SearchArchives for 20 January06
31 January, 2006
Army to get Leading Edge Combat Gear
Close combat units within the Australian Defence Force will be better equipped to defeat enemy forces on the battlefield following the introduction of new leading edge communications.
Prior to his resignation as Defence Minister, Senator Robert Hill said Defence had awarded a $13 million contract to Marconi Australia to supply about 6000 handheld personal radios for soldiers in the five regular infantry battalions, the School of Infantry, cavalry reconnaissance scouts and the Combat Training Centre.
He said the contract was part of a $35 million package of equipment for the Army under Project LAND 125 to provide soldiers with a range of combat equipment including thermal weapon sights, helmets and personal protective padding.
Senator Hill said the package would improve the fighting capability and safety of the Army’s regular infantry battalions in future combat operations.
"The new equipment will improve the lethality, survivability and command and control capabilities of infantry soldiers and cavalry reconnaissance scouts," Senator Hill said.
"The new radios will ensure more effective communications between individual soldiers. This capability has been proven on recent operations to improve situational awareness and security within small teams.
"The radios will be delivered early this year and will contribute to the Hardened and Networked Army objectives announced last year."
Following an extensive evaluation process, the Marconi Personal Role Radio was selected to provide the Soldier Personal Radios. The evaluation process included field testing by soldiers of the 3 Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment.
The current phase of Project Land 125 was approved in February 2005, to enable the first of a planned series of enhancements to Army’s close combat capability.
31 January, 2006
Swingers Slam-Dunked in Basketball Warning
As the finals of the National Basketball League fast approach and interest in the sport reaches its peak, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has reminded everyone that there is a serious safety message to consider if they had a basketball ring at home or were intending to get one.
Across Australia there were more than 200,000 basketball rings and backboards installed on brick walls, over garages or doors, the ACCC said and a new Trade Practices Act mandatory standard requires all basketball rings and backboards to carry a safety warning notice and symbol to be displayed at the time of purchase.
Unsafe installations of basketball rings and backboards could be easily dislodged by the weight of a player hanging off the ring and fatal and serious injuries could result from falling bricks or guttering.
Commission spokesman and Northern Territory Regional Director, Derek Farrell, said the safety campaign was intended to raise awareness of the safe use, installation and maintenance of basketball rings and backboards, and included a printed safety brochure.
Mr Farrell said the new standard recommended that homeowners:
•install a basketball ring and backboard safely;
•fix the basketball ring and backboard to a “hot dip” galvanised steel post;
•check the condition of existing basketball rings and backboards;
•remove unsafe basketball rings and backboards installed on brick walls; and
•tell children never to hang or swing on the basketball ring.
The chief executive of Basketball Australia, Scott Derwin, said basketball was a safe sport that people of all ages and skill levels could play at home or in an organised competition.
“If you are going to install a ring at home, make sure you adhere to all the safety standards and don't swing on the ring,” Mr Derwin said.
Basketball rings at professional sporting venues were re-enforced to withstand the elite level of play.
31 January, 2006
Stats Show Courts Jammed with Traffic Offenders
Australia’s Magistrates’ Courts were jammed with traffic offenders in 2004-05, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealing almost a quarter of a million people were brought to book on road traffic matters in that year.
Of 493,297cases to front the Magistrates’ Court, 224,676 were traffic offences, the bureau reported.
And the older the offender, the more likely he or she was to be in court for a traffic infringement.
The bureau found that people in their mid-40s or older were more likely (53 per cent) to be facing road traffic offences than any other offence. In comparison, 40 per cent of people aged 24 years and under faced similar charges.
The types of offences heard for men and women differed in the higher courts, with 14 per cent of men facing sexual assault and related offences compared to 2 per cent of women. Almost one in five women (18 per cent) faced deception and related offences compared to 6 per cent of men.
More than nine out of 10 people (96 per cent) facing charges in the courts in 2004-05 were found guilty.
People proven guilty in the higher courts were more likely to receive a jail term than those in the Magistrates' Courts (57 per cent and 5 per cent respectively).
Other results from the publication include:
•Illicit drug offences were most likely to be proven guilty (97 per cent in the higher courts and per cent in the Magistrates' Courts).
•In the higher courts “homicide and related offences” had an acquittal rate of 18 per cent, and the acquittal rate for “sexual assault and related offences” was 24 per cent.
•In the higher courts, men were more likely than women to receive a jail term (59 per cent of men, 41 per cent of women).
31 January, 2006
Aussie photographers get snappy
at Tourism Australia
A new advertising campaign for Tourism Australia has been run into criticism before it has begun, Australian photographers unhappy to be snubbed in favour of a Britisher.
Four Australian photographers say they are appalled that Tourism Australia’s advertising agency, M&C Saatchi, chose a non-Australian to complete the $200,000 photographic work for the campaign.
British photographer Pete Seaward was selected for the job ahead of Aussies Paul Torcello, Greg Bartley, Grenville Turner and Murray Fredericks.Seaward had worked with M&C Saatchi on a large campaign in New Zealand.
The Association of Australian Commercial and Media Photographers believes the appointment was the result of existing relationships rather than merit.
ACMP’s national president North Sullivan also claims that production for the Tourism Australia campaign was being handled by a foreign company - New Zealand’s The Department of Doing, based in Wellington.
He said it's a slap in the face for Australian creative talent when Australia's finest are passed over.
The ACMP has asked for the decision to be reviewed and the Aussies taken on.
31 January, 2006
Pilot Data Flies in Face of Media Claims
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has rejected media claims that the commercial aviation fatal accident rate in Australia is increasing and that the number of aviation fatalities
involving professional pilots in Australia over the last three years is very high compared with the years since 10.
ATSB data and analysis released recently shows that Australia still has the best international record in high-capacity regular public transport with no fatal accidents involving passenger jet aircraft.
According to the ATSB figures, even using the broadest definition of commercial aviationto include both RPT and General
Aviation and except for business/private and sport aviation, there was a significant decrease in the number of fatal accidents
between 10 and 2005. Although there was an increase in fatal accidents and fatalities for commercial operations during 2005, the year 2004 was the lowest recorded in the period for each measure. Also using the broadest definition of professional pilot, the data showed no significant trend in fatalities involving professional pilots from 10 to 2005 but a significant decline in the fatal accident trend.
Fatal accidents and fatalities involving professional pilots were much higher compared with private pilots in 13, 14 and 2000 than in 2003, 2004 and 2005 ATSB said.
It said the gap, (related to hours flown) is neither recent nor growing.
Between 10 and 2004 (the last year for which activity data was available) commercial aviation operations recorded an average of 0.6 fatal accidents per 100,000 flying
hours compared with an average of 2.4 fatal accidents per 100,000 hours flown for non-commercial operations.
There were four low-capacity RPT fatal accidents involving 32 fatalities recorded in the ATSB database from 10 to 2005 including a 15 training accident in
which there were no passengers on board. The other three low-capacity RPT accidents were Monarch (13), Whyalla (2000) and the recent accident at Lockhart River.
The ATSB found that the total number of fatal accidents and fatalities declined significantly in the period from 10 to 2005. The largest number of fatal accidents (30) and fatalities (64) was recorded in 10. The lowest number of fatal accidents (10 and 11) and fatalities (24 and 23) occurred in 2002 and 2004. In 2005 there was an increase in the number of fatal accidents and fatalities to 13 and 34 respectively compared with 2004 but the number of fatal accidents and fatalities reported in 2005 was below the annual average (20 and 40 respectively) for the 16-year period.
31 January, 2006
Trade Marks Office Looks to Sidestep FOI
IP Australia is considering introducing a new system under which documents on trade mark files can be accessed, to replace the current system of access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 ( the FOI Act). Comments are sought regarding this proposed system and should arrive by 3 February 2006.
At present, access to documents on trade mark files is handled under the FOI Act
Access to trade marks documents under the FOI Act is complicated and costly for IP Australia’s customers.
There is no flexibility under the FOI Act as to how IP Australia is able to charge its customers, for example, it is not possible to charge on account.
The FOI Act requires that a trade mark applicant be consulted before the release of any business or any sensitive personal information (eg details of a person’s physical or mental illness).
Trade mark applicants frequently contend that the following information is exempt from disclosure:
• recent sales, advertising and turnover figures;
• detailed proposals for marketing;
• qualitative or quantitative marketing research;
• customer or supplier invoices; or
• customer lists.
Trade mark applicants also frequently assert that information is exempt because it is confidential. However, as the Trade Marks Office does not have a practice of receiving evidence of use etc in confidence, such assertions are rarely upheld.
The process of arguing that information is exempt under the FOI Act requires consultees to make submissions relating to the grounds set out in the FOI Act. This is a technically complicated area of law, and consultees frequently have difficulties in establishing exemptions under the FOI Act.
According to IP Australia the procedures set out in the FOI Act are rigid and inflexible, and can delay the release of requested documents for a substantial period. It says this is inconvenient for parties requesting information, and can cause difficulties in matters such as oppositions, where extensions of time are frequently required while FOI requests are being finalised.
In addition, the fees and charges for access to documents under the FOI legislation are set well below the cost to IP Australia of providing access to trade marks documents.
As IP Australia is required to recover the costs of its operations, the bulk of the cost of the existing FOI regime for accessing trade marks documents is being borne by all users, including the substantial majority who have never used the existing FOI access regime.Under its proposed system for access to documents on trade mark files the Registrar of TradeMarks would release some documents on an explicit understanding of confidentiality and give a direction that such documents were to be treated as confidential.
The proposed system would be modelled on the system used by the UK Patent Office. More information is available from www.ipaustralia.gov.au
31 January, 2006
Ministerial Reshuffle Rewards and Relegates
Prime Minister John Howard visited the Governor-General on 24 January, seeking a rubber stamp for changes to the ministerial lineup.
Mr Howard said the changes reflect the depth of talent available to his government and leave the coalition well placed to pursue its fourth term agenda.
"The changes include two promotions into Cabinet, four new appointments to the outer Ministry and four new parliamentary secretary appointments," Mr Howard said. He thanked Senators Hill, Patterson and Macdonald for their contributions to the government.
"As a result of Senator Hill’s resignation, I have decided to appoint Senator Nick Minchin leader of the government in the Senate. The new deputy leader of the government in the senate will be Senator Helen Coonan.
The Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination will be moved to the Family and Community Services (FACS) portfolio because of the potential synergies with other FACS programs. "The portfolio will be renamed Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the current portfolio of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs will be renamed Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.
Mr Howard said Mal Brough would become Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
John Cobb will become Minister for Community Services in the expanded portfolio.
Dr Brendan Nelson will become Minister for Defence. His previous portfolio, Education Science and Training went to Julie Bishop, who will also become Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues. Senator Santo Santoro becomes the new Minister for Ageing.
Bruce Billson takes Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence. The Prime Minister thanked De-Anne Kelly for her work in this portfolio over the past year and appointed her Parliamentary Secretary for Trade.
Peter Dutton becomes the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, replaced as Minister for Workforce Participation by Dr Sharman Stone.
Senator Eric Abetz will become Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, while Gary Nairn will become Special Minister of State.
Malcolm Turnbull will become Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister with particular responsibility for water policy. Andrew Robb will become Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.
Senator Richard Colbeck will become Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration.
Sussan Ley will become Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, while Teresa Gambaro will become Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
Senator Sandy Macdonald will become Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence.
In the light of the possibility of his retirement at the next election, Warren Entsch has asked that he stand down as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, Mr Howard said.
"I wish to thank Mr Entsch for his contribution in that position over recent years.” He will be replaced by Mr Bob Baldwin MP.
The swearing-in ceremony took place on 27 20 January06
31 January, 2006
Submariners Breathe Easy After Science Beats Smells
Australian submariners are rejoicing that a stink concerning the Collins-class boats will soon be completely covered up.
The stink is the rancid odour from solid garbage stored in Collins-class submarines, that will literally be covered up by a new biofilter blanket that the Defence Science and Technology Organisation has recommended as the best cost-effective solution.
The biofilter blanket was successfully trialed by HMAS Sheean during its record 55-day deployment to North and South East Asia recently.
During the trial, the biofilter blanket was used to cover garbage and significantly reduced the vile smell that usually wafts through the narrow confines of a submarine on a long deployment.
Commanding officer of HMAS Sheean, Lieutenant Commander Andrew Keough welcomed the new arrangement saying the blanket “should immediately be deployed on all submarines in the RAN” because of its many benefits, including improving air quality and the habitability of accommodation space.
Sheean’s Executive Officer, LCDR Brett Westcott, said the blanket almost completely eliminates the rancid smell that emanates from stored biodegradable waste in the Auxiliary Machinery Space of Collins-class submarines.
LCDR Westcott said the blanket not only improved living conditions for the crew but also reduced the frequency of waste discharges.
“The blanket enables a sub to go 50-days or more without discharging rancid garbage, which helps keep our signature to a minimum, which is vital for stealth,” he said.
Chemical Scientist Lyn Fletcher said the biofilter blanket was made in Italy and shaped up as a perfect cost-effective solution in response to the stench of waste on submarines.
31 January, 2006
New Zealand Comes to the Party on Boundary Agreement
Australia and New Zealand have exchanged notes at a ceremony in Wellington to bring into force a new treaty to establish our respective maritime boundaries.
The Treaty between Australia and New Zealand establishing certain Exclusive Economic Zone Boundaries and Continental Shelf Boundaries settles what was Australia's longest unresolved maritime boundary.
In one of his last official duties before returning to Canberra, outgoing High Commissioner to NZ, Dr Allan Hawke, welcomed the entry into force of the Treaty as a sign of the strong state of trans-Tasman relations.
"The Treaty is an excellent outcome for both Australia and New Zealand and brings certainty of jurisdiction over the maritime area between our two countries,’’ Dr Hawke said.
“It details the jurisdiction over the water column and the seabed between Australia and New Zealand where the areas claimed by both countries previously overlapped.
The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provided the legal framework for this Treaty.
Under UNCLOS, coastal states with overlapping claims are required to delimit their respective jurisdiction by agreement in order to achieve an equitable solution.
The entry into force of the Treaty comes after complex scientific analysis of the continental shelf in the Tasman Sea and four years of extensive negotiations which concluded in July 2004.
31 January, 2006
Call for Experts to Join WorkChoices Network
Employment and Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, has announced the release of a tender to develop a national network of industry-based advisors capable of delivering advice on the application of the WorkChoices reform.
The WorkChoices Employer Advisor Program is one element of a wider information and education campaign that aimed to ensure all workers, their families and employers were aware of the changes and received information about how WorkChoices may affect them.
The program would ensure that there were advisors around Australia, including in rural and regional areas, able to educate and assist employers to implement the reforms on an industry basis.
“The government has a responsibility to provide reliable information and practical assistance to industry on how WorkChoices affects business operations,” Mr Andrews said.
“We recognise that by tendering for these services we can supplement existing resources and harness specific industry-based knowledge.”
Organisations were being invited to tender to provide an innovative, responsive and resource effective model to achieve the objective of the program.
Mr Andrews said in preparing their tenders, tenderers should explore a range of methods for accessing and communicating with employers, including employers from non-English speaking backgrounds.
The Request for Tender documentation can be accessed from www.tenders.gov.au and enquiries should be made to email@example.com.
31 January, 2006
APS Staff Prominent in Australia Day Honours
The contribution Public Servants make to the Australian community was recognised in the Australia Day honours.
The work of the following staff members was rewarded with an award.
Dr John William COPLAND AO
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra
For service to veterinary science, particularly in the areas of veterinary parasitology and fish pathology and the application of this research to agricultural programs in developing countries.
Robert John CORNALL AO
Secretary, Attorney-General's Department, Canberra
For service to the community through contributions to the development of public policy, particularly counter terrorism arrangements in a changing global security environment; and through providing advice and governance across a diverse range of responsibilities within the civil justice system.
Aurora Kristine ANDRUSKA PSM
For outstanding public service in the development and implementation of a new national framework for vocational education and training in Australia.
Howard BAMSEY PSM
For outstanding public service in the development and implementation of public policy on environmental issues, particularly climate change.
Judith Alison BLAZOW PSM
For outstanding public service in the development and implementation of major health care reforms including a pilot program for bowel cancer screening, a new
national co-operative food regulatory scheme and the pharmaceutical component of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement.
Eric Philip BOWEN PSM
For outstanding public service in the development, delivery and implementation of enhanced whole-of-government budget processes.
Katharine Marie CAMPBELL PSM
For outstanding public service in enhancing Australia's education and research links with China and Indonesia.
Stephen Patrick DEADY PSM
For outstanding public service in the development and promotion of Australia's trade policy, particularly as Chief Negotiator for Australia of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement.
Christopher Bellinger DOEPEL PSM
For outstanding public service in the development and implementation of legislation and policy relating to native title.
Richard John FOSTER PSM
For outstanding public service in the administration of courts in Australia.
Dr John LOY PSM
For outstanding public service in the field of radiation protection and nuclear safety.
Geoffrey William LUTHER PSM
For outstanding public service in the development of a comprehensive spectrum allocation system for Australia.
Steven RODDA PSM
For outstanding public service in the provision of emergency assistance to the victims of the Lower Eyre Peninsula bushfires and to their families.
Dr Wendy SOUTHERN PSM
For outstanding public service in the development of effective national counter-terrorism arrangements in Australia.
Dr Neil WILLIAMS PSM
For outstanding public service in the provision of geoscientific advice to government, geoscience services, industry and the public.
Rhys Morgan OLLERENSHAW PSM
For outstanding public service in the reform of the ACT’s health professional legislation, resulting in increased consumer protection from substandard health care services within the ACT.
David Albert COLES PSM
For outstanding public service and contribution to public policy in the Northern Territory.
AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE
Federal Agent Peter DUFFY APM
Assistant Commissioner Mark John NEY APM
Federal Agent Barry Warren TURNER APM
ACT FIRE SERVICE
Anthony Grey BARTLETT AFSM
ACT AMBULANCE SERVICE
Kenneth John PAULSEN PSM ASM
ACT EMERGENCY SERVICES
Bruce LANG ESM
31 January, 2006
Record Numbers Call Australia Home
A record 14,000 people became Australian citizens at ceremonies around the country on Australia Day.
The Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, John Cobb said the new citizens came from more than 90 places of birth and would join more than 3.5 million people who had become citizens since Australia citizenship was introduced 55 years ago.
“Citizenship is about commitment to Australia, its people, and its democratic traditions,’’ Mr Cobb said.
c “It’s about people sharing the goal of making Australia an even better place to live and work.”
He said he was delighted so many people around the nation chose to become Australian citizens on our national day of celebration and warmly welcomed them to the Australian family.
Mr Cobb presided over the biggest citizenship ceremony, for around 1,000 people in Sydney, while the Prime Minister, John Howard, presided over a ceremony for 119 people in Canberra.
Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery conferred citizenship on about 190 people at the National Gallery of Victoria and the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Senator Amanda Vanstone conferred citizenship on 23 people during a break in the one-day international cricket match at Adelaide Oval.
In addition, thousands of people participated in affirmation ceremonies across the country, allowing all Australians to express their commitment to Australia.
Mr Cobb said Australia Day was an ideal time for Australians to make a public statement affirming their loyalty and commitment to the nation and its people by taking part in an affirmation ceremony.
“Citizenship is the unifying force in our culturally diverse society and I encourage those who are eligible to take the step and become a citizen,” he said
31 January, 2006
DIMA Figures Show More International Guests Want to Stay
Multicultural Australia remains a welcoming haven for international guests, with more opting to call Australia home according to new figures released by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.
The figures show that more than 39,000 permanent visas were granted in 2004-05 to people already in Australia on temporary visas, including skilled workers, students and visitors.
Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone welcomed the news saying the doubling of numbers in eight years also represented a profound shift in the way people migrated to Australia.
"Almost a third of places in the 2004-05 migration program went to people already in the country," Senator Vanstone said.
She said students and skilled workers were driving the change, which was partly a result of changes in 2001 to rules for overseas students applying to stay permanently as skilled migrants upon conclusion of their studies.
Overall, the 2004-05 migration program was the largest and most highly skilled in the past decade, she said. A total of 120,060 people were granted visas, a five per cent increase on the 114,360 granted in 2003-04.
These figures were available in the annual publication Population Flows: Immigration Aspects which is used as a resource for ministerial consultations on the annual migration program and distributed widely throughout Australian schools and libraries and also available on the internet.
In the case of skilled migrants, more than 16,400 permanent skilled migration visas were granted to students in Australia in 2004-05, a 25 per cent increase on 2003-04. There was a 24 per cent rise in the number of permanent visas granted onshore under the Employer Nomination scheme to workers who entered on temporary programs.
"The people being granted these visas are typically young and skilled, and are more often than not also educated in Australia. This is benefit to all Australians," Senator Vanstone said "They are usually proficient in English and have established social networks and experience of our labour market and culture, increasing their chances of settling quickly and successfully."
In the same period, more than 62,000 Australians left for overseas, of which 30,000 were skilled.
"Research shows that many of these same Australians will return home, often with enhanced skills," Senator Vanstone said.
"In the meantime, 47,171 overseas-born people with skills arrived to assist employers fill the vacant positions for skilled workers."
More information about Australia’s immigration trends is contained at www.immi.gov.au
31 January, 2006
Defence Learning Culture to be Audited
Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, has announced the commencement of an audit into the learning culture in Australian Defence Force schools and training institutions.
Driven by Air Chief Marshal Houston, the initiative is in addition to significant reforms announced by the government last year to enhance the ADF military justice system.
ACM Houston said the audit would ensure that the culture of Defence schools and training establishments complemented other improvements in the ADF’s military justice system.
"As I have indicated on many occasions, I am committed to implementing the Government’s reforms of the military justice system,” ACM Houston said..
"The Senate Committee Report into the Effectiveness of Australia’s Military Justice System identified ADF culture as a possible cause of shortfalls in the military justice system.
"The aim of this audit is to establish a baseline from which to drive change in the ADF’s schools and training culture, where necessary.
"As I flagged at the Senate Estimates hearings in November last year, the military justice implementation team has completed arrangements for the conduct of this audit into the ADF’s training establishments. The audit team will now begin its work", he said.
The audit team would comprise Andrew Podger - a former Public Service Commissioner; Catherine Harris - a company chairperson and former university councillor; and Major General Roger Powell (Rtd) - a former senior military officer and team leader of major public sector inquirie.
"The audit will be open and transparent. The selection and appointment of the audit team was an important factor in achieving this," ACM Houston said.
The audit team was scheduled to complete its report in June.
31 January, 2006
PS is Tourist Magnet says Business Guru
The number one selling point for Canberra and the region is the Public Service and Governments and businesses should use it as a drawcard according to newly appointed partner for consulting firm RSM Bird Cameron, Ged Stenhouse.
Mr Stenhouse, who has joined the company as audit and assurance partner, said the PS is the reason Canberra exists and ought to be the prime reason people are urged to come here, either for business or pleasure.
“It’s the biggest show in town,” Mr Stenhouse said. “It’s Canberra’s drawcard – it’s the reason we are all here.’’
He said whatever occupation one followed, the PS was the reason it existed.
“Whether you are a public servant, teacher, nurse, car salesperson, journalist or humble auditor – most of us either work, or owe our living, to Canberra being the National Capital.
He said he would use his new role with RSM Bird Cameron to “double or triple” the amount of work we do within the public and private sectors.
“For the life of me I cannot understand why government and the public service, and the business opportunities they provide, are not at the centre of a campaign to encourage businesses, skilled tradespeople and professionals to the ACT.
“Let’s get out there and promote the terrific business opportunities the public sector in the ACT provides – rather than hiding it away as though it’s the shame of the nation.
He said already the overwhelming reason people came to Canberra had to do with the national capital – “not the weather or the nightlife!”
“After 22 years with one of the world’s Big Four accounting firms I am proud to become a partner of local business advisory and accounting firm RSM Bird Cameron, live in Canberra and
do great business with the public and private sectors.
“It’s about time the National Capital and the public service were put at the centre of a campaign to sell Canberra to the nation,” Mr Stenhouse said.
31 January, 2006
Endeavour to Sail Into Melbourne for Commonwealth Games
The magnificent Australian-built replica of Captain Cook’s famous ship Endeavour is to visit Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games in March, the Minister for the Arts and Sport, Senator Rod Kemp, has announced.
“This splendid ship will be another major attraction for visitors to the city,” the Minister said.
He said Endeavour would sail from Sydney just prior to the Games, making its first sea voyage under the flag of the Australian National Maritime Museum.
In Melbourne it will berth at Wharf 15, Docklands, close to the Telstra Dome and Waterfront City’s Commonwealth Games Live Site. It will be open for inspection at Wharf 15 daily from 16 to 26 March, 9am to 6pm.
Built in Fremantle WA in the early 10s, the beautifully constructed wooden ship is hailed as one of the most accurate historical replicas in the world. Ownership of the Endeavour was transferred to the Australian Government on 17 April 2005 where it was displayed at the Australian National Maritime Museum on Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
“Melbourne will be seeing Endeavour in the peak of condition,” Senator Kemp said. “She recently underwent a major refit, supervised by the Museum, at Sydney’s Garden Island dockyard.”
Senator Kemp is keen for the Endeavour to make reasonably regular sea voyages around the Australian coast, to give the maximum number of Australians direct access to this important historic vessel.
“It’s great that she’s coming to Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games when many domestic and international tourists are visiting,” Senator Kemp said.
She will sail from Sydney to Melbourne direct, and make a four-day stop at Eden on the south coast of NSW on her way home.
31 January, 2006
Tax Man Goes Easy on Bushfire Victims
With a number of bushfires burning across Australia, the Tax Office again reminded people directly affected not to worry about their tax affairs at this time.
“We understand this is a very difficult time for many people, especially those whose homes or businesses have been destroyed or damaged by the fires,” said acting Tax Commissioner Jennie Granger.
“These people have more important things to think about now and it may be some time before they are able to focus on their tax matters.”
If taxpayers in bushfire affected areas are experiencing any difficulties meeting tax obligations they can call the Tax Office on 131142 during business hours.
The Tax Office can help by:
• fast tracking refunds for people impacted by the fires
• giving extra time to pay debts - without interest charges
• giving more time to meet activity statement and other lodgment obligations
• helping reconstruct tax records where documents have been destroyed, and
• offering personal visits from field officers to help reconcile lost records.
For more information or assistance call the Tax Office on 131142 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday. There is also a Tax and Bushfires fact sheet.
31 January, 2006
Centrelink in the Swim to Help Flood-Affected Clients
Centrelink has made special arrangements for its flood-affected customers throughout north-eastern New South Wales.
Extensive flooding in the region may make it difficult for customers who have appointments or need to lodge forms to access their local Centrelink office so Centrelink Area Manager, Lyn
Agnew, said the organization had organised special phone lodgement arrangements for customers who attended the Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay, Brunswick Heads and Tweed Heads offices.
"The temporary arrangements mean that any customer who usually has to lodge their form in person can do so over the phone," Ms Agnew said.
"The phone lodgement option has been activated to ensure customers will not be disadvantaged by the floods. Customers who have appointments booked today can contact Centrelink by phone to reschedule their appointment.”
She encourage any customers who could not visit their local office to contact Centrelink via the telephone.
She said to make form lodgements over the phone or to make enquiries, customers should call Centrelink on the relevant phone number below:
Employment Services 13 2850
Youth and Students 13 2490
Family Payments 13 6150
Retirement 13 2300
Disability, Sickness & Carers 13 2717
31 January, 2006
Tourism Australia Gears UP for Big Year Ahead
Tourism Australia Chairman and former Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer has ushered in a big year for Australian tourism saying a recent promotion in the USA was the first step in a busy year for TA with new and renewed activities being planned domestically and around the world.
“January is dominated by the G’Day LA promotion but also ongoing joint promotions and marketing, most notably in the United Kingdom,” Mr Fischer said.
“This month will see a burst of campaign activity with television ads, in partnership with Qantas, running in the UK.
“At the same time Tourism Australia will be running a print and online media campaign to target consumers in Germany.
“This is backed up with a strong focus on targeting the travel agents who sell Australia with TA attending the world’s largest travel show, ITB, which is being held in Berlin, Germany, from 8 to 12 March.”
In June Tourism Australia will conduct the ever growing ATE (Australian Tourism Exchange) in Adelaide, following on from the successful ATE 2005 in Perth.
“In one sense the first 18 months of Tourism Australia’s existence has been doing the hard yards of revamp and research, putting in place the building blocks that will lead to a
mega year of activity in 2006, to engender growth and spend well beyond current levels,” Mr Fischer said.
He said the key objectives adopted by the Board and approved by the Minister for Small Business and Tourism, Fran Bailey, remained to increase tourism spend and tourism dispersal, right across Australia.
24 January, 2006
Budget Pressure Hampers Environmental Office Growth.
The goal of creating environmentally responsible “Green Offices” across the public service was being hampered by Budget pressures and processes according to a recent report of the Auditor General.
The auditor’s report Cross Portfolio Audit of Green Office Procurement found more than a quarter of the agencies surveyed indicated that their budgetary constraints or processes did not allow green
office procurement even though they admitted it could produce longer-term financial savings.
The audit found that agencies as a whole had been successful in meeting the Government’s expectations for improving energy efficiency in office buildings but almost an extra $10 million a year could be saved if they were more proactive in energy and water conservation.
Centrelink was identified as a leading agency in building efficiency with most agencies well placed to meet future energy efficiency requirements and the actions taken by agencies such as Defence and DIMIA in the recycling of building and demolition waste was also described as good practice.
The auditor said the Government had introduced a range of policy measures to improve energy efficiency in buildings, reduce vehicle emissions and packaging waste. The objective of the audit was to assess and report on the progress being made by agencies.
The audit identified a small number of better practice examples of green office procurement in the Service but said there were significant shortcomings overall in terms of the application of whole-of-life-cycle costing and in the management of the environmental impacts of procurement decisions.
Performance in managing motor vehicle emissions, reducing or recycling general office waste and conserving water was variable the auditor found, reporting that in the majority of cases it was poor.
He said implementing one of the key management controls designed to improve environmental performance had been slow and few agencies had met the timetable originally envisaged by the Government.
The audit also highlighted the absence of specific requirements in areas such as waste management and water conservation and shortcomings in agencies meeting the Government’s stated objective to be at the forefront of environmental purchasing practices. As a consequence, sustainable development had not, as yet, been fully integrated into Australian Government operations.
The lead agency responsible for much of the policy concerning green office procurement, the Department of the Environment and Heritage, considered that the audit report would assist it in its work of encouraging agencies to improve their environmental performance. The documented cost savings and performance benefits from initiatives pursued by agencies audited will also be of value to those still considering further actions. DEH noted that while it generally supported the recommendations, its capacity to achieve improvements in the environmental performance of other agencies was limited. Resources available for this work needed to be used strategically. DEH considered that environmental purchasing (and a commitment to improved environmental performance generally) needed to become standard practice across the Australian Government.
While there is a strategic role for DEH in that process, primary responsibility for performance needs to rest with government agencies themselves.
To this end, DEH is proposing to develop a new policy framework for agency environmental performance in 2006, which will assist in setting priorities for future agency action. A new website would be developed to allow content from DEH and from other agencies to be presented as a one-stop shop for the public sector.
The full report can be found on the Audit Office website at www.anao.gov.au.
24 January, 2006
Commonwealth, States Join Forces For Online Directory
A new new online service directory is to be developed to include information from both the Australian and state governments.
Special Minister of State Eric Abetz said the Federated Service Finder (FSF) is the first project developed under National Service Improvement Program, which was geared towards assisting governments to develop collaborative agreements to improve service delivery.
Senator Abetz said the Collaborative Head Agreement for the FSF was signed last week by Centrelink, New South Wales Department of Commerce and South Australian Department of Health.
“The FSF will be used by service providers, such as general practitioners and government and non-government community service organisations," said Senator Abetz.
"Service providers will be able to easily and quickly find information about service providers in other jurisdictions, allowing quicker and more appropriate referrals of clients and improved service delivery for Australian citizens.
"This is a significant step towards more collaborative service delivery between tiers of government and towards lower costs in collecting and maintaining data, while protecting personal information. Most importantly, it is a significant step in the delivery of better online services to Australian citizens.
“This important milestone would not have been reached without the commitment by the three parties towards cross-jurisdictional collaboration. I would like to commend Centrelink, and the NSW and South Australian Governments for leading the work in this area," he said.
The project is still in a trial phase and it was expected other jurisdictions would join.
“The Online and Communication Council of Ministers - made up of representatives from the Federal, state and territory governments - recently endorsed the NSIF as the preferred agreement-making framework for collaborative service delivery arrangement across jurisdictions,” Senator Abetz said.
More information is avialable at www.nsif.gov.au
24 January, 2006
ABC Managing Director Takes Off
Australian Broadcasting Corporation managing director, Russell Balding, has resigned from the ABC to become chief executive of Sydney Airport Corporation.
ABC chairman Donald McDonald said the board regretted that Mr Balding was leaving a year ahead of the end of his current contract, but understood that after 10 years with the ABC he wished to take up an attractive offer.
"The ABC board appreciates the outstanding contribution Mr Balding has made to the corporation since 16, in particular as managing director from late 2001. Under his executive leadership, the ABC has consolidated its role as the national broadcaster, making great progress in a rapidly evolving digital environment. The board wishes Mr Balding further success in his new role," Mr McDonald said.
Recruitment for a replacement would begin immediately, Mr McDonald said.
Mr Balding said it had been a difficult decision as his time with the ABC was both the most challenging and most rewarding, of his career.
"However, I believe the ABC I am leaving is in good shape, is in good spirits, and is well positioned for continuing success," he said.
"In the face of strong competition for the attention of Australians, the ABC remains a highly relevant part of our national infrastructure, and a critical player in Australia's media and cultural sector.
"On all our platforms our audiences both domestically and internationally - as always a most significant measure of continuing success - remain at all time high levels and the strong connection our audiences feel with the ABC continues to be demonstrated clearly throughout our entire range of services.
"I take immense pride in the achievements of the Corporation especially over recent years and I thank the management and staff of the organisation for their commitment and their key contributions towards those achievements.
"The ABC is a great Australian institution which deserves to be properly nurtured," he said, thanking the ABC board, particularly the chair, for their support over the past four years.
Mr Balding will leave the ABC in late March 2006. In his remaining time with the ABC he will be working on ensuring optimal results from the current Funding Adequacy and Efficiency Review and the Corporation's Triennial Funding Submission to Government.
Russell Balding had been the ABC's Managing Director since May 2002, although he acted in the position from November 2001 following the departure of the previous Managing Director. He originally joined the ABC as its Chief Financial Officer in early 16.
24 January, 2006
Defence Minister quits ministry
Defence Minister Robert Hill resigned from the Howard ministry on 20 20 January06, saying he would also resign from the senate during the next parliamentary sitting.
The South Australian senator is the coalition's longest serving government leader in the senate, having held the office since they defeated Labor's Paul Keating on 3 March 16. He is also the longest serving party leader in the senate, becoming senate leader of the opposition in 10.
Senator Hill was elected in October 1980 and joined the parliament in July 1981. He held a number of senior positions on the opposition bench, before making his mark as a senior government minister.
He was appointed Minister for Defence on 10 November 2001, where he has overseen operations (combat, peacekeeping and humanitarian) in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Solomon Islands, Pakistan, Sudan, Indonesia and elsewhere.
He has been responsible for two Strategic Updates, the reform of the Defence Materiel Organisation, a major procurement program for all three Services, a significantly upgraded capability branch, change in the intelligence organisations and other major institutional change.
Previously, Senator Hill was Australia's longest serving Minister for the Environment where he was responsible for major programs in areas of conservation and sustainable use of Australia’s natural heritage, climate change and biodiversity.
Senator Hill's major achievements in this portfolio included the passage of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 19, the biggest overhaul of environmental laws in Australia's history and the establishment of the $2.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust, the largest environmental rescue package ever undertaken by an Australian Government.
Senator Hill's statement of resignation follows:
“Today I have formally tendered my resignation to the Prime Minister from the position as Defence Minister and Leader of the Government in the Senate.
I will continue to represent the interests of the residents of South Australia as a Senator in the immediate future, however I intend to resign as a Senator some time during this next Parliamentary sitting period.
It has been a great honour to serve the Australian community as a Senator for nearly 25 years and as a Minister of the Australian Government for the past 10 years.
I am privileged to have been Defence Minister since November 2001 at a time when the Australian military has been heavily engaged in overseas operations and humanitarian relief efforts, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Solomon Island, Sudan and Indonesia.
I take this opportunity to thank my Cabinet and Senate colleagues and in particular the dedicated supporters of the Liberal Party who stuck by the cause during 13 years in Opposition.
I thank my family, friends and members of my Ministerial and personal staff who have made it possible for me to serve the Government for so many years.
I also thank the officers of the Department of Defence, the senior military leadership and officers of the Department of Environment and Heritage who I have worked closely with, for their dedicated service.
I will continue to work hard in support of the Howard Government, which has delivered and will continue to deliver the best opportunity for a safe and prosperous future for all Australians.”
24 January, 2006
Year Book issued by Bureau of Statistics
Year Book Australia 2006 is the latest essential reading from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Packed full of essential and interesting facts about Australian life, it also highlights how well Australia compares with the rest of the world.
Launched by Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Chris Pearce, the 2006 edition of Year Book Australiaprovides a snapshot of the nation in one volume.
Quoting from the book's comprehensive and detailed statistical review of the economy and social conditions in Australia, Mr Pearce said: "There are those who claim that we suffer because of our island nation status, but the Year Book Australia indicates that many social and economic aspects of Australian life compare favourably with other nations."
“Australia's population has continued to grow by 1.2 per cent over the past year - a growth rate double that of the world's most populous country, China, and higher than that of Canada, the United States of America, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany.
"Our life expectancy also compares well with other developed nations. Babies born in Australia on average can expect to live longer than babies in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America.
"Another of the fascinating details in the Year Book refers to marriage. It's interesting to discover that Australian marriages are lasting longer, even for those who end up separating or getting a divorce. The median duration of marriage prior to divorce is 12.2 years, up from 10.7 years a decade ago.”
Mr Pearce said the Year Book Australiais a key publication that unlocks important information about our nation. "It's in constant use as the most authoritative resource of facts about Australia, its people and economy," he said. "No wonder it's become the major reference work being used across Australia."
The 2006 Year Book Australia is also available www.abs.gov.au
24 January, 2006
Dole Workers in Line for Award Scheme
The search has begun for 2005’s most outstanding Work for the Dole activities, participants and supervisors with nominations now open for this year’s Prime Minister’s Work for the Dole Achievement Awards.
In launching the awards Minister for Workforce Participation, Peter Dutton, said that the Work for the Dole program had strong community support because it provided valuable work experience for young job seekers while giving them a chance to put something back into the community that had supported them.
“The Awards recognise outstanding Work for the Dole activities, participants and supervisors and encourages the development of innovative and exciting activities that benefit local communities and job seekers across Australia," Mr Dutton said.
Nominations are being sought in three categories:
Most Outstanding Work for the Dole Participant 2005: the participant who has most developed their work skills and/or those of others through their participation in Work for the Dole, and who has made an outstanding contribution to the success of their activity during 2005.
Most Outstanding Work for the Dole Supervisor 2005: the supervisor who has demonstrated the strongest support for Work for the Dole participants in an activity throughout 2005
and who has forged links with the community to enhance the success of the activity.
Best Work for the Dole Activity 2005
An overall winner for this award will be selected from activities that operated during 2005 in the three finalist sub-categories outlined below. One finalist will be awarded from each of these categories:
Award nominations close on Tuesday February 28 2006. Further information and nomination forms can be obtained at www.workplace.gov.au/workplace/wfd or by phoning the Employment Services Information Line on 13 62 68.
- Best Caring for People Activity: this category may include activities such as working in childcare centres, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, health centres, youth camps, and disability support centres etc.
- Best Community Activity: this category may include activities such as public museums, sporting clubs, community organisations, youth clubs etc.
- Best Natural and/or Cultural Heritage Activity: this category may include activities such as environmental care including river, bush and parkland regeneration, habitat restoration for endangered species, refurbishing and/or maintaining historic buildings, restoring historic transportation, recording local history, restoring documents etc.
24 January, 2006
New Service Protects Children On-line
With children about to head back to school the Australian Communications and Media Authority has relaunched its internet safety web site with the aim of reminding parents and children about some simple yet practical tips for staying safe online.
“Cybersmartkids Online features a range of material, including advice for parents, tips and activities for kids, and links to other fun sites,” said Lyn Maddock, Acting ACMA Chair. “The overarching message is – remember to always be cybersmart.”
Research has shown that while parents are aware of the risks and general strategies for keeping their children safe online, they are less aware of developments in technology, and the wide variety of options available to them to keep their children safe.
ACMA has responded to this challenge by reviewing the safety tips and background information on Cybersmartkids, and including new sections on mobile phones, instant messaging (including those providing voice communication facilities), webcams and weblogs. The look and feel of the site has also been refreshed.
ACMA are telling children:
The key messages for parents are:
- make sure you know who you are talking to;
- check with your parents before giving out any personal information;
- don’t meet someone on your own;
- stay aware of what’s going on around you and guard your privacy;
- Tell an adult if you receive nasty or bullying messages.
- keep an eye on your children’s use of the internet, particularly chat rooms, and the use of IM;
- stay up to date with the new technology, and how it works;
- children should be reminded to never give out personal information when they’re chatting online;
- talk to your kids about the internet experiences, the good and the bad. Let them know it’s OK to tell you if they come across something that worries them;
- if children want to meet face-to-face someone that they’ve chatted with, they should always take a parent with them.
The new safety site can be found at www.cybersmartkids.com.au
24 January, 2006
Cities with Navy Links to be Immortalised at Sea
Australia’s new large amphibious ships and Air Warfare Destroyers will be named after Australian cities with close links with Navy heritage.
Speaking before his resignation as Defence Minister, Senator Hill said that the Chief of Navy recommended the names after careful consideration and taking into account the considerable public interest in the naming process. The names have since been approved by the Governor General.
The two large amphibious ships will be named HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide and the Air Warfare Destroyers will be named HMAS Hobart, HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Sydney, Senator Hill said.
"One of the principal aims of naming ships for our Navy has been to promote links between the Navy and the community," Senator Hill said.
"Naming of the ships after Australian cities will hopefully build on these links and gain wide acceptance from former Navy personnel. Ships of the Royal Australian Navy have previously carried these names and all have received battle honours in conflicts dating from the First World War."
Acquisition has received first pass approval from the government. Second pass approval is planned for 2007.
Subject to these approvals, the two large amphibious ships are expected to enter service with the Royal Australian Navy from 2012 and the three Air Warfare Destroyers form 2013.
"Both classes of ship will be a quantum leap over our current capability. The AWDs will provide protection to forces from air threats including aircraft and missile attacks," Senator Hill said.
"The Amphibious Ships will support the deployment of forces and assist in a whole range of tasks such as peacekeeping and peace monitoring and regional disaster relief."
24 January, 2006
Commission Move Brings Staff Together
The Australian Film Commission's Melbourne staff are united at last following a move to a larger office on 23 20 January06.
The new premises in South Melbourne bring together staff from two offices and three divisions: Film Development, Industry and Cultural Development and the National Film and Sound Archive.
Outgoing Chief Executive Kim Dalton said the new premises had the capacity to provide better services for clients. Facilities included a 70-seat meeting/viewing room and two well-equipped client viewing rooms.
There is also an oral history recording room, a separate clean room for handling audiovisual material and cool room storage.
Mr Dalton said locating all staff together would allow more efficient use of resources and support services such as IT and facilities management.
"The new premises are lighter, brighter and more spacious than the previous offices," he said. "Put simply, they will allow our staff to do their jobs better. I am confident that our clients will benefit as a result," he said.
The AFC can now be found at Level 1, 144 Moray Street, South Melbourne, Victoria, 3205. Phone: 03-8646 4300. Fax: 03-9696 1476. Freecall 1800 338 430
24 January, 2006
Finance Regulator Issues New Reports
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has released the first edition of two new publications - Quarterly Bank Performance (end June 2005) and Quarterly Credit Union and Building Society Performance (end September 2005).
Both publications follow extensive industry consultation and provide a broader and more detailed overview of Australia’s deposit-taking industry. The publications provide aggregated consolidated profit and loss and balance sheet data from information reported by authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADIs).
ADIs report data to APRA monthly or quarterly. The Quarterly Bank Performance data do not go beyond the June 2005 quarter to avoid the release of market sensitive profit information of listed banks.
Copies of the Quarterly Bank Performance and Quarterly Credit Union and Building Society Performance publications are available at www.apra.gov.au
APRA is the prudential regulator of the financial services industry. It oversees companies, life insurance, friendly societies, and most members of the superannuation industry banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance and reinsurance.
24 January, 2006
Australia Backs Whales in
Their Fight with Japan
Australia has urged Japan to quit whaling, joining forces with 16 other countries to ask for an end to Japan's lethal scientific whaling program.
Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom took part in the diplomatic delegations called a demarche.
Led by Brazil, they met with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japanese Fisheries Agency to denounce Japan's Whale Research Program (JARPA II).
Japan plans to take 935 minke whales this year - more than double its previous intake. It will also take 10 fin whales this year, with plans for 50 fin and humpback whales annually.
Australia remains committed to ending whaling under the guise of scientific research and will continue to work tirelessly with other pro-conservation countries in the lead up to the 58th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission in June.
Australia led a demarche of 15 countries last year to raise concerns directly with the Japanese Government about its proposed increased whale catch in Antarctic waters.
With Spain and 12 Latin American and Southern Hemisphere countries, Australia also signed a declaration condemning scientific whaling. The six point declaration supports continuing the current moratorium on whaling, an end to special permit whaling for 'so-called' scientific purposes and scientific research by only non-lethal means.
24 January, 2006
World-first Cloud Project Aims High
Politcians and scientists officially had their heads in the clouds recently with the launch of the Tropical Warm Pool International Cloud Experiment by the Bureau of Meteorology in Darwin.
The Experiment is the largest international weather experiment to ever take place in Australia, giving scientists an insight into the inner workings of cloud systems and the world's climate system.
Many of the world's leading climate researchers, hailing from over 10 countries and 30 research institutions, will spend a month in Darwin conducting the experiment.
The project was launched jointly by the Parliamentary Secretary for Weather, Greg Hunt, Member for Solomon, David Tollner and John Forrest, the Member for Mallee.
“It is the culmination of over three years of planning that brings together over two hundred participants,” said Mr Hunt. “The Bureau of Meteorology is a major player in both the planning and collection of the data with many of its key scientists taking part.”
Mr Tollner said the arrival of world class scientists would provide an opportunity for scientists in Darwin to showcase the local environment.
“Darwin provides a fantastic natural laboratory for meteorological research. The results obtained during this experiment, together with regular monitoring in the area, will produce one of the most complete sets of tropical convection data ever collected,” Mr Tollner said.
Further information can be accessed from the Weather Bureau website, www.bom.gov.au.
Meanwhile, the Bureau’s latest forecasting technology for the cyclone season was warmly received, particularly when Cyclone Clare chose to arrive, crossing the north-west coast of Western Australia on January 10.
Clare was the first Tropical cyclone to impact the Australian mainland for the 2005-06 cyclone season and reached gusts estimated at up to 195km/h.
She was greeted by the Bureau of Meteorology’s new Tropical Cyclone Forecast Track Map - a graphical product that showed visually the forecast track of the cyclone, the extent of its destructive winds as well as the uncertainty in the positioning of the cyclone centre.
The new graphical product is an addition to the already very effective overall Australian Tropical Cyclone Warning Service. The Bureau said the minor structural damage and lack of fatalities during severe category three tropical cyclone Clare’s presence were testament to the effectiveness of the Bureau’s services and preparatory work by the local community.
The Bureau's web site was currently highlighting Tropical Cyclone Warning Services on its home page and Mr Hunt recommended that people, particularly those living in tropical areas, take time to familiarise themselves with its contents.
24 January, 2006
Aussie music warming Europe's winter
Australian music businesses are the talk of the town in Cannes, France, where the world's largest music industry trade show, MIDEM, is currently in full swing.
Supported by Austrade, dozens of Australian companies are braving the European winter to attend the show, where the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR), is presenting the Australian Music Pavilion from 22 – 26 January.
AIR – for the fourth year in a row backed by Austrade - and the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) are providing the largest ever exhibition space and on-the-ground support for Australian independent record labels, publishers, music managers and distributors attending.
More than 65 Australian companies were at MIDEM, with more than 25 co-exhibiting at the Australian Pavilion. AIR and Austrade expected to create a strong profile for the Australian music industry at this global event.
“In attending MIDEM we aim to provide a consolidated and highly visible presence for Australia’s independent recording sector,” AIR Chief Executive Officer Stuart Watters said.
“I think it’s incredibly important for Australia’s growth as a music exporter, and as a relatively small territory, that we take steps to ensure that we have a professional profile at this event.”
“MIDEM is also by far the most important business market for exploiting copyrights for the independent music sector, with the largest representation of independent companies globally,” he said.
Austrade’s extensive experience in assisting the independent Australian music industry will once again be of great value for companies at the Australian Pavilion, by coordinating the much needed business centre and providing on-the-spot translation services during business meetings.
Companies registered to attend via the Australian Pavilion receive full access to conferences, trade fair and concerts during the week, full use of the Australian Pavilion to do business and administrative support from the AIR/Austrade team.
Australian performers include Sydney punk-jazz outfit Aronas, who were selected to take part in the Sonicbids Buzz Bands Showcase on Tuesday 24 January at the Martinez Hotel Ballroom.
MIDEM attracts around 9000 participants from 90-plus countries for five days of conferences, trade shows, live music, showcases and parties, including the NRJ Awards, where James Blunt, The Pussycat Dolls, Lemar and Daniel Powter are among the acts on stage.
24 January, 2006
Big Screen films to Tour Nation
The Australian Film Commission's Big Screen touring film festival kicks off on Australia Day at Sydney's Olympic Park.
First to screen is Babe: Pig in the City, part of a selection chosen by festival patron Geoffrey Rush.
The Big Screen festival is in its sixth year, bringing contemporary and classic Australian films to regional, rural and remote Australia. It has played to 100,000 people in more than 50 towns
since it was launched in 2001 as part of the Centenary of Federation.
The 2006 tour will include Tennant Creek and Karratha and will expand through satellite programs such as a tour from Broken Hill through Menindee, Wilcannia, White Cliffs and Tibooburra.
AFC director of industry and cultural development Sabina Wynn said they were exceptionally proud of the project.
"The AFC is committed to enriching Australian cultural identity through preserving and providing access to our audiovisual heritage," she said.
"Big Screen tours the entire country for almost the whole calendar year, allowing communities who would not normally be able to see these films on the big screen to come together and share Australian stories," she said.
This year, the program includes the latest releases such as The Caterpillar Wish, the first completed feature64 film from the AFC's IndiVision Project Lab, starring Susie Porter and Wendy Hughes. Other films currently being negotiated include Footy Legends, Ten Canoes, M (Macbeth), The Book of Revelation and Candy.
Picnic at Hanging Rock will be screened to every community, to celebrate this classic's 30th birthday.
Big Screen patron Geoffrey Rush has chosen six of his all-time favourite Australian films to screen as part of The Rush Collection at selected locations on the tour, Accompanied by recorded video introductions, the collection represents a highly personal selection from one of Australia's finest actors. The titles include Sunday Too Far Away, Mad Max, Babe: Pig in the City, Vincent, the Last Wave and The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith.
For the first time, the schools program will feature64 graduation films from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. The films have been classified for high school students studying English, media and communications in years 10, 11 and 12.
The schools program also features Australian classics for primary students. These screenings are usually free and include Dot and the Kangaroo, The Magic Pudding, Hildegarde and the newly restored Storm Boy.
Festival Director Peter Castaldi said the project was unique to Australia.
"The depth and breadth of support from across the industry – from filmmakers such as Peter Weir, all our patrons, from the distributors and from all our exhibition partners – reflects very strongly just how much everyone involved wants to keep Australian content alive on Australian screens," he said.
Tour dates for 2006
Mildura 22 Feb-12 Mar
Swan Hill (satellite) March
Briagolong 6-12 June
Sale (satellite) 6-12 June
Charlton 29-30 September
Yarram 17-19 November
New South Wales
Deniliquin (satellite) March
Broken Hill 6-9 April
Menindee, Wilcannia, White Cliffs, Tibooburra and Silverton (satellite) 15-28 April
Nambucca Heads August
Wagga Wagga late October
Tarcutta (satellite) late October
Merredin 8 March
Kalgoorlie 10-12 March
Wagin 17-19 March
Port Hedland 13-15 October
Karratha 20-22 October
Terowie 14-16 April
Coober Pedy 26-28 May
Port Augusta 2-12 June
Woomera (satellite) 2-12 June
Renmark 4-7 September
Jericho (satellite) August
Hervey Bay 18-20 August
Bundaberg (satellite) 18-20 August
Roma 25-27 August
Winton (satellite) 25-27 August
Cloncurry early September
Tennant Creek 7-17 August
Ali Curung, Borroloola and Elliot (satellite) 12 August
For more details go to www.afc.gov.au/bigscreen
Burnie 13-15 October
24 January, 2006
Larkin appointed to arts committee
Meg Larkin has been appointed to the Visions of Australia Committee which develops and tours arts and cultural exhibitions around the nation.
Ms Larkin has been Cultural and Community Services Manager with the Tamworth Regional Council since 13, is president of the Arts North West Board, the Board of Regional Arts NSW, and the Board of Regional Arts Australia.
Minister for the Arts and Sport, Senator Rod Kemp, announced the appointment, saying that Ms Larkin was an energetic and well-respected member of the regional arts community and has held a number of senior Board positions with peak associations in this sector.
New faces on health committee
A Human Genetics Advisory Committee has been set up under the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Formed in response to the Australian Law Reform Commission and Australian Health Ethics Committee's report Essentially Yours - The Protection of Human Genetic Information the new committee will be chaired by Professor Ron Trent of the University of Sydney and comprise 12 members.
Announcing the appointments, the Acting Minister for Health and Ageing, Julie Bishop said the members represented a diverse range of health, medical, and community groups who would look at the impact human genetic technology may have in a wide range of applications.
Other members are:
Rev Martin Robinson from the Anglican Church, Sydney;
Professor Jonathan Izant, Queensland University of Technology;
Dr Rosanna Capolingua of the AMA’s Ethics and Medico-legal Committee;
Dr Sandra Hacker of the Northern Victorian Health Service Board;
Dr Kristine Barlow-Stewart, genetic counselor;
Emeritus Professor Jack Martin, University of Melbourne;
Professor Don Chalmers, University of Tasmania;
Professor David Weisbrot from the Law Reform Commission;
Professor Siaw-Teng Liaw, University of Melbourne;
Associate Professor Jane Halliday, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute;
Dr Sally Goold OAM, Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses.
20 January, 2006
With a workforce of 130,000 and a Budget of over $250 billion the Public Service is far and away the most important player on our national stage yet the only time it makes headlines is when a scandal erupts, a mistake is made or someone enforces the law of the land to the dislike of some self-righteous editor or pompous newspaper columnist.
PS News a Centre of Information For the Australian Public Service
For far too long the extraordinary activities of Australia’s giant Commonwealth Public Service have been ignored by Australia’s mainstream media, despite bearing a fundamentally important impact on the governance and policy development of this nation.
Rarely do the genuine achievements of the Public Service attract recognition or report and rarer still do the legitimate needs of the men and women who make up the Service rate a mention.
Enter PS News.
PS News was launched on 22 November 2005 with the clear goal of serving the Public Service as its newspaper.
Independent of political, commercial or union influence, PS News is committed to reporting and recording the goings on within the Public Service in as fair and honest a way it can for an audience that includes full-time professional Public Servants, former Public Servants and anyone, anywhere with an interest in the Public Service.
PS News highlights the achievements of Public Servants and their agencies, reports on speeches and media statements relating to the Public Service and traces high-level appointments across the Service.
It is the only one-stop website for Public Service information available in Australia and has bold plans to grow and improve through 2006.
In just its first month, PS News published over 100 news stories about the Public Service and through its archive and search capabilities makes them available to all who visit the site free of charge.
Based on the highly successful stable of “Public Eye” newspapers that ran nationally from 1988 to 17, PS News will also carry low-cost advertising as a means of maintaining its high standards of journalism and commentary.
Just like Public Eye, PS News will introduce Public Servants to those service providers and companies who specifically want to do business with them, be it in the fields of travel, training, conferencing, retailing, out-of-hours activities or any other professional or personal pursuit.
In addition, PS news is edited and compiled by some of the same people who worked on Public Eye and who can boast decades of experience as Public Servants themselves or in dealing with the Public Service.
The website is currently in recess until 24 January but visitors are welcome to roam around the site and perhaps catch up with some of the news about the Public Service that appeared for the first time in PS News or check out some of the many stories that only ever appeared in PS News.
And if you like what you see, feel free to subscribe – there is no cost. If you don’t like what you see, please tell us so we can improve the site. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime we hope every one of our readers and visitors has a joyful, relaxing and safe holiday season, returning in 2006 with a new resolve to be fully informed on Public Service matters where we will be only too willing to help.
That is our commitment.
20 January, 2006
PS Commissioner Lays Down RulesFor Proper PS Behaviour
Public Service Commissioner, Lynelle Briggs, has painted a clear picture of what is acceptable behaviour by Public Servants and what is not following two damaging reports into certain aspects of the Service in recent months.
Releasing the latest State of the Service Report, Ms Briggs has tackled criticisms in the recently completed Palmer and Comrie reports head on, saying there were lessons for all Public Servants in the reports, lessons senior PS leadership should be considering carefully.
“The Public Service’s identity and its reputation are matters of substance,’’ Ms Briggs said. “Decision-makers in the APS need to think seriously about the personal responsibility that goes with the authority to make decisions.”
She said Public Servants making decisions needed to understand more than just the regulatory provisions they applied.
“They also need to understand the nature of their authority: the broad legislative and constitutional framework from which it derives, its limits, the scope of any discretion in its application, and how and when it is appropriate to exercise such discretion.”
She said a Public Servant’s duty was to be accountable against formal standards and also to be personally accountable by internalising acceptable behaviours and actions that meet community expectations
“It’s about being accountable for how we manage ourselves,” Ms Briggs said.
She said it was unacceptable for Public Servants not to give clear and frank advice, not to fix mistakes and not to keep senior managers and Ministers informed.
“It is not acceptable to shape policy or program advice and decisions around assumptions about what somebody in authority ‘really’ thinks or ‘really’ wants or doesn’t want to know.”
Ms Briggs said the identity and reputation of the Service impacted on how Public Servants felt about their jobs, the APS and the agencies they worked for.
“They affect the readiness of the community to embrace Government programs and initiatives and to trust that services will be delivered fairly. They affect our reputation and our ability to recruit quality people into the public service.”
She said there were people in the community “only too happy” to point to a political and compliant Public Service prepared to bend the rules to give the Government what it wanted.
She said it was the duty of Public Servants to confront politicisation by supporting the daily application of the APS values and Code of Conduct, learning from the Palmer and Comrie reports and living up to their duties as Public Servants.
“Senior managers have a vital role to play in establishing a supportive and professional culture and showing decision-makers how to balance values like fairness and effectiveness, impartiality and courtesy, responsiveness and apolitical professionalism.”
Ms Briggs’s full speech is available on the Public Service Commission website at www.apsc.gov.au
20 January, 2006
Secret or Not, Accountability is Go in Intelligence Agencies
The need for secrecy in Australia’s intelligence agencies does not remove the need for them to be accountable according to the Director-General of ASIO, Paul O’Sullivan,
Speaking at an induction course for the Australian Intelligence Community, Mr O’Sullivan said that although much of an intelligence agency’s work was necessarily secretive, accountability arrangements such as the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) and Parliamentary Joint Committees gave confidence to the community that the intelligence and security agencies were operating in an appropriate manner to serve the national interest and, ultimately, to protect the Australian community.
He said up to now, intelligence agencies had received excellent report cards from the IGIS.
“At the end of the day, in his annual report this year, the IGIS reported that he found no evidence that intelligence and security agencies had knowingly acted beyond their authority. “
“He stated that ‘intelligence and security agencies continue to be focused on achieving the objectives set for them by the Parliament and the Government, responsive to Ministerial direction, aware of the limits of their authority, and concerned to conduct their business in a professional manner’.”
“As an intelligence community,” MR O’Sullivan said, “we need continually to earn the trust and confidence of the government, the parliament and the community.”
“It is therefore imperative that we continue to maintain the high standards of transparency and accountability that already exist in the Australian Intelligence Community and use the powers granted to us under legislation appropriately, in strict conformance with the law.”
He said it was also important to maintain organisational cultures that were professional and ethical and to encourage initiative as well as teamwork.
Mr O’Sullivan said the nature of the work of intelligence agencies invariably attracted the attention of the media but not always for the right reasons.
“The need to protect our capabilities, methods of investigation and operations means that our successes are rarely heralded,’’ Mr O’Sullivan said. “Although our occasional mistakes always seem to make their way onto newspaper front pages.”
He said the agencies could not afford to ignore the interest of the media or its role and influence in shaping community perceptions about the intelligence community.
He described the present security environment as “very fluid.”
“Australians and Australian interests are at threat both here and abroad,’’ he said. “We have been specifically targeted by terrorists in Bali, Jakarta and Baghdad and Australians have been caught up in attacks directed at others, including in the United States, London, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey.”
He said new threats could emerge without warning and cited the UK experience as proof.
Mr O’Sullivan said cooperation between intelligence agencies was important and had been a recommendation of the Flood Inquiry into Australia's intelligence agencies.
“(But) so too is contestability,” he said. “Both between agencies and within agencies.”
“Being challenged by others, or being alerted to other perspectives or to flaws in an argument, provides valuable checks and balances.”
He said Australia’s intelligence agencies were growing and adapting to meet the demands that were upon them.
“This makes it a very rewarding time to be working in intelligence,’’ he said.
20 January, 2006
Bigger, Harder Army at Centre of Defence Plan
A bigger Army, more equipment and greater efficiencies are the core recommendations of a major review into Australia’s Defence Forces.
Identifying terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and state fragility and failure as the most immediate strategic challenges for Australia, the report Australia’s National Security: Defence Update 2005, recommends beefing up the Army over the next 10 years, strengthening the Defence Act to give the ADF a role in civil emergencies, tightening export controls and entering partnerships with the private sector to promote efficiencies.
Launching the report, Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill said Defence was already better prepared than ever before to respond to threats, both locally and overseas, and the new update highlighted longer-term trends associated with the impacts of globalisation and changing relationships between the major powers in Australia’s region.
“The ADF needs to confront current international security issues such as terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan whilst helping build capabilities in South East Asia,’ the Minister said.
"Defeating the threat of terrorism, countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and supporting regional states in difficulty remain the Government’s highest priorities.”
He said the ADF would continue to be called on to provide humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, civil emergency response, offshore evacuation and peacekeeping capabilities on an ongoing and often short-notice basis.
He said plans for the Army included greater mobility, combat weight and network capabilities to be able to conduct a wide range of tasks.
"The Government will increase the size of the force, increase fire support and flexibility and provide a new force structure based on combined arms battle groups.’’
He said the Army was to receive an impressive array of equipment over the next 10 years, including new helicopters, tanks, trucks, weapons systems and combat equipment.
“The Hardened and Networked Army plan will optimise the use of the new equipment by updating Army structures, training and procedures.”
He said it would recruit 1500 additional new personnel, as well as re-focusing the Reserves to provide high readiness forces which will support operations.
"The Army will re-role the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, from a parachute battalion based in Sydney, to create a second mechanised battalion based in Adelaide from 2011.
"The Australian Defence Force is a national asset we should all be very proud of. The ever-changing environment our men and women of the armed forces operate in is dangerous with the proliferation of lethal weapons and complex environments.
"We can be confident that this update further prepares the ADF to defend Australia and its interests now and in the future," the Minister said.
20 January, 2006
Excess Leave Under Fire as Auditor-General Takes Aim
Inaccurate leave records and excess leave credits are costing the Federal Government millions according to the first ever official audit of leave management and processing in the APS.
Auditor-General Ian McPhee has called for agencies to tighten up their management of leave and take steps to cut down excessive carry-overs.
In a survey of six large agencies, the Auditor found five failed his audit test with costs to the Government rising 18 to 20 per cent over the last three years.
In his report The Management and Processing of Leave the Auditor said the value of annual leave and long service leave entitlements across all Australian Government agencies was nearly $6 billion but the actual costs could be higher because proper management was lacking.
“There was a potential for leave to be taken but not recorded, resulting in extra entitlements being available to staff, to which they are not legally entitled,’’ Mr McPhee said.
He said leave liabilities across the audited agencies had all increased in the past three years with agencies failing to honour the leave arrangements included in their Certified Agreements.
He said the increased leave liabilities had two main implications for agencies.
“Firstly there is a direct cost that crystallizes when an employee leaves the public service and receives payment of their outstanding leave.’’
“Secondly, if employees are not encouraged to take leave and work uninterrupted for long periods, the productivity of staff may be adversely impaired.’’
He said agencies with tight budgets could face cashflow difficulties if they were required to pay out leave entitlements.
He said some agencies failed to include the risks associated with managing and processing leave in their operational risk management or fraud control plans and sometimes didn’t evaluate the risk prior to introducing Employee Self-Service (ESS) systems.
He said agencies should become more proactive in the management of leave for staff with high leave balances; should do more to manage unactioned leave applications in their ESS systems; should articulate better the responsibilities of particular work areas in managing leave; and should improve the reporting and monitoring of leave information for senior management.
In a range of recommendations, Mr McPhee urged agencies stick to the arrangements in their CAs for managing leave; to undertake formal risk assessment processes for their leave management practices; to monitor excess balances carefully and take action to bring them under control; and to remind staff, especially senior management, of their obligation to record their attendance.
He also recommended agencies consider, when next negotiating a Certified Agreement, whether their existing attendance recording procedures, particularly for senior staff, are appropriate.
The agencies audited for the report were the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, the Department of Family and Community Services, the Australian Federal Police, Australian Protective Service, the Australian Sports Commission and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
The full report can be viewed at the Auditor-General’s website www.anao.gov.au.
20 January, 2006
Innes is new Human Rights Commissioner
Graeme Innes has been appointed the new Human Rights Commissioner and Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission replacing Sev Ozdowski whose term expired.
Formerly the Deputy Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Mr Innes’s five-year term began on 15 December.
Announcing the appointment, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said Mr Innes had extensive experience in the human reights fioeld, and had been Chair of Vision Australia and President of the World Blind Union (Asia- Pacific Region) and had held positions in the private sector including with Westpac and Qantas.
New Faces on ABC Advisory Council
Four new members have been appointed to the ABC Advisory Council for four years.
Dr Jane Munro (Convenor), Mr Geoffrey Cadogan-Cowper, Mr Joshua Knackstredt and Ms Joanne Roach have been added to the Council and will take up their positions on 1 January 2006 for a four-year term.
Chairman of the ABC, Donald McDonald,said the new appointments would replace convener for six years, Deborah Klika as well as members Dr Sascha Walkley, Phil Wood and Glyn Parry.
Two New Judges for Federal Court
Professor Berna Collier and Justice Dennis Cowdroy have been appointed judges of the Federal Court of Australia.
Announcing the appointments, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said Professor Collier had been a Commissioner of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission since 2001, was a director of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and held the Clayton Utz Professorship of Commercial Law at the Queensland University of Technology. She has written widely on aspects of insolvency, commercial law and
medico-legal practice and will take up her appointment on 8 February 2006. Justice Collier will be based in Brisbane.
Wade Back on Native Title Tribunal
Justice Cowdroy had been a judge of the New South Wales Land and Environment Court since 19 and a Queen’s Counsel since 1989.
In 15 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the Returned Services League, Law and the Community and will take up his appointment on 13 March 2006. Justice Cowdroy will be based in Sydney.
Ruth Wade has bee reappointed a part-time member of the National Native Title Tribunal for a further two years.
A member of the Tribunal since 2000 Mrs Wade is a former member of the Queensland Land Tribunal and self-employed consultant producing programs on cross-cultural awareness for government agencies and the private sector.
Her appointment begins on 2 February 2006.
Writer Re-appointed to Literature Board
AAT gets new and old members
Novelist and essayist Alan Gould has been reappointed the Australia Council for the Arts’ Literature Board for another 12 months.
Announcing the reappointment, Arts Minister Senator Rod Kemp said Mr Gould had won the National Book Council Banjo Award for fiction in 12, the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal for Literature in 19, and was co-winner of the Courier-Mail Book of the Year Award in 2001.
Appointments and reappointments have been made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunals in Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has announced that in Queensland Philip Edward Hack SC would become a full-time Deputy President and Dr Marella Louise Denovan a part-time member; in Victoria Dr Roderick John McRae would join the Tribunal part-time and Brigadier Conrad Ermert would be reappointed; and in Tasmania Associate Professor Bruce Walker Davis would be reappointed as a part-time member.
Mr Hack replaces Deputy President Don Muller who has retired after serving the AAT for nearly 20 years.
Bezzi to head ACMA’s new Legal Division
Marcus Bezzi has been appointed Head of Legal at the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Mr Bezzi will join ACMA from the Sydney office of the Australian Government Solicitor, where he is Team Leader of the Enforcement and Regulation Team, and National Client Service Manager for ACMA and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. He previously held this responsibility for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Mr Bezzi is a barrister and solicitor and has extensive experience in communications and media law. He led the Australian Government Solicitor team that assisted the Australian Broadcasting Authority’s commercial radio inquiry and has assisted in various judicial challenges in relation to decisions of the Australian Broadcasting Authority, the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, the Australian Communications Authority and the Minister for Communications.
New Face and Old at Portrait Gallery
Old Faces for Old House
Marilyn Darling has been reappointed Chair and Lucy Turnbull appointed as a board member at the National Portriat Gallery in Canberra.
Announced by Arts Minister Senator Rod Kemp, the appointments come as the Gallery embarks on the construction of a new and permanent home.
Senator Kemp said both Ms Darling – who was a member of the National Portrait Gallery Advisory Committee from 13–94 and is on the Old Parliament House Governing Council – and Ms Turnbull - a former Lord mayor of Sydney – had a wealth of expertise in the cultural, visual arts, legal and commercial sectors.
They were each appointed or three years.
Barry Cohen and Marilyn Darling have been reappointed as members of the Old Parliament House Governing Council.
Arts Minister Senator Rod Kemp announced the appointments saying the pair’s ongoing participation would help ensure continuity in the governance of Old Parliament House, “an institution which has become an important and much-loved national cultural icon”.
Mr Cohen is a former Minister in the Hawke Labor Government and Mrs Darling is a strong supporter of the visual arts.
Senator Kemp said Old Parliament House was administered by Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.
Blackall to Antarctic Hot Seat
Professor Linda Blackall, has been appointed Chair of the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee (ASAC).
Director of Research at the Environmental Biotechnology Cooperative Research Centre and Professor of Microbiology at the Universities of Queensland and New South Wales Professor Blackall has a long involvement with the Government’s Antarctic Program as a member of the Life Sciences Antarctic Research Assessment Committee.
Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell announced the appointment saying Professor Blackall was a prolific author, sat on the editorial boards of four international journals and had won several awards.
He said her most recent award was from the International Water Association in July which honoured her with the prestigious Ardern-Lockett Award - an international lifetime achievement award for work in biological wastewater treatment.
Professor Blackall replaces Professor Kurt Lambeck who is retiring from the position after six years.
ASAC sets the scientific directions of Australia's Antarctic Program in collaboration with the wider Antarctic scientific committee, It also undertakes regular evaluations of the program.
Shirley to Sound Archive
Kate Dundas has been appointed Head of National Networks at the ABC in the wake of Mark Collier’s impending resignation to spend more time with his overseas-based partner.
Ms Dundas will add Radio National, ABC Rural and NewsRadio, to her existing stable of responsibilities which include Triple J and ABC Classic FM.
Director of Radio at the ABC, Sue Howard said Ms Dundas’s “extraordinary capabilities” would build on the networks' successes.
“(She) will bring her own style and direction to the new role," Ms Howard said.
She said Mr Collier’s contribution to ABC Radio and the National Networks, had been immense.
“I will miss his energy, commitment and passion for radio enormously and wish him the very best in his new endeavours.”
Ms Dundas will take over the job on Friday 16 December, when Mr Collier leaves.
Graham Shirley has been appointed Senior Curator of Documents and Artefacts, at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra
Welcoming the award-winning film-maker and historian to the Archive, Director Paolo Cherchi Usai said the newly-created position was an important building block in a new curatorial framework for the organisation.
"Graham's impressive credentials and long-standing commitment to the preservation of Australia's audiovisual heritage will be invaluable in strengthening and developing this framework," mr Cherchi Usai said.
Mr Shirley received the Archive's Ken G Hall Award in 2004 and will commence in the new role on 12 December.
Federal Magistrate Victoria Bennett has been appointed a judge of the Family Court of Australia.
A Federal Magistrate since May 2004 Ms Bennett has sat mainly in the Federal Magistrates Court’s family law jurisdiction.
According to Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, Ms Bennett practised as a barrister in Victoria from 1988 until appointed a Federal Magistrate in 2004.
She regularly appeared in the Family Court at both trial and appellate level and in the Federal Magistrates Court.
Her appointment commenced on 30 November and she will be based in Melbourne.
Neil Young QC has been appointed a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia, based in Melbourne.
Announcing the appointment, Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock said Mr Young had practiced as a barrister in various jurisdictions, though chiefly in Victoria, since 1979 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 10. He has extensive experience in commercial law, corporations law, trade practices, administrative law and taxation.
Mr Young is also a Member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Geneva.
A former President of the Australian Bar Association and former Chairman of the Victorian Bar Council, Mr Young has had a longstanding involvement in legal education, teaching law at Melbourne University Law School and at Ormond and Newman Colleges. He is a member of the Advisory Committee to Melbourne University’s Doctor of Jurisprudence degree course and he is currently Chairman of the Victorian Bar’s Continuing Legal Education program.
Mr Young took up his appointment on 30 November, replacing Justice Alan Goldberg who was appointed full-time President of the Australian Competition Tribunal.
Tom Phillips has been appointed to the Board of Australia Post.
A former CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Australia Mr Phillips was also a senior manager with Toyota Australia and was recently appointed Chairman of the South Australian Training and Skills Commission.
He was South Australian Businessman of the Year in 2002 and has been appointed to the Australia Post Board for three years.
20 January, 2006
Socceroo Stamps Another Sure Winner
Australia’s Socceroos have kicked another goal, chosen to appear on an Australia Post souvenir stamp sheet in the lead-up to the World Cup of Soccer in Germany next year.
The Australia Qualifies stamp sheet comprises 10 50c kangaroo and flag stamps with the Australian team logo featured on the stamp tabs.
Images capture the magic of Telstra Stadium on that happy night in November when Australia beat Uruguay.
Highlights captured in the images include Mark Schwarzer’s heroic diving save, John Aloisi with his fingers pointed skyward in celebration after scoring the winning goal and the whole team rising as one when Aloisi’s penalty struck the back of the net.
The stamp sheet is available for $15.95 from Australia Post.
20 January, 2006
Susan is the Pride of the Government Solicitor
Susan Pryde of the Australian Government Solicitor’s Melbourne Office has been named the Australian Corporate Lawyers’ Association ‘Government Lawyer of the Year’.
It is the second time in three years that an AGS lawyer has been honoured with the title.
Ms Pryde is the AGS’s Senior Executive Lawyer in charge of the trade practices team.
In selecting her for the award, the selection committee commented on Ms Pryde’s leadership skills and her loyalty and commitment to protecting the legitimate interests of Government.
Ms Pryde is a highly experienced litigation lawyer, having acted for the ACCC in many major matters, for CSL Limited in a claim for damages and the Bureau of Meteorology following the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race in 18.
She recently acted as Director of AGS’s Adelaide office and holds a practitioner’s certificate in mediation and conciliation.
Ms Pryde said the diversity and variety of matters that arise in the AGS’s office are great benefits.
“Each matter brings with it new challenges, new people and new issues,’’ Ms Pryde said.
“My litigation team at AGS works as a tightly knit unit and it is a real plus to have such talented and dedicated colleagues. It’s a delight to see junior lawyers come through the team structure and be able to mentor them and follow their career development”.
Ms Pryde’s nomination cited a great capacity to win the respect and confidence of government clients in a short time.
The Government Lawyer of the Year Award was established three years ago, the inaugural winner being Simon Daley, Special Counsel Litigation and National Practice Leader of AGS’s litigation practice.
20 January, 2006
Obesity a Workplace Risk Says New Report
Fat is not beautiful for Australia’s workplace mangers, a recent report finding obese and overweight staff were more likely to take time off work than their lean and hungry colleagues.
The report by the Austraralian Instiutute of Health and Welfare studied obesity and absenteeism among older Australians and reported that in general, obese workers were 17 per cent more lilely to be off work due to personal illness than non-obese workers.
The report was based on data collected from almost 10,000 employed men and women, using data from the 2001 census.
According to Ann Peut of the AIHW’s Ageing and Aged Care Unit , when obese staff took time off work, they stayed off longer – four days on average compared to three.
'These differences suggest that absenteeism related to illness or injury associated with obesity may account for over 4 million lost work days per year,' Ms Peut said.
The study also found that being obese impacted on a person’s ability to get and hold a job as well, obese people eight per cent more likely to be out of work. Ms Peut said the troubles just compounded with age.
“Mature age workers - between 45 and 64 years - comprise almost a third of the Australian labour force, yet older Australians who were obese were 20 per cent less likely to be employed full-time than their non-obese counterparts,” she said.
“Employees aged 55 to 64 were less likely to be absent from work for their own illness or injury than their younger counterparts but were away for longer when they were absent, regardless of whether or not they were obese.”
Ms Peut said the evidence uncovered by the study suggested obesity might be influencing absenteeism and preventing workers from staying in the workforce. “Most likely because of the strong correlation between obesity and chronic diseases and injury.”
Obesity in some people put strains on the heart, joints and spine, increased their risk of high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes and other conditions.
Ms Peut said obesity, ill-health and workforce participation were issues of particular relevance in view of Australia's ageing population and the current debate about enabling mature age workers who want to continue to work, to do so. She said Australian Health Ministers through the National Obesity Taskforce were developing a framework of actions to address overweight and obesity in adults and older Australians. >
20 January, 2006
ABC Journalists Scoop Walkley Awards for Excellence
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation can boast the most accomplished journalists among its staff this year following a best-ever tally of 14 Walkley awards at the annual presentations for journalistic excellence held at Luna Park, Sydney earlier this month.
The stunning result saw ABC journalists starring in both radio and television categories, with Tim Palmer winning the coveted Gold Walkley for excellence in journalism.
Palmer also won awards for both radio and television news reporting, collecting the Gold Walkley for his reports on the Boxing Day Tsunami and the Australian embassy bombing in Jakarta.
Accepting the prestigious honour, Palmer praised his producer in Aceh, Ari Wuryantama.
"He had to come to terms with what had happened to his countrymen in a deeply religious context performed incredibly beyond the call of duty," Palmer said.
ABC journalists also won awards for the best use of the medium, international journalism, investigative journalism and current affairs reporting, with Monica Attard receiving an award for broadcast interviewing.
The executive producer of Australian Story Deborah Fleming scored a Walkley for Journalistic Leadership.
20 January, 2006
UV Warnings to Make Summer Safer
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is to issue “UV Alerts” in a bid to stem the spread of skin cancer.
Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world with more than 1300 people dying from the condition each year. About one in every two Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.
To help combat this crisis BOM has agreed to issue an alert when the UV Index hits 3 and the time of day to seek protection from the sun.
The move has been welcomed by the Cancer Council of Australia which says while skin cancer awareness has improved, the BOM alerts will make the SunSmart message even easier to follow.
Greg Hunt, MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minster for the Environment with responsibility for the Bureau of Meteorology, launched the SunSmart UV Alert program, saying BOM was encouraging people to think about the damage the sun could do to their skin when venturing outdoors this summer by adding the SunSmart UV Alert to their usual weather forecast.
“We’re proud to be partners in this new initiative, with The Cancer Council and the Australian Radiation and Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. The fact that 380,000 Australians are still getting skin cancer every year shows that despite the SunSmart messages, people are continuing to take risks with their health,” Mr Hunt said.
“Many people rely on the Bureau of Meteorology for all kinds of weather information, and that information often saves lives. This is another opportunity for the bureau to help save the lives of Australians by reminding them of the invisible dangers of UV radiation.”
The Cancer Council is hoping to dispel the myth that you only need to protect yourself from the sun in the middle of the day. While UV levels do tend to be higher in the middle of the day it is still possible to get sunburnt outside of the hours of 10am to 3pm, primarily because the UV radiation is still strong enough to do damage to your skin. As little as 15 minutes in the sun can result in sunburn.
While the UV index has been available as part of traditional forecasts for a number of years, Mr Hunt said the BOM was now looking forward to taking a more active role in skin cancer education. He said the BOM was hoping that as well as checking the temperature before heading outdoors this summer, people would also check the UV index as well. The BOM currently provides UV index forecasts for 179
different locations in Australia and will now generate this information as the SunSmart UV Alert each day.
To be SunSmart, a combination of sun protection measures is recommended, including:
1. Seek shade,
2. Wear protective clothing that covers the arms and legs as well as the body,
3. Wear a hat that shades the face and neck,
4. Wear wrap-around sunglasses,
5. Use SPF30+ broad spectrum sunscreen and reapply every two hours. Never use sunscreen to extend the time you spend in the sun.
20 January, 2006
Customs Officers to Carry Guns in Border Security Upgrade
Customs Officers are to carry firearms, wear armour and use handcuffs and batons as part of a border security beef-up sparked by the ongoing war on terror.
Customs Minister Senator Chris Ellison has announced the upgrade, saying some staff would be trained and operational in time for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
The Minister said the new armed Customs Officers would be the first to carry guns, other than those already involved in maritime patrols.
"Customs officers carry out border security functions at wharves and remote locations, execute search warrants and board and search vessels in an increasingly hostile environment," Senator Ellison said. "The Australian Customs Service is more than ever charged with the task of securing our borders from the threat of terrorism and transnational crime.’’
He said the chief executive of the Customs Service had power under the Act to direct the use of firearms.
“This is consistent with principles that govern the use of force by the Australian Federal Police.” The Minister about 80 suitably trained officers would be issued with Glock handguns, personal body armour, batons, capsicum spray and handcuffs in the first instance.
He said Customs Officers who investigated the import and export of prohibited goods including weapons and non-narcotic drugs would be armed as well as officers involved in waterfront patrols and the boarding of international vessels when they arrive in Australia.
“Customs already has almost 300 armed officers engaged in maritime patrol and response functions as part of the National Marine Unit (NMU) and Southern Ocean Maritime Patrol and Response Unit (SOMPRU).’’ He said.
"Customs officers must be equipped to handle whatever situations arise during normal operations and when illegal activities are detected."
He said the training and certification process will be comprehensive and exhaustive, training to be provided to the same standard as that undertaken by the Australian Federal Police.
20 January, 2006
PS Staff Warned on Privacy
A 51-year-old Department of Immigration staffer has been placed on a 12 month good behaviour bond after pleading guilty to 16 counts of unlawfully accessing the travel records of friends and colleagues.
The Canberra Times has reported that the female offficer faced the ACT Magistrates Court this month where she admitted obtaining of information without authorisation out of concern for the welfare of her friends.
The data had been stored in an electronic departmental database which tracks the movements of all individuals – residents and tourists – as they enter and leave Australia.
Information stored on the database included passport details, visa grants, flight arrangements, dates of birth and citizenship status.
The woman’s lawyer said the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US had a major impact on his client and that she had only acted out of fear and concern for those she cared for.
The Magistrate however deemed the offences serious and, because they had occurred over a number of months, could not be considered isolated incidents.
In placing the woman on a good behaviour bond, the Magistrate said she wanted to deliver a message of
deterrence to others who may consider accessing unauthorised information