 2010
The Government of the Australian Capital Territory has invited its citizens to join a conversation about where the city of Canberra should be in 2030.
is capital idea
Chief Minister, John Stanhope has launched Canberra 2030 – Time to Talk saying it sought to involve as many of Canberra’s citizens as it could in the discussion using a range of consultation methods including seminars, surveys, online blogs and other forms of social media.
“The focus of the conversation will be on urban form in all its facets,” Mr Stanhope said, “and the challenges we will collectively confront as we build a better city for the future.”
He said information would be gathered through workshops, community forums, shopping centre displays, random surveys, and online forums.
He said the Government didn’t want to simply hear the views of the ‘usual suspects’ - “We want to hear from Canberrans from across the social spectrum, to find out what they value about our city, and what they would like to see Canberra become by the year 2030.
“We will reach out in every way we can, to everyone we can,” he said.
Mr Stanhope said the points raised by the community would form the basis of an independent report that would assist the Government in its future policy making.
“Together we will be actively shaping a future direction for our city,” he said.
“And because we will all be better informed by the end of the process, we will know why we chose it.”
He said in an effort to encourage the wider community to become involved 14 ‘respected Canberrans’ had been enlisted to encourage their fellow citizens to join in.
Among the group are Professor Will Steffen from the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute, Professor Tony Peacock from the Australian Science Festival, ABC radio announcer Alex Sloane and University of Canberra lecturer in Journalism, Crispin Hull.
Mr Stanhope said the community discussion would focus on 10 central themes - Population, Water, Canberra Homes, Getting Around, Land Use and Planning, Liveability and Wellbeing, City Form, Environmental Sustainability, Living in the Nation’s Capital and ‘Who Pays?’.
He said more information on Canberra 2030 – Time to Talk was available from www.canberra2030.org.au
31 August, 2010
Goodwill flows to
A joint exercise by the Department of Defence and the Government’s international aid agency AusAID has started work in Pakistan providing health services to communities affected by the country’s devastating floods.
AusAID’s Team Leader, Thanh Le the Australian Medical Task Force has set up a health facility, from where it is delivering immediate, short-term primary health care and maternal and child health care to those in need.
According to Mr Le, Australian and Pakistani officials assessed a number of sites and chose Kot Addu as the location for the health facility as they felt that was where it could make the greatest impact.
Mr Le said the healthcare facility was constructed in three days and operational within a week.
He said the Australian Medical Task Force comprised of both civilian and military medical and environmental health professionals.
He said the first contingent had been provided by the ADF and consisted of three Primary Health Care Teams and one Environmental Health Team, facilitated by a small command and support team.
Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner, said the Task Force was prepared to operate for an extended period in Pakistan but would maintain close links with the Government of Pakistan to ensure it was providing support for only as long as required.
“Our people will be operating under challenging conditions,” Senator Faulkner said.
“The Task Force will apply a range of preventive and force protection measures so they can complete their mission safely.
“Australia is currently focused on the immediate needs of the Pakistani people, but we will also assist with the recovery and reconstruction task.”
He said he had received the agreement of the Opposition’s Senator Johnston on the commitment of Australian Defence Force assets to the relief efforts in Pakistan.
31 August, 2010
The Australian Law Reform Commission has gone for better communication, easier access and greater participation in its new website officially launched last Friday (27 August).
ALRC President, Professor Rosalind Croucher, said the new website was a much anticipated development and would assist the Commission to be more accessible and responsive to its stakeholders and to the community in general.
“Web 2.0 tools and social media hold enormous potential for sharing information, knowledge and ideas and for enabling the community to collaborate and contribute actively to public life,” Professor Croucher said.
“Our new website is more user-friendly, will allow easier access to the wealth of information on the website and gives greater scope for the public to talk to the ALRC, interact with other stakeholders, and contribute to our work.”
Website Manager Marie-Claire Muir said the new website incorporated under one ‘roof’ all the functionalities they had found useful, and would streamline both administration and participation processes.
“The past 12 to 18 months had been an exciting time in which we have actively explored new ways to communicate, consult and collaborate online,” Ms Muir said.
She said she had been working on the new site with a web development company over the past six months and the site was built using Drupal, an open source content management system.
Ms Muir said key features of the new site included: Web 2.0 tools such as blogs and forums; integration with social media tools; improved accessibility, usability and design; better access to ALRC publications including an option for online purchase; and an online submission tool.
“We encourage all our stakeholders and friends to visit our new website and let us know what you think,” Ms Muir said.
“Websites are constantly developing, and the ALRC website is no exception, so we welcome your feedback.”
She said the new ALRC website could be found at www.alrc.gov.au
31 August, 2010
The Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Ian Campbell, has warned war veterans to be wary of scam-artists claiming to represent the Australian Government.
Mr Campbell said the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) had been made aware of several approaches to members of the veteran community asking for personal information in exchange for new government services such as free electricity or pension benefits.
He said in some cases these people posed as officers from DVA.
“These ‘offers’ are false and my Department is investigating these incidents,” Mr Campbell said.
“Veterans in Queensland and Victoria have been most recently targeted however veterans across the country should be aware of the potential scams.”
He urged the veteran community to exercise caution when asked to release personal details.
He said if they received a phone call or letter asking for personal information such as their DVA client number or banking details, they should not answer right away but contact the nearest DVA office on 133 254 (for metropolitan callers) or 1800 555 254 (for non-metropolitan callers) to confirm the source was legitimate.
“It is disappointing that our veterans are being targeted by these cowardly scams and I encourage members of the veteran community to contact DVA if they have any concerns,” Mr Campbell said.
He said the Government’s Scamwatch website – www.scamwatch.gov.au – contained useful information on how to protect privacy.
31 August, 2010
Rights study finds
An Ombudsman’s report into income management in the Northern Territory introduced as part of the NT Emergency Response in 2007 has found that people subject to the measures have been unable to access their rights of review.
The report, by Acting Ombudsman Ron Brent, found this was in spite of laws passed in 2009 which allowed them access to reviews by the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT) and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
The Ombudsman said his investigation Review rights for income managed people in the Northern Territory was prompted by a Centrelink refusal to grant exemption from the Income Management scheme to a husband and wife (Mr and Mrs A) in a remote NT community.
The Income Management scheme allows Centrelink to withhold 50 per cent of a person’s income support and family assistance payments to cover certain expenses such as rent, utilities and food.
Mr Brent said at the time the legislation was amended to provide external review rights to the SSAT, about 17,000 people were subject to the scheme.
He said Mr and Mrs A repeatedly approached Centrelink and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs seeking an exemption from the scheme and when the Centrelink Authorised Review Officer notified them that their request had been refused they had the right to seek review by the SSAT.
He said the SSAT later decided that it did not have jurisdiction to review the case of Mr and Mrs A, which meant it was similarly unable to review the cases of a large number of other people then subjected to the scheme.
Mr Brent said that without a decision from the SSAT, it was not possible for the complainants to take their cases to the AAT so the legislation was amended. The problem now only exists for exemption requests decided before 1 July 2010.
‘The handling of this issue has been administratively deficient,” the Ombudsman said.
“Neither Centrelink nor FaHCSIA appropriately addressed the issues created by the SSAT’s decision.”
Portfolio General Manager with Human Services, Hank Jongen said Centrelink was continually looking to improve its services to customers and “the Ombudsman's feedback was an important part of this process.”
Mr Jongen said Centrelink had put in place processes to manage appeals under the new IM provisions and was training its Customer Service Advisers to deliver the new income management services.
31 August, 2010
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued draft guidelines on a new system coming into effect next year, requiring Australian businesses to report safety concerns about their own products.
in new safety net
The guidelines are open for public comment.
Deputy chair of the ACCC, Peter Kell said from 1 January 2011 businesses will be required to notify the Commission when they become aware that a product they have supplied has caused, or may have caused, serious injury, illness or death.
“The mandatory reporting requirement means businesses need processes to track and take action on consumer complaints promptly,” Mr Kell said.
“The reporting requirement was introduced to enable potential product safety hazards to be identified more readily, enabling a more rapid and targetted response to emerging safety issues.”
He said suppliers would have to notify the ACCC within two days of learning that a consumer good or product related service they had supplied had caused, or may cause, serious injury, illness or death.
He said draft guidelines on the new requirement had been issued for comment.
“In addition, the ACCC will engage directly with suppliers and supplier intermediaries at a number of forums to be held later in the year.”
Mr Kell said information on the mandatory reporting requirements was available at productsafety.gov.au/mandatoryreporting
He said businesses could also keep up-to-date on developments via Twitter: @ProductSafetyAU.
He said the reporting reform was one of a number implemented over the past year to improve Australia's product safety system following a 2006 Productivity Commission review.
That review noted that suppliers often had access to more information about their products than government, and that government's ability to respond to existing and emerging hazards could be improved with greater, and faster, access to relevant product safety information.
31 August, 2010
Safe Work makes noise
Safe Work Australia has released a new report into the damaging effects of noise in the workplace.
about workplace noise
Chief Executive, Rex Hoy, officially launched the report Occupational noise-induced hearing loss in Australia: overcoming barriers to effective noise control and hearing loss prevention at the Hearing Awareness Expo, run by the ACT Deafness Resource Centre.
He said Safe Work Australia undertook the research for the publication, which presented the findings of research on the control of workplace noise exposure and ways of preventing noise-induced hearing loss.
Mr Hoy said occupational hearing loss caused by noise was a significant health and economic problem in Australia with about 16,500 workers’ compensation claims for industrial deafness lodged between July 2002 and June 2007 involving permanent impairment due to noise.
He said the report provided a greater understanding of why work-related hearing loss continued to be a problem, despite the fact that each Australian jurisdiction had Regulations for exposure.
Mr Hoy said the results of the research provided an insight into the design, implementation and evaluation of strategies and interventions for delivering more effective noise control.
He said that the cost of occupational noise-induced hearing loss was borne by the community.
“It is important that we continue research into this area in an effort to reduce exposure to excessive occupational noise, which can be associated with many adverse effects besides loss of hearing,” Mr Hoy said.
“It has also been linked to annoyance and fatigue and to serious health conditions such as hypertension.”
He said proper workplace and equipment design and adequate management practices could control noise levels in the workplace thereby reducing the risk of hearing loss and other adverse outcomes.
31 August, 2010
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a warning to parents to take “extreme care” using a range of Sanbrook babies’ dummies found to be potentially dangerous.
Deputy Chair of the ACCC, Peter Kell, said the risk involved potential teat separation on the dummies which could cause choking for infants,
“Although tests on Sanbrook dummies involved in an initial four reports we received this July proved inconclusive, in the past week we have received reports that another 25 instances of teat separation have occurred since late January this year,” Mr Kell said.
“As a result the ACCC recognises this as a matter of significant public safety and are urgently conducting further investigations.”
He said to avoid the threat of choking caused when a teat comes off, parents and carers should take extreme care if they are using any Sanbrook Happy Baby Soft Feel Natural Latex Cherry Soothers or Happy Baby Soft Feel Nite Glo Natural Latex Cherry Soothers.
Mr Kell said an independent expert engaged by the ACCC had found that in almost all incidents where dummies were available for examination, the teat had separated immediately above or below the bead that attaches it to the shield.
He recommended several other steps to take when using and caring for dummies to minimise the risk of teats coming off, including checking each dummy before use by pulling hard on the teat to make sure it did not give way under pressure; never leaving a child with a dummy in his or her mouth if they could not remove it on their own; throwing dummies away as soon as they showed signs of wear and tear and never leaving a dummy in direct sunlight.
Mr Kell said if anyone experiences a teat coming off a dummy they should immediately contact the ACCC on 1300 302 502. Further safety information was available from productsafety.gov.au
31 August, 2010
Literacy week is
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has announced that National Literacy and Numeracy Week 2010 is running this week until 4 September.
one for the books
The Department said the week, now in its twelfth year, recognised the achievements of students and the efforts of teachers, parents and communities in supporting young people to develop stronger literacy and numeracy skills.
It said this year’s theme, Learning for Living, further strengthened the link between literacy and numeracy and the life skills necessary for everyday living.
The Department said these life skills were critical to overcoming educational disadvantage, particularly for Indigenous students.
According to DEEWR, the Australian Government had a long-term commitment to raising the levels of literacy and numeracy in students and improving their lives and opportunities regardless of where they lived or the school they went to.
The week began in 1999 as National Literacy Week, targetting primary schools, and had since been extended to secondary schools. The numeracy element was added in 2001.
According to DEEWR there were many activities taking place during the week in schools across Australia.
It said a national event was Fit for Thinking – Reach for the Stars, which combined mathematics with health and physical activity and involved a series of shuttle runs and recording how many shuttles students could do in a set amount of time.
Students are able to then collect data, make predictions and compare their results with other classes all over the country.
DEEWR said this activity could be as simple as counting and comparing or as tricky as sophisticated statistical analyses.
More information about National Literacy and Numeracy Week 2010 is available from www.deewr.gov.au
31 August, 2010
Nashos cash in on
A new 50-cent coin has been released commemorating the 60th anniversary of National Service in the Australian Army.
new coin issue
Released by the Royal Australian Mint in partnership with the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia (NSAA), the coin was designed by engraver and sculptor, Wojciech Pietranik and features key elements of a new memorial site and fountain being developed at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Deputy Chief Executive of the Mint, Graham Smith said for three decades, National Service was of incredible significance in Australia, ensuring the adequate recruitment and training of soldiers for Australia’s Armed Forces.
“In keeping with our long history of maintaining records, capturing moments and celebrating important achievements with Australia’s rich heritage and culture, the Royal Australian Mint is proud to give all Australians the opportunity to own a piece of history,” Mr Smith said.
Director of the Australian War Memorial, Major General Steve Gower laid one of the coins under the dedication plaque for the National Service memorial saying it was as an everlasting symbol of gratitude to the servicemen who were called up.
“Now in place for eternity, this commemorative coin honours the role that these 287 000 young men played in Australia’s history,” Major General Gower said.
NSAA National President, Major Earle Jennings said a dedication ceremony to officially open the new memorial would take place on 8 September 2010 and a large contingent of National Servicemen were expected to be in attendance.
“The National Servicemen’s Association of Australia is honoured to see servicemen being recognised by this handsome new coin,” Major Jennings said.
“We only have one medal so it provides us with the opportunity to share our history with many others.”
The commemorative National Service coin will be available to purchase at $8.95 from the Mint from Monday 6 September and orders could be placed online at www.ramint.gov.au or by calling 1300 652 020.
31 August, 2010
The National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra has announced the latest additions to its Sounds of Australia registry.
made at Archives
The announcement coincided with the NFSA’s Sound Day, an annual celebration of iconic music, speeches and other recorded sounds.
Senior Curator of Sound, Broadcast and New Media at the Archive, Matthew Davies said Sound Day was launched in 2007 with the announcement of 10 foundation sounds for the registry and each year the Australian public nominates new sounds to be added with final selections determined by a panel of industry experts.
He said the 2010 list included sing-a-long songs, classical music and history-changing announcements.
Among the songs included this year are From Little Things (Big Things Grow) by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody (1991), Bye Bye Baby from Col Joye (1959) and Just The Beginning by the Don Burrows Quartet (1971).
Among the additions is the recording of the history-changing announcement of the declaration of the Second World War by Prime Minister Robert Menzies in 1939.
Mr Menzies’ speech, with its well known opening, “It is my melancholy duty…”, committed Australia to participation in the second great conflict of the 20th century.
During the full speech, almost 20 minutes long, Mr Menzies explains the political background over the previous year that led up to the declaration of war by Britain on Germany which, by the conventions of the time, also included Australia.
Indigenous culture was also celebrated with the inclusion of what is thought to be the only recording of Indigenous poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) reading her own poetry, with We Are Going from 1964 being added to the registry.
Other sounds showed Australians to be a proud bunch, with recordings of Ted Hinkler’s message to Australia on his return from a solo England to Australia flight in 1928 and the call of the 4x100m swimming relay at the 1980 Moscow Olympics by Norman May, which he described as the highlight of his broadcasting career – but it’s not the one in which he says “Gold, gold, gold”.
The 2010 Sounds of Australia are available on the NFSA’s website www.nfsa.gov.au
31 August, 2010
Taxing time at ATO
Taxation Commissioner, Michael D’Ascenzo says in the first eight weeks of “tax time” 4.7 million returns had been received and 3.8 million finalised by the Tax Office, including 3.6 million refunds worth more than $9 billion.
Mr D’Ascenzo said a million refunds were issued in the week to 20 August alone.
He said since 1 July more than three-quarters of the returns lodged electronically were finalised within 14 days and more than 90 per cent within 30 days.
PS-wide internet on the way
The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has issued a tender for internet-based network connection services, in a whole-of-government procurement exercise.
A separate tender has also been issued for mobile services and a Telecommunications Lifecycle Management Services panel.
The objectives of the tender include cutting the Government’s telecommunication costs and improving price transparency through bulk purchasing, while maintaining flexibility for individual agencies.
ACMA rejects 3D bid
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has rejected an application for the Nine television Network to broadcast the National Rugby League Grand Final in 3-D.
ACMA said the network had yet to deliver its report on a previous 3-D trial which was a condition of the previous trial licence.
The report was due on 18 August.
ACMA said it had told the network that no further licences would be issued until the report has been received and considered.
Payrise for officeholders
The Remuneration Tribunal has increased payments to public office holders by 4.1 per cent.
The Tribunal said its decision was due to movements in pay rates in the public sector “including the Australian Public Service.”
The Tribunal said the rise was “sufficient to ensure that Australian government agencies attract and retain highly skilled and committed people.”
Court to discuss Act
The Federal Court of Australia is to hold a seminar on possible reforms to the Admiralty Act 1988.
To be held in Sydney on 9 November, the Current Issues in Admiralty seminar will look at the application of the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 in Admiralty Law.
The seminar will be chaired by the Court’s Justices Donnell Ryan and Steven Rares with video links to other capitals. More information is available from www.fedcourt.gov.au
Open Day at ADFA
The Australian Defence Force Academy held an Open Day last weekend at its campus in Canberra.
The Open Day provided an opportunity for school students, parents and members of the local community to visit the Academy and learn more about its operations.
Attractions at the family day out included training demonstrations from ADFA midshipmen and officer cadets as well as a mock ambush from the Precision Drill Team, an obstacle course demonstration and an aerobatics display from the RAAF Roulettes.
There was also a working dog exhibition and a self defence display.
Heritage contest extended
The closing date for Australia’s World Heritage Education Program schools web design competition has been extended until 15 October.
Students are invited to build an Australian World Heritage website for their peers, with the winners to be announced on 11 November.
A competition checklist, guidelines and entry form can be found at www.environment.gov.au
Gravity test site set up
Geoscience Australia has set up a gravity test site in Western Australia in partnership with the Geological Survey of Western Australia, Rio Tinto and Fugro Airborne Surveys.
The site is east of Perth and will allow researchers and resource exploration companies to test their airborne sensing systems against detailed ground gravity and magnetic data.
Data acquired from testing at the site will be made available to researchers, organisations or others for independent analysis.
24 August, 2010
Indigenous job rules
The Australian Public Service Commission has updated its special measures for recruiting Indigenous staff.
revised by Commission
In a new Circular entitled Revision of Special Measures and Identified Positions/Criteria provisions, the Commission has revised its advice issued in 2006.
According to the Acting Group Manager of Workforce Participation at the Commission, Sherryn Bellis, the APSC carried out an assessment the effectiveness of the provisions which revealed the need for improvement.
“It found that they were not applied frequently because of perceived ambiguities about their use,” Ms Bellis said.
“HR practitioners from a number of Agencies worked with the Commission to clarify the application of the two provisions and the distinction between them.”
She said the Circular outlines not only the application, but the difference between the Special Measures and Identified Positions/Criteria when used in the APS recruitment process.
Under the Special Measures, Indigenous Australians will be recruited into the APS and be required to adhere to the employment principles set out in the Public Service Act 1999.
The Circular says this would not only improve employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians, but it will also reflect the diversity of the APS.
It says it is important that APS agencies advertising for staff in the States and Territories make it clear that Special Measures positions were open only to Indigenous Australians.
It says recruitment should be documented as an employment strategy that will increase Indigenous representation and address inequitable employment outcomes. Proof of Indigenous heritage is required.
According to the Circular, Identified Positions/Criteria are those that have a strong involvement in issues relating to Indigenous Australians.
Two particular selection criteria are used when advertising such positions: developing selection documentation for them and assessing applicants for those positions. Identified criteria emphasise some of the skills, attributes and experience considered essential or desirable for the effective performance of the required duties.
While the proof of Indigenous heritage is not required for these positions, the Circular says selection criteria should be worded in a particular way to ensure applicants come forward with an understanding of the issues affecting Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people and an ability to communicate sensitively with them.
It says an Indigenous Australian should be on the selection panel and applicants should be asked to provide a reference from an Indigenous Australian to confirm they have relevant experience and meet the criteria.
24 August, 2010
The Australian Electoral Commission delivered another successful exercise in democracy on the weekend, hosting a national tally room in Canberra as the last phase in its management of the 2010 Federal election process.
win popular vote
The Commission has now turned its attention to counting the votes placed at more than 7,700 polling places around the country.
Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn said the official source of election results had been accessible to almost everyone in Australia on the Commission’s Virtual Tally Room which was online on the internet.
“The Virtual Tally Room was available to everyone with internet access and provided detailed progress of the counting of votes for the House of Representatives and the Senate,” Mr Killesteyn said.
“The National Tally Room is built for every national election, involves several months of planning and organisation and takes 15 days to build.
“The 2010 National Tally Room had more than 120 computer terminals, 15km of data cabling and up to 650 amps of electrical capacity.”
He said more than 140 international and other official guests attended Election Night and 120 AEC staff were working behind the scenes.
Mr Killesteyn said among the votes were a record number of early votes with more than 12 per cent of the 14,088,260 people enrolled, voting before 20 August.
Overall, he said a net total of 443,187 electors had been added to the roll since the 2007 election. 13,645,073 were enrolled to vote that time.
According to Mr Killesteyn, 57,732 voters were added following the High Court’s Decision on 6 August to extend the period for enrolling to 26 July 2010.
Mr Killesteyn said 1,198 candidates had nominated to run in the election, including 349 Senate candidates for 40 Senate vacancies and 849 candidates for 150 House of Representatives seats across Australia.
He said 353 female candidates had nominated and 845 males. A total of 1421 candidates had stood at the 2007 election.
The virtual tally room could be accessed at www.aec.gov.au
24 August, 2010
Tax joins police in
The Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Federal Police have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in the fight against financial crimes.
fight against crime
The agreement, signed by ATO Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo and AFP Commissioner Tony Negus, establishes a framework for co-operation in relation to the investigation of taxation cases and related matters.
Commissioner Negus said the agreement would be supported by four subsidiary agreements covering the exchange of information, investigations, intelligence sharing and proceeds of crime.
“This agreement emphasises the importance of close cooperation between the AFP and the ATO,” Commissioner Negus said.
“It is important we have arrangements in place that improve the opportunities we have to undertake joint operational cooperation.
“This helps to enhance the whole-of-Government approach towards the targeting and disruption of financial crimes which affect all Australians.”
He said the AFP’s primary role in its Project Wickenby was to act as the criminal investigation arm in matters affecting the Commonwealth, predominately in relation to serious fraud and money laundering.
Commissioner Negus said key targets for the AFP included organisers and facilitators of tax fraud and money laundering in known tax havens, as well as high-risk taxpayers and accountancy firms who utilise these schemes.
He said Project Wickenby aimed to make Australia an unattractive destination for international tax avoidance and evasion schemes.
In addition, Commissioner Negus said, the AFP also provided training to Agencies in relation to combating money laundering operations and recovering proceeds of crime.
He said it also supported regional cohesion and development through building expertise in preventing financial crimes.
Commissioner Negus said as a result of the agreement, the AFP would now be able to acquire proceeds of crime in relation to ATO investigations.
24 August, 2010
Air Force hosts
The Chief of the Air Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin has hosted a series of meetings with his equivalent officers from the United States, United Kingdom and Canadian Air Forces, to sharpen strategic alliances.
Air Marshal Binskin said the Air Force Four Party Dialogue covered issues of shared strategic interest including Afghanistan operations, current and emerging aircraft and space capabilities, and opportunities for future training cooperation and engagement.
He said the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, General Norton A. Schwartz; the Chief of Air Staff of the Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton; and the Chief of Air Staff of Canada’s Air Force, Lieutenant General Andre Deschamps, attended the Dialogue.
“RAAF has very well established ties with the US, UK, and Canadian Air Forces,” Air Marshal Binskin said.
“However this is a rare opportunity for the four Air Force Chiefs to meet and update each other on strategic level issues and discuss how we approach future challenges.”
He said the previous Air Force Four Party Dialogue was conducted in the UK in 2008.
“All four nations continue to make significant operational contributions in Afghanistan. Each delegation brought important perspectives and lessons learnt from recent operations that will be crucial in shaping how we work in future,” he said.
“The dialogue also focussed on current and emerging capabilities. RAAF’s fleet includes aircraft also operated by the UK, US and Canada, such as the C-17 Globemaster and C-130 Hercules.”
He said the RAAF, like Canada’s Air Force, operated the Heron remotely piloted aircraft in Afghanistan and all four countries had identified the Joint Strike Fighter as a key element of their future air combat capability.
Air Marshal Binskin said the program included visits to Joint Operations Command at Bungendore NSW, and RAAF Base Williamtown where the visiting Air Force Chiefs received updates on new RAAF capabilities, including the Wedgetail, F/A-18F Super Hornet and the KC-30A multi-role tanker transport aircraft.
24 August, 2010
Library in line
The National Library of Australia has announced that the details of almost 6,000 books from the Australian Prime Ministers Centre are now available online.
for online books
The Library said catalogue entries for the publications had been uploaded to Trove, its discovery service that enabled people to search online across hundreds of Australian collections.
It said a search on Trove would identify a wealth of information on Australia’s key political figures and Parliamentary democracy held by the APMC – a collection which included biographies of Australia’s Prime Ministers, publications on political and social history and an almost complete run of Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) and Parliamentary Papers from 1901-1988.
The Library said an intriguing addition to the collection was the complete working library of Sir James Killen, a former long-serving Liberal Parliamentarian and Minister.
Highlights of the collection included a 1st English edition of Nicholas Machiavelli’s Prince published in 1640, a 1790 edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A vindication of the rights of woman and the Official record of the debates of the Australasian federal convention (1897).
The Library said more recent items in the collection included Jacqueline Kent’s biography The Making of Julia Gillard, John Keane’s The Life and Death of Democracy and Kevin Rudd’s children’s book Jasper & Abby and the great Australia Day kerfuffle.
It said the APMC was currently only contributing details of published books to Trove but aimed to include serials, pamphlets and other political ephemera by early 2011.
Trove lists details of more than 90 million items from the National Library of Australia, the State and territory libraries and more than 1,000 other libraries around Australia.
The Library said the content covered full-text books, journal and newspaper articles, images, music, sound, video, maps, websites, diaries, letters and archives.
24 August, 2010
New credit laws
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has issued 65 licences since 30 June under the new National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009.
The Commission says it has another 411 applications being processed.
ASIC Commissioner, Dr Peter Boxall, said under the National Credit Act, anyone engaging in credit activities must be licensed, or authorised as a representative of someone who is licensed.
He said registration for existing businesses intending to be licensed closed with ASIC on 30 June and approximately 14,760 registrations were received.
Dr Boxall said ASIC had proceeded, since then, to process applications for licences from parties that registered and they now had until 31 December 2010 to apply to be licensed.
He said by 30 June, 2011, credit licensing would be complete and, by then, anyone providing credit or credit advice must be licensed or be a representative of someone who has a licence.
Dr Boxall said mortgage brokers, financial planners, financial advisors, and companies providing credit (including, but not limited to, banks, building societies, credit unions, and finance companies) were among those being licensed under the National Credit Act.
He said the National Credit Act required those who were licensed to engage in credit activities, to observe new statutory standards, including observing responsible lending practices and mandatory membership of an approved external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme.
Dr Boxall said ASIC had already received positive feedback regarding the ease of applying for a credit licence.
“Applications are 100 per cent online and have been designed to be as straightforward as possible for the applicant,” Dr Boxall said.
“We were particularly concerned about the large number of one-person mortgage and finance brokers that are operating small businesses and ensuring that they could choose to complete the process themselves, without having to pay for further advice or help.”
He said applications could be lodged through www.asic.gov.au or more information could be sought on the ASIC enquiry line 1300 300 630.
24 August, 2010
Airservices on air
Airservices Australia has announced the completion of a major upgrade to its radio network used to maintain communications contact between air traffic controllers and the aircraft they control.
with new radio
Airservices said the Very High Frequency Replacement Project was part of its five year, $900 million capital expenditure program to modernise and enhance Australia’s aviation infrastructure, systems and equipment.
It said that as part of the project, technicians replaced analogue and relay-based VHF radios with new digital equipment at 39 air traffic control communication sites in Australia including 26 aerodrome control towers.
It said the project included installing new antennas, lightning protection and earthing associated with the VHF radios.
Airservices said the new radio equipment was modern, state-of-the-art hardware proven in operation overseas and had greater capability to monitor faults and allow remote fault rectification by technical staff.
It said existing VHF radio equipment at control tower sites had reached the end of its operational service life with some equipment having been in place since the 1970s.
General Manager of Technology and Asset Services with the Agency, Alastair Hodgson, said Airservices began rolling out the first of the new radios in April this year with the assistance of several technical staff from partner agency Airways New Zealand.
Mr Hodgson said the new digital radios would enhance the audibility of radio communications and allow Airservices to locate and repair any faults in the radio network faster than the previous system.
He said other key features of the new system included digital links between equipment, increased reliability and maintainability, and constant monitoring of equipment, even when not in operational use.
Mr Hodgson said successful delivery of the project was dependent on the completion of Airservices’ Telecommunications Infrastructure Network Replacement (TINR) project in July 2010, to provide replacement digital bearers (circuits) enabling VHF radio connections to its major communication centres.
24 August, 2010
Tax returns favour
The Australian Taxation Office has issued a warning against dodgy tax schemes and other scams it says are designed to steal personal details as well as money.
in scam attacks
Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo said the ATO continually came across sophisticated scams designed to trick people into giving away their personal details, such as passwords, banking and credit card details.
“People should be wary of approaches from people they do not know who are seeking personal information, financial details or tax file number details,” Mr D’Ascenzo said.
“Stolen information can be used to fabricate an identity and commit a range of crimes including theft from the person whose identity is stolen and tax refund fraud.”
He said anyone who may have been a victim of a scam and had provided credit card or banking details in the process should contact their financial institution immediately.
“Please remember that the ATO never sends emails asking people to provide their personal information or credit card details,” Mr D’Ascenzo said.
He said taxpayers using e-tax to prepare their tax return should ensure they only download it from www.ato.gov.au and it was recommended they type the internet addresses directly into their internet browser rather than clicking on links embedded in emails.
Mr D’Ascenzo said the ATO sometimes contacted taxpayers to request payment of outstanding debts but it would not request credit card details from a taxpayer to process a payment on their behalf.
He said anyone contacted by someone claiming to be from the Government or a financial institution should verify who they are by independently finding their contact details and contacting them directly.
Mr D’Ascenzo said suspicious behaviour could be reported to the ATO confidentially, by phoning 13 28 61 between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday or unsolicited emails claiming to be from the ATO could be forwarded to ReportEmailFraud@ato.gov.au
He said more information on current scams could be found at www.ato.gov.au/onlinesecurity
24 August, 2010
Fair work inspectors
Inspectors from the Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman are to visit businesses around the country handing out information packs to employers who have entered the national workplace relations system.
in fair job of work
The Ombudsman has announced that his inspectors will doorknock businesses and provide information packs to employers in Albury, Lavington and Dubbo in NSW, and Adelaide and Strathalbyn in South Australia over the next three weeks.
Executive Director of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Office, Michael Campbell said the inspectors would make educational visits to about 100 businesses in Albury and Lavington following similar visits to 50 businesses in Albury earlier this year.
He said they would also visit more than 400 business throughout Adelaide, including 20 in Littlehampton/Nairne, 25 in Balhannah/Oakbank, 40 in Para Hills/Para Hills West/Ingle Farm, 60 in Salisbury North, 60 in Blair/Athol/Gepps Cross/Pooraka, 60 in Wingfield/Regency Park/Angle Vale, 30 in Panorama/Pasadena, 85 in Royal Park/Woodville/Hendon and 30 in Morphett Vale/Hackham.
Mr Campbell said the Fair Work Inspectors would doorknock about 30 businesses in Strathalbyn and about 60 in Dubbo.
He said the informal visits were aimed at assisting employers understand changes to national workplace laws, including the introduction of the National Employment Standards and Modern Awards.
He said the Fair Work Ombudsman had a number of tools on its website - www.fairwork.gov.au - to assist employees and employers to check minimum rates of pay, including PayCheck and Payroll Check.
He said small to medium-sized businesses without human resources staff could also ensure they were better equipped when hiring, managing and dismissing employees by using free template employment documentation with step-by-step instructions or accessing a series of Best Practice Guides.
Mr Campbell said employers or employees who wanted assistance or further information could contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.
24 August, 2010
Library prize is
A children’s book published by the National Library of Australia has won the 2010 Australian Children’s Book Council’s Information Book of the Year.
one for the books
Australian Backyard Explorer, written by Peter Macinnis, has been awarded the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.
The book tells the story of the famous and not-so-famous heroes who explored the Australian continent in the first 120 years of European settlement.
Australian Backyard Explorer is illustrated with images from the National Library of Australia’s Pictures Collection.
Director-General of the Library, Jan Fullerton said she was delighted that the National Library publication, which came out last year, had been honoured in the Children’s Book Council Awards.
“Australian Backyard Explorer tells some remarkable stories for Australians of all ages,” Ms Fullerton said.
“It tells tales of amazing perseverance as well as tragedy, and brings to life a colourful part of our history which both entertains and educates.”
Ms Fullerton said she would like to congratulate Peter Macinnis and the National Library staff who were involved in the creation, design and production of Australian Backyard Explorer.
More information about the awards and other books considered for 2010 can be obtained from the Australian Children’s Book Council website at http://cbca.org.au/Notables10.htm
24 August, 2010
Funds and games at
The staff of Centrelink in Canberra has hosted the fourth annual Ross Divett Foundation Charity Dinner and Auction.
The Foundation (RDF) is an initiative of the staff and raises funds to support a broad range of community and charitable organisations.
Billed as Canberra’s Public Service ‘Night of Nights’, the event was managed by master of ceremonies, John Wadeson who is also Deputy Secretary of Human Services and a Board member of the RDF.
The night attracted over 225 partygoers from Centrelink, Medicare Australia, CRS Australia, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, and the Department of Human Services.
Guest speaker was Martyn Ritchard from Capital Healing Rooms which received $6,000 from the RDF to continue their work in the Canberra region.
Capital Healing Rooms provide a free meal one night a week for an average of 70 people and the donation from RDF will enable them to continue their work for a further six months.
A highlight of the night was an auction of highly sought-after items donated by local sponsors and businesses.
Twelve ‘major’ items and 29 ‘silent’ auction items including a home theatre package, sporting memorabilia, travel vouchers, deluxe BBQ, shopping vouchers, hampers, wine, and a Jarraberg Bowl donated by woodworker Les Fortescue raised over $10,000 in spirited bidding.
By the end of the night the auction, ticket sales, sponsorship and donations had raised $64,231 for RDF which will be put towards a research scholarship at the John Curtin Medical Research Centre .
Since starting in 2002, the Foundation has provided grants to community organisations totalling almost $500,000 as well as making donations to a number of disaster recovery efforts including the Victorian bushfires and the Queensland floods.
Ross Divett was an original staff member of Centrelink and Deputy Chief Executive who died from mesothelioma in May 2001.
24 August, 2010
DSTO has formula
A team of scientists from the University of Western Australia has won a Eureka Prize sponsored by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).
for science award
Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist, Professor Robert Clark, presented the team, lead by Professor Ba-Ngu Vo, with the prize for Outstanding Science in support of Defence or National Security.
Professor Clark said Professor Ba-Ngu Vo, Professor Ba-Tuong Vo and Professor Antonio Cantoni had developed an innovative approach to tracking algorithms that significantly increase the capacity to handle multiple objects of interest, using less demanding computing power than traditional tracking methods.
“I congratulate Dr Ba-Ngu Vo and his colleagues for this outstanding development,” Professor Clark said.
“It has the potential to contribute significantly to Australia’s defence and national security, by making more tractable the challenges of detecting the large numbers of objects that modern sensors may typically detect.”
He said the existing approach to tracking suffered from the problem of “exponential complexity”, which could rapidly exhaust the capacity of even powerful computers to handle.
Professor Clark said in contrast, the new approach offered the ability to handle thousands of objects using only off-the-shelf computers.
“The innovative work of Professor Vo and his team could have many benefits in the defence domain,” he said.
“This includes an improved identification capability at longer ranges, including in hazardous urban environments and for the protection of ships, aircraft and vehicles.”
Professor Clark said civilian applications that could benefit included traffic management, the monitoring of crowd behaviour, sports analysis, remote sensing and biomedical research.
He said overall this year, the field of entrants for the DSTO Eureka Prize, seven in all, had been of a high quality.
24 August, 2010
World Expo pavilion
The Australian pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai has marked its first 100 days with a summary of its activities, visitor numbers and other interesting facts.
marks 100 days
Since opening on 1 May, more than five million visitors have walked through the pavilion, prompting organizers to point it that’s more than the population of Sydney.
At this rate, they say, the figures for the full six-month period would be likely to exceed seven million.
Claimed to be the largest investment Australia has ever made in a world expo, more than $80 million was spent on the project to strengthen bilateral links with China through the pavilion and associated business promotion, cultural and communications programs.
The pavilion’s weathered steel façade is a showcase of Australian design, engineering and construction expertise and includes green initiatives such as rainwater harvesting and smart lighting. Its shape and colour are inspired by some of Australia’s natural icons.
In celebrating the first 100 days, pavilion managers revealed it used up 76,000 tonnes of steel in its construction, including 3,800 plates of weathering steel in its ochre façade and 36 solar panels on the roof.
Assisted by 109 Australian staff, dynamic and technologically advanced exhibits and materials tell a unique Australian story.
The daily number of visitors average 47,000 and each one takes a journey through the sights, sounds and stories of Australia in an array of sophisticated and engaging exhibits. They discover, through an innovative main show, how our cities have become global centres of excellence which demonstrate the Australian ability to respond creatively and effectively to the challenges that embody the Expo theme, Better City, Better Life.
There has also been an extensive program of contemporary culture and the arts, and more than 6,000 screenings in the theatre.
Along with 130,000 units of lanolin being sold, people’s hunger pangs were satisfied after eating
Over 45,000 Aussie beef pies and 10,000 lamingtons have been sold to a hungry public so far as well as 130,000 units of lanolin.
Around 124 VIP business events have also been held to promote environmental technologies, energy, investment, education, legal and construction services, infrastructure, agribusiness, food and wine and tourism.
24 August, 2010
Post Office delivers
Australia Post and Qantas have signed a five year air mail contract and have agreed to remain partners in Australian Air Express and Star Track Express.
on airfreight deal
Qantas Chief Executive Officer, Alan Joyce, said Australian Air Express and Star Track Express were strategically important assets and as such both Qantas and Australia Post would remain equal partners.
“An extensive review was conducted of both businesses,” Mr Joyce said, “which demonstrated there were significant customer, operational and market benefits for Qantas and Australia Post to remain in partnership.
“Both Australian air Express and Star Track Express continue to be viable and profitable operations, by offering extensive air and road freight options for Australian business.”
He said the two partners had started a two month process to improve the value of the joint ventures and assess their options for future growth.
Mr Joyce said details of a future direction for the companies would be released once that project had been completed.
Managing Director of Australia Post, Ahmed Fahour said the partners had recognised the value that existed in Australian Air Express and Star Track Express and were in agreement that they had yet to tap into their full potential.
“Our investment in Australian Air Express and Star Track Express is strongly aligned with the Future Ready business renewal program that sees us developing our capabilities in the parcels and express services areas,” Mr Fahour said.
Mr Joyce said Qantas and Australia Post had also signed a new five year contract for air transport delivery of international and domestic mail as well as a contract for domestic space with Australian Air Express.
24 August, 2010
Artist studies paint
The Australia Council for the Arts has released two research projects confirming that Australian artists are struggling financially.
The two projects, by Professor David Throsby from Macquarie University and Professor Stuart Cunningham from the Queensland University of Technology, show that artists earn a median income of $35,900 a year, including arts and non-arts related income.
The projects showed 16 per cent of artists earn less than $10,000 and only 5 per cent earn more than $100,000.
Chief Executive of the Australia Council, Kathy Keele said while the social and cultural value of the arts had long been acknowledged, the research projects revealed arts workers were well embedded in the economy, with one third putting their artistic skills to use in cultural industries and many more working in the wider sector.
“Australian artists are not sitting around expecting to be paid; instead they’re putting their creativity and education to good use by working in industries outside their own, and making a significant contribution to the economy,” Ms Keele said.
“They may be musicians working as teachers, writers working as editors, visual artists who design websites or actors who run corporate training.”
She said just over a quarter of Australian artists experienced a period of unemployment between 2004 and 2009, down from a third between 1996 and 2001.
Ms Keele said while artists living in capital cities earned around 30 per cent more than those in regional cities, over the past eight years the income gap was closing.
She said 60 per cent of all artists believed new technologies could improve their income – by bringing them new audiences, sales of their work or new means of artistic expression.
She said this underlined recent research into arts participation by the Australia Council, More than bums on seats, which showed that many people were using the internet to investigate and engage with the arts.
A summary of the research plus the two full reports were available from www.australiacouncil.gov.au/artistcareers
24 August, 2010
Roads report in
The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics has issued its statistical summary of road deaths in 2009, continuing to show a downward trend.
black and white
The figures revealed that 1,507 people died in road crashes last year.
The Bureau said while this was a five per cent increase from the previous year, it represented a shallow long-term downward trend over the past few years.
The figures showed an increase in the number of deaths amongst those aged between 40 and 59, however there was a downward trend in deaths of those between 17 and 25, and over 60.
Pedestrian deaths showed a flat trend, although there was a decline in the number of pedestrians under 17 killed.
The number of motorcyclist deaths fell, however there was an increase in the number of deaths among riders aged between 40 and 59.
The Bureau said single vehicle crashes (excluding pedestrian crashes) accounted for a slowly increasing proportion of deaths.
The figures are based on the Australian Road Deaths Database, held by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, and compiled from data provided by the road safety and Police Agencies in each Australian jurisdiction.
A State-by-State analysis showed the biggest annual decrease of 5.4 per cent was in South Australia, followed by NSW, where road deaths were down 4.3 per cent.
In Victoria road deaths were down 4.3 per cent as well and in Tasmania they fell by 1.5 per cent.
Average annual increases were reported in Western Australia, up 4.1 per cent, Queensland up 1 per cent, and the Northern Territory up 1.6 per cent.
Other findings were that there were 121 fatal crashes involving articulated trucks last year, resulting in 146 deaths, compared to 129 fatal crashes resulting in 150 deaths the year before.
24 August, 2010
Caretaking not over
The Australian Public Service remains in caretaker mode following the 21 August Federal Election, with the outcome of the election still undecided.
The longest caretaker period in Australia was in 1910 and lasted for 11 weeks.
Mayors’ call for cities
The Council of Capital City Lord Mayors has called on the Federal Government to secure the sustainable, liveable and productive future of Australia’s cities.
In an open letter, the Mayors joined with business and environment leaders to ask the Government to actively engage in cities to deliver infrastructure, improve housing affordability and adapt to climate change.
Lord Mayor of Darwin, Graeme Sawyer said the Federal Government needed to act to deliver tangible improvements in the quality of life for the 16 million people living in Australia’s major cities.
The Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Graeme Samuel is to recuse himself from ACCC deliberations concerning the proposed NAB/AXA merger.
Mr Samuel said he would do so to remove any perception of a conflict of interest arising from his family’s investment in the DFO shopping centre chain.
Neither NAB nor AXA expressed concern at Mr Samuel’s continuing involvement but the Commission accepted his position.
AusTrak talks on loop
The Australian Rail Track Corporation is engaging with the community in relation to its Ambleside passing loop.
ARTC has invited landholders near the proposed crossing loop to meet one-on-one with project team members and held a community forum in May.
The loop will be approximately 2000m long and constructed adjacent to the existing main line. It will be suitable for the passing 1800m long trains.
Appeal for apples
Australia is to appeal against a decision of the World Trade Organisation relating to its dispute with New Zealand over apples.
The WTO panel found the import risk analysis (IRA) underpinning Australia’s requirements for New Zealand apples to be insufficiently supported by scientific evidence and that the requirements were unduly trade-restrictive.
The import requirements are aimed at addressing the quarantine risks and the Government considers there are adequate grounds to appeal the panel’s decision. The outcome of the appeal may be known by the end of 2010.
Wheat system extended
The Grains Research and Development Corporation has agreed to extend Australia’s current wheat classification system until the end of the year while a long-term structure is established.
The Corporation received a report from Wheat Classification Council in June which included a series of recommendations to provide a secure long-term structure for the delivery of wheat classification arrangements.
Wheat classification is the categorisation of a wheat variety into grades based on processing and end product quality.
17 August, 2010
A comprehensive survey of the attitudes of clients to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship has found high levels of satisfaction.
finds attitude change
The research found that 84 per cent of those surveyed were satisfied with their most recently used service delivery channel – phone, email, online or in person.
Other key findings were that 94 per cent of respondents were satisfied with DIAC’s online application process for visas, while 89 per cent were satisfied with the Department’s website.
According to the Department, 95 per cent of respondents who had used the online application system said they would use it again.
The survey was the first part of a 12-month research program into client satisfaction and DIAC’s performance.
A spokesman for DIAC said the Department was planning to transform itself in order to provide more efficient and effective service to its clients.
“We need to position ourselves as an organisation to compete in global markets and to attract the best migrants and key skills required for Australia’s future growth and prosperity,” the spokesman said.
He said then Department was pleased with the positive results relating to the website, particularly at this time when DIAC was beginning to provide more services online.
“We listen to our clients and what we’re hearing is that they want more of our services available online,” he said.
“Client feedback like this tells us where we are and what we need to do to meet the challenges posed by emerging demands locally and globally.”
The results also showed that 87 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the in-person service they most recently received, and 89 per cent of citizenship applicants were satisfied with their dealings with DIAC.
The research, conducted for the Department by a research company, surveyed nearly 7,500 visa applicants, citizenship applicants, clients with immigration status issues, registered migration agents and sponsors across 50 nationalities.
17 August, 2010
Ex-service staff on
Indexation of military pensions has become an election issue with ex-service organisations (ESOs) marshalling their forces for a “Fair Go!” campaign.
Aiming to create community awareness of the unfairness of military superannuation indexation, the ESOs have launched their case on YouTube and added a number of welfare issues to the mix as well.
Military superannuation was currently linked to the consumer price index (CPI) while age and welfare pensions were linked to the greater of CPI, Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI) or Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE).
Spokesperson for the Fair Go! campaign, Ted Chitham said inequities in indexation would affect not only the 180,000 currently serving Defence members, but also all the ex-servicemen, ex-servicewomen and widows of ex-servicemen who receive a military pension.
“What we are wanting is to have our military superannuation to be the same as age and welfare pensions,” Mr Chitham said.
He said the campaign hadn’t received as much media coverage as he’d hoped, but he was happy with the way information was being passed around to the Defence Force ‘family’ and the general public.
The ESOs have published their videos featuring well-known ex-servicemen Digger James, George Mansfield and Keith Payne VC in an effort to get their message out.
Mr Chitham said the Fair Go! campaign also targetted marginal electorates to find out whether candidates would support moves for fairer indexation and take the message into their party at a decision-making level.
He said the campaign would publicise the candidates’ positions so voters would be able to make an informed choice.
According to documents on the Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA) website, the move away from CPI to adjust the age and welfare pensions was because the Index did not protect the pensions’ purchasing power.
The documents say despite the change in indexation for age and welfare payments, military superannuation was still linked to CPI, meaning military pensioners received less than their age pension counterparts.
Greens Senate candidate in the ACT, Lin Hatfield Dodds repeated her call for a change in policy on the issue saying it should also apply to Public Service pensioners.
“We are calling for all Commonwealth and Defence pensions to be indexed in the same way as the aged pension,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
“If elected, I will make this a high priority.
The Fair Go! campaign was also targetting the disability pension, military compensation and veteran healthcare.
17 August, 2010
Bureau of Statistics
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has issued a reminder that the 2011 Census of Population and Housing is to be held Australia-wide in less than a year.
coming to its Census
The exercise is planned for 9 August 2011.
In a statement the ABS said the Census was the most comprehensive means of providing a snapshot of Australia, its key characteristics and where the population lives.
It said the Census aimed to measure accurately the number of people in Australia on Census night, wherever they were.
Its findings are used by all levels of Government in planning decisions and to determine funding for services and facilities.
The ABS said planning for the Census –the nation’s largest peacetime logistical exercise – was well underway.
For the first time Local Engagement Managers will be used to connect with communities in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and NSW.
The LEMs will work with local communities to raise awareness of the Census, improve participation, and help recruit field staff.
The first results from the survey will be made public in June 2012.
The Bureau pointed out that next year’s Census marks 100 years of Census-taking in Australia.
The recruitment launch for the Census will be held in February next year.
While Census night is 9 August, a national launch of the Census will take place in July next year.
Members of the public will be able to fill out their forms online, with the launch of eCensus, also in July.
17 August, 2010
The Australian Communications and Media Authority is to crack down on phone companies signing up subscribers to expensive premium services without their consent.
has txt appeal
From 3 November this year, ACMA will have the power to issue temporary ‘Do Not Bill’ orders which will stop content suppliers from charging customers while a service is being investigated.
The new rules make it an offence for mobile phone companies to contract content suppliers which are not listed on an industry register.
Chairman of ACMA, Chris Chapman said the move dealt with consumer concerns over the unexpected costs of some SMS and MMS services.
“This will be the toughest sanction the ACMA will be able to impose against premium SMS and MMS providers who break the rules,” Mr Chapman said.
“It cuts straight to the heart of industry’s rogue element by drying up their revenue stream.”
Mr Chapman said a final order preventing a company from charging for up to three years could be made if a content service provider was found to have breached the Mobile Premium Service Code in a way that caused significant financial harm to consumers.
He said the new rules built on the recent mobile premium services regulatory package, allowing consumers to bar premium SMS and MMS services from their mobile phones, and an industry-developed Mobile Premium Services Code.
The Code includes detailed rules covering procedures for subscribing to premium SMS services and the banning of advertisements which targetted children under 15.
Mr Chapman said ACMA had already taken action against several service providers for breaching the Code.
“The rules introduced by the ACMA have seen complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about premium SMS and MMS drop by over two-thirds in the previous 12 months,” Mr Chapman said.
“This further step is intended to prevent unscrupulous operators profiting from non-compliance.”
17 August, 2010
The first commercial services have been launched for the National Broadband Network.
signs up services
Three internet service providers have thrown their weight behind the network trial offering people connected to the roll-out introductory services between $29.95 and $59.95 a month.
Midway Point, Scottsdale and Smithton in Tasmania are the first communities in Australia to have access to ‘fibre to the premise’ on the NBN.
Through iiNet, Internode and iPrimus, people can sign up for services from between $29.95 per month for 25 megabits per second and $59.95 per month for 100 megabits per second.
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy said super-fast broadband was the economic infrastructure the Australian economy and businesses needed to thrive in the future.
Ms Gillard and Senator Conroy said if re-elected, the Government would proceed with building the NBN to ensure that all Australians, regardless of where they lived or worked, could access to affordable, high speed broadband.
The Chief executive of NBN Co, Mike Quigley also announced that the network would be capable of offering turbo-charged speeds up to one gigabit per second - 1,000 times faster than the speed many people received now.
He said while optical fibre technology had always been capable of speeds above 100 megabits per second, the company’s ongoing engineering work had confirmed that one gigabit per second could be offered as a wholesale product.
Ms Gillard and Senator Conroy welcomed the news saying the gigabit broadband speeds would drive productivity growth in businesses, medical clinics, schools and universities.
“To illustrate the power of gigabit speeds: the time that it would take one classroom to download a high definition documentary falls from 5 hours to around 20 seconds,” they said..
“There are also many longer term business applications of such network capability, such as allowing multiple doctors at a medical centre to download and transmit x-rays simultaneously.
“NBN Co’s announcement shows that optical fibre has virtually unlimited capacity.”
The ministers said NBN Co’s announcement meant there was a strong incentive for retail service providers to offer broadband plans with less restrictive or with no download caps or limits.
17 August, 2010
Snowy banks on
A new agreement between the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victorian Governments will see more water flowing into the nationally symbolic Snowy River.
new river flows
In a joint statement, the Minister for Water, Senator Penny Wong and the MP for Eden-Monaro, Mike Kelly said the move would help the Snowy River’s long term sustainability.
Under the agreement, 56 billion litres in extra flows would be released into the Snowy River over the next two years – 24 billion litres during 2010-11 and 32 billion litres in 2011-12.
“The construction of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme in the 1960s resulted in the diversion of 99 per cent of the Snowy River’s natural flow at Jindabyne Dam,” Senator Wong and Dr Kelly said in a joint statement.
“Increased flows will help remove the build-up of sediment in the river and improve the habitat for native flora and fauna.”
They said that as part of the agreement, NSW and Victoria would be responsible for providing the extra water, with the Commonwealth to compensate Snowy Hydro an estimated $13.7 million for the impact that securing the extra flows will have on its power generation capacity.
The agreement means that all water owing to the Mowamba Borrowing Account – established in 2002 to allow water to be borrowed from other users of the Snowy Hydro Scheme and deliver early environmental flows to the Snowy ahead of water recover efforts - will be repaid.
“Because of record drought in recent years, the repayment of this water has been slower than expected, resulting in less water for the Snowy,” Senator Wong and Dr Kelly said.
“[This] agreement means more water will flow into the river earlier than anticipated.”
Senator Wong and Dr Kelly said the new flows would be on top of any other environmental water recovered for the Snowy River through the Water for Rivers initiative.
The Waters for Rivers program saw the three Governments commit $375 million to return a targeted 282 billion litres of water to the Snowy by 2012 – 21 per cent of the Snowy’s flows.
The Federal Government’s $50 million contribution to the project is budgeted for in the Sustainable Water Use and Infrastructure Program.
17 August, 2010
Court decides on
The Federal Court of Australia has announced the processes it intends using to identify, select and appoint mediators to assist with native title proceedings.
land case mediators
The mediators are a result of last year’s amendments to the Native Title Act 1993 which gave the Court responsibility for managing all aspects of native title proceedings.
These changes include the opportunity for the Court to refer a matter to mediation before a person or body other than the Native Title Tribunal or a Registrar of the Court.
Earlier this year, the Court wrote to a number of people and organisations advising of its intention of compiling a list of mediators and calling for expressions of interest.
The list will be reviewed every 12 months.
The Court said in a statement that while the referral and appointment process in any matter would ultimately be a matter for the Court, the Court would invite the parties to view the list and nominate a preferred mediator.
“Careful consideration will be given to the views of the parties as it is preferable for the parties to agree that a particular person is the appropriate person to assist them to resolve their dispute,” the Court said.
“In a situation where the parties cannot agree on a person to be appointed as the mediator, the Court may nominate three mediators from who the parties could select.
“Alternatively the Court may decide which person from amongst the nominations is to be appointed.”
The Court said in cases requiring an ongoing and long-term commitment, the mediator could be appointed as an acting Registrar of the Court and paid at that rate by the Court via an intermittent contract.
Where the Court orders that a mediator be appointed for a particular issue or event, the Court would generally appoint the mediator and pay at a rate referable to the per diem rate of a member of the National Native Title Tribunal.
A prominent person appointed for an evaluation of a claim or for a particular legal or factual issue would generally be paid no more than the daily fee of an acting Supreme Court Judge.
17 August, 2010
National Science Week is off and running for 2010 with the Chief Scientist, Professor Penny Sackett officially launching it at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens.
off with a bang
Professor Sackett said the annual event was an opportunity for Australians to discover the excitement of science.
“Science is all around us – in our sport, our food, our buildings and our environment,” Professor Sackett said.
“As the activities of National Science Week prove, science is not only everywhere, it is intriguing and fun.”
The theme of National Science Week this year is biodiversity.
Professor Sackett said it was expected that more than a million people would attend national Science Week events over the coming days, with a number of scientists travelling the country to share their experiences.
She said events included the Ultimo Science Fair, The Gold Coast Science Fair, After Hours at the Dinosaur Museum in Darwin, the Canberra Family Science Spectacular, Mawson Lakes Science Week, City Science in Melbourne, Shopping Trolley Science in Perth and the Tasmanian Science Festival.
An online project that will take a snapshot of Australia’s sleeping habits will also be undertaken to help researchers discover how people’s sleeping habits have changed since the last national survey was conducted 10 years ago.
“This year researchers are trying to find out how our sleeping habits have changed, and whether technology such as mobiles and laptops are affecting our sleep quantity and quality,” Professor Sackett said.
Event partner, the CSIRO will also stage a number of activities across the country in an effort to showcase its achievements and inspire members of the public to explore science.
The Sounds of Science will tell the history of Australia’s scientific successes in the format of musical theatre, while the Great Big Science Gig crew will tour the country to present unconventional science in cabaret-style.
Geoscience Australia will also participate with two public lectures highlighting its key research activities, including the nation’s energy resource potential.
Geoscience by Night will also look at how geoscience research is being applied around Australia to better understand and manage the environment.
Other event partners include the Australian Science Teachers Association, COSMOS, Macleans, the National Measurement Institute and the ABC.
National Science Week 2010 will run until 22 August and more information is available from www.scienceweek.gov.au
17 August, 2010
Arts review paints
A report into the effectiveness of $90 million worth of grants to visual artists and craftspeople over six years has found the investment to be money well spent.
The report was released by the Australia Council for the Arts and the funds were distributed via the Council’s Visual Arts Board.
The multi-Government Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (VACS) 2004-2009, examined in the report, was developed in response to Rupert Myer’s Report of the Contemporary Visual Arts and Crafts Inquiry in 2002.
Key findings of the report were that VACS investment allowed the Visual Arts Board to increase funding to individual artists by almost 50 per cent since 2004, while it also led to a 34 per cent increase in State and Territory funding to artists.
The report also revealed that income from philanthropy and sponsorship rose from $3.7 million in 2004 to $18.9 million in 2008, and that audiences attending events run by VACS organisations increased 96 per cent from 2001 to 2008.
Chief executive of the Australia Council, Kathy Keele said creating opportunities for artists to boost their careers and income was a strategic priority.
“As this evaluation shows, the VACS investment by all Governments has given arts organisations the opportunity to improve their business planning and marketing which has led to this large increase in audience participation,” Ms Keele said.
“All this is great news for our artists.
“VACS has delivered to our artists and to our audiences - from remote to metropolitan Australia - more exhibitions of a better quality to more locations.”
Chair of the Visual Arts Board, Professor Ted Snell said VACS had achieved its aims.
“The strategy has provided increased funding to established artists, improved organisational support to artists, developed stronger business and operational planning, improved audience engagement and significantly expanded the role of private benefactors, sponsors and sales,” Professor Snell said.
“Without VACS, these outcomes would not have been possible and I know that governments, audiences and the sector value highly these economic and cultural outcomes.
“The evaluation provides us all with the data on how to continue the gains achieved by the strategy.”
The report examined the 34 VACS-funded visual arts organisations managed by the Australia Council’s Visual Arts Board, based on interviews with senior staff from all State and Territory arts Agencies, State and Territory Ministerial advisors, senior staff from 53 organisations and 55 sector leaders.
The full report is available at www.australiacouncil.gov.au
17 August, 2010
Sports campaign has
A campaign by the Australian Sports Commission to highlight the benefits of club sport and increase participation has been launched all around the nation.
everyone a winner
Chief Executive of the Australian Sports Commission, Matt Miller said an estimated one million children did not participate in organised sport, while a quarter of all children were overweight or obese.
“The key for families is to find a sport that your child enjoys,” Mr Miller said.
“You may not find the perfect fit first time, but persevere.”
Mr Miller said the Play for life…join a sporting club campaign aimed to encourage children to get involved in one of the many organised sports available, including traditional sports like cricket or netball, or less common activities such as archery.
As part of the campaign, around 150 ‘try a sport’ days will be held across Australia to highlight the variety of sport options.
He said hundreds of sporting clubs are working with the Australian Sports Commission to provide a fun, free and safe environment for kids to try their hand at a new physical activity.
President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Andrew Pesce said there were strong links between playing a sport and maintaining good health.
“Providing opportunities for children to play sport can establish lifelong positive attitudes towards physical activity,” Dr Pesce said.
“These attitudes will be crucial if Australia is to tackle its increasing levels of obesity and chronic disease.”
The campaign also features a new website to help families find nearby sporting clubs and for more information, go to ausport.gov.au/findaclub or email email@example.com
17 August, 2010
Melbourne Cup coin
The Royal Australian Mint has saddled up with the Victorian Racing Club to produce a collectors’ set of three new coins to mark the 150th anniversary of the Melbourne Cup.
sure to be favourite
Designed by engraver and sculptor Wojciech Pietranik, the three 50 cent coins feature some of the great heroes and iconic references that define the Melbourne Cup.
Chief Executive of the Mint, Ross MacDiarmid said in its 149-year history, the Melbourne Cup had produced a number of significant moments which had left lasting memories for people across Australia and around the world.
“In keeping with our long history of maintaining records, capturing moments and celebrating important achievements within Australia’s rich heritage and culture, the Royal Australian Mint is proud to give all Australians the opportunity to own their very own piece of Cup history,” Mr MacDiarmid said.
Both a silver coin set and a single cupro nickel coin will be available for purchase.
A selectively gold plated coin set features two of the most iconic symbols of the race - the legendary Phar Lap and the Melbourne Cup trophy.
The individual commemorative coin depicts the conclusion of a race, as riders and horses make their final push across the finishing line.
Chairman of the Victorian Racing Club, Rod Fitzroy said the coins were an important part of national celebrations being planned for the race’s 150th milestone.
“The commemorative Melbourne Cup coins recognise the significance of an iconic Australian sporting event that has grown to become not just one of the greatest horse races in the world, but an integral part of our national culture,” said VRC Chairman Rod Fitzroy.
The coins can be purchased from Monday 6 September from the Royal Australian Mint Shop in Canberra, online via www.ramint.gov.au or by calling 1300 652 020.
The silver selectively gold-plated two coin set and individual cupro nickel coin are priced at $165 and $8.95 respectively.
17 August, 2010
High energy response
The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has responded to media criticism and acted to set the record straight about its Nationwide Home Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS).
to energy criticism
In a statement, the Department said NatHERS provided a way of comparing the potential heating and cooling needs of different homes based on standard assumptions.
It said the ratings were not intended to measure actual total energy use, but were a way to fairly compare the potential of different houses.
DCCEE said NatHERS ratings were usually completed before a house’s construction, meaning criticisms that the ratings were flawed because they did not take into account the behaviour of occupants were unfounded.
“It would be impossible to rate the behaviour of the occupants, such as their lifestyle and appliance choice,” it said.
“Since heating and cooling typically account for only around 40 per cent of household energy use, NatHERS ratings will not accurately predict total household consumption.
“The other main sources of energy use in homes are lighting, hot water and appliances (and) through COAG, Governments have put in place a range of complementary measures to address these sources of energy use.”
It said Governments did not regulate behavioural decisions, such as how much to heat or cool a house, or which appliances to buy and use - consumers made those decisions based on their individual circumstances.
DCCEE also rejected claims that rating new houses through software tools was mandatory, saying this was just one of a number of ways people could comply with the Building Code of Australia.
“Claims have also been made that all existing houses will be required to use the NatHERS software tools,” the Department said.
“Governments are currently discussing how to implement the 2009 COAG agreement to require homes to disclose energy performance at the time of sale or lease and the use of NatHERS is just one of a number of possible options which is being assessed.
“Before decisions are made on this measure, further public consultation and regulatory impact assessment will be undertaken.”
According to DCCEE, other issues about building energy efficiency and rating schemes raised in articles were being addressed as part of the development of the National Building Energy Standard Setting, Assessment and Rating Framework.
It said submissions from a public discussion paper on the framework released earlier this year were being considered.
17 August, 2010
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has launched a new marketing campaign to raise awareness of its range of services.
goes to air
The campaign – to run across all platforms, including television, radio, online and mobile – centres on the ABC’s new brand message, ‘Enter’.
Australians will be invited to ‘Enter’ the ABC in different ways that suit them.
Director of Corporate Strategy at the ABC, Michael Ebeid said as the Corporation developed in the new media landscape, its strategy was to deliver the services people wanted on the devices or platforms they wanted and in the format they wanted.
“The feedback we get from audiences is that they are often unaware of what the ABC has to offer, but when they discover what’s on offer they are constantly surprised and delighted,” Mr Ebeid said.
“We need to raise the awareness of the breadth of ABC content available across all of our platforms.”
He said on radio, the ABC now broadcasts across 60 local stations, while it also offers four television channels.
The ABC also delivers more than 500 million downloads each year, not including Australia’s first internet television catch-up service iView, which streams over two million views a month.
Mr Ebeid said the campaign aimed to re-energise the ABC brand to ensure it reflected the ABC’s role as an innovative and multi-platform broadcaster.
He said the campaign also hoped to encourage more Australians to engage with the Corporation more often and in more ways, and increase awareness of its online content.
“In this digital age, audiences have access to content from a variety of platforms and sources, available wherever and whenever they choose,” Mr Ebeid said.
“They want to know the content they access is from a trustworthy, credible, independent, and reliable source, so strong branded content has never been more important.”
17 August, 2010
Teacher training plan
A scheme that would fast-track the training of professionals so they become teachers has been proposed as a way of easing the skills shortage.
is first class program
Under the Teach Next plan, highly-skilled professionals who wanted to pursue a career in teaching would be able to undertake an intensive training course in just eight weeks.
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Education, Simon Crean said the initiative meant those who had been put off by the time it took to qualify as a teacher would be able to move into the classroom and start earning a wage sooner.
“Teach Next will help reduce teacher shortages in crucial subject areas like maths and science and will help create a teaching workforce with greater diversity,” Ms Gillard and Mr Crean said.
“Professionals seeking to change their career will be able to apply to participate in the program.
“Successful applicants will be selected on the basis of their technical skills and expertise, and their aptitude for teaching.”
Participants in the Teach Next program will receive mentoring from a highly-experienced teacher as they make the transition into the classroom.
They would gain their teaching qualification while simultaneously working in the classroom for a two-year period.
Ms Gillard and Mr Crean said the policy built on the Teach for Australia program.
The Government would also establish a system for matching career-change professionals with specialist vacancies in schools to ensure jobs would be available to applicants.
“This initiative will see lab technicians, accountants, engineers and other professionals become the expert maths and science teachers Australian schools need,” the Ministers said.
“Individuals with years of experience will bring enthusiasm and passion for the subject they will teach, and will help to inspire a new generation of young Australians to study subjects such as maths and science.”
17 August, 2010
Post Office plea for
Australia post has issued a reminder to people sending Christmas gifts overseas that the deadlines for Sea Mail for some countries are fast approaching.
A spokesperson for Australia Post, Joshua Zugajev said it was important for people to plan ahead if they wanted to take advantage of the lower prices offered by Sea Mail.
“If you need to send Christmas gifts overseas you need to start planning now,” Mr Zugajev said.
“The Sea Mail closing date for gifts being sent to the United Kingdom is 21 September, while most of mainland Europe is one week later, on 28 September.
“If you need to send gifts to South America you’ll have to get organised even sooner, with some closing dates as early as 17 August.”
Mr Zugajev said those living outside metropolitan Sydney, where all Sea Mail departs from, should also allow extra time for their parcels to arrive at the NSW capital before the listed closing date.
Australia Post also issued a reminder about dangerous and prohibited items which must not be sent through the mail.
Mr Zugajev said Post Office staff could advise customers on restrictions for dangerous goods and give tips on the most secure packaging.
“To expedite delivery, you should always address your parcels clearly, complete the appropriate customs forms and include a return address on the back of your parcel,” he said.
“You might also need to provide identification when lodging your parcel.
“If you miss the Sea Mail Christmas closing deadlines you can still get your gifts overseas using Airmail and if you’re really in a last minute rush, our Express Courier International service provides a door-to-door courier delivery to most major international metropolitan cities within two to four business days.”
Mr Zugajev said for more information, readers could go to the Australian Post website http://auspost.com.au or call 13 13 18.
17 August, 2010
Peace at last for War
The Australian War Memorial has completed the upgrade of its Second World War galleries to include never-before-shown items among its popular exhibits.
New objects on display include an anti-aircraft gun used in the siege of Tobruk and an audiovisual of the wreckage of the HMAS Sydney.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, Alan Griffin said while the Second World War galleries were last upgraded in 1999 and remained in good condition, some exhibition infrastructure had begun to show wear and tear.
“This re-development has resulted in the Galleries being more interactive and exciting for the visitor,” Mr Griffin said.
Director of the Australian War Memorial, Major General Steve Gower said visitors to the renewed galleries would enjoy a better experience.
“It was also important to draw more attention to the experiences of families in Australia during the war, which the new items on display enable us to do,” Maj Gen Gower said.
Other items which have never been on display include a rare Australian armoured vehicle, the Dingo scout car, and a captured German Flak 38 anti-aircraft gun still in its original desert camouflage.
A new showcase emphasising the importance of the ‘home front’ has also been installed, featuring a restored civilian Studebaker sedan with its producer gas unit and an Anderson shelter, which was designed to protect families in their backyards.
Returning displays include the Kokoda campaign and German Kübelwagen.
17 August, 2010
Comcare takes Customs to Court
Comcare has launched proceedings in the Federal Court against the Customs and Border Protection Service after an employee slipped and fractured both arms while working at the Adelaide International Airport.
Comcare has alleged that Customs contravened Federal workplace safety laws.
The incident took place in 2008 when a Customs employee allegedly slipped on some glue.
Integrity to be tested
The Integrity Commissioner has announced that the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) will investigate an alleged security breach relating to a joint Commonwealth-State law enforcement investigation.
The investigation involved the execution of search warrants in NSW and Victoria on Tuesday 4 August and ACLEI’s focus will relate to the involvement, if any, of members of the Australian Federal Police.
Court hosts meeting
The Federal Court of Australia’s NSW Registry has invited practitioners interested in Intellectual Property and Patent Law to attend a professional liaison meeting.
Current issues relating to patents and intellectual property litigation will be discussed.
The meeting will be held on Monday 30 August from 5.00pm to 6.30 at the Federal Court of Australia, Level 18, Law Courts Building, Queens Square, Sydney.
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Joint raid finds drugs
A joint Victoria Police and Australian Crime Commission operation has led to the arrest of 12 people and the seizure of several million dollars worth of drugs.
The major drug syndicate was operating in the inner and western suburbs of Melbourne.
Detective Inspector John Potter said the result showed the effectiveness of multi-agency cooperation and ACC’s National Manager, Target Development and Intervention, Richard Grant said it was an example of intelligence-led policing.
Wind farm blows in
The biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere is to be built in Victoria.
It is estimated that the project will power up to 220,000 homes.
Construction on the $1 billion Macarthur Wind Farm is expected to start soon.
Lighthouse day to shine
The Australian National Maritime Museum at Sydney’s Darling Harbour is gearing up for International Lighthouse Day.
As part of the event, an after-dark torchlight tour and theatre performance will be held for children on Saturday 21 August.
A theatre performance for adults will also be held on 20 and 21 August and more information is available from www.anmm.gov.au
Funding for consumers
Funding of $2.9 million for the Consumer Health Forum has been announced to train consumers to participate as members of governing councils of Local Hospital Networks and Medicare Locals.
The Consumer Health Forum is the peak member-based organisation representing consumers on national health issues.
The funding will provide opportunities for consumers to be actively involved in health service delivery in their local communities.
Police hand over boat
The Australian Federal Police have presented a patrol vessel to the Vanuatu Police Force.
The presentation is part of the Vanuatu Police Force Capacity Building Project, which began in 2006. Ten AFP members are deployed to Vanuatu to work collaboratively and effectively with their counterparts on transnational crime in the region.
The vessel is valued at $1 million and has the capability to travel 400 nautical miles.
Coaches to confer
The Australian Sports Commission is to hold its 2010 National Coaching and Officiating Conference at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, from 23 to 25 November.
Sports Coach and Official General Manager, Emery Holmik, said the conference was an opportunity for those involved in managing the development of coaching and officiating to discover new and enhanced approaches to support and develop coaches and officials.
The event will feature national and international speakers.
10 August, 2010
APSC expands on
The Australian Public Service Commission has added a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section to its website dealing with changes to the timeframe for lodging reviews of actions.
review time limits
The Commission revised the timelines in its Circular 2010/3, which was reported in PS News here.
APS employees, except for the Senior Executive Service, are entitled to a review of actions or decisions relating to their employment.
According to the APSC, reviews conducted within Agencies are called primary reviews, while applications for secondary reviews can be made to the Merit Protection Commissioner if the employee is dissatisfied with the outcome of the Agency’s review or if the Agency advises that the matter is not reviewable.
The Merit Protection Commissioner conducts reviews of employment-related decisions and other actions affecting APS employees.
Under the revised time limits, primary review applications within an employee’s Agency will take up to 120 days, while primary view applications of a breach of the APS Code of Conduct will take up to 60 days.
The APSC’s new FAQ section explains that the 60 and 120 day periods start from the first day after the employment action occurs.
If Day 60 or 120 is not a work day, then the period extends to the next working day.
According to the new section, in cases where an Agency operates in more than one time zone, review procedures should specify what is meant by close of business (COB).
An Agency could specify that reviews be lodged by a particular time regardless of where the employee is based – for instance 5pm Eastern Standard Time - or it could base the cut-off time on the employee’s location.
An application for secondary review by the Merit Protection Commissioner must be made through an Agency head, who must give the application and any relevant information to the Commissioner within 14 days of receiving it.
The employee must apply for review to the Agency head by COB on Day 60, however the 14 day period in which the Agency has to send the application and papers to the Merit Protection Commissioner is not counted as part of the 60 days.
The FAQ section states that if an application is made outside the relevant time limits, it is not reviewable unless the Agency or the Merit Protection Commissioner agrees with the applicant that there are exceptional circumstances for the delay.
The APSC says that while the term ‘exceptional circumstances’ is not defined in the Regulations, the common dictionary definitions of “unusual” and “extraordinary” apply.
“A decision by an agency to accept an out of time primary review application does not oblige the Merit Protection Commissioner to accept a subsequent request for secondary review that is out of time,” the APSC says.
Benefits of lodging an application for review as soon as possible after the employment action in question occurs are also outlined.
The new section states that people’s recollections of events or decisions are usually less accurate as time passes, and addressing the employee’s concerns quickly may prevent further escalation of conflict.
Scenarios are also included to explain how the new timeframes work.
10 August, 2010
Call for scientists
The peak national body for science and technology has called for all major Departments to appoint independent scientific advisers to ensure policies and decisions are evidence-based.
in every Department
The Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS) has made the call as one of eight ‘Priorities” it has asked the major political parties to advise their positions on.
Chief Executive of FASTS, Anna-Maria Arabia, said the core economic issues were science and innovation which led to the creation of wealth, jobs and a better quality of life.
“The issues outlined in our Questionnaire are ones FASTS’ Members feel very strongly about,” Ms Arabia said.
Under Priority 7 of the questionnaire Improve Governance, FASTS encourages the use of scientific evidence-base to assist in making decisions on issues from climate change to swine flu.
It says it favours the appointment of an independent chief scientific adviser in Federal Government Departments who can advise Ministers and routinely report to the Chief Scientist.
It also wants the advisers to work together on cross-portfolio issues such as sustainable population policy.
FASTS also points out that valuable problem-solving and decision-making skills are learnt when individuals deal with tertiary mathematics and science education and this assists public and private sector management by leading to a wider understanding and appreciation of scientific issues in the community.
FASTS also feels that if any Australian Public Servants have scientific training, their skills should be better utilised and procedures put in place to identify them and take advantage of their unique analytical expertise.
Other priorities raised in the questionnaire include maintaining public investment in science and innovation, improving fiscal and regulatory environments to support science-based innovation and boosting mathematics and science education and training.
For more details visit www.fasts.org
10 August, 2010
The Australian Electoral Commission has issued a number of bulletins and advices to the community as it gears up for the 21 August Federal election.
prepares for big day
The Commission is to introduce telephone voting for the upcoming election, available in 125 locations across the country to allow blind voters or those with low vision, to cast a secret vote.
Available both before and on Election Day, voters using the new service will have their name marked off the electoral roll before casting their vote in private over the phone.
The AEC said that essential election information, including an official guide to the election, will be delivered to households around the nation and was also available in a range of accessible formats online or by calling the AEC.
Electoral Commissioner, Ed Killesteyn announced that eligible voters were now able to cast an early vote in person or by applying for a postal vote.
People who will be outside their electorate on 21 August or who more than eight kilometres from a polling place, are eligible for an early vote, along with those approaching childbirth or who are seriously ill.
Mr Keillesteyn said anyone unable to attend a polling place because of religious beliefs or who feared for their personal safety would also eligible, as would those with a disability or work commitment.
He said pre-poll votes were available weekdays and, in some locations, weekends until 20 August.
“It is important that voters apply early for a postal vote, to ensure there is time to deliver the ballot papers and for voters to return them,” Mr Killesteyn said.
He urged Australians living, working or holidaying overseas to apply for a postal vote or to cast their vote in person at an Australian diplomatic mission.
He said people overseas but not near an Australian diplomatic mission that offered voting should apply for a postal vote quickly to avoid running out of time.
Overseas voting in the Federal election cannot continue after polling closes at 6pm 21 August, Western Australian time on election day.
Mr Killesteyn said voters should not assume diplomatic missions overseas would be open on election day, even if they shared similar time zones to Australia.
He said people should carefully plan their best voting option and may need to show identification when visiting diplomatic missions.
At the last Federal election, approximately 70,000 votes were issued overseas at Australian diplomatic missions.
“These early voting and overseas voting arrangements for the 2010 Federal election are just part of the AEC’s effort to ensure that every eligible Australian has the opportunity to vote,” Mr Killesteyn said.
10 August, 2010
Tax shake-up is
The Assistant Treasurer, Senator Nick Sherry has committed the Government to major changes to the Australian taxation system if it is re-elected on 21 August.
Senator Sherry said the Government would make the taxation system more responsive, accountable and accessible for individuals and businesses.
He said a key initiative would be the establishment of a Tax System Advisory Board, which would inform the Tax Commissioner and the Australian Taxation Office’s Executive Committee on various aspects of the ATO, including strategy, culture, management, staff profile and information technology plans.
He said the Board would be made up of non-Government members and would start off with a review of the ATO’s management practices.
“The Tax Commissioner will remain the independent head of the ATO with responsibility to undertake the administration of aspects of Australia’s tax system and deliver the ATO’s commitments to government and manage the ATO as a government agency,” Senator Sherry said.
“The ATO benefits considerably from external advice from a range of sources, but the challenges ahead mean that, now more than ever, a strong, in-built and well structured voice in our tax policy and administration processes will be essential for both the general and business communities.”
Senator Sherry said the recent review or Australia’s Future Tax System found that while governance of the tax system was fundamentally sound, more could be done to increase the responsiveness, accountability and transparency of its administration.
“Tax system advisory boards already exist in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, and establishing such a board was the key governance reform recommended in the AFTS review.”
He said community consultations on the Tax System Advisory Board would be held this year.
The Assistant Treasurer said if re-elected, the Government would also recommit to a principles-based approached to tax design to deliver a simple, transparent, responsive, accountable and accessible tax system.
He said the Government would also continue with its plan for a single modern Income Tax Assessment Act.
Other changes highlighted by Senator Sherry included reshaping the Board of Taxation to allow it to initiate its own reviews to examine how current tax policies and laws were operating and the Government would also adjust its membership as necessary to ensure it was fully representative.
10 August, 2010
National Food Plan
A National Food Plan has been announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke.
put on the table
Mr Burke said the Plan would examine issues such as food security, quality, affordability and sustainability.
“This is a first for Australia and will integrate all aspects of food policy by looking at the whole food chain, from the paddock to the plate,” Mr Burke said.
“Even though we export 60 per cent of what we grow, we need to ensure that our country’s food security is protected in the years to come.”
As part of the Plan, he said consultations would be held with key industry players, including the National Farmers Federation, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, the CSIRO, and Woolworths.
Mr Burke said key issues to be considered were domestic and international food security; issues which affected food affordability; the sustainability of Australia’s food systems all along the value chain; and the productivity and efficiency of the value chain to improve global competitiveness.
The Plan would also look at how business regulations could be streamlined, and ways to ensure there were appropriate economic, taxation, labour market and education policy settings for a robust food production system.
The Minister said the Food Plan would involve two stages, beginning with the development of a strategy to maximise food production opportunities by farmers, manufacturers and processors, distribution and logistics companies, retail and food service companies, and agricultural and food scientists.
He said the second stage would incorporate health and nutrition issues, following the completion of the Blewett Review into food labelling which is currently underway and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Mr Burke said the initiative would be funded from the Regional Food Producers Innovation and Productivity Program, which is already budgeted for.
10 August, 2010
Payment relief to
Major changes to the payment of some Centrelink benefits have been foreshadowed if the Government is re-elected on 21 August.
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Families and Community Services, Jenny Macklin said access to family payments would be improved to help families cope with cost of living pressures.
Under the changes, advance payment rules for family tax benefits would be overhauled and a $500 upfront payment of the baby bonus would be made available to eligible parents.
“Managing the household budget can sometimes be a delicate balance, especially when something unexpected happens,” Ms Gillard and Ms Macklin said in a joint statement.
“The fridge or washing machine can break down, or a school uniform can get damaged and need replacing.”
They said from 1 July next year, families would be able to receive a larger and more flexible advance of their family tax benefit entitlements, giving them more choice and greater scope to choose the size and timing of an advance payment.
Families would be able to choose the value of their advance payment between a maximum and minimum.
The maximum amount of advance payment - linked to a family’s rate of payment – would generally be around $312 for a family with one child under 12 or $625 for a family with two children under 12. An overall maximum amount of $1,000 will apply.
Ms Gillard and Ms Macklin said there would be one minimum rate for all payment advancements, which would be set at an indexed amount of $157, which equates to 3.75 per cent of the Family Tax Benefit A (FTB-A) for a family with one child aged up to 12.
They said some families on the base rate of FTB-A would have access to a smaller advance amount because of their smaller existing entitlements.
Currently the maximum advance amount is $324, which can be accessed twice a year - on 1 July and 1 January.
The current maximum then reduces daily until the end of the six month period to 30 June or 31 December.
Under the new system, advances would be available at any point throughout the year but Centrelink staff would still need to approve them.
According to the Ministers, From 1 July 2011, parents of new babies who received the Baby Bonus – which is paid in 13 fortnightly instalments - would also be able to receive $500 of their payment upfront.
Those who chose to receive the upfront payment would receive $868, with the remaining amounts to be paid over the 12 subsequent fortnights at $368. The overall amount of the Baby Bonus - $5,294 - would remain the same.
10 August, 2010
Overhaul is answer
Major reforms to Question Time in the House of Representatives have been promised by the Opposition Coalition parties if they are elected to Government at the Federal election on 21 August.
for Question Time
Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives, Christopher Pyne said the Coalition would make Parliamentary Question Time more concise and ensure Ministers were held to account.
“We would seek to introduce four minute cap of the length of answers by Ministers, and a one minute limit to length of questions,” Mr Pyne said.
“We will look to strengthen the definition of ‘relevance’ in the Standing Orders so Ministers must stay directly relevant to questions and ensure Matter of Public Importance debates follow ‘Question Time’.”
Mr Pyne criticised the Government for failing to reform Question Time, despite its Manager of Opposition Business during the Howard Government, Julia Gillard, once calling for time limits on questions and answers.
“Back then Ms Gillard was all for Parliamentary reform,” Mr Pyne said.
“However in Government, Ms Gillard lost this reformist zeal.”
Mr Pyne said if elected the Coalition would take action to ensure Parliamentary procedures improved and that Parliament was more accountable for the people of Australia.
10 August, 2010
Post delivers on
A new $20 million staff training program has been announced for Australia Post.
CEO and Managing Director of Australia Post, Ahmed Fahour said the training would focus on growth areas such as parcels, logistics, retail and digital services.
“The Future Skills investment will equip our people with the skills they need to work in the new economy as letter volumes decline yet online shopping grows rapidly,” Mr Fahour said.
“The world is changing and we must move with it but we must take our staff with us.
“While some areas such as letters will decline overtime other areas such as parcels will continue to grow.”
He said the $20 million investment – to be spent over the next three years – follows a new business renewal program, Future Ready, which aims to reduce Australia Post’s reliance on its traditional letters business, and expand into new business growth areas such as retail, eServices and parcels.
Mr Fahour said a key part of Future Ready was skills development.
“While electronic communications such as email is the letter’s worse enemy, it is our parcel business’ best friend with online shopping growing rapidly,” he said.
Mr Fahour said Future Skills focused on how Australia Post could retain and redeploy staff, and enhance its employees’ skills in the face of a changing business environment.
“Our staff working in mail centres, delivering the mail, driving trucks and working in our outlets know better than anyone that we are seeing declining mail volumes and understand why we must cultivate new sources of revenue,” he said.
10 August, 2010
Stories drawn to
The Australia Council for the Arts has launched a new website for ordinary Australians to use as a way of sharing their stories of what the arts mean to their daily lives.
new arts website
The What makes me website introduces the stories of 12 Australians – including celebrities such as chef Kylie Kwong and footballer Lote Tuquiri, as well as amateur burlesque performers and stay-at-home parents - and the difference art makes to them.
Visitors to the site can share their own experiences with the arts by marking the sides of a virtual cube.
Executive Director of Arts Development with the Council, Sandra Bender said as everyone’s art cubes were combined, it would hopefully become Australia’s largest collaborative digital art work.
Ms Bender said visitors could make their cube by drawing on photos, music and videos from the internet.
“Many Australians don’t necessarily identify with the arts and see how creativity and the arts impact their daily lives,” Ms Bender said.
“What makes me communicates the message that art is all around us and comes in many forms, whether it is school bands, amateur comedy and circus, or classical music and oil painting.
“By sharing stories, all of us can better understand the many different ways in which people can and do engage with the arts.
“What makes me wants to reach Australians who rarely have a voice in the art world and to identify the contribution of the arts to our society and individual lives.”
Research by the Australia Council shows than nine out of 10 Australians have engaged in at least one art form over the last year, and that people were increasingly using the internet to get information about the arts or to participate in them.
The What makes me site will also be available to mobile phone platforms and incorporate an iPhone app.
More information from www.whatmakesme.com.au
10 August, 2010
Police in business
The Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency has published a business plan to direct its activities for 2011 and 2012.
with business plan
ANZPAA’s 2011-2012 and Ongoing Activities Business Plan has devised four strategic priorities that focus on the major challenges that confront policing.
These are community policing (community engagement, crime, drugs and alcohol, and road safety); forensic sciences, science and technology; professionalisation and workforce planning and knowledge and information management.
Then Agency says these priorities are consistent with the directions in Australia New Zealand Policing 2008-2011.
According to the plan, community policing incorporates community engagement, crime, drugs and alcohol and road safety.
As well as improving police community engagement, the revised work program will provide policy, development and advice for the prevention, investigation, detection and resolution of crime. ANZPAA will also review, improve, influence and inform future and existing drug/alcohol and road policing enforcement strategies, particularly in regards to youth and Indigenous communities.
Another feature of the program is the incorporation of forensic sciences. The Agency and ANZPAA National Institute of Forensic Science will support, foster and promote the advancement of forensic sciences and science and technology by introducing a number of projects that will benefit police and the wider justice system.
Focus will continue on professionalisation and workforce planning by developing strategies, policies and standards that continuously improve ethics, integrity and professionalism in policing.
Strategies will also continue to be developed to ensure police services are able to recruit and retain a diverse and representative workforce now and into the future.
The revised strategic priorities form the framework for a large number of projects. To view ANZPAA’s comprehensive work program, visit www.anzpaa.org.au
10 August, 2010
The Australian Rail Track Corporation has released the findings of its study into the preferred inland route for a Melbourne to Brisbane rail link.
plans Brisbane line
The Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail Alignment Study has found there is demand for a railway and a route has been identified which is more than 170 kilometres shorter and seven hours faster than the current coastal route.
The only north-south rail corridor along the east coast at present runs from Melbourne to Albury, then Sydney and along the coast to Brisbane.
The report says that an inland route from Victoria through central and north-west NSW, into Queensland going through Albury, Parkes, Narromine, Narrabri, Moree and Toowoomba could potentially reduce rail freight times and increase capacity between the two cities.
After analysing more than 50,000 alternative alignments, a 1,731-kilometre route was identified using approximately 65 per cent of the existing corridors between Melbourne and Brisbane.
The review found that this route could provide freight with a rail option that was likely to be competitive on prices for door-to-door freight, as well as, on transit, time, reliability and availability.
This proposal is estimated to cost $4.7 billion. It is anticipated that construction will take five years, with pre-construction work over three years that will involve activities such as land acquisition, preliminary design, approvals and tender process.
The study says that inland rail is not a viable commercial concern without assistance from the Government or another financial body. It would be economically viable if its operation was delayed by 10 or 20 years, unless demand increases, and then re-examine the project in 2015 and 2020.
Economic analysis advocates positive returns if operations start between 2030 and 2035.
However, the report calls on the Government to act now to reserve and protect the alignment for when the railway is eventually built.
The Australian Government asked the Corporation to conduct the study which involved two consultants.
Details can be found at www.artc.com.au
10 August, 2010
Safety campaign has
A new campaign promoting safety issues for international students has been welcomed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
lessons for students
The ‘Think Before’ travel campaign will present safety messages delivered by technologies that students use every day, including the internet, mobile phones, open video and social networking sites.
The safety messages are in English and 12 other languages used by the students including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Nepalese, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese.
DFAT described the campaign as an innovative way of delivering safety messages to international students, who often worked and studied late and travelled home alone.
Victoria Police, which played a key role in producing the campaign, said there were about 650,000 international students from over 100 countries studying in Australia, and some had been placing themselves in high risk situations.
The safety messages were being distributed worldwide to improve both pre-arrival information as well as personal safety advice to international students already in the country.
Inspector Ian Geddes of Victoria Police, who was one of the campaign architects, said international students were technology-savvy and more likely to respond to information sent from web, mobile and social media tools than traditional communications channels.
“Think Before demonstrates our commitment to getting the message about personal safety to our international student community to help them avoid becoming victims of opportunistic crime,” Inspector Geddes said.
“While police work to reduce crime through law enforcement in cooperation with the community, everyone needs to play a part in keeping themselves and their belongings safe.”
The campaign features an animated international student character called ‘George’, who demonstrates safety issues from a student’s perspective and in a non-confrontational manner.
Free mobile apps and social media extensions have been designed to be virally distributed among international students in Australia and to their friends and families back home.
The campaign was assessed by independently moderated focus groups to ensure it resonated with students from all nationalities and cultural backgrounds.
The multi-platform digital campaign was developed by a small group of volunteers with the support of State and Territory Governments, educational bodies, industry and student groups.
The campaign can be reached at www.thinkbefore.com
10 August, 2010
New Mint display
A new display for students and visitors to the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra showing how coins are made has been unveiled.
on the money
Chief Executive of the Mint, Ross MacDiarmid said the educational display would enlighten people about the coin production process.
“The Mint does not make the actual blank coins,” Mr MacDiarmid said, “so up until this point we have only been able to demonstrate to visitors what happens to the blank coins once we receive them.
“We are now able to provide a complete explanation of the coin production process from beginning to end.”
He said the new display was part of an increased focus on delivering better educational services.
“This is just the beginning,” he said.
Mr MacDiarmid thanked Poongsan Corporation, the a Korean-based organisation which specialises in the development and mass production of copper-based alloys and which supplies the Mint with blanks used to create Australian coins, for donating the coin blank manufacture display.
Attending the official presentation of the display, which took place in the tourist gallery at the Mint, were the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Dr Kim Woo Sang, and the Chairman of the Poongsan Corooration, Mr Jin Roy Ryu, along with other Poongsan representatives.
10 August, 2010
Historic prison sites
Eleven former convict and prison sites around Australia have been added to the World Heritage List.
locked up on Register
Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett said the listing of the sites would be a boost for regional economies.
“The World Heritage Listing of these 11 sites is not just important recognition of our nation’s convict history but it also has the potential to provide real economic benefits for the regions within and surrounding these iconic places,” Mr Garrett said.
“Last year I released a report which showed that World Heritage properties around the nation make a really significant contribution to our nation’s economy, with real benefits for local jobs and tourism.
“The report found that Australia’s then 17 World Heritage properties generated some $12 billion annually and supported over 120,000 jobs across the country.
“Now, with an additional 11 sites around the nation added to the World Heritage List, I am confident that we will see that contribution grow.”
Sites to receive World Heritage listing include Fremantle Prison in Western Australia, which operated as a central depot for receiving and housing male convicts, and provided imprisonment and punishment for re-offenders.
Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area in Norfolk Island – which became known as “hell on earth” - has also been listed. Convicts there were subjected to hard labour such as land clearance, farming, logging and construction of roads and buildings.
In Tasmania, Brickendon and Woolmers Estates, Darlington Probation Station, Port Arthur Historic Site, Coal Mines Historic Site and the Cascades Female Factory have been listed, while in NSW sites include Old Government House and Domain, Hyde Park Barracks, the Cockatoo Island Convict Site and Old Great North Road.
Mr Garrett said there were more than 3,000 convict sites in Australia.
In 2007 some of Australia’s convict records were included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.
10 August, 2010
A partnership between the aid agency AusAID and Caritas Australia has brought a global exhibition on poverty to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, Canberra.
has rich display
The travelling global poverty exhibition, Blueprint for a Better World, highlights the Millennium Development Goals and the promise of Governments throughout the world to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty by 2015.
The exhibition has been on display in 34 locations across the country over the past 18 months.
With its interactive format, viewers are able to examine the realities of global poverty and possibilities for change.
Focusing on Australia’s regional neighbours, the exhibition brings the eight Millennium Development Goals to life through visual art, photography and multimedia.
Deputy Director of the Museum, Kate Cowie said it was an opportunity for people to see how individuals and communities could initiate global change.
“Australians are active and generous in contributing to the improvement of living conditions locally and globally, which is an indication of our social conscience,” Ms Cowie said.
“Our democracy is reinforced by our common resolve to help others.”
The exhibition features photographs, stories and contributions - such as posters, baskets and school books from Caritas local partners – which give insights into communities and development programs in Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Sudan and Indigenous Australia.
The interactive Pledge Towers allow visitors to write down the contribution they intend to make to end global poverty.
Exhibition Coordinator of Caritas Australia, Siobhan Jordan said the exhibition aimed to raise awareness of how Australian NGOs and the Government are helping communities to overcome poverty.
“It is important that we commit to achieving the Millennium Development Goals at this time because economic slowdown has lessened the incomes of the poor,” Ms Jordan said.
“The food crisis is forcing millions more into poverty and climate change will have an unequal impact on the poorest.”
The exhibition will be on display at the Museum of Australian Democracy until 18 August.
10 August, 2010
Digital kids lock
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has set the scene for the introduction of a parental lock on digital television receivers from 4 February next year.
is no parent trap
Chairman of ACMA, Chris Chapman said a technical standard to make a parental lock a required feature of digital television receivers had been determined.
The parental lock would allow controlled access to programs based on their classification.
“Mandating the inclusion of parental lock in digital receivers supports parents and guardians in protecting their children from content on television which they might consider inappropriate or harmful,” Mr Chapman said.
He said the technical standard would require the parental lock feature to be available in domestic reception equipment - such as integrated digital televisions, set-top boxes and personal video recorders - although people who did not want to use it would not be affected.
The move follows consultations with industry and the public held by ACMA earlier this year.
Mr Chapman said the determination included solutions to a number of key issues raised during the consultation process.
“The standard ensures that certain equipment supplied to the market meets consumer needs for an appropriate and effective protection mechanism for children,” he said.
“ACMA has worked to ensure the standard is clear and unambiguous so as to assist industry in meeting its obligations.”
Mr Chapman said a “substantial” proportion of domestic reception equipment already available included the parental lock feature.
He advised people who were considering buying new equipment in the lead-up to the commencement of the standard to seek advice from retailers about which models already offered the feature.
10 August, 2010
The Australian Labor Party has reneged on its commitment to cut the APS efficiency dividend to 1 per cent in 2011.
A party spokesperson confirmed the dividend would remain at its current rate of 1.25 per cent after the election.
The spokesperson said the move allowed a re-elected Government to save $390 million from efficiency gains in the APS without the need for job cuts.
Health corps hits 500
A dental assistant from the Gold Coast who volunteered to work in Alice Springs has become the 500th health professional to be placed in the Northern Territory.
The Remote Area Health Corps engages doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals from Australian cities to do short-term placements in Indigenous communities and towns across the Northern Territory.
The program has placed health professionals in more than 73 clinics and Aboriginal Medical Services in remote Northern Territory communities.
Former Australian Statistician, Ian Castles, died in Canberra aged 75 years on 2 August 2010.
Mr Castles was Secretary of the Department of Finance, 1979 to 1986, Australian Statistician, 1986 to 1994 and a Visiting Fellow at the Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University.
He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in June 1978 and an Officer of the Order of Australia in June 1987.
Human rights call
The Australian Human Rights Commission is encouraging nominations for the Young People’s Human Rights Medal.
The Medal recognises young people aged 25 years or under who have made an outstanding contribution to advancing human rights in Australia.
Nominations close on Monday, 4 October with the winners presented with their Awards at a ceremony on Human Rights Day, Friday 10 December.
Species put to vote
Voting has commenced in schools across the country, as part of a national competition to pick Australia’s favourite new species.
The Bush Blitz Top 10 New Species competition is being held in the lead up to National Science Week.
Students are voting for their favourite new species by going to www.bushblitz.org.au
ABC upgrades website
ABC TV has relaunched its online site with a new design.
The new site aims to make it easier for audiences to find content from each of ABC TV’s five channels – ABC1, ABC2, ABC3, ABC News 24 and ABC iView.
A new Watch Now section brings together all the video content available on iView, individual program sites and downloads.
The new gateway can be found at www.abc.net.au/tv
Encel passes on
Professor Sol Encel from the University of NSW, has died.
Emeritus Professor of Sociology at UNSW Dr Encel was also a strong supporter of the Australian Human Rights Commission which praised his work on unlawful age discrimination and his academic contribution to many other critical areas of social policy.
Work health tool out
Safe Work Australia has released a Work Health and Safety Assessment Tool for Handling Engineered Nanomaterials.
The assessment tool allows the user to record the types of nanomaterials manufactured or supplied, the processes and controls used to prevent exposure to nanoparticles, and problems faced with managing nanotechnology work health and safety.
For more information, go to www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au
Migrants share stories
The Australian National Maritime Museum is inviting former British child
migrants to share their experiences, memories and photographs online.
From the 1860s to 1967 more than 100,000 British children were sent from workhouses, orphanages or their own homes to British colonies around the world, including Australia.
The website - www.britainschildmigrants.com - is a joint initiative by the Australian National Maritime Museum and National Museums Liverpool (UK).
APRA names scholars
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has announced the recipients of the 2010 Brian Gray Scholarship to study topics in the financial sector.
David Rowell of the University of Queensland and Tahlia Parrish of Flinders University will each receive $12,500 for their research.
The Brian Gray Scholarship program was established by APRA and the Reserve Bank of Australia in September 2002 in memory of Brian Gray, APRA’s former Executive General Manager, Policy Research and Consulting.
Australia Post has entered a partnership with stationery retailer OfficeMax to host an online office products store.
OfficeMax’s 10,000 products are now available on the Australia Post website at www.auspost.com/stationery.
Available products include desk stationery, technology hardware, consumables, cleaning items and furniture.
Cinema turns 3
Arc cinema at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra has celebrated its three-year anniversary.
The cinema is known for its unique film programming and events, which often showcase Australian and International films.
Arc is specifically equipped to present archival film, making it is almost unique in Australia and the world.
Safe Work Australia has released two research reports on engineered nanomaterials.
The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology undertook the survey for the report, Engineered Nanomaterials: investigating substitution and modification options to reduce potential hazards.
The Monash University Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health was also commissioned to undertake research for the report titled Engineered Nanomaterials: feasibility of established exposure standards and using control banding in Australia.
The reports can be accessed at www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au
3 August, 2010
PS retirees join in
Retired Commonwealth Public Servants have entered the Federal election campaign by planning meetings to express their disappointment with both major parties over the indexation of their PS pensions.
Indexation Campaign Manager with the Superannuated Commonwealth Officers’ Association, John Coleman, said thousands of ex-PS staff were “angry” with the current arrangements, which he labelled “unfair”.
Mr Coleman said both major parties had failed to adopt the recommendations of three Senate inquiries into the matter, each of which called for PS pension increases to be linked to wage increases.
“[Public service] pensions are indexed by the CPI, an indexation tool found unsuitable more than a decade ago for other Government funded pensions,” Mr Coleman said.
“Their pensions average $24,700, which is considerably less than the combined couple rate of the Age Pension.”
He said many ex-Public Servants were saying that the Labor Government had betrayed them.
“Prior to the last election, Labor MPs including Julia Gillard, criticised the Coalition for not adopting the Senate Committees’ recommendations to provide a wage-based index for these pensions,” Mr Coleman said.,
He said PS pensions had increased by 70 per cent over the past 20 years, compared to 130 per cent for Age Pensioners and 140 per cent for retired Federal MPs.
He said ex-PS staff believed it was unfair that politicians, who have wage-based indexation, should tell them that they could only have CPI-indexation.
“All they want is the national standard for adjusting their pensions,” Mr Coleman said.
“Those soon to retire will need to look closely at their financial plans and take account of the fact that their pensions will not maintain purchasing power.
“The Australian Bureau of Statistics says that the CPI is not a purchasing power or cost of living measure.”
Mr Coleman said while the Coalition had said recently that if elected it would change indexation for those under the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme, it would still exclude all civilian Commonwealth superannuant pensioners as well as those under the Military Superannuation and Benefits Scheme.
“Whilst this is a welcome first step, it has angered MSBS members and all civilian superannuants who rightly see the discrimination in the Coalition’s announcement,” Mr Coleman said.
He said the Greens had been steadfast for many years in their support for fair pension indexation.
Mr Coleman said it was likely that politicians in marginal seats and Senators in the ACT could be affected by the issue.
He said the Superannuated Commonwealth Officers’ Association and the Defence Force Welfare Association would be holding public meetings at the Catalina Club in Bateman’s Bay on Tuesday 10 August at 10.30am and in Canberra at the Southern Cross Club, Woden on Monday 16 August at 10.30am to express their concern at the impasse.
He said political candidates from the major parties had been invited to speak at the meetings.
3 August, 2010
Comcare cuts premiums
Achieving safer workplaces across the Australian Public Service has led to a four per cent drop in workers compensation premiums for the APS.
for safer workplaces
According to the Deputy Chief Executive of Comcare, Steve Kibble, the improved safety record and savings on premiums resulted from Agencies working more cooperatively with Comcare to reduce harm in the workplace.
“That’s good news for the more than 194,000 workers in the Commonwealth public sector,” Mr Kibble said.
He said the incidence of claims in the APS had fallen from 15.8 to 15.1 claims per 1,000 full-time equivalent employees from 2008-09 to 31 March this year.
He said Comcare would continue to work with Agencies to ensure injuries at work were reduced.
“Putting workplace health and safety as a principle concern of the public sector not only ensures we are having fundamental regard to workers, but it also improves the bottom line for employers through a more resilient and productive workforce,” Mr Kibble said.
He said under the 2010-2011 premiums, annual workers’ compensation premiums for Agencies would be reduced on average from 1.25 per cent to 1.2 per cent of payroll.
Mr Kibble said this was a substantial saving for Agencies that focused on keeping their employees healthy and safe at work, and helped injured workers return to work as effectively as possible.
He said three quarters of scheme employers would now be paying less than 1 per cent in premium rates.
3 August, 2010
Library calls for
The National Library of Australia has put out a call for 2010 election material to add to its collection.
The Library is urging members of the public to send in election stickers, how-to-vote cards, posters and banners to add to its Federal election material collection which it has been building since 1983.
Director of Australian Collections at the NLA, Chris Foster said the Library had the largest collection of political memorabilia in the country, with some items dating back to 1901.
“But it is an ever-growing collection,” Ms Foster said.
“It is vital to have current information in the collection just as importantly as it is to have older items.”
She said political ephemera provided a unique perspective into Australia’s social and political views – “the policies, the promises, and the rise and fall of parties and careers.”
She said the material would be preserved for future generations of scholars, researchers and anyone else interested in Australia’s political history.
Ms Foster said the Library was particularly interested in material distributed in marginal electorates and communities with specific concerns about matters such as health, industrial relations and education.
It is also interested in material on climate change and paraphernalia targeting outlying areas of Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
For more information on the collection and where to send your material, go to www.nla.gov.au/collect/elections.html
3 August, 2010
Asher named as
Allan Asher has been appointed the eighth Commonwealth Ombudsman.
According to the Special Minister of State, Senator Joe Ludwig, who announced the appointment, Mr Asher brings a wealth of experience to the role.
“Mr Asher has a strong record of achievement in key executive and statutory appointments in Australia and the United Kingdom,” Senator Ludwig said.
He is currently the inaugural Chief Executive of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, and has previously been Chief Executive of EnergyWatch (UK), non-executive Board Member of the Office of Fair Trading (UK), and Deputy Chairperson and Consumer Protection Commissioner of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
“This range of knowledge and skills makes Mr Asher well qualified for appointment as the Commonwealth Ombudsman,” Senator Ludwig said.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman ensures the fairness and accountability of Australia’s democratic system of Government by investigating complaints by members of the public about the administrative actions of Federal Agencies.
Mr Asher’s appointment fills a vacancy created by the resignation of former Commonwealth Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan, who has taken up the role of Information Commissioner Designate.
Senator Ludwig thanked Deputy Ombudsman, Ron Brent, who has been acting as Commonwealth Ombudsman since March this year.
Mr Asher’s five-year term will commence on 30 August.
Senator Ludwig said his appointment follows an open merit based selection process, in accordance with Government guidelines established in 2008.
3 August, 2010
Management of the National Security Hotline (NSH) has been given the all-clear by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).
The ANAO has released its Audit Report on the NSH in which it says the Attorney-General’s Department effectively manages the hotline’s operation.
“The NSH is an important means by which members of the public can pass on information to the Government or receive assurance about national security issues,” the Audit Report says.
During its audit the ANAO found that about half of all calls received by the hotline were to convey security concerns and these were passed on to either the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation or one of the eight State and territory police forces.
“These stakeholder agencies have informed the ANAO that they place significant value on the information that they receive via the NSH as it contributes to their operations, investigations and intelligence,” the report says.
According to the auditors, after the NSH was set up in 2002, the Attorney-General’s Department improved the IT system and developed innovative and effective staff training.
The report says the AFP and ASIO had developed sound procedures to evaluate and assess incoming referrals from the NSH but there were opportunities to improve some procedures.
The report says issues that arose during the audit were promptly handled, enhancing the NSH’s usefulness and contributing to ensuring that no call was overlooked.
“As a consequence of the auditee’s responsiveness in resolving issues as raised during the course of the audit,” the report says, “it has not been necessary for the ANAO to make any recommendations in this report.”
As at 31 December 2009, the NSH had taken almost 140,000 calls, an average of just over 50 calls per day.
The report says the operating costs of the NSH has been an average of $2.547 million per year.
The report was compiled by an audit team of Julian Mallett, Rebecca Manen and Tom Clarke.
3 August, 2010
An independent review of Government support for the Indigenous broadcasting and media sector has been announced by the Ministers for Indigenous Affairs, Communications and the Arts.
to face review
The three Ministers said that former senior Public Servant, Neville Stevens would conduct the review, supported by experts Laurie Patton and Kerrynne Liddle.
Minister for the Arts, Peter Garrett said the Indigenous broadcasting and media sector provided an important voice to Indigenous Australians.
“We want to make sure that Indigenous Australians continue to have a strong voice in the media, that the sector contributes to employment opportunities and ensures access to information for Indigenous Australians,” Mr Garrett said.
He said consultation with the sector and the public would be undertaken as part of the review.
The Government funds NITV and Imparja Television, and also supports Indigenous Community Television, five community radio stations in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Darwin, licensed community radio stations in 22 regional centres, eight Remote Indigenous Media Organisations and 71 Remote Indigenous Broadcasting Services, he said.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin said the Government wanted to ensure that resources allocated to Indigenous broadcasting delivered the best outcomes for Indigenous people.
“Indigenous broadcasting provides a powerful vehicle for Indigenous people to communicate their perspective on national, regional, local and community issues,” Ms Macklin said.
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy said other Australian Government investment in the sector would also be examined as part of the review, including the ABC, SBS and the Community Broadcasting Foundation.
“These organisations make a substantial contribution to the production and distribution of Indigenous broadcasting content, but fall outside the $14.5 million Indigenous Broadcasting Program,” Senator Conroy said.
“The review must take into account the many changes taking place in the delivery of broadcast media, such as the switch to digital-only television and the introduction of the broadband network.
“These changes will bring new opportunities to all media including the Indigenous media sector.”
The review will provide the Government with information to assist in making decisions about the free-to-air carriage of Indigenous television and radio content on new digital broadcasting platforms, including the Government-funded Viewer Access Satellite Television service.
The review is expected to be completed by 31 December and the announcement of the review was made prior to the election being called.
3 August, 2010
CSIRO weighs in
CSIRO has issued a call for volunteers to join an online trial ‘social network’ to share diet and health information, recipes, and become involved in chat sessions.
with dieting plan
The 12-week program, to start this month, is part of the CSIRO Preventative Health Flagship.
Research scientist with CSIRO ICT, Dr Shlomo Berkovsky said the trial aimed to examine how online tools could play a role in providing social support to dieters.
“People who diet with their families and friends tend to lose more weight,” Dr Berkovsky said.
“We want to see if we can create an online support system by putting you in touch with other people who are going on the same journey.”
Dr Berkovsky said the online diet program would make planning meals and shopping easier, learning what foods the participant likes, what they have or haven’t eaten recently, and suggesting recipes for them to try.
He said CSIRO was seeking participants aged over 18 who were overweight or obese, and had regular access to an internet-connected computer.
Dr Berkovsky says the names and other details of participants would never be disclosed, and they would be free to withdraw from the program at any time with CSIRO deleting all personal information.
For more information, go to www.fhl.csiro.au
3 August, 2010
A 10-year plan to improve the lives of people with disability has been released by the Federal Government.
has 10-year outlook
Developed in consultation with the community, State, Territory and local Governments as well as people with disability themselves, the National Disability Strategy outlines a nationwide approach to public policy.
In a joint statement, the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, Bill Shorten and Minister for Community Services, Jenny Macklin said the Government wanted to ensure that people with disability were able to fulfil their potential.
The Strategy will guide public policy across different levels of Government and aims to bring about change in all mainstream services and programs, as well as community infrastructure.
“This change is important to ensuring that people with disability have the same opportunities as other Australians – a quality education, health care, a job where possible and access to buildings, transport and social activities,” Mr Shorten and Ms Macklin said.
They said while the Government had increased the Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment, and had ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, more needed to be done.
As part of the Strategy, they said the Government had asked the Productivity Commission to investigate new approaches to providing long-term care and support for people with disability.
If re-elected the Government has pledged to take the National Disability Strategy to the Council of Australian Governments early next term.
The Strategy has been funded in the Budget, with costs met from within the Departments of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.
More information on the National Disability Strategy can be obtained from the Australian Labor Party.
3 August, 2010
The Australian Sports Commission has launched a campaign to raise community awareness of the benefits of club sport.
is fit for children
As part of the campaign, Play for life... join a sporting club, children will be invited to take part in ‘try a sport’ gala days.
Up to 150 events will be held across the country in an effort to showcase a number of sports available to children in metropolitan, regional and remote areas.
Chief Executive of the Australian Sports Commission, Matt Miller said an estimated one million children – or 37 per cent of children aged between five and 14 – did not participate in any organised sport.
“The key is to find a sport that your child enjoys,” Mr Miller said.
“You may not find the perfect fit first time, but persevere.”
He said there were so many options available today: “bowls, archery, golf, handball, to the more traditional sports we associate with children such as cricket, tennis, football and netball.”
Mr Miller said a new website had also been launched as part of the campaign, featuring an online club finder to help people easily identify sporting clubs in their area.
Campaign ambassador Johanna Griggs said she played many club sports when she was growing up, which had benefited her in several ways.
“Playing club sports while growing up gave me a strong grounding in skills that are important to me today - discipline, time management, team work, goal setting, motivation, respect and good sportsmanship,” Ms Griggs said.
“These are the qualities we all value in our peers, our work colleagues and our friends.”
President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Andrew Pesce said there was a strong link between playing sport and maintaining good health, and that physical activity could help children with their cognitive development, coordination, confidence and self esteem.
“Providing opportunities for children to play sport can establish life-long positive attitudes towards physical activity,” Dr Pesce said.
“These attitudes will be crucial if Australia is to tackle its increasing levels of obesity and chronic disease.”
The campaign is a joint initiative of the Australian Sports Commission and State and Territory Departments of sport and recreation.
For more information, visit www.ausport.gov.au/findaclub
3 August, 2010
Tougher controls on the import of dangerous weapons have been agreed by State and Territory Police Ministers in an effort to reduce weapons-related crime on the streets.
at cutting edge
Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor said Customs and Border Protection, which controls the importation of prohibited weapons, detected more than 16,700 bladed weapons at the border last year.
“Under the new approach, stricter controls will be imposed on a range of weapons with no legitimate domestic or commercial use in Australia, for example, knuckledusters, certain items adapted for warfare, electronic shock devices and flick knives,” Mr O’Connor said.
“This will mean that individuals wishing to import such items will need to demonstrate the weapons have a legitimate use.”
He said as part of the changes, all State and Territory Governments would review existing weapons legislation with a view to meeting minimum standards for prohibited weapons and ensuring nationally consistent definitions.
Mr O’Connor said the measure was agreed to at the Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management held last month to ensure that dangerous weapons with no lawful domestic uses were prevented from entering Australia.
“A uniform approach to weapons across the jurisdictions would strengthen the effectiveness of border controls and ensure that a restriction that applies in one State, will also apply in another,” he said.
Under the current system, those wanting to import a prohibited weapon need to obtain written permission from State or Territory Police, and then apply to Customs and Border Protection for an import permit.
The Minister said under the changes, importers would be required to demonstrate a legitimate end use to Customs and Border Protection before import permission would be granted.
3 August, 2010
Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics have revealed that many Australians are not going to the doctor because of the cost.
not good medicine
According to the first national Patient Experience Survey conducted by the ABS, some people delayed or did not get medical care because they could not afford it.
The survey showed that in the last 12 months, one in 16 people had put off seeing their doctor or had not seen him or her at all.
Nearly one in 10 people with a prescription had delayed getting it made up or had not received their medicine at all.
The ABS figures also showed that around one in 10 people referred to a medical specialist had delayed seeing or didn’t go to see the specialist.
The figures found that women used health services more than men, except for hospital and emergency visits and Western Australians enjoyed the highest rates of admissions to hospital (16 per cent) and visiting a hospital emergency department (16 per cent).
The survey also revealed that a quarter of those who visited an emergency department in the past year thought the care they had gone there for could have been provided by a GP.
This was also the case in over a third of households with children who had been taken to emergency.
According to the ABS figures, one in 18 people had seen a GP after hours, while in around a sixth of households with children under 15, at least one child had seen a GP after hours.
South Australians had the highest rates of seeing GPs after hours for both their own and their children’s health - 9 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.
About three out of four people seeking urgent medical care reported seeing a GP on the same day they needed the care, mostly within four hours, however one in 10 people did not see a GP for two or more days after making an appointment for urgent medical care.
3 August, 2010
New maps show
Geoscience Australia has released two new maps showing popular walking tracks, local safety risks and essential tourist services in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and nearby Watarrka National Park.
way to the future
Chief Executive of Geoscience Australia, Dr Chris Pigram said not only could the maps be useful for visitors anywhere in Australia, they could also save lives.
Dr Pigram said the two new maps included details of State Emergency Services, Police, Fire Brigade, medical aid and other services with relevant and up-to-date geographical information.
“This will be particularly important for the coordination of search and rescue missions or dealing with bushfires and other natural disasters in these remote regions,” Dr Pigram said.
“These maps will enhance tourism planning, provide an important reference for the tourist experience and for the safety of those seeking adventure in the Red Centre.”
He said the new maps complemented previously released maps covering the West MacDonnell National Park and complete the Red Centre National Landscapes Initiative which identified remote areas in the country where tourist activity was high but topographic mapping was out of date.
Dr Pigram said with the completion of the maps, travellers would have safer and more reliable information.
“As well as being an essential addition to a water bottle and sturdy boots for anyone exploring these rugged areas of Central Australia, the maps are both informative and a lasting memento for visitors,” Dr Pigram said.
Each map features the landscape topography of the parks and surrounding areas on one side, with a satellite image of the same features on the other.
Information on roads, camping areas, fuel services, water supplies, telephone access and medical facilities are also included.
Geoscience Australia developed the maps in consultation with the Department of Resources Energy and Tourism, as well as other Australian Government and Northern Territory Agencies.
The maps are available from the Geoscience Australia Sales Centre and selected map retailers.
3 August, 2010
Air traffic upgrade
Airservices Australia has unveiled a $200 million capital works program to upgrade infrastructure, systems and equipment used to keep the nation’s aircraft in the air.
has lofty goals
Chief Executive of the Agency, Greg Russell said the 2010/11 capital expenditure program was the largest in the history of Airservices and would result in upgrades to navigational equipment and infrastructure at major and regional airports.
“Airservices is committed to ensuring the future of a safe, efficient and robust air traffic system in Australia,” Mr Russell said.
“By investing in new and emerging technologies, we will be establishing the foundation for Australia’s next generation air traffic management environment.”
Mr Russell said Airservices would recruit almost 100 air traffic controllers and more than 70 aviation fire fighters throughout the year.
He said the new recruitment drive would ensure the Agency was able to deal with increased passenger numbers, larger aircraft and an ageing workforce.
He said projects to be undertaken as part of the capital expenditure program included new surface movement radars in Brisbane and Perth, and the construction of new air traffic control towers at Melbourne, Adelaide, Rockhampton and Broome.
Karratha’s air traffic control tower will be refurbished and reopened, while aviation rescue and fire fighting training facilities in Melbourne will be upgraded.
Fire stations at Sydney and Melbourne will be upgraded, and new fire stations will be built in Brisbane and Broome.
Mr Russell said work was also continuing on the Air Traffic Control Future Systems project which provides opportunities for closer cooperation with Defence and neighbouring air navigation service providers.
3 August, 2010
Scooter campaign is
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched an awareness campaign on the dangers of motorised scooters.
one step at a time
According to the ACCC, the scooters, normally used to enhance a person’s mobility, can lead to death and serious injury.
Deputy Chair of the ACCC, Peter Kell said since 2000, more than 70 Australians, mostly elderly, have died from mobility scooter accidents.
“While mobility scooters offer many older people freedom and independence, it is alarming to see that an average of 500 people a year suffer serious head and limb injuries after experiencing a mobility scooter accident,” Mr Kell said.
“That is why I am asking mobility scooter suppliers and organisations that provide services to older people to help distribute our new booklet and promote the easy steps we recommend to minimise the risk of an accident.”
The ACCC advised older people to have a physical check up before buying a mobility scooter to ensure they had the strength, vision, hearing, concentration, judgement and responsiveness to confidently drive such a vehicle in different conditions.
Mr Kell said drivers should also have some training before driving on footpaths or in shopping centres and parks, and only use roads as a last resort.
If using roads, drivers of motorised scooters should stay close to the kerb and face oncoming traffic.
Mr Kell advised people to install flags, lights and reflectors on mobility scooters and wear bright clothes to ensure they can be seen by motorists and pedestrians.
He said people should drive at no more than 10km per hour and also wear a helmet.
Following industry consultation, the ACCC has commissioned research to find out what factors are the main causes of mobility scooter accidents.
“Results of our current study will help the ACCC determine where to focus additional efforts to minimise risks,” Mr Kell said.
“In the meantime, we hope suppliers and providers of services for older people will help us spread the word so older people using mobility scooters have information that will help them to stay mobile and safe.”
3 August, 2010
Replica sailing ship
The replica of Captain Cook’s Endeavour sailing ship housed at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney is to embark on an historic circumnavigation of Australia in 2011-12.
is the real deal
Minister for the Arts, Peter Garrett said the vessel would visit 18 ports over 13 months.
Mr Garrett said members of the public would be able to inspect the ship, which he described as a floating museum, when it stopped at port.
“Cook’s circumnavigation of the globe between 1768 and 1771 was one of history’s great voyages of discovery,” Mr Garrett said.
“This exciting new journey will provide unique opportunities for people right around the Australian coastline to experience the ship and gain an insight into what it must have been like for Cook and his crew.
“Since being presented to the Australian National Maritime Museum in 2005 the museum has kept the Endeavour completely seaworthy and in survey and has sent it on several voyages along Australia’s east coast in recent years.”
Mr Garrett said the vessel has had a complete communications refit and upgrade.
Between ports, the Endeavour will be sailed by a core professional crew and 40 voyage crew who pay for their place on board.
The ship will depart Sydney on 15 April next year and is due back at its home berth at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, on 21 May 2012.
“The Australian National Maritime Museum is one of this country’s important cultural institutions and a treasure trove of our fascinating maritime history,” Mr Garrett said.
“This voyage is part of the museum’s outreach program, taking facilities and services across the country.”
The ports where the Endeavour will open for inspection are Brisbane, Gladstone, Townsville, Cairns, Darwin, Geraldton, Fremantle, Bunbury, Fremantle, Albany, Port Lincoln, Adelaide, Portland, Hobart, Melbourne and Eden.
It will also call briefly at Thursday Island, Broome and Exmouth to take on provisions and exchange voyage crew.
3 August, 2010
Robot challenge down
A team of Australian scientists has reached the final stages of an international challenge to develop the next generation of robots.
to nuts and bolts
Hosted jointly by Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation and the United States Department of Defense, the event has seen an original field of 23 teams reduced to six competing in the Multi-Autonomous Ground-robotics International Challenge – or MAGIC for short.
The six teams in the finals are Magician from Australia, Cappadocia from Turkey, Chiba from Japan, and RASR, Team Michigan and University of Pennsylvania, all from the USA.
They will each receive further funding of $50,000 to complete their projects.
Acting Chief Defence Scientist, Dr Warren Harch said the finalists were at the forefront of robotics technology.
“They have survived a rigorous assessment and elimination process against six other semi-finalist teams,” Dr Harch said.
The Australian team is made of the University of Western Australia’s Robotics and Automation Laboratory, Adaptive Systems Research Group; Flinders University’s Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems Laboratories; Edith Cowan University’s Artificial Intelligence and Software Engineering Cluster; Thales Australia (D3S&A, Naval Division); and ILLIARC Pty Ltd.
Director of the USA’s Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center, Grace Bochenek said the competition fostered international cooperation.
“We hope to inspire the next generation of researchers,” Dr Bochenek said.
“We are always seeking good ideas and fresh perspectives.”
She said the current challenge was a win-win: “we are investing in solutions that will make our soldiers stronger through technology.”
Australian and USA officials visited 12 short-listed teams, selected from over 23 entries, over several weeks to evaluate their robots.
The teams performed a range of activities to demonstrate certain capabilities, including the ability to operate autonomously and to map their surroundings digitally.
“The six successful teams displayed high levels of innovation and dexterity in completing their assigned tasks,” Dr Harch said.
The finalists have been given a few more months to polish their concepts for the grand final challenge, where they will be required to field at least three robots and complete a complex task involving mapping and identifying threats.
“We want to move from the current paradigm of one man-one robot to one man and many robots,” Dr Harch said.
Results from the final challenge will be announced in mid-November.
3 August, 2010
Flu needles back on
The Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jim Bishop has announced that seasonal flu vaccinations for young children can be resumed.
Earlier this year, Professor Bishop recommended the suspension of seasonal flu vaccines for healthy children under five.
He said since his last announcement, investigations in Australia and overseas indicated that there did not appear to be a higher than normal incidence of febrile convulsions in children under five with the seasonal flu vaccines Influvac and Vaxigrip.
“I am now advising that if parents of children under five years of age wish to have their children vaccinated against seasonal flu that they should discuss with their GP or vaccine provider the use of Vaxigrip or Influvac,” Professor Bishop said.
For more information, call the Immunise Australia Hotline on 1800 671 811.
CAPAM seeks papers
The Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) is calling for articles for its publication Commonwealth Innovations 2010.
CAPAM said interested professionals could contribute articles, research and academic articles, case studies, papers and reports, and recently published articles or reports.
Commonwealth Innovations is distributed to over 1,100 international members and the submission deadlines were 17 September for Volume 16, Issue 3 and 10 December for Issue 4.
Australia has celebrated the 50th anniversary of the end of the Malayan Emergency.
Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Ian Campbell said Australians who served in the Malayan Emergency played a key role in restoring peace and stability to Malaya and in the establishment of the independent nation of Malaysia.
Mr Campbell said Australia’s military involvement in the Emergency began in 1950, with the deployment of Dakotas from 38 Squadron RAAF and Lincoln bombers from 1 Squadron RAAF. The Emergency was officially declared over on 31 July 1960 but Australian troops stayed on in Malaya until August 1963.
Radio network expands
Radio Australia has launched a new 24-hour Pacific service, 91.5FM Palau to deliver programming in Koror and surrounding areas.
Radio Australia now has a network of 12 FM relays in the Pacific broadcasting 24 hours a day.
Post not subsidising
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released a report assessing cross-subsidies between the services provided by Australia Post.
The report aimed to establish whether Australia Post’s competitive services were being cross-subsidised with revenue from its monopoly services.
Chairman of the ACCC, Graeme Samuel said Agency’s accounts showed no evidence that Australia Post was cross-subsidising its competitive services with revenue from its monopoly services.
Phones on planes
Passengers on planes could soon be allowed to make mobile phone calls in-flight.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has finalised licensing arrangements to allow mobile services on aircraft.
This means some airlines would offer certain mobile services, such as SMS, mobile internet and mobile phone calls.
For safety reasons, mobile phones would connect to an onboard base station before transmitting to the outside world.
Founding Boardmember of the Australia Council, Ken Tribe, has died in Sydney aged 96.
Mr Tribe was a Commissioner of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Chair of the Australia Council’s Music Board and was composed a possible new National Anthem for Australia when the search was on during the early 1980s.
A free concert to celebrate Mr Tribe’s life will be staged in Sydney by Musica Viva on 8 August at the City Recital Hall Angel Place at 5.30pm.
Baldwin takes medal
Australian National University physicist Professor Ken Baldwin has been awarded the Barry Inglis Medal for his research into precision measurement.
Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry, Richard Marles said Professor Baldwin had made a world-class contribution to the science of measurement.
The Medal was named in honour of the inaugural Chief Executive of the National Measurement Institute (NMI).
Professor Baldwin was presented with the award at NMI’s headquarters in Lindfield, Sydney.
Phone auditors found
The Australian Communications and Media Authority is seeking public comment on a proposal to specify ‘approved auditors’ for telecommunications companies.
Under the proposal these would include Auditors-General, authorised audit companies and auditors registered under the Corporations Act 2001.
Under ACMA’s proposal, telecommunications carriers would only be able to engage approved auditors to provide an audit opinion on revenue returns and a universal service provider’s levy credit claim.
Details of the proposal can be found at www.acma.gov.au
Water Guide published
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a Guide to the Water Charge Rules 2010.
The rules aim to improve the transparency of water planning and management charges and require Government Agencies to consistently publish detailed information on water planning and management charges.
The ACCC has responsibility for enforcing compliance and monitoring of the rules.
Green program open
The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has opened applications for round one of the Green Start program.
The new Green Start program aims to help households – particularly low-income and disadvantaged Australians – to save energy and reduce energy bills.
It will be delivered in two rounds, with the first round to deliver energy assessments for households. Applications close 20 August 2010.
More information can be found at www.climatechange.gov.au
ABC Radio is inviting Australians to write a song about their town.
Your Town, Your Song is a national competition calling for lyrics that capture the essence of listeners’ home towns.
Golden Guitar winners Ian Quinn and Felicity Urquhart will record the winning song.
The competition opened on 2 August and will run till 30 September, with the winning entry announced in November.
For more information, go to abc.net.au/country