SearchArchives for February 2006
21 February, 2006
ABARE Focuses on Outlook
The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, heads an international panel of keynote speakers for the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics’ annual OUTLOOK conference next week.
Focusing on the outlook for Australia’s agricultural and natural resource sectors, OUTLOOK 2006 provides an excellent opportunity for organisations in Australia and internationally to access the latest commodity market forecasts and industry assessments of key and emerging policy issues.
The two-day conference, which opens on Tuesday February 28, is featuring sessions exploring farm performance, climate issues, Australian food industries, water and the environment, horticulture, native vegetation management, multilateral and bilateral trade reforms, fisheries, wine, grains, beef, dairy and industry investment in natural resource management.
Other confirmed keynote speakers include:
• Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission;
• Jim Salzman, Professor of Law, Duke University;
• JB Penn, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, US Department of Agriculture;
• Ken Ash, Deputy Director, Directorate for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, OEC;
• Tom Wigley, Senior Scientist, US National Center for Atmospheric Research;
• Yiping Huang, Managing Director and Head of Emerging Market Economic Research, Citigroup Hong Kong.
At OUTLOOK 2006 ABARE will release the March issue of Australian Commodities, containing projections to 2010-11 covering key agricultural and resource commodities. The conference will be held in the National Convention Centre, Canberra
21 February, 2006
Australia Dives Into Fight
Australia is to push hard to protect whales against fresh calls for commercial whaling at an international summit in Britain.
Environment Minister Ian Campbell said Australia’s position would be forcefully argued by Australia's International Whaling Commissioner, Howard Bamsey.
Mr Bamsey will attend the meeting in Cambridge to prosecute Australia’s case for a global ban on all forms of scientific and commercial whaling.
The meeting will be held under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to discuss what is called a Revised Management Scheme within which pro-whaling nations will push for a return to commercial whaling.
Minister Campbell said there is a moratorium on commercial whaling, however a significant number of IWC members have sided with Japan to try to negotiate a Revised Management Scheme.
“Australia will continue to oppose any moves to reintroduce commercial whaling,” Senator Campbell said. “Mr Bamsey has been tasked with working alongside other pro-conservation nations to gain the support necessary to continue the moratorium on whaling with the eventual aim of leading to a permanent ban."
This year, Japan will more than double its Antarctic minke whales target to 935. It also plans to catch threatened humpback whales and endangered fin whales, ramping up to 50 of each in 2007-08. Norway and Iceland also continue to undertake whaling in defiance of world opinion.
“Australia strongly objects to all forms of scientific and commercial whaling and will continue to work hard to strengthen and build on the coalition of countries opposed to whaling in the lead up to the next IWC meeting in June,” Senator Campbell said.
“While we continue to review all options to bring about an end to commercial whaling, we believe the most effective way to do this is through international diplomatic effort.
“Some will claim that the Australian government should pursue legal action, but I can assure Australians that if I believed that legal action could put an end to scientific whaling, I would have taken that path.”
This view is shared by New Zealand’s International Whaling Commissioner and former NZ Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer.
Sir Geoffrey said they had been looking at the legal theories that are available against the Japanese for some months.
"There is no legal theory that is available that can prevent, in our view, the Japanese from doing what they are doing … A sovereign government cannot undertake legal action unless it has a good chance of success," he said.
Senator Campbell said the task was not an easy one.
"There is a very real possibility that Japan may gain support for its scientific whaling program and other pro-whaling proposals at the next International Whaling Commission meeting in the Caribbean in June,” he said.
“However, I will continue to strongly protest nonetheless and Australians can be assured that I will be working as hard as I can to see that this does not happen.”
21 February, 2006
Defence Act Changed for
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will be able to respond more quickly and more effectively in the event of a domestic terrorist incident after amendments were passed recently to the Defence Act 1903.
Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said the government’s paramount responsibility is maintaining the safety and security of the Australian people and changes to the Act would make that easier.
Terror the trigger for greater flexibility, coordination and role "The threat of terrorism is real, and the nature of potential threats is constantly evolving. It is essential that our terrorism prevention and response capabilities are as strong as they possibly can be," Dr Nelson said.
He said the changes will improve coordination mechanisms for responding to a terrorist incident, provide operational flexibility for situations where the ADF may be required to respond to domestic security incidents to support civil authorities and clarify the legal powers and protections for ADF personnel when conducting operations in support of domestic security.
Dr Nelson said the amendments do not constitute a change to the fundamental principles underlying Part IIIAAA of the Defence Act 1903.
"State and territory authorities will retain primary responsibility to respond to a terrorist incident within their jurisdictions," he said.
"Part IIIAAA of the Defence Act 1903 will now provide a clear and accessible legislative basis for the use of the ADF as a last resort to aid civil authorities in protecting the interests of the Commonwealth and States and Territories against a domestic terrorist threat.
"The legislation reflects a more complex and evolving threat environment, and will enhance the ADF’s ability to work with Australia’s domestic security operations in the land, air and maritime environments.
"National security and the defence of Australia is the first responsibility of government.
"The Australian Government is committed to protecting and securing Australians and Australia’s interests from the threat of terrorism," he said.
21 February, 2006
Aussie Police Boost Numbers
Thirteen police officers left for the Solomon Islands last week after spending five weeks training at the Australian Federal Police facility at Majura.
Ten officers from Queensland and three from the Northern Territory were sworn in as special AFP members and will be part of the AFP International Deployment Group.
AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, and the Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, farewelled the group at Brisbane Airport on February 16, as the officers headed off to join up with the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
Commissioner Keelty said the AFP enjoys an excellent relationship with the Queensland and Northern Territory Police services. Commissioner Keelty has commended the decision to allow highly trained officers to be deployed overseas for a prolonged period.
“Their duties in the Solomon Islands will include capacity building of the Royal Solomon Islands Police. Fulfilling roles such as joint policing, observing, mentoring and advising, offering forensic and prosecution support and intelligence,” Commissioner Keelty said.
Commissioner Atkinson said the deployment gives police officers a chance to work in a different environment and perform a range of duties.
“Police from across the state, including the Far Northern Region, Brisbane, South Eastern Region and Southern Region will form part of the deployment. These officers will assume a variety of roles including coordinator, team leader, team member and detective,” Commissioner Atkinson said.
This will be the first time Queensland and Northern Territory Police officers have served in the Solomon Islands since RAMSI began operating in July 2003.
21 February, 2006
ASIO Looking At Bright Future
Major changes at the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) are expected to see a larger and more diverse workforce within five years.
ASIO Director-General, Paul O'Sullivan told the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee that significant extra funds would see staff numbers double by 2010.
"This will better equip us to meet the challenges and workload demands facing us now and into the future," Mr O’Sullivan said.
He said recruitment was well underway and high-calibre people were being sought.
"We are continually looking at new and better ways to attract people, including from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, who might not ordinarily consider applying for a position with ASIO.
"In many cases, such people are just the ones we need to fill a range of positions and undertake various functions," he said.
"The additional resources are designed to allow us to better address both known and unknown sources of terrorist threat to Australia and will allow us to respond appropriately to the continuing threat of espionage and foreign interference into the lives of Australians."
Mr O'Sullivan said ASIO would be a very interesting place over the next few years.
"By 2010, the organisation will look and feel quite different to the way it now appears, but this will be as a result of carefully considered planning and staged implementation rather than ad hoc growth," he said.
"This transformation will take place in an environment of heightened threat to Australians here and abroad with an attack in Australia possible and further attacks overseas almost inevitable.
"Against this background we will train and develop our people in ways that build a security intelligence capability that is well-equipped to take on the challenges of the 21st century, while continuing to operate in ways that are legal, proper, accountable and respect human rights and civil liberties," he said.
In October 2005, the government announced funds to boost the number of ASIO staff to 1860 by 2010/11.
ASIO recruited 224 extra staff in 2004/05 and 195 in 2003/04.
It aims to recruit 250 new staff each year for the next four years, providing a net increase of 170 staff each year.
21 February, 2006
RAAF’s Thompson Soars
Through Glass Ceiling
Wing Commander Krista Thompson has become the first female commanding officer of an operational Air Defence Unit within the Royal Australian Air Force.
Wing Commander Thompson became Commanding Officer of No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit (3CRU) on December 12 last year, replacing Wing Commander Ian Gibson.
In an interview with Air Force News, Wing Commander Thompson described the opportunity to command 3CRU as a great honour.
"I thoroughly enjoyed setting up and commanding No. 41 Wing’s training unit, Surveillance and Control Training Unit and was more than willing to accept command of an operational unit, especially 3CRU," she said.
“3CRU has some unique challenges over the next few years as the unit beds down the new Tactical Air Defence Radar Systems, introduces the new Vigilare operating system and incorporates the Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft into our operations.
“I am really pleased that the Air Force’s opportunities for rewarding and equitable careers are now becoming quite commonplace.
In an impressive career to date, Wing Commander Thompson was the first person to successfully transfer from civil air traffic control to military air traffic control.
Following a career change to Air Defence, she completed several stints at 3CRU, including time as the inaugural Surveillance and Control Training Unit Commanding Officer. She later became Deputy Director - Battlespace Management, where she helped develop the Defence Architectural Framework for Aerospace Surveillance and Battlespace Management.
Her most recent posting was as Executive Officer of Headquarters 41 Wing.
21 February, 2006
Customs Sets Up Watch on
Troubled Cargo System
The Australian Customs Service has commissioned an independent review of its Integrated Cargo System (ICS).
Chief Executive Officer, Michael Carmody said the purpose of the review would be to identify opportunities to maximise the benefits of ICS to both industry and Customs.
He said industry would have an opportunity to contribute to the review process, which would be conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton.
"This review is about looking to the future,’’ Mr Carmody said.
“We will share the outcomes with industry and work with it to agree on a way forward."
The exports component of the ICS was introduced successfully in October 2004 but when the much larger imports component was switched on in October 2005, many areas of industry experienced difficulties in clearing containers prompting a national outcry.
"Customs and industry worked very closely to address those delays,’’ Mr Carmody said.
“A lot of people on both sides deserve recognition for that cooperation."
"The legacy system, COMPILE, was retained as a transitional measure to assist industry. Ongoing work with industry meant this system could be switched off on 3 February 2006," Mr Carmody said.
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has initiated an audit of the development and implementation of the Cargo Management Re-engineering project of which the ICS was a major component.
"Customs will cooperate fully with the ANAO and expects lessons will be learnt as a result of the audit," Mr Carmody said.
Customs continues to work with the Industry Action Group (IAG) established by the Minister for Justice and Customs Senator Chris Ellison. The IAG is working through a number of issues related to the ease of operation of the system.
The review should be complete by late April.
21 February, 2006
Minister Denies Drain
of Indigenous Staff
Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has slammed reports that indigenous Australians were leaving the Australian Public Service in droves, saying extra funds had been provided for indigenous recruitment and training workshops.
"In August last year, I announced additional funding of $6.45m over three years and already very positive results are being achieved," Mr Andrews said.
"Twenty nine indigenous university graduates have commenced mainstream public service graduate programs. They will do a year of placements and training to kickstart their professional careers while more graduates will be recruited for 2007.
"Public Service agencies have also recruited nine indigenous cadets for 2006 and 14 trainees participated in an entry-level traineeship pilot during 2005," he said.
Mr Andrews said the placements provide further employment and employer-sponsored accredited training with further opportunities available under cadetship and training programs this year.
In the next few months, a further 25 indigenous career development programs will be run in 13 regional locations around the country.
Up to 600 regionally-based indigenous public servants could attend, at no cost to their agencies.
The Minister said it was nonsense to suggest indigenous staff were leaving in large numbers or that iIndigenous recruits were not being attracted into the Public Service.
"The figures show quite clearly that we are developing assisting indigenous people to apply for jobs in the public service.
"We are aware that many indigenous people may not have thought of the public service as a potential employer and may find the recruitment process daunting but we are responding to those challenges," Mr Andrews said.
He was responding to reports that the peak indigenous body, the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination (OIPC), had lost a quarter of its staff over the past year.
The reports said in July 2004, 40 per cent of OIPC staff were indigenous, but that number had fallen to 29 per cent by November 2005.
Labor spokesman on indigenous affairs Chris Evans said indigenous staff comprised 14 per cent of the senior staff in OIPC. Only three of the 14 graduates in their graduate program were indigenous.
A survey of indigenous staff by the Australian Public Service Commission found 37 per cent left because of lack of cultural awareness and a culture of racism, 38 per cent cited lack of support and low job satisfaction and 26 per cent said they left because of government policy direction and changes.
21 February, 2006
Hot Times Ahead is Bureau’s
Climate Change Forecast
More bushfires and more extreme fire danger days are on the cards for Australia according to a new report into climate change issued by the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO.
The report “Climate Change Impacts on Fire Weather in South-East Australia,” provides important new information to help communities prepare for possible increased bushfire risk which may follow from climate change in coming decades.
Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, released the report saying, “Bushfire was a natural and devastating part of the Australian summer landscape, with communities across the country regularly struggling with the loss of lives, loss of property and huge financial costs of bushfires.
“Victoria’s devastating fires of 1983, for example, cost the community $138 million while the 2003 Canberra bushfires cost $342 million,’’ Senator Campbell said.”
“The human impact of such disasters simply cannot be calculated.”
The report has found that should the average summer temperature increase, there will also be an increase in the frequency of very high and extreme fire danger days, especially in inland areas.
At most places an increase in fire danger in spring, summer and autumn is also likely, which will move the periods suitable for prescribed burning towards winter.
“I am pleased that the Victorian, NSW and Tasmanian Governments have joined with the Australian Government to begin the early planning needed to identify and prepare for the potential of increased fire risks associated with changes in rainfall patterns, temperature, relative humidity and wind speed,” Senator Campbell said.
“This report is an important first step in better informing governments, fire management agencies and researchers about those risks.”
Funding for the study was provided by the Australian Government’s Greenhouse Office, the NSW Greenhouse Office, the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment and the ACT Rural Fire Service.
The Australian Government provided funding through its $1.9 billion climate change strategy which aims to enhance scientific understanding of climate change, build an effective global response to climate change, reduce national greenhouse gas emissions, and prepare governments and communities for the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
21 February, 2006
Audit Finds Fault But Few
Problems at Centrelink
Centrelink still had dead people on its benefit lists more than six weeks after their recorded date of death, an Australian National Audit Office report has found.
However the audit report entitled Integrity of Electronic Customer Records, found Centrelink's management of its complex database was reasonable.
According to the Auditor General, Centrelink’s customer database known as ISIS, is one of the largest and most complex Australian government databases, with more than 23 million records in total and around 6.2 million records support payments by Centrelink.
The auditor found Centrelink could significantly improve the accuracy and integrity of data stored on ISIS and in particular could improve the integrity of the primary key used in ISIS and reduce the risks associated with fragmenting customer information across multiple records.
The audit also found Centrelink should remove training records and obsolete customer records from the production environment of its database and improve the effectiveness of its existing data integrity checking system.
Up to 30 per cent of customer ‘proof of identity’ (POI) information recorded on ISIS was insufficient or unreliable in terms of uniquely identifying or substantiating the identity of customers, the audit found. While much of this information related to historical records, the Auditor also found it was information still relied upon to process new claims associated with those historical records.
He noted however that Centrelink had tightened some of the controls around POI data entry and that the quality of recently entered POI information appeared to be considerably improved.
While the audit highlighted a number of business risks arising from these data integrity issues, including the risk of duplicate or inappropriate payments to customers, the auditor found that Centrelink had in place a number of other controls designed to prevent inappropriate payments. Accordingly he found that while these risks existed, duplicate payments had only occurred in a small number of cases.
Given the scale and complexity of Centrelink’s IT operations, and considering the information examined in the scope of his audit, the Auditor concluded that Centrelink’s electronic customer records were generally sufficiently accurate and complete to support the effective administration of the range of social security programs for which Centrelink is responsible.
The Auditor General said Centrelink responded promptly to the matters raised during the course of his audit and commenced a number of initiatives to address specific data integrity issues identified by ANAO and to generally improve the quality of data in ISIS.
These included projects to analyse and correct the identification of false positive results in the agency’s existing data integrity error checking system and establishing a Data Quality Team to develop a long term strategy to improve and maintain data quality and work to comprehensively describe the effects of data integrity errors.
Centrelink also undertook to review the operation of the priority rating system for data integrity errors and acted quickly to review cases of potential duplicate payment.
21 February, 2006
Sports Institute Gamble
Pays Off in Turin
An unorthodox plan by the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra that fast tracked a group of female beach and track sprinters into Australia’s first ever Winter Olympic finalists in the sport of skeleton paid dividends this month when Michelle Steele finished 13th in the Winter Olympics in Turin.
The AIS identified that explosive speed and power were the key requirements for success in a sport Australia had little history in. Dozens of women applied to be part of the project with the numbers eventually being whittled down to a squad of 10 which competed for the first time last northern hemisphere winter.
From this a squad of four was chosen and underwent an intensive program of analysis, training and competition. Steele emerged as dominant in World Cup selection races winning selection on the Australian Winter Olympic team in January this year.
AIS Director, Peter Fricker said more can be gleaned from the experience than just Steele’s excellent result in Torino.
“Despite Michelle not winning a medal, the fact that she qualified for the Olympics having not heard of the sport or seen snow less than two years ago is an incredible feat and testimony to the planning and collaboration the AIS undertook,” Professor Fricker said.
“The lessons we as an organisation have learnt from the process are already being implemented across a number of projects aimed at transferring athletes from one sport to another in which their physical attributes may be more suitable, and ultimately make them more successful.
“We have a significantly smaller population than many of our competitors. This project is an example of how the AIS continues to work smarter and helps Australia continue to perform beyond others’ expectations on the international sporting scene.”
21 February, 2006
Shergold Goes to Bat for
APS and Slams Critics
Critics of the Australian Public Service have received a spirited rebuff from the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Dr Peter Shergold who has accused them of not knowing what the role of the Public Service is.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra, Dr Shergold apologised for the recent spectacular lapses of public administration on a number of immigration issues but contrasted them with what he called the “astounding level of accuracy and efficiency” with which millions of decisions were made daily by agencies such as Centrelink, the Tax Office, Medicare and “yes, the Department of Immigration.”
He rejected vigorously the notion that the mistakes were part of some elaborate conspiracy to politicise the Public Service, diminish Public Service values or signal the collapse of the Westminster tradition. On the contrary Dr Shergold said, these were failures of administrative process that should be learned from.
“It may be convenient for retired public servants and journalists .. to attribute blame to vague notions of ‘the politicisation of the Public Service’ but it is wrong,’’ he said. “It is a cop out. The failures were ones of inadequate managerial control, weak direction and organisational communication.”
Dr Shergold said it was the role of the Public Service to give effect to Government policy – that’s its task – but to accuse public servants of being politicised for doing what they are paid to do showed a “profound misunderstanding of the role of the Public Service.’’
“They would do it for any government,’’ he said.
Dr Shergold also defended the climate of continued change in the Public Service saying that competition for policy ideas from non-Government sources and a need to give the community the best value for money demanded constant revision and adaptation.
“I am an ardent advocate for administrative change,’ he said.
In his 20 years in the APS, Dr Shergold said he had seen it evolve into a more capable, more open and more equitable organisation.
“It’s more flexible, less hierarchical and places greater dependence on team work.’’
He praised the newfound cohesiveness at the top of the Service saying the relationship between Secretaries was much stronger now than in the past, allowing whole of Government responses to “wickedly complex problems” of public policy.
He contrasted this with the US Government’s “bureaucratic ineptitude” which led it to fail in its to respond to the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
Dr Shergold used his talk to build up the stocks of the Australian Public Service, lay a few backhanders on its critics and assure staff that the jobs they were doing were worthwhile.
“Australia co-ordinates its public administration as well as anywhere in the world,’’ he said. “And through practice and will (it) is getting better at it year by year.”
A full transcript of Dr Shergold’s speech is on the PM&C website.
21 February, 2006
Aussie Air Traffic System
takes Off in Indonesia
The Indonesian Government is set to trial new airspace surveillance technology developed by AirServices Australia in alliance with international airline data communications provider, SITA Inc.
Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Warren Truss, said the trial of the Automatic Dependant Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), would start in Indonesia by May 2006, under the Indonesian Directorate General for Air Communications.
"Around 60,000 international flights in and out of Australia travel through Indonesian airspace every year, 25,000 of which are Qantas flights," Mr Truss said. "This trial aims to improve air traffic safety in Indonesian airspace and promote flight data sharing across international boundaries."
The sophisticated new technology involves aircraft broadcasting their positional data every second, which is received in radar-type format by ground-based ADS-B receivers and forwarded to Air Traffic Controllers.
ADS-B, provides an alternative to potential multi-million dollar investments in radar technology, realising savings of up to 90 per cent and associated maintenance costs.
"It also significantly reduces the pressure on increasing air navigation service charges," Mr Truss said. "The ADS-B is well suited to countries with a large land mass and difficult terrain. Other countries in Asia and the Pacific will now also be able to sign up to use the new technology.
"Wide-ranging take-up of the new system in the Asia-Pacific has the potential to accelerate cooperation in air traffic management system development in our region, and also to provide a model that can be useful to other regions such as Africa and Latin America.
"Australia is making plans to become the first country in the world to implement ADS-B technology nationally, which will provide radar-like service across the entire upper-level airspace by early 2007," Mr Truss said.
It is a little over two years since the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Air Navigation Conference endorsed the implementation of ADS-B as critical to enabling improvements in airspace capacity, safety and efficiency, said the CEO of Airservices Australia, Greg Russell.
"This was a major factor in our decision to proceed with our Upper Airspace Program to provide ADS-B enabled surveillance coverage throughout domestic Australian airspace above 30,000 feet through the deployment of 28 ADS-B receivers and the associated upgrade to our Air Traffic Management systems," Mr Russell said.
“Airservices Australia is very pleased to combine our technical and operational experience with SITA’s extensive data communications network and local presence throughout the Asia/Pacific region. We can now provide the region’s air navigation services providers with the choice of procuring the service versus deploying and operating their own ADS-B infrastructure," Mr Russell said.
The ADS-B trial in Indonesia will consist of up to three ADS-B receivers deployed at SITA sites that will maximise the value of the received ADS-B data providing coverage across Flight Information Region boundaries thus allowing the received data to be made available to adjacent air navigation service providers in a region where cross-border radar data sharing is rare.
21 February, 2006
Competition Regulator launches
Fraud Protection Month
Australia’s competition watchdog, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC), has bared its teeth at lottery scams, warning consumers to destroy, delete or ignore them as part of fraud prevention month.
The ACCC wants consumers to open their eyes to the scams around them, saying many Australians have received letters and emails promising big wins.
For example, the ACCC quotes from a scam letter: "We are pleased to inform you of the results in the International MegaOnline Lottery drawn on the 26 January 2006 and that your numbers have won a share in the first division prize pool of US$32,000,000!!!
“You have therefore been approved for a winning payment of US$4,000,000 to be either transferred into your bank account or sent by personal cheque."
The Commission claims this is typical of letters and emails sent out by scammers in what is known as the Overseas Lottery Scam.
Agencies involved in the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce (ACFT) list it as one of the most reported scams in Australia.
"The lottery scam has been around for a number of years but has been increasing at an alarming rate in recent years," said ACFT chair (and ACCC Deputy Chair), Louise Sylvan.
"The scam relies on the consumer becoming excited by the thought that they really have won the big one," she said.
"A consumer might consider a relatively small fee to be a risk worth taking when they compare it to the size of their winnings.
"A large number of Australian consumers have reported sending significant sums of money to these overseas scammers. Many of these had lost in excess of $10,000.
"The tragic aspect of this scam is that ACCC analysis of reports to its Infocentre show the consumers who are most vulnerable to the scam tend to come from poorer financial positions and are therefore least able to afford it.
"Scammers will invent plausible reasons for how a consumer can win an international lottery without entering the draw. They may claim the consumer has been selected by email address, that they were entered by a third party or that there has been some kind of error with the names/tickets.
"Initially the scammers are likely to require the consumer to provide extensive personal details in order to prove that you are the lucky winner.
"In providing such details, the consumer is opening themselves up to the possibility of identity fraud or having their bank account cleaned out. At best they are identifying themselves as being potentially vulnerable to the scam and they are likely to be bombarded with many similar scam offers.
"In order to hook consumers into the scam, the fraudsters often nominate a small amount to enable the winnings to be released. But in the end, the consumer will be required to pay a sequence of fictitious fees and charge such as insurance costs, government taxes, bank fees or courier charges. Money sent to these scammers will never be seen by the consumer again," she said.
The ACFT says the best defence against lottery scams is to destroy or delete them without responding. "Scammers cannot succeed without consumers who respond," said Ms Sylvan.
This campaign is part of Consumer Fraud Prevention Month, coordinated by the ACFT, a new network of 18 government agencies at the federal and state/territory level and in New Zealand. All agencies have an interest in enhancing the role of government and the private sector in reducing the impact of consumer-related frauds and scams. The ACFT helps consumers to recognise scams and ignore them.
The campaign coincides with Global Consumer Fraud Prevention Month, coordinated by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), a membership organisation consisting of the consumer protection law enforcement authorities of more than 30 countries including Australia.
The international campaign raises awareness of the problem of consumer fraud for consumers, business and government alike.
The ACCC suggests if you have spotted or been caught by a lottery scam, visit the ScamWatch website at www.scamwatch.gov.au or call 1300 795 5 to report it.
21 February, 2006
Summer School Turns Heat on Regulation
When is enough regulation enough? Do carrots work better than sticks? Is the cutting edge sharp enough?
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) recently assembled some of the sharpest minds and most experienced practitioners in the Australian and international financial sector to explore regulation and its limits at its annual Summer School.
ASIC chairman Jeffrey Lucy said the event pushed debate about financial regulation beyond the realm of legislative sections, clauses and divisions and explored the contribution regulation makes to our society.
"Most people in Australia and throughout the developed world are affected by financial regulation in some way, either through their ownership of shares or their superannuation savings or even their bank account," Mr Lucy said.
"Financial regulation is second only to the criminal justice system in maintaining a just and fair society."
Through keynote speakers, panel discussions and case studies, the ASIC Summer School looked at the theme “Maintaining Consumer Confidence: Regulation and its Limits,” in a forum that sought to push against the accepted and conventional.
In addition to regulation, the overlapping roles of stakeholders, including consumers themselves, industry, media, parliament and the legal system, were examined for their contribution in building and maintaining consumer confidence.
Keynote speakers included Professor Allen Fels, Dean, Australia and New Zealand School of Government; Gary Banks, Chairman, Productivity Commission and Michael D’Ascenzo, Commissioner of Taxation, Australian Taxation Office
21 February, 2006
Spotlight To Be Turned
on Young Film Makers
The Australian Film Commission and ABC TV have announced a new initiative for young documentary film makers.
Under the ABC TV and AFC jtv docs initiative, a $300,000 fund will be created to finance several one-hour or half-hour documentaries in 2006.
“This initiative enables ABC TV to play a formalised role in the creative development of Australia's up-and-coming independent filmmakers, working in partnership with the AFC, and under the jtv docs banner," said Courtney Gibson, ABC TV Head of Arts and Entertainment, at the Australian International Documentary Conference in Melbourne.
jtv docs will be part of the ABC’s planned cross platform jtv brand, due for roll out mid 2006.
jtv is a massive expansion of the triple j brand. For the first time, content directed at ABC’s younger audience will be broadcast across multiple platforms, including ABC TV, ABC 2, ABC Online and ABC Broadband, incorporating iPod downloads and mobile phone SMS technology.
“This is an exciting opportunity for emerging filmmakers to produce a documentary aimed at a specific audience,” said Chris Fitchett, the AFC’s Director of Film Development. “We want projects that are innovative in terms of their style and focus on subjects which young Australians will relate to.”
Program makers aged 35 and under will be able to apply in a competitive round. Guidelines detailing eligibility and deadline are available at: www.abc.net.au/jtv or www.afc.gov.au/jtvdocs
14 February, 2006
Unleashes New Managers
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has appointed three new general managers to their executive team, completing restructuring to five divisions.
Dianne Carlos will head corporate services division, Nerida O’Loughlin will lead industry outputs division and James Shaw will run strategy, analysis and coordination division.
The appointments complete ACMA’s executive team, joining Giles Tanner (inputs to industry division) and Marcus Bezzi (legal division).
Acting chair of ACMA, Lyn Maddock, welcomed the three newcomers to the team.
"I am sure they are looking forward to the challenges ACMA faces in regulating the dynamic Australian communications sector," Ms Maddock said.
"There was a strong field for the three positions and I would like to congratulate the successful candidates who will be joining the agency at an exciting time in its development.
"Selection of the executive team caps off a busy first seven months for the organisation. ACMA’s new structure will be in place for the arrival of our chair and CEO, Chris Chapman, at the end of the month and the full executive team will be on board by mid March," she said.
Dianne Carlos comes to ACMA from the Australian Federal Police, where she has been Chief Finance Officer since May 2003 and responsible for strategic management of all aspects of the financial management of the AFP.
She was Chief Finance Officer at the Family Court of Australia (2001-03) and previously held executive positions with Medibank Private (18-2001) and the Department of Employment, Education and Training.
She has been involved in major strategic reviews at the Australian Federal Police, Family Court of Australia and Medibank Private and brings strong experience in corporate support functions.
Nerida O’Loughlin joins ACMA from the Victorian Department of Infrastructure, where for the past five years she was Director, Industry and Community Development, Multimedia Victoria. She was responsible for policy and programs under the Victorian Government’s ICT strategy, Connecting Victoria.
She held senior management positions with the National Office for the Information Economy and the Department of Communications Information Technology and the Arts, where she was General Manager Licensed Broadcasting (19-2000) and held a range of positions involving digital television, film, arts and heritage. She was chief of staff for the Minister for the Arts and the Centenary of Federation in 18-, responsible for high level advice on portfolio matters. Prior to this, she worked in a number of private and public sector organisations, including Austrade and Film Australia.
James Shaw has been General Manager of Strategy Branch in the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts since October 2004. The branch is responsible for the Australian Government's strategic framework for the information economy. Prior to that he was a General Manager and acting Chief General Manager in the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) from December 2002 to October 2004.
From 19 to 2002 James was adviser (and later senior adviser) to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, covering a wide range of telecommunications and radiocommunications issues, including the competition and regulatory framework, consumer issues, technology developments, Telstra sale and governance and regional telecommunications.
In 18 he was Counsellor, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, in the Australian Embassy, Washington. His public sector career spans over 25 years.
The New structure
Inputs to Industry Division - General Manager - Giles Tanner
This division includes:
Allocations Branch – Jonquil Ritter
Planning Branch - Andrew Kerans
Pricing and Policy Branch - Mark Loney
Regulation and Compliance Branch - David Brumfield<
Industry Outputs Division - General Manager - Nerida O’Loughlin
Acting GM till early March – John Neil
This division includes:
Codes, Content and Education Branch - Andree Wright
Converging Services Branch - Grant Symons
Industry Performance Branch - Paul White
Strategy, Analysis and Coordination Division - General Manager - James Shaw)
Acting GM until late February – Maureen Cahill
This division includes
Sector Analysis and Reporting - John Neil
Strategy and Coordination Branch - Maureen Cahill
Corporate Services Division - General Manager - Dianne Carlos
Acting GM until mid March – Louise Harkness
This division includes:
Finance and Facilities Branch - Allan Major
Human Resources and Information Technology Branch - Louise Harkness
Legal Division - Marcus Bezzi
14 February, 2006
Worldwide Blogathon to
Highlight Internet Safety
The world’s first internet safety blogathon registered 103 blog postings from 34 countries and 300 comments in just 24 hours.
The Safer Internet blogathon, held on 7 February, was put together by public-interest organisations, schools, libraries and national ministries and institutions across the world – including Australia’s Net Alert - and mirrored the multiple facets of cyber-society and the many different issues it faces.
Cultural diversity and freedom of expression, social networking and file-sharing all came under the scrutiny of bloggers, along with the issues of copyright, false identity, stranger danger, hacking, security threats and more.
NetAlert, which was funded by the Australian government saw the blogathon as part of a worldwide day of activities to mark Safer Internet Day.
The Minister for Information Technology, Senator Helen Coonan said: “Safer Internet Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the right of every child to enjoy safe and rewarding Internet experiences.”
“The Australian Government strongly supports online education initiatives such as Safer Internet Day. These initiatives are vital in making the online environment safer for the entire community.”
Safer Internet Day was organised by Insafe, the European Internet safety network. NetAlert worked closely with Insafe and coordinated events in Australia.
The word “blog” is derived from the combination of the two words, web and log.
Blogs are virtual diaries created by individuals and stored on the internet. Blogs generally consist of text and images and can appear in a calendar type format.
They are located on websites which enable people to join as members and create and publish their blogs and diary entries. Blogs can be viewed either by the general public or select groups of people, such as friends. Blogging happens when somebody uploads information to the blog and the person doing this is known as the blogger. Blogs can easily be created without any specific technical knowledge.
“With blogging becoming an increasingly common form of communication, especially for children, the importance of a safer Internet environment is even more significant,” Senator Coonan said.
“As with all new uses of technology there are risks associated with their use. The Government is committed to ensuring that Australian children are able to access these technologies safely.”
She said the Australian Government was fulfilling its commitment to protecting children from offensive or illegal online content by developing and delivering the National CyberSafe Program. This $2 million, two-year targeted information campaign, known as NetAlert Expo, is aimed at educating parents, teachers and community groups about the risks children face online.
The Expo will visit community centres, libraries and schools in every State and Territory in Australia and has already toured Victoria and Queensland in the latter months of last year.
Comments on the posts can be made by the general public 24 hrs a day until Wednesday February 15.
Further information on Internet safety is available at www.netalert.net.au or from www.dcita.gov.au
14 February, 2006
ASIC Issues New Rules
The Australian Securities and Investment Commisson has released new draft guidelines for issuers and advisers on the preparation of prospectuses.
A draft policy statement, Better Prospectus Disclosure, includes advice about the Corporations Act requirement that prospectuses be worded and presented in a clear, concise and effective manner.
"Issuers need to make prospectuses more readable," said acting chair of ASIC, Jeremy Cooper. "That means shorter and clearer. There is no problem with the logic of the disclosure regime, it’s more that issuers and their advisers have not yet fully adopted the clear, concise, and effective style and that has to change," Mr Cooper said.
"So far, there’s been a lot of over-disclosure as a means of limiting liability. That is clearly not the purpose of the disclosure requirements."
Mr Cooper said issuers should explain the practical implications of what is being offered, rather than presenting a mass of legal and financial details.
"Prospectuses should present a balanced picture of risk and return. Risk disclosure should be specific and not just a long list of every conceivable risk," he said.
"The clear, concise and effective requirement demands that issuers and advisers re-think the whole craft of prospectus writing. The days of the 200-plus page prospectus (and sometimes more) have really got to be over," he said.
Under the draft guidance, ASIC recommends issuers:
• make prospectuses as short as possible
• leave out extraneous material
• highlight critical information
• organise information in a logical way, such as cascading the story from the simple to the more detailed
• provide clear navigation around the document
• consider incorporating technical and detailed financial information by reference
• use plain and direct language
• use a range of communication tools, including simple graphical illustrations
The policy statement also provides guidance on some specific prospectus content issues that have arisen in the past such as risk disclosure, high-yield debentures, use of proceeds of the fundraising and share allocation policy.
Comments are due by Friday April 7, 2006 and should be sent to Andrew Fawcett at ASIC, GPO Box 9827, Melbourne VIC 3001
14 February, 2006
The Days of Paper Are
Numbered at ABS
The Australian Bureau of Statistics is keeping pace with National Statistical Offices throughout the world by positioning itself to use the internet as the principal channel for data communication.
Results of a survey recently conducted by Statistics Canada suggest that many National Statistical Offices (NSOs) are in different stages of progress in migrating from a paper-based publishing regime to a web-based publishing regime, and the common theme and challenges faced by them are to make the World Wide Web an effective medium for the on-line communication of statistics.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it has a number of strategies in place to fulfil the goal of web publishing. These are:
improving communication of statistics to ease user discovery of information
• broadcasting and proactive dissemination of information such as email;
• improving self help; and
• writing once/publishing many times to improve the efficiency and consistency of released information.
The ABS website currently has about 320,000 web pages and 120,000 downloadable files. In 2004/05, there were 60 million pages viewed from the website and the ABS is consistently ranked eighth (behind the Australian Taxation Office and Centrelink.) as the most frequently accessed Australian Government website.
Since 2000, all ABS publications, spreadsheets, data cubes, research and information papers, dating back to at least 18, have been available from the ABS website.
The website also includes other statistical support material e.g. Statistical Concepts Library, Directory of Statistical Sources and extensive school curriculum materials for teachers and students.
In addition, the ABS provides a number of avenues for clients to purchase ABS products on-line.
Given its widespread use and convenience of 24 hour/7 day access, the ABS has been positioning itself to use the internet as the principal channel for dissemination.
It has set itself the following objectives:
• increase the users and uses of statistics for informed decision making;
• increase user understanding of the content, caveats, contexts and limitation of statistics; and
• improve cost effectiveness by maximising the opportunities available from the internet.
The ABS recognizes it faces a major challenge completing the transition from a paper-based statistical publishing regime to a web-based publishing regime.
It will approach this by ensuring:
• a greater uptake of electronic dissemination by subject matter areas in a way that improves communication;
• continuous improvements in the useability, navigability and accessibility of the ABS web site, and the visibility of statistics; and
• providing more self-help facilities for users.
14 February, 2006
Courtroom “Games” Must Go Says
Law Reform Commission
Australia must have a single set of streamlined, flexible evidence laws that will protect witnesses as well as parties, recognise the importance of confidential relationships, and curb legal “games” in the courtroom, Australia’s peak law reform agency has said.
President of the Australian Law Reform Commission, Professor David Weisbrot said it was “crazy” that Australia currently had so many different evidence law regimes.
“It is far too complicated for litigants and lawyers and contributes to unnecessary cost and red tape for business,” Professor Weisbrot said.
“For example, a Brisbane lawyer who goes into the Supreme Court one day, and the Federal or Family Court the next, needs to master two completely different sets of evidence laws.
“Similarly, if you run a business that operates across state lines, how do you know which law on business records you are meant to comply with? One of them? All of them?”
Professor Weisbrot urged all Australian governments to adopt the recommendations of a major report resulting from a joint 18-month inquiry into evidence law by the ALRC and the NSW and Victorian law reform commissions.
The report, Uniform Evidence Law, containing 63 recommendations for reform, was tabled in the Commonwealth and Victorian parliaments and released in NSW last week.
Professor Weisbrot said the Commonwealth, NSW, Tasmania, the ACT and Norfolk Islands operate under the uniform Evidence Acts scheme, introduced following a previous ALRC inquiry completed in 1987.
“This inquiry has finally produced real momentum towards a single set of evidence laws, with Victoria, WA and the NT indicating that they intend to enter the uniform scheme,” Professor Weisbrot said.
The inquiry also recommended some refinement of the uniform law, based on 10 years’ experience with its use, to improve the clarity of some provisions, and generally to make the rules of evidence more flexible and relevant to modern court practice.
“Further, we want to ensure witnesses - particularly vulnerable witnesses such as young children - aren’t constantly being interrupted or subjected to tricky or unreasonably hostile questions,” he said.
ALRC Commissioner in charge of the inquiry, Associate Professor Les McCrimmon, said one important area of change is the law relating to privileged communications, with the report recommending the extension of the uniform Evidence Act client legal privilege provisions to pre-trial proceedings, and the recognition of a professional confidential relationship privilege.
14 February, 2006
Government Puts Telescope
The performance of the Anglo-Australian Observatory at Siding Springs in NSW is to be reviewed prior to the conclusion of a collaborative agreement that runs out in 2010.
The Australian and British Governments decided in 2005 to amend the Anglo-Australian Telescope Agreement so the current collaboration between Britain and Australia would end on 30 June of that year at which time the Anglo-Australian Telescope and associated facilities would transfer to Australian ownership and control.
The new review would report to the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop, advising on future organisational and funding options.
The Review’s terms of reference are to:
evaluate the performance of the AAO over the last five years;
• make recommendations on how the performance of the AAO might be enhanced;
• advise on the future role of the AAO in the context of the Decadal Plan for Australian Astronomy 2005-2016
People wanting to make a contribution to the review should email to AAO@dest.gov.au.
A copy of the Review Issues Paper can be found by visiting www.dest.gov.au and the closing date for submissions is 24 March 2006.
14 February, 2006
Crime Commission Gets
Fraud Fighting Fund
Chief Executive of the Australian Crime Commission, Alastair Milroy has welcomed the
Government's pledge of an extra $17.2 million over five years to fight serious tax fraud and money laundering.
"The ACC welcomes the $17.2 million additional funding it has received to support the Operation Wickenby criminal investigations into serious tax fraud and money laundering,” Mr Milroy said.
“The ACC has a board-approved operational determination – called MIDAS – which investigates serious tax fraud and money laundering. Operation Wickenby is one of the operations conducted under MIDAS.
“The MIDAS determination aims to detect and dismantle the underlying organised criminal enterprises that are often associated with serious tax fraud and money laundering.
“Operation Wickenby is investigating, both in Australia and overseas, a number of highprofile criminal offences. The ACC will not comment at this stage on any ongoing criminal investigation or associated legal proceedings,” Mr Milroy said.
If you have information which could help the ACC disrupt organised crime, please contact the confidential hotline on 1800 088 025.
14 February, 2006
Australia Survives Cyberstorm Attack
Australia’s ability to detect, prevent and respond to a cyber attack was tested last week (Thursday 9 February) during a United States-led scenario planning exercise, named Cyberstorm.
Cyberstorm brought together representatives from a number of Australian Government departments, Australia’s counter-terrorism and policing experts and AusCERT for a one-day “table top” exercise.
The exercise tested procedures, communication channels and response in the event of a cyber attack and international communication protocols between countries.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said conducting such exercises was a key part of the Australian Government’s counter-terrorism strategy and the only way to effectively test systems against theoretical attacks.
“Terrorists are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to attack and disrupt our way of life. By conducting exercises such as these we increase Australia’s ability to detect, prevent and respond to cyber attacks,” Mr Ruddock said.
“Complex IT systems underpin many areas of our economy and they need to be defended.”
Australian participation in the event was coordinated by GovCERT.au, part of the Attorney-General’s department responsible for formulating policies which coordinate and protect the National Information Infrastructure.
The US Department of Homeland Security was in the midst of a week-long exercise that would culminate in attempts to exploit vulnerabilities and create havoc by disrupting transport and communications systems.
14 February, 2006
Firearm Mail Shot Down
by New Restrictions
Australia Post has announced a further tightening of prohibitions on the use of the international mail service for carrying firearms, firearms parts, weapons and replicas.
The new restrictions are effective immediately and are consistent with similar prohibitions introduced by postal authorities in many other countries.
The restrictions are a reaction to an increase in the instances of delay to mail consignments and temporary closure of mail processing facilities caused when screening detects guns, ordinances or other potentially dangerous items in international mail.
Australia Post has advised postal administrations around the world that it will not accept articles containing firearms, firearm parts, or items of weaponry. A grace period has been allowed for the acceptance of items which were mailed to Australia before the implementation of the prohibition. This means that prohibited items arriving after 1 February 2006 by air, or after 1 April 2006 by sea will not be accepted, said Australia Post spokesperson, Matt Pollard.
“Whilst this decision will no doubt inconvenience some individuals and industry groups who will need to use other modes of weapons transportation, our responsibility for staff safety and network security will always be first and foremost,” Mr Pollard said.
Australia Post is also concerned with the increase in delays for all mail consignments in overseas ports when firearms are identified by the authorities of that country. Mr Pollard said these delays had the potential to affect the service for all mail users.
“Although some countries do accept the delivery of firearms and weapons through the mail, it is often necessary for these items to pass through the postal service of countries where these items are prohibited and must be confiscated by customs and reported to police or other authorities. This has increasingly caused serious delays to entire despatches of mail,” he said.
At least seven countries have implemented a total prohibition on all firearms and firearm parts and a further 76 have partial prohibitions in place. Almost all remaining countries have some form of restriction or conditions on acceptance.
“Canada, Austria, China, Denmark, Greece, Japan and Russia are examples of countries whose postal authorities have already prohibited the carriage of firearms and firearm parts in their networks. Australia Post is following a global trend,” Mr Pollard said.
“The operational process and communication systems inherent in an international postal network do not allow for the distinction of specific items within bulk mail receptacles. This means that any firearm or firearm part can delay the entire mail stream and is a potential threat to the safety and security of the network," he said.
Firearms and firearm parts may be imported and exported via specialist dangerous goods handling companies which have specialist expertise to manage the logistics safely.
The conditions under which Australia Post carries firearms, firearm parts and weaponry in the domestic mail remain unchanged, however, senders and addressees must comply with the relevant state and territory legislation when using either the international or domestic mail service.
For further information visit www.auspost.com.au or call 131318.
14 February, 2006
New Security Tool takes
ID Proof to New Heights
The on-going fight against identity crime has been boosted with a prototype document verification service to verify proof of identity documents, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and Minister for Justice and Customs, Chris Ellison said.
"The prototype service provides a mechanism for rigorous identification and verification of identity documents and will be integral to the strengthening of proof-of-identity processes," Mr Ruddock and Senator Ellison said.
It is an online, real-time system that verifies proof of identity documents presented to participating agencies, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.
"Privacy is a vital aspect of the process and the prototype DVS will not retain personal information as part of its operation," they said.
"The government believes there can be no greater invasion of a person’s privacy than the theft or misuse of their identity. Identity security is central to Australia’s national security, law enforcement and economic interests, and is vital in protecting Australian citizens from identity fraud," they said.
Many of the key documents used to establish identity, such as drivers’ licences and birth certificates, are issued by state and territory governments.
"It is therefore encouraging that the ACT, NSW and Victorian Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages and Austroads (the association of Australian and New Zealand road transport and traffic authorities) – all key issuing authorities – are participants in the prototype DVS," they said.
"While the number of agencies using the prototype is currently limited, a full-scale system could potentially include a large number of federal, state and territory, and private sector organizations," they said.
The document verifying service is part of the government’s National Identity Security Strategy, which aims to develop nationally consistent approaches to identity security across federal, state and territory agencies
14 February, 2006
Police Commanders Book Places
At Australian Airports
Justice and Customs Minister, Chris Ellison has joined Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty to announce the appointment of 11 new airport police commanders at major Australian airports.
The new team has already started work overseeing crime and security matters at the 11 Counter Terrorism First Response (CTFR) airports in Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Gold Coast, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
Speaking at the launch at Canberra Airport, Commissioner Keelty said the commanders were all senior members of the AFP who would provide a central contact point at airports for law enforcement and security-related matters.
“The commanders wear AFP uniforms and have assumed all command and control responsibilities to provide a 24-hour unified policing presence at these airports,” Commissioner Keelty said.
“A key part of their role will be to coordinate the security work of all Commonwealth, State and Territory law enforcement agencies operating within the airport precincts, as well as to liaise directly with airport operators and all businesses involved in safeguarding our airports," he said.
Commissioner Keelty said most of the airport operators had started work, with
the exception of Alice Springs and Cairns, where commanders are expected to start in late March.
The Sydney airport police commander starts work shortly.
The team has extensive law enforcement experience and took part in an intensive induction and training program in Canberra in January.
Their roles and responsibilities were agreed at a Council of Australian Governments meeting last September.
“For the travelling public, the appointment of these new commanders means a simpler and more streamlined approach to airport security and, ultimately, safer and more secure airports,” Commissioner Keelty said.
“They will remove any ambiguity in terms of command and control of law enforcement responses to security incidents," he said.
Senator Ellison said airport police commanders were an important initiative in an aviation security reform program worth more than $150 million, which was being implemented following the Wheeler Review into the industry.
The new airport police commanders are:
Adelaide - Superintendent Geoff Eaton
Alice Springs – Superintendent Marko Dokmanovic
Brisbane – Commander Stephen Grant
Cairns – Superintendent Jon Eyers
Canberra – Superintendent Colin Speedie*
Darwin – Superintendent Peter Timson
Gold Coast – Superintendent Paul Jones
Hobart – Superintendent Glenn Lathey
Melbourne – Commander Ian Thomas
Perth – Commander Malcolm Scott
Sydney – Commander Derek Schagen
*Superintendent Speedie will start in September 2006. Acting Superintendent Steve Collins will fill the role until then
14 February, 2006
Consumer Agencies Collude
to Stamp Out Scams
Consumer affairs agencies across Australia and New Zealand have joined forces to combat consumer fraud and warn consumers about the scams that affect thousands of Australians every year and cost millions of dollars.
Joined by a series of private sector partners, the agencies have launched a four-week campaign to help people to protect themselves from becoming the next victim.
Acting Manager of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Codes, Content and Education Branch, Vince Humphries said the agencies which formed the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce last year provided an opportunity for consumers to receive consolidated information and be well-armed against a broad range of potential scams and fraud.
“Many of the agencies involved in the taskforce receive thousands of complaints and pleas for help each year,’’ Mr Humphries said. “Many have been tricked into providing banking details or handing over money for nothing in return.”
“The key message from the taskforce to consumers who receive any suspicious looking offers, by email, telephone or mail. is to ‘delete it, hang up and destroy it’.”
He said consumers were their own best defence and should always err on the side of caution.
The taskforce is chaired by Deputy Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACMA), Louise Sylvan and is working on outreach strategies, prevention strategies and research.
“Scammers are devising more sophisticated ways to convince people to enter into their scams and consumers need to be able to identify and resist these often ingenious scams and refuse to respond,” Mr Humphries said.
Last year’s top scams identified by the taskforce included:
* Lottery scams;
* Nigerian scams;
* ‘Phishing’ emails from criminals pretending to be your bank in an attempt to have you provide your personal details; and
* Cold calling schemes.
Mr Humphries said officials were particularly concerned about Phishing scams.
“ACMA advises that people should not respond to emails asking for confidential information, account details and passwords,’’ he said.
“Customers should only visit a bank, retailer or credit card website directly by typing the web site address themselves into their Internet browser, or by using their Favourites list – not by clicking on email links.’
Mr Humphries said scams were a global problem which made them difficult to take action against. “Consumers who respond to these scams nearly always lose their money, and most never see it
“The key message for consumers is ‘Don’t help the scammers to scam you!” he said.
The key characteristics of a scam are:
* An offer comes out of the blue;
* It asks you to provide personal information such as banking details;
* It sounds like a quick and easy way to make money;
* The offer may come from an organisation you haven’t had any dealings with;
* You don’t remember entering a lottery or draw that you have supposedly won; and
* It just sounds too good to be true
Mr Humphries said consumers who think they’ve spotted a scam can check the ScamWatch website, www.scamwatch.gov.au which posts information and warnings about scams, or report it on 1300 795 5.
14 February, 2006
Electoral Office Votes For
The Australian Electoral Commission has begun publishing a newsletter to provide information about its range of programs, activities and electoral issues.
Launching the first edition of “The Tally Board”, Electoral Commissioner, Ian Campbell said he intended to engage with the AEC’s stakeholders on a regular basis to keep them informed about the AEC’s programs and activities, receive their feedback and ensure the AEC continues to keep up to date while discharging its responsibilities under the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
“In leading the organisation responsible for providing Australians with an independent electoral service, I am acutely aware of how important it is for the AEC to foster an environment of open dialogue with all those interested in our activities, so as to provide a service that meets their needs and enhances their understanding of the electoral process,” Mr Campbell said.
In undertaking its role in administering the Commonwealth Electoral Act, the AEC needs to interact with a wide range of people and organisations. As well as electors, the AEC works with political parties, Members of Parliament, Senators and their staff, State Electoral Commissions and media representatives.
Mr Campbell said the objective of The Tally Board was:
• to provide a periodic update of key electoral issues and developments
• to publish relevant information to our readership audience
• to enable the AEC to communicate with its stakeholders and promote good working relationships.
More information and the newsletter can be found on the AEC’s website at www.aec.gov.au.
14 February, 2006
Politicians Take Defensive Action
In the Name of Experience
Federal politicians have been offered the chance to get a taste of life in the Defence forces as part of a special program launched recently by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Sandy Macdonald.
"The Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program (ADFPP) provides a unique opportunity for Parliamentarians to gain a more informed appreciation of the Australian Defence Force, as well as providing an exchange program for the attachment of ADF members to Members' and Senators' offices," Senator Macdonald said.
"Parliamentarians spend time at the working level with both Defence and civilian personnel in the ADF, allowing them greater insight into the conditions of service and an understanding of the current responsibilities of the ADF, while ADF members have the opportunity to understand how a political office operates," he said.
The program, which has been running for the past five years, offers Parliamentarians a number of ADF attachment options each year, programmed during autumn and winter parliamentary breaks.
"In gaining this type of experience, parliamentarians will be able to contribute to debate on defence and national security issues in a more informed manner," Senator Macdonald said.
Eighteen different attachment options are programmed for this year, including deployments on board Navy ships around Australia and overseas, fast jet aircrew training at RAAF Williamtown, patrol and training activities with the 51st Far North Queensland Regiment and joining security detachment troops for their preparations before they deploy to Baghdad.
The exchange element was introduced in 2003 and involves attaching ADF members to a Parliamentarian’s office at Parliament House for a week.
"This part of the program has also proved of great benefit by enabling a much greater appreciation of the workload and pressures parliamentarians face in their service to the people of Australia," Senator Macdonald said.
He said 30 years ago about 40 per cent of federal Parliamentarians had served in the ADF in some form but when the ADFPP began in 2001, that figure was less than five per cent.
About 50 parliamentarians have taken part in the program since 2001, some of whom participate each year. Last year 21 parliamentarians participated and 12 ADF personnel were attached to the offices of Members and Senators.
The options available to Parliamentarians include sea rides in Navy ships involved in operations Singaroo and Rimpac 06 in July; stints with the Army Aviation Training Centre ion Oakey, Qld in July; the Combat Arms Training Centre at Puckapunyal in May; or the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program.
Assignments with the Air Combat Group and Exercise Northern Awakening were also offered by the Air Force as were strategic dialogues in defence and strategic studies at the Australian Defence College in Canberra.
14 February, 2006
CPSU Hails 2005 as Good Wage Year
The Community and Public Sector Union said Australian Public Servants “did well” with wage increases in 2005, the average annualised wage increase for all APS agreements certified between 1 January and 31 December 2005 was 4.1 per cent.
The nation’s inflation rate for the same period was 2.8 per cent.
The union predicted 2006 would be another busy year of bargaining and issued the following reports across a range of agencies.
The new Centrelink Certified Agreement 2006-2009 was certified on 23 January 2006 with the resulting first pay rise of four per cent applied from 26 January. Further pay rises will follow in December 2006 and December 2007.
Allowances are also increasing in line with pay.
The successful outcome was achieved foll owing industrial action taken by union members in October and November.
In December, CPSU members voted 88 per cent in favour of accepting the agreement.
Australian Tax Office:
CPSU and Tax have agreed a schedule for negotiations which allows time for membership feedback. The timetable aims for a 30 June completion and Round 1 started on 13 February.
The timetable includes a two-week period for face-to-face membership consultation and feedback in between Rounds 3 and 4, the mid-point of negotiations. The union believes significant positions and obstacles should have been identified by that stage
Department of Environment and Heritage:
The union and staff representatives met with management for three days recently to discuss proposed changes to the next union collective agreement at DEH. At the meeting there were some areas of agreement, a large number of matters that were taken under advisement and some areas of disagreement. CPSU is concerned about some management proposals they believe could threaten existing conditions.
Australian Federal Police Protective Service:
The CPSU Protective Service Section Council recently met and endorsed its representatives on the single bargaining unit for the upcoming negotiations. An initial meeting with the AFP on 13 February discussed a schedule for negotiation meetings.
National Capital Authority:
Union and staff representatives met with NCA management on 1 February to further negotiate terms and conditions for a new workplace agreement. Management have made a reasonable offer in relation to the salary increase, although there are some strings attached.
It is proposed that a nine per cent total salary increase on offer be paid in two instalments of four and a half per cent: the first in September 2006, the second in September 2007.
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry:
Positive discussions have been held between senior staff and an agreement reached that negotiations would be in good faith and in a timely manner. The union believes departmental management has taken on board the views of staff in order to progress bargaining.
National Centre for Vocational Education Research:
Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement at NCVER are nearing completion, a meeting on 1 February of the executive bargaining team considering feedback from staff. As a result, amendments will be made to the proposed performance management cycle.
14 February, 2006
Air Force Command in for Major Change
Strengthening the division between the Australian Defence Force fighting operations and raise, train and sustain functions will result in major changes for Air Force command and business processes, said Air Force Chief Air Marshal Geoff Shepherd.
Air Marshal Shepherd spoke about the changes in a hard-hitting keynote address to a gathering of new and old members of Air Force Headquarters during a recent induction day in Canberra.
Foremost among these will be an Air Command whose focus will become "raise, train and sustain," relocation of the Air Operations Centre from Glenbrook, NSW to an interim site near Canberra and then to the new headquarters near Bungendore in 2008.
“Bungendore will focus purely on operations and our contribution to the new joint integrated HQ will be the Joint Force Air Component Commander and the Air Operations Centre, currently at Headquarters Air Command," he said.
Air Marshal Shepherd laid out his expectations for the future development of the Air Force.
The firmer division of the operational aspects from the raise, train, sustain functions provides the Air Force with a chance to reorganise the way it does business and an ideal opportunity to adjust its work practices by considering how its command and control needs to look in the future.
A team will rebalance and reshape the Air Force so that the workforce available more closely matches the workforce required in a sustainable manner to match future capabilities.
The team will coordinate Air Force initiatives to maximise the effectiveness of the new Air Force command and control arrangements.
Air Marshal Shepherd said his intent was to smooth Air Force command processes while continuing the focus on achieving operational results now as well as our future development.
“My intent is not to be too disruptive, but we can’t just band-aid and patch up what we have now,” he said. “Doing nothing is not an option.
“Organisations must continually learn, adapt and evolve in the modern world. However, one thing must never change; our values, culture and behaviour.”
He told his new staff it was their job to provide as much information as possible.
"If you don’t do your work, undertake your analysis, make your decisions, and define your sense of the situation, then we can’t get the briefs that we need, the information we need and the decisions we need off to those committees.
“While the Deputy Chief of Air Force and I are the leaders, we don’t have all the smarts. You need to be independent, use your own initiative, intelligence and experience. Trust your own judgment to do the work Air Force needs to go forward.”
He stressed the need for the practice of Air Force culture, values and behaviour.
“Values drive our culture, while behaviour is the true manifestation of our culture and values. In turn, people are the most important part of the organisation, the key to all our capabilities.
“Appropriate behaviour is vital to ensure we interact with each other in a correct way. It drives our professional endeavours as well.”
This story first appeared in Air Force News.
14 February, 2006
Immigration Accepts Criticism from Ombudsman
The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Senator Amanda Vanstone, has welcomed an Ombudsman’s report which found her department had made mistakes dealing with long-term Australian residents.
Ombudsman John McMillan investigated how the department administered its visa cancellation powers after receiving complaints from long-term residents who were being held in immigration detention. He found the department had failed to uphold the highest standard of procedural and substantive fairness it vwas required to in dealing with long etrm residents.
Senator Vanstone said the Ombudsman’s report reiterated concerns expressed in the Palmer and Comrie reports which were already being addressed by the department.
She said the new report would assist her department improve administrative practices and processes, work which was already under way.
“Many improvements have already been introduced to ensure the department achieves its goal of fair and reasonable dealings with all clients,” the Minuster said.
The Ombudsman found deficiencies in the way the department used its powers under Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 as it applied to long-term residents of Australia.
Senator Vanstone said the power to cancel a visa under s501 was an important provision to help protect the Australian community.”
“(It does this) by ensuring people of serious character concern can be removed if they do not have the right of citizenship,’’ she said.
Senator Vanstone said the Ombudsman’s comments were effectively about training, quality assurance and case management, the same issue found wanting by former Police Commissioners Palmer and Comrie.
She said however that the department was addressing how best to implement Professor McMillan’s nine recommendations.
7 February, 2006
Auditor Finds Agencies At Sea Over Consultants’ Costs
A wideranging study by the Auditor General has found that many agencies are failing in their obligations to report correctly how much they spent on consultants in the 2003-04 financial year.
In an audit of consultants’ costs for the year the Auditor found 73 agencies had misreported their expenses with almost every one of them admitting they’d made mistakes. The 73 agencies said they’d expended $361 million on consultancies in the period.
Federal law requires Government agencies to publish details of consultancies worth more than $10,000 in their annual reports and notify contracts over $2 000 in the Gazette. A separate requirement demands all agencies bound by the Financial Management and Accountability Act include on their website every contract greater than $100,000.
“The reporting of expenditure on consultants is one of agencies’ many accountability obligations,’’ the Auditor said.
His findings revealed however that “greater care should be taken by agencies in reporting expenditure on consultants.”
According to the Auditor, not one of the 73 agencies at fault had correctly reported their expenditure on consultancies across the three requirements and only 85 per cent had agreed to take corrective action.
The Auditor noted that the reporting requirements overlapped, sometimes requiring a consultancy to be reported in three different places. “This has contributed to the difficulties,’’ he said.
He recommended that the central agencies which imposed the requirements, including one Parliamentary Committee, examine options for improving the accuracy of the reports they received. “Efficiencies can be expected to result from this with consequential cost savings,” he said.
While the Auditor made three official recommendations in his report, he did not make any in respect of internal agency controls and procedures because so many agencies admitted they got it wrong and committed to taking steps to set it right.
“In this context, apart from agencies reviewing the integrity of their systems of data capture, there would be benefit in agencies reviewing their quality assurance arrangements over information reported on consultants.
The Auditor found that only seven of the 73 agencies reported information against all 13 of the requirements relating to consultancies, of which five were particularly important.
“(Those important ones) relate to the reporting of details of consultancies let, contract prices and actual expenditure, as follows:
• A summary statement detailing the number of contracts let during 2003–04;
• A summary statement detailing the total actual expenditure during 2003–04, regardless of when the contract was let; and
• A list of all consultancy contracts let in 2003–04 with a contract price of $10 000 or more (annual report requirements)”
The Auditor said consultants were typically used to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem; carry out defined research, reviews or evaluations; provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to problems and provide specialised skills, knowledge or services which the agency may not possess.
“While the cost for a consultant on a per diem basis may be higher than that of an employee, an advantage of consultants is that they can be engaged for a specific task for a specific period of time, thus providing greater resourcing flexibility for non-ongoing tasks.”
7 February, 2006
Law Reform Commission to Overhaul Privacy Act
The Australian law Reform Commission is to review the Privacy Act 1988.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock announced the review saying two recent reports by the Privacy Commissioner and the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee into the effectiveness of the Act both recommended that a comprehensive review be undertaken.
“It is timely to respond to these recommendations and review the overall effectiveness of the Privacy Act to see where improvements can be made,” Mr Ruddock said.
The review will examine existing Commonwealth, State and Territory laws and practices and will consider the needs of individuals for privacy protection in light of evolving technology.
“This is an important area given the rapid technological advances in information and communication storage and surveillance,” Mr Ruddock said.
The ALRC will also examine current and emerging international law in the privacy area and consider community perceptions of privacy and the extent to which it should be protected by legislation.
In carrying out its enquiries, the ALRC will consult with the public and key stakeholders.
ALRC President Professor David Weisbrot said a review of privacy laws and practices was crucial at this time, given the rapid technological advances in information, communication, storage and surveillance since privacy legislation was first developed in the 1980s.
“We potentially give away private, personal information every time we shop over the internet or with a credit card, apply for a job, go the doctor or other health professional, or even enter a competition,” Professor Weisbrot said.
“There are now real issues as to how securely information is stored, how it is used, and who has access to it.
“The ALRC has been asked to review the extent to which undue intrusion into or interference with privacy arises in Australia, and how best to protect the privacy of Australians.”
ALRC Commissioner, Associate Professor Les McCrimmon—who will lead the inquiry—said one of the main challenges will be to provide a legal framework that provides adequate protection for personal privacy, while minimising the regulatory burden on business.
The Privacy Act 1988 was the result of a previous ALRC inquiry into privacy, completed in 1983. The ALRC has also examined genetic privacy as part of its internationally acclaimed report Essentially Yours: The Protection of Human Genetic Information in Australia.
“Protection of a person’s right to privacy is becoming increasingly important in the technological environment of the 21st century. It’s time to review how well existing privacy laws are working, and whether they are dealing adequately with emerging areas, such as internet use and off-shore call centres,” Prof McCrimmon said.
As with other ALRC inquiries there will be a strong focus on community input. The ALRC plans to produce at least two consultation papers and will seek input from anyone with an interest in privacy, before providing its final report to the federal government, due in March 2008.
To register an interest in the inquiry, or for further information, including the full terms of reference, visit www.alrc.gov.au. The review is to be completed by 31 March 2008.
7 February, 2006
Antarctica’s New Runway Set to Take Off
The proposed intercontinental air link between Australia and Antarctica is one step closer with the arrival of heavy runway construction machinery on the Vasiliy Golovnin at Casey.
About $3 million of specialist equipment left Hobart at the beginning of January and will enable the major construction phase to begin at the Wilkins Ice Runway some 70km inland from Casey after two seasons of preparatory work at the site.
All machines underwent modification prior to their despatch to Casey to fit them out for the icy Antarctic conditions they will face on the cold inland plateau.
Some of the modifications include:
• Diesel fuel will freeze in Antarctica and all machines have been adapted to run on Special Antarctic Blend fuel
•To increase traction on the snow and ice the rubber tracks and tyres have all been fitted with special steel studs
•The tractors and loader have been equipped with double-glazed windscreens to reduce window fogging in the cold conditions
•Special heaters have been added to the engines to provide additional warmth in freezing conditions and facilitate an easier start
•Many modifications were made to the engine compartments to make the machines more suited to operating in the harsh environment. These include installation of radiator blankets and changes to bonnets and air intakes. Special caps have also been fitted so exhaust outlets can be plugged when not in use
•Special low temperature coolants, lubricants and battery acid have also replaced the standard issue
•High-capacity batteries have been provided as well as jump starting plugs to start the engines should the batteries go flat
The Challenger MT865 tractor is designed for towing heavy loads and its main function will be to tow compaction rollers at the runway site, and later to tow equipment and supplies between Casey and the airfield.
The MT865 is a powerful, rubber-belted tractor with 16-speed transmission and an engine with more than 500 horse power. The tractor is fitted with a steerable draw bar to assist turning when towing heavy loads. It is faster than its companion, the steel-tracked Caterpillar D7R.
The Caterpillar D7R is fitted with a massive blade specially designed to push large quantities of snow and ice. This blade is much larger than a standard D7 blade. It is also equipped with a ripper to tear up snow and icebergs. With more traction available than the Challenger MT865, this tractor will be used to do the more demanding preliminary runs with the compaction rollers over the runway.
When it is complete the Wilkins Runway will be 4km long and about 400m wide.
7 February, 2006
Film Commission Congratulates Aussie Oscar Hopefuls
The Australian Film Commission has congratulated director Anthony Lucas, actor Heath Ledger, cinematographer Dion Beebe and makeup artist Nikki Gooley on their Academy Award nominations in Los Angeles.
Heath Ledger received a nomination for best actor in a leading role for his portrayal of Ennis del Mar, a cowboy in the 1960s whose love for another man has a profound effect on his life, in the movie Brokeback Mountain.
Dion Beebe was nominated for his cinematography on Memoirs of a Geisha, while Nikki Gooley was part of the makeup team nominated for Star Wars, Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith.
The AFC-supported animated short film The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello has been nominated for best short film (animated). It has already won the best short animated film at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards.
Directed by Anthony Lucas, written by Mark Shirrefs, produced by Anthony and Julia Lucas, with executive producer Susie Campbell, Jasper Morello is a gothic horror mystery about a disgraced aerial navigator who flees his plague-ridden home on a desperate voyage to redeem himself. It was developed and funded with assistance from the AFC, Film Victoria and SBS Independent.
Jasper Morello has collected numerous awards internationally and in Australia, including grand prize at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, best short animation at the Australian Film Institute Awards, 50th anniversary prize for short film at the Vallodolid International Film Festival, Yoram Gross Animation Award at the Dendy Awards and best animation at the if Awards.
It is the third year in a row that an Australian film has garnered a nomination for best short film (animated) at the Oscars. Sejong Park’s Birthday Boy was nominated in 2004 and Adam Elliot’s Harvie Krumpet won the prize in 2003.
“This is a remarkable achievement for the Jasper Morello team,” said Kim Dalton, AFC chief executive.“To receive this accolade for three consecutive years is a testament to the world class talents of the Australian animation industry.
“Nominations for so many Australians yet again for the Academy Awards across the field of filmmaking reflect the impressive standing our industry has earned through the development of talented Australian filmmakers and actors,” he said.
The 78th annual academy awards will be announced on 5 March 2006, Los Angeles; the British academy film and television awards on 19 February 2006, London.
7 February, 2006
Defence Force Wins Fight for Extended Maternity Leave
New mothers in the Australian Defence Force have won two extra weeks maternity leave.
Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, Bruce Billson, announced the bonus saying the entitlement to maternity leave for women in the ADF would be raised from 12 to 14 weeks.
“The women in our Defence Force play an outstanding role in the service of their country and deserve as much support as possible in their role as mothers with young families.
“Enhanced maternity leave entitlements will also provide greater financial support and flexibility for women in the ADF who can now take their leave at full pay or convert it to half pay and extend their leave to 28 weeks.
Mr Billson said the Australian Government was committed to the ADF as an employer of choice with family-friendly policies that supported the needs of ADF members at work and at home.
“The ADF is also one of the leading government agencies for maternity leave entitlements and these new provisions aim to further assist ADF members strike a healthy balance between their service and personal lives,” he said.
“Family friendly Defence initiatives also include access to childcare, education support, spouse employment, reunion travel from remote localities and access to carers and compassionate leave.”
The increased entitlement for ADF women was introduced on February 1.
7 February, 2006
Defence College Roof Collapses
Ten people narrowly escaped a potentially fatal incident when a roof collapsed at the Australian Defence College in the Canberra suburb of Weston.
Investigators are still sorting through the rubble and examining splintered roof trusses in the Geddes Building to determine the cause of the collapse.
The roof brought a section of the ceiling down into the rooms below. The collapsed section caused considerable damage to the top floor of the building.
Staff were evacuated and some were treated at the scene by ACT Ambulance for minor cuts and shock. No one was hospitalised.
Major General David Morrison, Commandant of the ADC, praised ACT Fire Brigade and ACT Ambulance Services for their quick response.
“They were on the scene within minutes of the incident and conducted themselves with utmost professionalism. The emergency management procedures practiced within the College ensured the evacuation of personnel went smoothly and safely,” Major General Morrison said.
A full investigation will be conducted by the Department of Defence and all relevant agencies.
The owners of the building, Eclipse Property Group, said they were “hugely shocked” by the incident.
“We asked ourselves how it could happen and whether there was anything unusual that happened on the day,” managing director Rowan Wall said.
“But we can analyse what happens later, our two highest goals are to fix it up and make sure it never happens again.”
Eclipse bought the complex off Defence in 2003 for $31.7 million and leased it back.
7 February, 2006
Submarine Study Wins Researcher Advancement Award
A former Naval electrical engineering officer is the winner of the inaugural Maritime Advancement Award, sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton in conjunction with the Centre for Maritime Policy at the University of Wollongong.
Christopher Skinner, who had a distinguished career in the RAN from 1959 to 1989, including service in Vietnam aboard HMAS Hobart won the prize for his outstanding analysis of the costs and benefits to Australia of the Collins Class submarine project.
He was awarded a two-year research or development grant worth $12,000.
President of the Australian Naval Institute Commodore James Goldrick presented the award to .Mr Skinner at the closing ceremony of the Sea Power 2006 Conference.
Mr Skinner’s project was conceived as a means to deliver the next generation of conventional submarines to follow the successful Oberon Class as they were retired, and to embody the best of sensors, weapons and their control systems, propulsion and platform systems for the Collins Class submarines.
The Maritime Advancement Award goes to the most promising research or development proposal from anyone working in the field of maritime endeavour including science, maritime law and policy, defence, commerce, shipbuilding or maritime industry.
The judges agreed that Mr Skinner’s project would bring new understanding of the impact of the submarine project upon the Australian economy and highlight key lessons about the significance of such activities for national development as well as for the future.
7 February, 2006
Woman Arrested Over Parliament House incident
The Joint Counter Terrorism team of the Australian Federal Police and the Tasmania Police has arrested a 56-year-old female who is alleged to have sent a suspicious package to Australian Parliament House.
Federal Agents working with ACT Police responded to an incident at Parliament House and secured the scene. A package was later rendered safe by the AFP bomb team and after further investigation the package was deemed an elaborate hoax. It is alleged that the woman posted the suspicious package from Tasmania to Parliament House.
Federal Agents together with Tasmania Police searched a place in Sheffield, Tasmania in the early morning. During the search they allegedly seized a number of items including wire and label tags.
The woman was arrested and charged with offences relating to using a postal or similar service to make a threat to cause serious bodily harm. She was charged at Devonport Police Station and bailed by police to appear at Devonport Magistrates Court on 9 March 2006.
Acting Counter Terrorism National Manger Frank Prendergast said people should be aware that the AFP regards these types of offences very seriously.
“In this circumstance a significant amount of resources were allocated to investigating the incident and matters of this kind will be treated seriously,” Federal Agent Prendergast said.
7 February, 2006
ABC Seeks More Funds to Bridge Digital Divide
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation hopes to improve its services to metropolitan and regional audiences and has approached thel Government for more money to do so.
The Corporation hopes to provide content that would drive the take-up of digital television and produce more quality Australian television content but admits its plans are dependant on the Government agreeing to a funding submission.
Managing Director of the ABC, Russell Balding said the 2006/09 Triennial Funding Submission had been made at a time when the rate of change in Australia’s media landscape continued to escalate, making it crucial for the ABC to stay at the forefront of these changes.
“In this submission the ABC has proposed the introduction of a number of innovative services to achieve three key objectives,” Mr Balding said.
The objectives are:
• To boost the radio and online coverage of local events in outer metropolitan and regional areas, where audiences are currently under-serviced, the ABC proposes additional Radio Online producers in 36 locations across Australia.
• To promote the take-up of digital television by Australian consumers the ABC proposes a major boost to digital content production for the ABC2 digital television channel and the development of interactive television enhancements.
• To increase the Australian content on ABC Television, the ABC proposes a production fund fully committed to producing Australian drama, documentaries, children's and family drama and arts programs through the independent television production sector.
To achieve this, the ABC was asking for an extra $34.8 million.
“While the ABC has continually demonstrated that it is an efficient broadcaster, costs are growing at a faster rate than increases from the Government’s current funding model,” Mr Balding said.
“In addition to the new policy proposals, the ABC has also sought additional funding to address the cumulative funding gap in relation to the corporation's capital and operational expenditure requirements.
“I am confident that this issue will be addressed by the Funding Adequacy and Efficiency Review commissioned by the Federal Government as part of its 2004 Federal election promises.
“For the past 74 years the ABC has delivered the most comprehensive and far reaching media service to all Australians. This submission to the Government is aimed at re-affirming that role for the future.”
7 February, 2006
Community Arts Looking Good With $3 Million in Funding
The Australia Council for the Arts has committed more than $3 million to 49 community-based arts projects and programs over the next 12 months.
The funding is for a diverse range of community arts activities - collaborations with professional artists - among regional, disability, multicultural and youth communities across Australia.
The announcement is the outcome of a recent review of grant applications by the Australia Council's newly formed Community Cultural Development Assessment Committee.
“The review highlighted the breadth of community activity being undertaken across the country, demonstrating an active, vibrant and diverse range of artists, communities and organisations,” said Tim O'Loughlin, chair of the Assessment Committee and Community Partnerships Committee.
“The committee was particularly impressed with the originality and diversity of the proposed activities which included a range of collaborative projects.”
Some of the projects to receive Australia Council funding are:
• InCite Youth Arts ($49,000) will conduct a mentoring program engaging professional community artists to work with Indigenous youth in remote locations in the Northern Territory
• Kickstart Arts ($50,755) will deliver five community-based cultural projects with regional Tasmanian communities, targeting at-risk and refugee youth through creative workshops and mentoring programs
• Tutti Ensemble ($9000) will produce a documentary film Northern Lights, a unique collaboration between an Australian disability arts company and a partner disability organisation overseas
• Lao Community Advancement ($15,000) will conduct an anthology of Lao writing, exploring the diversity of experiences and stories across generations, gender, ethnic and religious groups.
The Community Cultural Development Grants Program, which is open to individuals, groups and organisations, will be offered again in 2006. Details on how to apply are in the 2006 Australia Council Support for the Arts Handbook. To obtain a copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1800 226 912 or (02) 9215 9116.
“The committee would like to encourage applicants in all categories in 2006 to apply with confidence, acknowledging the vast potential of arts activity to deliver important benefits to Australian communities,” Mr O'Loughlin said.
7 February, 2006
Survey finds Indigenous Languages Silenced
The National Indigenous Languages Survey Report 2005 has found only 18 of 250 known Australian Indigenous languages remained strong.
Providing an overview of the condition of Australia’s indigenous languages, the report found about 110 indigenous languages were still spoken by older people but were endangered.
It found words and phrases were still in use and there was community support in many parts of the country for reclamation and learning programs for many other languages which are no longer fully spoken.
Arts Minister Senator Rod Kemp issued the report saying Indigenous languages were a rich and important part of Australia’s indigenous cultural heritage.
“The National Indigenous Languages Survey Report 2005 provides a valuable update on their status,” Senator Kemp said.
He said the report analysed a national survey on the state of Australia’s indigenous languages that was commissioned by the Australian Government in 2004 and conducted by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in conjunction with the Federation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages (FATSIL).
Senator Kemp said the report documents both the vitality and the vulnerability of Australia’s indigenous languages.
“It highlights areas that need assistance, recommends future directions for languages policy and highlights how the Australian Government's new whole-of-government approach can assist indigenous communities protect and strengthen their languages,” he said.
Communities around Australia possess many of the elements required to keep Indigenous languages strong or to reclaim them. They have skilled and devoted language workers and teachers, excellent teaching materials, good documentation of languages and active community language centres.
The National Indigenous Languages Survey Report 2005 is available at www.dcita.gov.au/indig/maintenance_indigenous_languages/publications.
The survey was innovative in that it was an Internet survey with respondents providing online answers to a questionnaire, with assessments processed as numbers or free text commentary.
Telephone interviews and meetings supplemented the information gained from the questionnaire and a separate survey questionnaire was circulated to collecting institutions, and assessment of the AIATSIS audiovisual collection was also conducted.
7 February, 2006
Kakadu Rangers Issue Crocodile Warning
Kakadu rangers have warned drivers to be alert for saltwater crocodiles following an unusual incident on the Kakadu Highway, just three kilometres south of the Bowali Visitor Centre near Jabiru.
A local scientist was travelling along the Kakadu Highway with a group of Gundjeihmi traditional owners when a two metre saltwater crocodile emerged from a culvert drain and launched itself into the path of his four wheel drive.
"The croc just launched itself into the air with all four feet off the ground," Kakadu's crocodile expert Garry Lindner said. "The driver had no time to react and unfortunately the animal died on impact."
Garry Lindner said this was the latest in a series of reports from drivers who'd been confronted by crocodiles on Kakadu's roads.
"Two years ago another driver swerved to avoid a three metre crocodile on the Arnhem Highway and only just escaped plunging into the creek," Mr Lindner said.
"Just last week another driver had to swerve to avoid a three metre saltie on the Arnhem Highway and he's seen another large crocodile just off the road this morning."
Crocodile deaths on Territory roads are unusual and unfortunate, but not unknown, Mr Lindner said.
"Salties are on the move at this time of year and visitors to Kakadu should be careful when driving on the roads - especially at night around creek crossings, causeways and culverts where there is a greater chance of an encounter on the road."
During the wet season, saltwater crocodiles can move large distances, often along flooded watercourses in search of new waterbodies and potential new homes or territories. Smaller crocodiles are often forced out of their homes by larger dominant or boss crocs. During these treks, they sometimes rest at night on steep banks or on the roadside near culverts and water course crossings. They may be seeking temporary respite from larger male crocodiles downstream or looking for a feed of fish that congregate in the culverts.
"Road users, fishermen and other users need to take care when accessing these areas particularly during the wet season," he said.
"You may not see crocodiles at these roadside locations - but be cautious. Always expect that a crocodile may be in the area. Some crocs move into well known culvert fishing locations and remain there for the duration of the wet season. They are attracted - just like fisherman - to the fish."
7 February, 2006
Aussie Lotion Creams its Rivals in Beauty Awards
An Australian sunscreen that was exported to the world with the help of Austrade has been named the Best New Beauty Product for 2006.
Given the honour in the Wallpaper Magazine Awards, the WA-produced sunscreen also won the vote of two of the nation’s most beautiful women, Megfan Gale and Elle Macpherson.
Ms Gale, who the sunscreen is named after for the Australian and Italian markets, and Ms Macpherson, are fans of the zinc which was produced and developed by Ganehill Pty Ltd.
“The Ganehill team come from Megan Gale’s hometown of Perth and showed considerable PR savvy in getting Megan on board to launch their Invisible Zinc ranges in Europe and Australia three years ago,” said Austrade’s Chief Economist Tim Harcourt.
“Since then they’ve gone from strength to strength, building a stronger brand and more refined product.”
Called Z01 Invisible Zinc in the British and American markets and Megan Gale Invisible Zinc in the Australian and Italian markets the sunscreen is used by many of the world’s top make-up artists.
Ganehill’s Managing Director, Adil Bux said it might seem unusual for a sunscreen to take out a top beauty product award however photo ageing from the sun is responsible for 70 to 90 per cent of your ageing.
“Sunscreens are becoming serious beauty products,” Mr Bux said.
“Our ZO1 - which is OZ spelt backwards - was the product that was voted the World’s Best New Beauty Product. It was a challenge for us to develop such a highly effective sunscreen that’s also aesthetically appealing.
To help the small company succeed in exports, Ganehill received free advice and assistance through the Austrade administered New Exporter Development Program which is available for eligible small businesses that have never exported before, or for those looking at getting into new markets.
The Wallpaper Magazine Awards are arguably the most influential global design competition with judges such as architect Lord Foster, fashion photographer Mario Testino, designer Donna Karan, Whitechapel’s Iwona Blazwick and design prodigy Konstantin Grcic.
ZO1 Invisible Zinc was launched in the UK in April 2005 at Selfridges, Harrods and is currently rolling out in high-end retailers throughout Europe and from April ’06, the US.
“Austrade has been a great help at every step of the export process. In addition to setting up introductions and providing background information on new markets, it has also assisted us with trade fair activity in the US. This was a great entry point into that market and has lead to many stockist inquiries,” Mr Bux said.
7 February, 2006
Australia To Attract Holiday-Starved Americans
Tourism Australia is looking to encourage holiday starved Americans to experience Australia this year, hot on the heels of its G’Day LA Australia Week promotion last month.
Tourism Australia Managing Director, Scott Morrison said Tourism Australia played a central role in G'Day LA as a founding partner, major sponsor and marketer of the program’s events in the US and this year all G’Day LA events were sellouts, attracting around 8,000 people and reaching a TV and news audience in excess of 50 million viewers.
Mr Morrison said the week long promotion in Los Angeles had been a fantastic way to kickstart Tourism Australia’s program of marketing activities in the United States for 2006.
”Starting the year with G’Day LA is a timely way to put the idea of an Australian holiday in the minds of US consumers, the next step is to get them to actually book a trip,” Mr Morrison said.
“Recent studies by Expedia in the US indicate that holiday deprived Americans are looking to holiday and travel more in 2006, which is great news for Australia.
“With Americans leaving an estimated 421 million days in unused holiday leave in 2005, hopefully there will be plenty of consumers seeking the rejuvenation that a great holiday offers in 2006.
“Over the coming months Tourism Australia will continue to promote Australian experiences which are compelling enough to convert the interest in our country into actual visitation.”
Mr Morrison said the US market was also experiencing a growing trend to booking holidays at the last minute.
“Technology is shortening the booking cycle for American consumers and indications are that Australia received lots of last minute bookings in late 2005 for travel early this year.
“Tourism Australia will be looking to encourage this sense of urgency to visit Australia to ensure that prospective travellers fulfill their New Year’s resolutions to holiday more in 2006.”
7 February, 2006
ACCC Puts Up Plan to Speed Processes
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is seeking comments on changes that should assist in speedier decision-making.
A paper just published outlines the broad approach the ACCC intends to take in developing procedural rules for proceedings under the telecommunications access regime.
Under recent changes to the Trade Practices Act 1974, the ACCC was provided with the broad power to make written rules that set out procedures for matters arising under Part XIC of the Act. These rules can modify or displace some current procedures.
The legislative amendments require the ACCC to publish a development plan outlining its proposals and an indicative time for their introduction.
After industry has commented, the ACCC will finalise the development plan in March 2006.
An ACCC Commissioner, Ed Willett, said the procedural rule-making power is intended to facilitate more timely decision making and provide greater certainty to industry participants.
"By giving the ACCC greater discretion to determine its own procedures, the power to make procedural rules will allow it to remove many of the sources of delay in the process,” Mr Willett said.
For example, the ACCC may make procedural rules to allow minor modifications to undertakings or exemption applications currently under consideration by the ACCC, without the need to restart full public consultation processes.
The rules could specify the form and content of applications, undertakings, variations and other documents given to the ACCC under Part XIC and allow it to specify modifications to the current procedures for dealing with confidential information.
They could specify a time limit by which parties must respond to requests from the ACCC for further information.
Submissions on the proposals must be received by 22 February 2006. The ACCC will conduct further public consultation when it releases draft procedural rules later in the year.
7 February, 2006
Headhunters Join Team at ABC
The ABC has tasked executive head hunters Egon Zehnder International with finding a replacement for former managing director Russell Balding.
Egon Zehnder International is one of the world's largest executive search firms, with 60 offices in 37 countries.
The firm is well known in Australia for assisting with CEO appointments for some of Australia's largest organisations in both private and public sectors. They have commenced a global executive search for the ABC.
It is expected Egon Zehnder International will report back to the ABC Board with a short list of potential candidates within six to eight weeks.
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