SearchArchives for November 2006
21 November, 2006
Customs Force Being
The Australian Customs Service has promised not to discriminate against staff who refuse to use force in their duties but has admitted it cannot guarantee they will not be affected financially.
Under new working conditions announced a year ago, up to 700 customs officers will be required to carry weapons and use force in their jobs and some are expressing concerns.
The Service has moved to assure staff who elect to opt out of the “use of force” training – or who fail the associated fitness or
psychometric testing – that they would not be discriminated against.
To date, 65 officers occupying designated use of force positions have been
issued with permits.
At a recent meeting with the Community and Public Sector Union, the Chief Executive of Customs, Michael Carmody, reiterated the undertaking that officers currently in
designated positions will be given the option to obtain the necessary qualifications.
He said those officers who elected not to participate would be redeployed after being consulted on work area preferences.
Mr Carmody said the officer’s preferences would be taken into consideration when redeployment options were being developed but warned it might not be possible to meet all preferences in all cases.
He said employees in regional offices who failed testing or opted out of training would be absorbed into the local structure. Not all positions in district offices were allocated "use of force" positions.
In meetings with the CPSU, Customs management said that if an officer felt he or she was discriminated against, the Service had well-documented processes in place for them to raise concerns and have them investigated.
“Customs cannot guarantee that employees will not have reduced financial reward if they are reassigned - for example, shift to non-shift position,” Customs said.
21 November, 2006
CSIRO wins Right
CSIRO has won a landmark legal battle which promises to make it entitled to receive royalties from every producer of wireless local area network products world wide.
The Organisation brought its case against Buffalo Technologies in the United States Federal Court of the Eastern District of Texas in February last year, claiming the manufacturer had failed to pay royalties on a US patent.
The patent, granted to CSIRO in 16, encompassed elements of a form of
wireless technology that had now become an industry standard.
The technology stems from a system developed by CSIRO in the early '90s, to exchange large amounts of information wirelessly at high speed, within environments
such as offices and homes.
CSIRO won the Buffalo case, Judge Davis granting summary judgement in favour, reaffirming the patent's validity and supporting CSIRO's claims that Buffalo had infringed its
A royalty rate is yet to be determined, but CSIRO chief executive, Geoff
Garrett, said he hoped this would be decided by the court shortly.
"This is an important win because the judge has supported CSIRO's position
comprehensively,” DR Garrett said.
“However, it is only a brick in the wall. CSIRO still has a long way to go."
He said CSIRO was facing two other legal battles against some of the technology world's biggest players, who are seeking to have the patent invalidated, removing the need
for them to pay CSIRO royalties. CSIRO will take on Intel and Dell in one case and Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Netgear in the other. Both cases arose in May last year.
In its defence, CSIRO claimed that its position as a foreign government
body meant it was immune from lawsuits.
The US Court of Appeals dismissed this argument and CSIRO followed up by
filing counter-claims for patent infringement. Its win against Buffalo could set an important precedent for the other cases, which could lead to CSIRO reaping massive royalties on every WLAN product produced.
21 November, 2006
Members of the Australian Defence Force will see a 4.2 per cent increase in their salary and salary-related allowances from 30 November, the first in a series of four increases over three years approved by the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal.
The rise was agreed under the new Workplace Remuneration Arrangement and would apply to all members up to the rank of Air Vice Marshall (or equivalent).
The WRA is the military version of workplace bargaining and delivers across-the-board pay rises for ADF members, in return for improvements in productivity.
Member support was a key factor the DFRT examined when considering approval of the WRA pay increases. Commanders were tasked to survey their units and overall 62 per cent of approximately 26,900 ADF members surveyed supported the pay increases that were proposed under the new arrangement.
The new WRA will increase ADF salary by a total of 12.6 per cent, paid in nine-month increments over the three-year period of the arrangement.
A brochure detailing the new pay rates will be included in the next edition of the three Service newspapers.
21 November, 2006
A team of researchers from the Defence Science & Technology Organisation has won international awards for excellence in defence science.
The awards were presented by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Senator Sandy Macdonald, as part of The Technical Cooperation Program with Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. .
Senator Macdonald said the work of Australian scientists was world class.
“The Technical Cooperation Program provides DSTO with access to advanced science and technology and helps maintain the strong links with our allies in the UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand,” Senator Macdonald said.
“TTCP involves nearly 1,000 defence scientists from member countries with DSTO contributing to some 60 specialist areas of technology, allowing scientists to benchmark their work against the world’s best”.
He said international collaboration in Defence research was becoming increasingly important to develop new capabilities in support of national security and counter-terrorism.
Each year the TTCP countries recognise outstanding research projects undertaken collaboratively and this year a total of seven TTCP awards were presented to the following DSTO researchers and Defence staff:
* Dr Stephen Galea, Donald Manokaran, Keith Muller, Ian Powlesland, Carl Mouser and Tom Ryall (posthumous) for developing smart systems to reduce buffeting and long-term structural damage in fighter aircraft.
* Dr Dale Lambert and Dr Steven Wark for developing concepts, models and tools for information fusion.
* Len Corena, Peter Vascia-Rohrlach, Dr Miro Dubovinsky and Dr Shane Kelly for evaluating the performance of missile warning sensors and systems, leading to improvements for the enhanced protection of Australian aircraft.
* Lieutenant-Colonel Brian Johnston, Major Michael Bond and Major Janice Schloss for developing a new process for selecting instructors to deliver training to Defence personnel who may have to cope with enemy interrogation.
* Dean Bowley, Dr Nick Nunes-Vaz and Dr Jon Vaughan for developing guidelines for the understanding and implementation of Defence experimentation.
* Piers Duncan, Eileen Moran and Marc West for developing models and methodologies to assist with solutions for Maritime Forces to deal with unconventional threats.
* Dr Alex White for improving the understanding of solid rocket motor performance and advancing its embedded sensor technology.
* Dr Stephen Cimpoeru won the 2006 Minister’s Award for Achievement (and $15,000) for enhancing the survivability and protection of Army vehicles on operational deployments.
21 November, 2006
Rights Watchdog Snaps
at Visa Scheme
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has renewed its call for a review of Australia's temporary protection visa regime.
The need for review of the TPV regime was highlighted in 2004 when the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission published its report on children in detention, A last resort?
"The vulnerability of refugees on temporary protection visas is very clear," said the Human Rights Commissioner, Graeme Innes AM.
"The case for a compassionate approach to people who Australia has already found to be refugees is extremely compelling."
He said Australia was a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention which provided (in Article 34) that Australia should "as far as possible, facilitate the assimilation and naturalisation of refugees".
"It is important to remember our obligations under international refugee law which require Australia to facilitate assimilation of refugees in the community and provide them with secure protection," Commissioner Innes said.
"The abolition of the TPV regime would help refugees to integrate into multicultural Australia and provide them with a safe home."
Commissioner Innes said anyone interested in obtaining a copy of A last resort? National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention should visit
21 November, 2006
Consumer Watchdog Turns Scam Buster
Have you really won the lottery, or is it a trick? Is it a miracle cure for cancer or a cruel scam? Does the job offer sound just too good to be true?
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's new look SCAMwatch website, www.scamwatch.gov.au, can help you decide.
ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel, said the new website was designed to educate and assist consumers about scams and the steps they could take to protect themselves.
“While most consumers are aware of widespread scams like ‘Nigerian emails’, they may not appreciate just how many different types of scams are out there,” Mr Samuel said.
The new SCAMwatch website listed 39 different types of scams, ranging from pyramid schemes to office-supply scams, along with the warning signs to look out for.
Most scams rely on looking or sounding like genuine offers. To find out if something is a scam, consumers should to do their homework - ask questions and think carefully before deciding what to do. The aim of SCAMwatch is to provide information to consumers and small business about how to recognise, avoid and report scams.
“Most people think they can spot a scam a mile away, but unfortunately scammers are very good at what they do – they rely on consumers letting their guard down,” Mr Samuel said.
Many scams originate overseas or take place over the internet which makes them very difficult to track down and prosecute.
“If consumers lose money to a scam, it is unlikely that they will ever recover it. SCAMwatch aims to help consumers avoid scams in the first place – and prevention is definitely a better option,” Mr Samuel said.
Find out how scams work and how to protect yourself by visiting www.scamwatch.gov.au.
PS News readers who think they have spotted a scam or have been caught out should call the ACCC Infocentre on 1300 302 502 or use the electronic form on the SCAMwatch website.
21 November, 2006
Writing on the Wall for Stat Decs
Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock has urged the adoption of nationally consistent statutory declaration laws, saying they will save time and money for Australians conducting business across borders.
“I am encouraging my State and Territory counterparts to consider moving toward a more user friendly system for statutory declarations, including a single form across the country and an agreed list of people able to act as witnesses,” Mr Ruddock said.
The Attorney-General noted at a meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, that Australia currently had eight different pieces of legislation governing statutory declarations and was also promoting uniform statutes of limitation because of the capacity to simplify litigation, remove red tape and prevent inequality.
In addition, Mr Ruddock said he would also press his State and Territory counterparts to harmonise elements of their civil procedure law so the Australian Government could accede to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters.
“With the internationalisation of both personal and business matters, it is important that we have one simple process across Australia’s jurisdictions for effecting service of court documents in transborder litigation,” Mr Ruddock said.
21 November, 2006
Teachers Give Full Marks to Rock DVD
An innovative DVD about the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, created with the assistance of Parks Australia, has won a national award for Best Multimedia from the Australian Teachers of Media .
Parliamentary Secretary for Environment and Heritage, Greg Hunt, said the interactive DVD was a stunning visual aid to the media visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and was developed to make filming there easier.
“It is the result of work by Parks Australia, the traditional owners and tourism and media industries to streamline procedures by which media are permitted to film in Uluru,” Mr Hunt said.
“This DVD offers media easily accessible information about the park, its World Heritage values and the age-old Indigenous culture of the traditional owners.
He said the media no longer needed to attend face-to-face briefings - usually in office hours - before they worked in the park.
“Now they save time and money by receiving the information they need about sacred sites and the environment they’ll work in, well before they arrive in Uluru.”
The DVD entitled Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park – Media Briefing was created following a tender process by Tasmanian company Roar Film and has been translated into Japanese, Chinese, German and French with the support of Tourism Australia and Tourism NT.
Craig Dow Sainter from Roar Film accepted the award at a ceremony in Melbourne.
“We’re incredibly proud of this creative effort,” Mr Dow Sainter said. “The DVD captures Uluru’s stunning scenery and also the passion of the traditional owners, Anangu, for their country and culture.
“We left with a new respect for Uluru as a living cultural landscape. By telling the stories through the traditional owners, we hope the DVD raises the same respect in others for the creation beings, Anangu law and sacred sites.”
21 November, 2006
Disaster Managers Kick Up DIN
Emergency management authorities across Australia have been linked by a new website: the Australian Disaster Information Network (AusDIN).
Launched in Adelaide, the new site will allow public to access emergency information in every State and Territory.
Officially unveiling the new site at a meeting of Emergency Services Ministers, Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, said it would prove invaluable for gathering all sorts of information important for controlling major disasters.
"With the internet being such a popular source of information, this initiative will give people the information they need to learn about events such as bushfires, floods or cyclones," Mr Ruddock said.
"The launch of AusDIN comes at a particularly relevant time with the start of the summer natural disaster season upon us."
He said AusDIN was the first whole-of-Government emergency management initiative to use the internet to link and share information relevant to the sector.
The $366,000 in funding for the project was provided to a multi-jurisdictional team from the Working Together to Manage Emergencies Australian Government initiative, announced by the Attorney-General late last year. It had been a collaborative effort with each State and Territory emergency management agency involved.
The AusDIN site will also tap into weather reports, spatial information, warnings and alerts, and provide information on preparing for disasters and what to do in times of evacuation.
Mr Ruddock said there would also be links to recovery organisations, charity and support groups, and international links.
21 November, 2006
Australia Up Front About Leadership
Winners of the inaugural round of the Australian Leadership Awards have been announced by Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer.
Covering the Asia Pacific region, the initiative under the Australian Scholarships scheme is to support the development of future regional leaders who will help influence social and economic policy reform and promote development outcomes in their own countries.
The Leadership Awards are to help identify those leaders.
Mr Downer said 179 scholars from 24 countries across the Asia Pacific region had been selected in the first round of the Awards.
“Over the next five years Australia will double to 19,000 the number of educational scholarships and fellowships it offers throughout the region including more than 3,000 ALAs,” Mr Downer said.
He said as part of the Government's enhanced support for the initiative, 26 of Vietnam's highest achieving professionals had received that award, enabling them to gain postgraduate qualifications in their areas of expertise.
“Sixteen women and 10 men have been selected for further study as ALA recipients at Australian universities in the fields of public health, commerce, information technology, banking, finance and trade,” Mr Downer said.
“In addition, 17 Vietnamese students, researchers and professionals have been awarded Endeavour Scholarships under the Australian Scholarships initiative.”
He said that program enabled researchers to undertake postgraduate and vocational education as well as executive and professional development.
“The new awards are in addition to the 150 Australian Development Scholarships granted to Vietnam each year. More than 2000 Vietnamese students have been awarded scholarships through Australia's international aid agency, AusAID since 12.”
Mr Downer said past recipients of the scholarships had returned to Vietnam to take up key positions within Government, or in its business and academic sectors, notably Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Pham Gia Khiem.
He said the 26 scholars selected from around Vietnam would join 153 other professionals from the Asia-Pacific in the first intake of ALA awardees.
21 November, 2006
Funds and Games on ASIC’s Ladies’ Line
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission has developed an online quiz to enable women to assess their money skills and encourage them to focus on their financial decisions and long-term goals.
Deputy Executive Director of Consumer Protection at ASIC, Delia Rickard said women often took a leading role in managing household finances and usually had very good basic financial skills such as budgeting and saving.
“What concerns us is that these skills frequently seem to take a back seat
when women make financial decisions for their own benefit,” Ms Rickard said.
She said recent research had shown that the average female baby boomer (aged between 45-60) had a superannuation balance of just $35,000.
Ms Rickard said that women earned less than men on average, and they were also
more likely to take time out of the workforce to fulfill carer responsibilities.
"One effect is that women tend to have significantly less saved in super than men their age, even though they have a longer life expectancy and will therefore need more money to fund their retirement."
The quiz includes questions about super planning, budgeting, managing credit cards, relationship debt and investing.
It adds to a range of financial management aids already available on the ASIC site FIDO, including basic and advanced money quizzes, a quiz for the young (and young at heart) and a quiz relating to dangerous investments.
For more information and tips on a range of financial topics visit ASIC's consumer website, www.fido.gov.au.
21 November, 2006
Humans sidestepped at Human Services
Centrelink has launched a new website to provide simpler and easier access to information and secure online services for the 6.5 million Australians eligible for a broad range of Government payments.
Minister for Human Services, Joe Hockey, launched the site as part of Centrelink's new range of easy-to-use customer services.
Mr Hockey said by using the website, customers would be able to take advantage of another new Centrelink initiative - online letters. This handy feature64 allowed people to view and print electronic copies of Centrelink correspondence.
Mr Hockey said another service proving popular with clients was the issue of SMS reminders, more than 130,000 people signing up in the past two months including more than 40,000 customers in NSW alone.
Customers who subscribe to the service can have reminders from Centrelink issued via SMS to attend an appointment or to provide up-to-date information.
Centrelink customers with an interest in signing up for SMS and online letter service can do so at www.centrelink.gov.au.
21 November, 2006
Aussie Tourism Sinks Teeth into Big Apple
Austrade's Senior Trade Commissioner in New York, David Howard, has welcomed the expansion of the G'Day USA program to include New York City.
Building on the enormous success of G'Day LA: Australia Week programs held in Los Angeles over the past three years, the 2007 program will for the first time include a series of events to be held in New York as part of the expanded program.
Mr Howard said G'Day USA: Australia Week 2007 would provide Australian businesses with an unprecedented opportunity to showcase their talents and products directly to the US and develop new export opportunities during events being held in Los
Angeles and New York, 11-20 January, 2007.
In January, the expanded G'Day USA program will again stage a wide range of
events to promote Australian expertise in industries as diverse as art, entertainment, tourism, wine, film, food and beverages, energy, fashion, education, investment and sport.
"G'Day USA: Australia Week 2007 will help promote Australian companies to US consumers, investors and potential partners and to generate further awareness of brand Australia and our country's commercial capabilities," Mr Howard said.
He said the United States was Australia's largest trade and investment partner, with annual two-way merchandise trade between the two countries now worth more than $41 billion, and representing a valuable market for Australian businesses looking to expand internationally.
"Austrade-sponsored activities held as part of previous Australia Week programs have assisted participating businesses generate more than $14 million in new export sales.
“We expect to build upon the success of the past few years through the expanded G'Day USA program and develop new business opportunities on the US east coast," Mr Howard said.
Since the introduction of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement, the Australian Government had expanded Austrade's network devoted to the US market. Austrade now provides extensive support for Australian exporters in the US market with representation in 19 US cities, eight specialist industry teams and a dedicated network of US Export Advisers around Australia.
G'Day USA: Australia Week 2007 is produced by the Los Angeles and New York offices of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Tourism Australia, Qantas Airways and Austrade. For further information on events being held during Australia Week visit www.australia-week.com
21 November, 2006
Art of War On Show at Army
The Australian Army has re-established its official art collection, unveiling the newest additions at the Royal Military College Officers’ Mess in Canberra.
Since World War One, the Government has appointed official war artists to cover conflicts in which Australians have been involved but during World War Two the Australian War Memorial took control of the scheme. The individual services maintained their own art programs however using artists already serving in uniform but when hostilities ceased, the services’ schemes ceased too.
The Army has now revived its scheme following the appointment of a serving Army Captain, Conway Bown, as the official Army War Artist and the unveiling of his art work.
Having served in the Middle East as an Army Chinook helicopter pilot, Captain Bown’s latest assignment was to return with pencils and brushes as the Army’s official War Artist.
Australia’s involvement in the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan has now been captured on canvas by the official War Artist and will be on display in the Mess for members of Australia’s Defence Forces to see.
The Army believes the new works will show the professionalism, dedication and honour with which Australian soldiers go about their business, adding to the Army’s rich heritage.
21 November, 2006
Australia Getting the Flick from Film Makers
The Australian Film Commission has reported that fewer foreign films were being shot in Australia and this had caused the level of production in the industry to be below average in 2005-06.
In its annual national survey of feature64 film and TV drama production, the AFC said the total production slate for the year was 32 features and 607 hours of TV drama which included Australian, co-production and foreign titles and the value was $361 million, down 33 per cent on the $533 million reported last year.
The AFC survey found foreign feature64 production was the lowest since tracking of Australian expenditure began in 14/95 - the four foreign titles which commenced production in 2005/06 were worth just $23 million in Australian expenditure, compared to a five-year average of $172 million.
It found however that Australian feature64 activity had increased, 25 of the year's feature64 films were Australian productions, up from 22 last year, and above the five-year average of 21.
The budgets for those films totalled $98 million, similar to the five-year average of $96 million.
“The return to stronger levels of Australian feature64 production is good news," said the AFC's Acting Chief Executive Chris Fitchett.
"We are starting to see the effects of the Federal Government's injection of extra funds into the FFC in response to the downturn of production activity in 2002/03."
Minister for the Arts, Senator Rod Kemp, said the survey would assist the Government with its current review of support measures for Australia’s film industry.
“The Australian film industry plays a vital creative and economic role and it is important Government support to the industry assists its growth and sustainability,” Senator Kemp said.
“The Australian Film Commission’s 2005–06 survey provides both the industry and Government with crucial information on the strength of Australian film and television production, and will inform the current review which is examining ways to improve support to this sector.”
Senator Kemp also noted a positive increase in budgets, expenditure and the number of television drama titles commencing production this year.
He said the Government was also reviewing its Refundable Film Tax Offset scheme.
21 November, 2006
Scientists Bring Podcasts to Life
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has launched a new podcast service to answer the questions of science that are asked every day.
CSIROpod has been unveiled in which CSIRO scientists talk about their work and other fascinating stories.
Such questions as:
How do you protect your home from bushfires?
How many photos should you take to ensure no one is blinking in the final picture?
How did scientists work out that the Jenolan caves in NSW are between 290 and 340 million years old?
Why are honey bees so important to human survival?
are answered in the podcasts which the Organisation expects to be very popular with the community.
“We believe this shows Australians are keenly interested in science and the amazing things it can tell us about our world,” manager of CSIRO Media Liaison, Marilyn Chalkley said.
“Every time CSIRO has a story we think you would like to hear, we will aim to put it up as a podcast, as well as telling the media about it.
“In addition we will do special podcasts about subjects of interest to the public, such as climate change, bushfires, sharks and the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet.”
She said CSIROpod was an informative and lively insight into the science and story behind the work carried out by CSIRO’s 6500 staff across its 57 sites in Australia.
November 14, 2006
PS Takes Silver in Race for Gold
For the first time in the five-year existence of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Sector Management the judges have been unable to find a Gold Award winner.
They decided that there was no nomination sufficiently outstanding, either in its own right or in comparison to other nominations, to merit a Gold Award and have instead awarded two Silver Awards.
Announced at a dinner in Canberra earlier this month, the joint Silver Award winners for 2006 were the Australian Sports Commission for its Active After School-Hours program and the National Blood Authority for its project on the Supply of Defined Blood Products to Treat Haemophilia and Other Bleeding Disorders.
The winners were named by the President of the ACT Division of the Institute of Public Administration Australia, Lisa Paul who is also Secretary of the Department of Education, Science and Training.
Ms Paul said the charter of the IPAA included the promotion of excellence in public administration and the Prime Minister’s Awards were established in 2002 to provide the pinnacle of recognition for public sector work groups, units and teams across all three level of public administration in Australia.
“This year there were 15 nominations, down slightly from 2005, with the majority from Australian Government agencies, but with one each from the ACT, South Australia and Western Australia,” Ms Paul said.
“These nominations have gone through a rigorous assessment and judging process, based on the Australian Business Excellence Framework.”
She said the high standard of PS administration across all jurisdictions had been highlighted by the quality of the nominations received, with a huge variety, ranging from projects affecting only a particular organisation to some that had a potential impact on all Australian citizens.
The Award focuses on specific projects, initiatives or change processes, and is based on Agencies demonstrating success against four demanding criteria.
Not only do that Agencies have to demonstrate that they are able to devise and implement innovative customer-focused initiatives, but they must also demonstrate that their success was not accidental—it must be the result of a methodical approach to improving the Agency’s practices in client satisfaction, leadership, change management, planning, governance and innovation.
Ms Paul said winning an Award was not the only reason for nominating—the rigorous self-assessment process involved was also an effective evaluation of an initiative, as was the detailed feedback report from IPAA’s volunteer assessors.
“I encourage all public sector agencies at the Federal, State/Territory and Local Government levels to nominate their team and project success stories for an Award,” Ms Paul said.
She said the IPAA website provided all the information needed to help a nominating Agency decide to nominate and gave them guidance and support in preparing a nomination.
Of the 15 nominations received, the judges selected five to receive awards, all commendations.
The first went to the Western Australian Department of Treasury and Finance for its project on improving Government-wide procurement processes in that State. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs also received an award for its project involving the 2006 Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli and a third award went to the South Australian Department for Families and Communities for a project on Disability Action Plans for South Australian Government agencies.
November 14, 2006
Police Plan Takes Off at Airport
Australian Federal Police officers have begun duties at Melbourne Airport as part of the Government’s plan for a unified policing model at 11 designated airports.
The 30 Airport Uniform Police will join a team of AFP Protective Service Officers and canine operatives already stationed at the airport and conduct Counter Terrorism First Response (CTFR) duties.
The AFP’s National Manager, Aviation, Jamie Strauss, said implementation of the Unified Policing Model would see the AFP undertake both the policing and CTFR role at the airport on a full-time basis. This included initial response to all incidents at the airport requiring police attendance.
“This signifies a major step forward,” Mr Strauss said. “With the AFP taking full responsibility for policing at Melbourne Airport as part of the recommendations of the 2005 Wheeler review.”
He said the AFP placed great importance on protecting critical infrastructure and maintaining the safety and security of air travellers.
Mr Strauss said a major part of the officers’ work would be to liaise closely with already established intelligence and investigations teams at the airport. He said the primary objective of the AUP was to maintain law and order, public safety and security throughout Melbourne Airport by providing a continuous, visible and integrated police service to the airport community.
“As a major international and domestic transport hub, Melbourne Airport is an important part of this strategy,” Mr Strauss said.
The officers who began duty at the airport are Victorian Police officers on secondment to the AFP under an agreement with Victoria Police. They were sworn in as AFP members on November 3.
An additional 25 officers will begin work at the airport by the end of December taking the total number of police resources in excess of 120 staff.
November 14, 2006
Government Shows Hand with Access Card
The new health and social security access card would be the property of its owner, Minister for Human Services, Joe Hockey has announced.
Mr Hockey said the Government had delivered on a promise to vest ownership in the card in the holder.
"I have always said that this will be your card," Mr Hockey told a gathering at the National Press Club. "This decision to vest ownership of the card in the individual meets that commitment."
He said by ensuring ownership of the card rested with its holder, the Government also ensured community confidence that security and identity issues would be protected.
"Your card will be unique to you; it will have your photo on it so no one else can use it,” he said. “This will be a more secure system to protect people's identity."
Mr Hockey said Australians would also be able to customise the new health and social services card to suit their needs.
"We presently have a significant problem with quality and quantity of fake Medicare cards being produced. It is too easy for people to use fake Medicare cards as false proof of identity because there is no photo on it.
"You will be able to securely store information in the chip on the card such as emergency contact details, allergies, organ donor status or date of birth. It will be up to each person as to whether they include this detail.”
Mr Hockey also released the Government’s response to the first report from the card’s Consumer and Privacy Taskforce headed by Professor Allan Fels.
He said 22 of the 26 recommendations made in the report had been accepted, two ahd been rejected and one partially supported one. One was still under consideration.
"Where we have rejected the recommendations, we have done so in favour of the convenience of the consumer," Mr Hockey said.
He also launched an information program about the card, including a simple brochure explaining the card, which would be available in Medicare, Centrelink and Department of Veterans' Affairs offices.
November 14, 2006
AGIMO in Hard Drive for Computer Data
The Australian Government Information Management Office will ask agencies for high-level descriptions of the nature and scope of large projects to assist with strategic planning to manage Information and Communication Technology issues better.
The AGIMO says longer-term strategic planning should be conducted to improve the management of ICT resources, better ensure alignment to agency business needs, maximise value from ICT investment and satisfy legislative and Government policy requirements.
Setting up a repository of the ICT strategic investment priorities of all agencies will assist individual agencies to identify:
potential demand for resources across Government including staffing with particular skill sets;
similar approaches and implementations by other agencies, including lead gencies on particular implementations;
technical and business interdependencies;
opportunities for re-use and shared development of systems, products and intellectual property.
The implementation of a strategic plan incorporates consideration of reporting requirements, support for whole-of-government directions and the use of ICT planning in ICT governance.
AGIMO says similar approaches are being adopted in State jurisdictions and the private sector in Australia as well as internationally to support compliance with whole-of-government enterprise architecture principles around interoperability and re-use.
The Organisation says high-level descriptions of agency ICT investments would include:
the purpose of the investment (i.e. expanding business or introducing technology capability, particularly in new technologies)
components of the project and/or key words of areas covered (e.g. security, authentication, emerging technologies)
an indication of the project’s impact on whole-of-government application (i.e. expanding or facilitating dependencies with other agencies; expanding or facilitating shared services or whole-of-government capability) and linkage to the e-Government Strategy.
Agencies are expected to be able to draw on their existing strategic and annual procurement plans to populate the repository. In this way the repository will build on existing business processes and the annual business planning cycle.
The repository is expected to capture a large part of agencies’ future investment intentions. It is not possible to foresee all potential investments, or changes in Government priorities which may impact on longer term plans. Information on projects not forecast through the repository will be available to agencies through the database of Agency ICT-related projects.
The repository will be designed to address Agency security concerns and will be accessible to agreed agency and Department of Finance and Administration nominees. The repository will be trialled by Chief Information Officers’ Committee members to test usability and value. The trial of the repository and a report on its value is scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2007.
November 14, 2006
National Display Flagged For Canberra
A display of Australia’s State flags in the national capital is on the drawing board following an approach to the Commonwealth by the Chief Minister of the ACT, Jon Stanhope.
Mr Stanhope raised the idea with Territories Minister, Jim Lloyd, who has asked the National Capital Authority to give it some thought.
Mr Stanhope said such a display would be a symbol of the Australian Federation and could be installed near Parliament House. A display of other country’s flags was recently added to the attractions in the Parliamentary Triangle.
“Mr Lloyd told me he agreed such a display was appropriate,” Mr Stanhope said. “Given the national capital’s status.”
He said he believed strongly that Canberra, in addition to being home to almost 330,000 Australians, should be better recognised and better loved.
“Bringing together the flags of the jurisdictions that make up our federated nation is one way of reminding visitors and locals alike of the status of Canberra as the capital city.
“Australians should be proud that the colonies that arose on this continent as a consequence of European settlement subsequently came together peacefully, without the shedding of blood, and with the backing of ordinary Australians, to become the nation we are today.
“Few nations can boast such a mature transition to nationhood, and it is a history of which we should remind ourselves at every opportunity.
Mr Stanhope said the display of international flags had proven popular.
“An equivalent display of national flags has long been wanted,” he said.
“I look forward to seeing the flags of the States and Territories flying side by side and welcome the Federal Government’s embrace of the ACT Government’s proposal.”
November 14, 2006
Senator on The Job With Election Warning
The Federal Opposition has been accused of planning to slash Public Service jobs if it wins the next election.
ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries made the claim saying Shadow Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner had revealed the plans during a recent television interview.
Senator Humphries said the plans would impact severely on Canberra.
"This will be the biggest issue facing Canberrans at the next Federal election,” Senator Humphries said.
“In the context of Canberra's economic future, it is a bigger issue than interest rates and industrial relations.”
He called on the ACT’s Federal Labor representatives to work to protect Public Service jobs.
“It is an issue where Labor’s Kate Lundy, Bob McMullan and Annette Ellis must put their constituents above their party,” Senator Humphries said.
“To not do so is a dereliction of duty.”
"But apparently, in their minds, it's acceptable for a Labor politician to propose slashing thousands of public service jobs in Canberra.”
He said the Commonwealth Public Servants in Canberra were entitled to know where the local Labor team stood on the issue, as were the city’s small businesses.
"In fact every Canberran is entitled to know because what Mr Tanner is signalling would have devastating flow-on effects to every aspect of Canberra life,” Senator Humphries said.
To date, the Labor MPs have not indicated a response to PS News.
November 14, 2006
Diggers Found by Diggers in Belgium
The Australian Army is to carry out further investigations into five sets of remains of World War I veterans found recently near Zonnebeke on the Western Front in Belgium. The remains have been confirmed as Australian.
An historical and archeological report from the Australian Office of War Graves will go to the Army which will investigate issues related to identification. This could involve studies of available military records, medical, dental and burial records.
A detailed forensic examination of the remains will also be overseen by Belgian War Graves Commission in the hope of determining the approximate ages of the soldiers and causes of death.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Bruce Billson said the remains were discovered on the outskirts of the hamlet of Westhoeck in late August and early September during gas line excavation works.
He said Australians had fought in the area in 1917 during the 3rd Battle of Ypres, commonly referred to as the Battle of Passchendaele.
"The remains were found with items of clothing and insignia that are typically Australian, including leather boots, a pair of corded trousers and a jacket,” Mr Billson said.
“Nationality was further confirmed by the finding of ‘rising sun’ collar badges and ‘Australia’ shoulder titles."
The Australian Office of War Graves had received a report prepared by the Memorial Museum at Passchendaele.
Mr Billson said that report said four of the sets of remains had been wrapped in blankets and one in a groundsheet indicating they had been part of a battlefield burial.
"One uniform had the circular colour patch of the 4th Division, but it is not possible without scientific analysis to discern the colours in the patch that might identify a particular unit," Mr Billson said.
Few personal possessions were found with the remains, however, a field dressing, an aniline pencil, a pocket knife and a small pen knife were recovered from the excavation site.
Mr Billson said the prospects of identification was low but he was hopeful that their stories could come to light.
"These men paid the ultimate price while serving the interests of our nation and once investigations are complete they will be laid to rest, beside their mates, in a war cemetery in Belgium, with the dignity and respect they deserve."
November 14, 2006
Roads Minister Drives Safety Call
The Minister for Roads, Jim Lloyd, has called on the States and Territories to improve the data they provide so that experts can monitor the success of the latest vehicle safety technologies.
Speaking at an Indigenous Road Safety Forum in WA, Mr Lloyd said that advanced safety features such as electronic stability control and curtain airbags had enormous potential to prevent deaths and serious injuries on Australian roads and he wanted to ensure that they were monitored properly.
He said that the Australian Transport Council which included Transport Ministers from all States and Territories had agreed on the development of a national action plan to accelerate the take-up of vehicles equipped with electronic stability control.
"I want to ensure that we have the data available to properly monitor the market response to this plan and the effectiveness of new technologies in saving lives, to determine the need for additional measures,” Mr Lloyd said.
He said new car sales figures showed the Australian vehicle industry had responded positively to the growing demand for advanced safety devices.
"It is encouraging to note that nearly a quarter of cars entering the local market now have ESC as standard equipment," he said.
"But we need more comprehensive information from the States and Territories on vehicles involved in fatal crashes to help assess the overall safety benefits of particular vehicle technologies in the national fleet.
“I will therefore raise with my state and territory Ministerial colleagues of the Australian Transport Council the feasibility of improving the collection and reporting of road crash statistics incorporating vehicle safety features", Mr Lloyd said.
November 14, 2006
Farmers Catch Bus for Fair Go
A mobile information service for farmers needing information about drought relief has been launched by Centrelink to make it easier for them to obtain information about, and apply for, drought assistance.
Taking the form of a specially decked-out bus, the service is visiting some of the country’s most drought-affected regions
According to the Minister for Agriculture, Peter McGauran, many farmers found it hard to find the time to get into town to talk with staff from Government Agencies so the Centrelink bus would go to them.
“We’ve decided to take the services directly to farming communities,” Mr McGauran said.
Launching the six-week pilot project, Mr McGauran, said the bus would travel through Victoria, NSW and southern Queensland to speak directly to farmers about assistance measures.
“Specialist staff on board the bus will provide information and link farmers to the relevant assistance and support services. Social workers will also be on hand to provide counselling or referrals,” Mr McGauran said.
“This bus will act as a fully functional office, with a phone, fax, printer and self-service computers directly connected to Centrelink. Farmers will be able to apply for drought assistance and other Government support on the spot.”
He encouraged farmers to use the service and to enjoy a barbecue with the staff.
He said it would visit such towns as Gunning, Goulburn, Crookwell and Cootamundra in NSW and Wangaratta, Kerang, Swan Hill and Mildura in Victoria.
November 14, 2006
Library Books Space in Architects’ Building
The National Capital Authority’s library has found a home at the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in the Canberra suburb of Red Hill.
The library was established in the 1950s to provide technical information for those involved in the building of Canberra and because it holds more than 3000 reports published by the National Capital Development Commission, offers a rare insight into the early development of Canberra.
Chief Executive of the Authority, Annabelle Pegrum, said the collection had been housed, until recently, at the NCA’s office in Parkes, ACT, and included a number of specialist journals and a section devoted to the works and influences of Walter Burley Griffin.
“The library has a strong core of books and journals on architecture and planning, landscape architecture, environmental planning and a substantial range of materials relating to capital city planning, development and maintenance,” Ms Pegrum said.
In a partnership agreement between the NCA and the RAIA, the collection would become a reference library providing a quiet space for research or browsing.
RAIA CEO David Parken said the Institute was delighted to be able to offer a home to the library which was unique.
“(The arrangement) is about preserving and better understanding Canberra’s origins so that we can best shape and mould it as we move into the future.”
The new location will make the library more accessible and raise the profile of the facility. It is open to the public from 9am to noon and from 2pm to 5pm weekdays and can be contacted by email on email@example.com or by phoning (02) 6273 7964.
November 14, 2006
Violence to Take a Beating on White Ribbon Day
A national day to support the elimination of violence against women is to be held world-wide on 25 November, White Ribbon Day.
Almost 1.3 million women across Australia have experienced violence from a current or former partner and the community is asked to show their support for them and the movement against violence by wearing a white ribbon on that day.
“Change will only occur if we each accept personal responsibility to show it’s never OK to be violent to women,” said President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission John von Doussa. “Violence against women will only cease to happen when men join with women to put an end to it.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma said he actively supported Indigenous leaders standing up and voicing a clear message that violence against women was not acceptable.
“Although often a hidden problem across Australia, violence against women occurs in all parts of society regardless of socio-economic status, age, cultural and ethnic background or religious belief,” Commissioner Calma said.
“Too often its devastating effects, be they psychological, social and economic, short and long term, rebound on families, children and the community as a whole.
Human Rights Commissioner Graeme Innes said that as a husband, father and son, he knew how important it was that men send a clear message to other men that violence against women is unacceptable.
“Such actions are a violation of women’s fundamental human rights,” Mr Innes said.
For more information on the White Ribbon campaign log on to www.whiteribbonday.org.au
November 14, 2006
Island in the Sun Wins Weather Upgrade
The Bureau of Meteorology has opened a a new $8 million weather station on Willis Island, North Queensland.
The new station is expected to play a key role in tracking cyclones and detecting climate change.
Commissioning the station, Parliamentary Secretary for theEnvironment, Greg Hunt, said Willis Island was one of the Weather Bureau’s most remote, yet important field offices.
"Located about 450 kilometres north east of Townsville, it is one of a select group of stations worldwide that will provide data for monitoring large scale climatic phenomena such as climate change,” Mr Hunt said.
He said the new off-shore station replaced an ageing facility which dated back to the early 1950s and was part of the Government's $19.8 million 2005-06 Budget announcement to rebuild 12 field offices over six years.
Federal MP for Herbert, Peter Lindsay was also at the commissioning ceremony and said Willis Island had provided an important frontline warning capability for tropical cyclones approaching north east Queensland and had been particularly valuable for coastal communities.
"It is terrific to see that the new centre will play a key role in the international climatic scene as well,” Mr Lindsay said. “This is a demonstration of the quality of science being produced here in North Queensland.”
The new facility would be one of 160 stations included in the Global Climate Observing System Upper Air Network.
The Bureau of Meteorology station s three observers and one engineering technician on Willis Island for periods of six months.
November 14, 2006
Courts Have Caught Up
The Family Court has reduced pending case lists and streamlined its processes according to Attorney-General Philip Ruddock who tabled the 2005-06 annual reports of the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court in Parliament recently.
“The Family Court has streamlined its case management practices and procedures and conducted registrar education programs to implement the new legislative approach,” Mr Ruddock said.
“Introducing new procedures has streamlined the preparation and conduct of matters and the Family Court has considerably reduced the waiting list for hearings.”
Mr Ruddock said he was very pleased with the contribution being made by the Federal Magistrates Court in resolving both family law and general federal law disputes.
“It is particularly pleasing to see that the Federal Magistrates Court has reduced its backlog of migration cases by a quarter over the course of the year,” he said. “In the 2004-05 Budget, funding had been provided for the appointment of eight additional magistrates to deal with the migration backlog.”
Mr Ruddock noted the number of Magistrates in the Federal Magistrates Court was now 45, up 10 on the number reported at the end of the 2005-06 financial year.
“I am confident these additional appointments will greatly assist litigants to obtain a speedy resolution of their disputes,” he said. “As well as assisting the Court in dealing with its growing workload, they will lead to reduced pressures on the Family Court and the Federal Court.”
November 14, 2006
Ready, Steady, Go for Army Reserves
The first Army Reservists have signed up with the High Readiness Reserve (HRR).
Nine reservists from 9 Royal Queensland Regiment and one Reserve officer from 1 Headquarters Service Battery
made the commitment in September with five deployed to East Timor shortly after at short notice.
Privates Brendan Carroll, John Hardgrave, Adam McLean, Ernest Sweet and Daniel Upton got the phone call from their unit at 6.30pm one September Thursday, with an offer to serve in the troubled nation and began their deployment administration the next day.
According to Army News, Private McLean said it had been a great 12 months in the Army Reserve and he was keen to sign up with the HRR as soon as it was offered.
“There is nowhere else you can experience the Army to this degree,” Private McLean said. “. Having the Reserve more integrated and changeable is a real move in the right direction and I think that is what the HRR is about.”
Private Hardgrave, a Brisbane motor mechanic, said the chance for reservists to put their training into action was the real benefit of the HRR.
“The HRR really isn’t any more commitment than I am giving at the moment and you get the chance to deploy and get paid better for it,” he said.
“The workshop where I’m employed is big enough to cover for me when I’m not there and I really wasn’t going anywhere – so two years is not that long.”
Colonel Chris Hamilton of 7 Brigade said the new HRR recruits validated the Chief of Army’s’s vision for the Hardened and Networked Army and demonstrated that the Army Reserve was well positioned to provide operational forces to the Army.
“Within 7 Brigade we already knew that we had a significant pool of individuals who were trained to the appropriate level and ready to go,” Colonel Hamilton said.
“The HRR provides reservists with a golden opportunity to continue doing a job that they are committed to and obviously love, but now on a part-time basis and under excellent conditions.”
HRR members would receive the same pay as Regular Army soldiers plus a $10 a day service allowance and stood to benefit from $10,000 bonus if they met certain Army readiness conditions.
November 14, 2006
Archives Lifts Lid on Ex-Public Servants
The story of two Public Servants – who were sometimes very ‘un-Government’ in their modus operandi but who made lasting contributions to Canberra – is being told in a new website from the National Archives of Australia.
The work of the couple, Ruth Lane Poole and Charles Lane Poole, is highlighted on the Uncommon Lives website and was recently launched at the Archives in Canberra.
Ruth Lane Poole ruffled bureaucratic feathers as she offered frank opinions in her role as designer of the furniture and interiors of the residences of the Prime Minister and Governor-General, The Lodge and Government House, in 1927.
Charles Lane Poole brought principled scientific and professional ideals to his work as Commonwealth Forester and head of the Australian Forestry School, bringing him at times into conflict with his forestry peers.
Director-General of the National Archives of Australia, Ross Gibbs, said that launching the website on Charles and Ruth Lane Poole in East Block was fitting because of the connections between the building and the Lane Pooles’ role in shaping early work on East Block, now home to the Archives, which began in 1925.
“The following year East Block, new Parliament House and West Block were ready for occupation, and the Government and Public Service began the slow and, at times, reluctant move from Melbourne,” Mr Gibbs said.
“In 1926, Melbourne-based Charles and Ruth Lane Poole were playing an active role in the construction of some of Canberra’s other early civic buildings.”
As Commonwealth Forestry Adviser, Charles Lane Poole successfully argued for the establishment of the Forestry School in Yarralumla, but by distinguishing graduates of State forestry schools from ‘fully trained men’, he offended the Chief Commissioner of the New South Wales Forestry Commission, R Dalrymple Hay and their conflict escalated until the Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher insisted that they ‘allow the matter to end’.
As ‘Furniture Specialist’, Ruth Lane Poole supplied a detailed outline of budgets and a timeline for furnishing The Lodge and Yarralumla which the Federal Capital Commission thought were excessive. A review by Cabinet found however that her original estimates were spot on the mark.
Mr Gibbs said early Canberra, and the fields of forestry and interior design, benefited greatly from the talents and passions of Charles and Ruth Lane Poole. He said the Uncommon Lives website brought to life the records about them and provided a unique insight into early Canberra through letters, memos and photographs.
Following the official launch by Dr Di Langmore, General Editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, the website’s author, Dr John Dargavel revealed more of the life of Australia’s first Commonwealth Forester. Dr Dargavel is currently writing Charles Lane Poole’s biography.
November 14, 2006
Women Kick Goals in Sports Leadership
More than 200 women are expected to take up leadership roles in sport following the announcement of the 2006-07 Women Sports Leadership Grants by Sports Minister, Senator Rod Kemp and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues, Julie Bishop.
The Government, through the Australian Sports Commission and the Office for Women, has provided $400,000 in funding for the latest national grants scheme which will allow more women to pursue leadership opportunities across many levels of Australian sport.
Announcing the grants, Senator Kemp and Ms Bishop said the Government was committed to encouraging more women to take up leadership and decision-making roles in sport, to improve its strength and encourage growth.
“Over the last five years, more than 13,000 women across Australia have benefited from grants worth more than $1.6 million to contribute to the development of sports leadership skills and training,” Senator Kemp said.
“This grants scheme enables more Australian women to undertake accredited sports leadership training in coaching and officiating and sport administration, sport governance and management where traditionally they tend to be under-represented.”
Ms Bishop said that the 229 successful recipients of the 2006 Women Sports Leadership Grants included a broad range of women and organisations who reflected the depth and diversity of Australian sport.
“Grant recipients will serve as important role models to encourage and inspire other women into sports leadership positions,” Ms Bishop said.
Grants recipients reflected the five key areas of high performance coaching and officiating; Indigenous women in rural and remote communities; women in disability sport; women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and women in general sport leadership.
One recipient of the grant, Rina Hore, who was the first woman to be appointed to the board of Cricket New South Wales will use the grant to pursue further professional development through an Australian Institute of Company Directors Course. She said she would help enable other women to take up leadership roles within the sport.
Olympian Gillian Rolton of Adelaide, will use the grant to upgrade her qualifications in National Dressage Judging to gain knowledge and expertise as an International Eventing Official. This means more home-based equestrian riders could be judged to an international standard.
The Football (Soccer) Federation of Australia (FFA) will use the grant to create career pathways for up to four Matilda footballers who aspire to take up coaching at the grassroots and elite level. FFA’s My Football Career program will provide guidance and mentoring for the development of potential coaches.
November 7, 2006
Ombudsmen Blow the Whistle On Whistleblower Laws
A review of whistleblower legislation across Australia has found that laws protecting those who serve the public interest by disclosing wrongdoing should be standardised around the nation.
The paper, Public Interest Disclosure Legislation in Australia: Towards the Next Generation, was prepared by Dr A J Brown of Griffith University as part of a national research project Whistling While They Work. The project includes most of Australia’s public sector integrity agencies.
It was released by the Commonwealth, NSW and Queensland Ombudsmen at the 6th National Investigation Symposium in Sydney.
Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan, said the review highlighted the significant variations in style, coverage and principle among the different laws.
He said it illustrated the inconsistencies between the nine Acts covering whistleblowing in Australia — ranging from who will be protected, how they will be protected, and the obligations on agencies themselves.
“There are strengths in some laws that other jurisdictions could heed. There are weaknesses in all laws that need to be addressed, perhaps by common answers,” Professor McMillan said.
He said the call for a national and coherent approach deserved special attention.
The paper outlines the elements necessary to facilitate public interest disclosures, including protecting whistleblowers, ensuring disclosures were properly dealt with and facilitating the making of disclosures.
According to Professor McMillan, no whistleblower legislation in Australia achieved all of these objectives.
Queensland Ombudsman, David Bevan, encouraged both Government Agencies and the public to consider the issues and send comments to the project’s research team.
“Ombudsmen’s offices, along with other integrity agencies, have a special interest in ensuring the effectiveness of public interest disclosure laws,” Mr Bevan said.
“Comments on this paper from Government Agencies and the general public will help inform our collective thinking about what might constitute best practice in public interest disclosure legislation, and contribute to recommendations for reform,” he said.
The paper is available on the internet at www.ombudsman.gov.au.
November 7, 2006
PM in Ground Assault at Defence HQ
Construction work on the new Defence Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) facility near Bungendore, NSW has begun with Prime Minister, John Howard turning the first sod at a ceremony to mark the occasion.
Mr Howard performed the ceremony on the 220-hectare former sheep station.
“This new headquarters will bring together for the first time all the key elements necessary for the planning and command and control of Australian Defence Force operations and other designated activities,” Mr Howard said. “At a time of unprecedented military operational activity.”
Mr Howard said that the new facility “could not arrive at a better time for Defence or the nation”.
Guests at the ceremony included the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, representatives of the consortium carrying out the construction, and local dignitaries and landowners.
The HQJOC contract is being built using private financing and will be maintained over 30 years by a consortium comprising Leighton Contractors Pty Limited and ABN AMRO Australian Limited, which will also provide a range of support services.
The net present value of the contract is $572 million.
The facility is expected to be completed in 2008.
Leighton Contractors has begun construction of a three-kilometre access road linking the headquarters to the Kings Highway between Bungendore and Queanbeyan.
The successful tenderer for the Prime System Integrator which will coordinate the 45 Command, Control, Communications, Computing and Intelligence (C4I) Systems required for HQJOC will be announced soon.
When fully operational the HQJOC will merge the strategic and operational levels of ADF planning, and enable better planning and integration with other Government departments and agencies when required.
November 7, 2006
Marine Institute a Pearl in the Crown
A report into the value and relevance of the Australian Institute of Marine Science has found the Institute to be at the cutting edge of marine science and making an important contribution to the Australian economy.
Prepared by Insight Economics, the report entitled Marine Imprint: the CrucialImpact of 33 Years of AIMS Research in the Public Interest assesses the impact of research activity by AIMS since its establishment in 1972.
According to Minister for Science, Julie Bishop, the news is all good.
“AIMS is recognised world-wide for its cutting edge research in the field of tropical marine science and technology and is held in high regard by industry, government and other stakeholders,” Ms Bishop said.
“This report provides an independent assessment of the value and relevance of AIMS research for the long-term benefit of Australia and has shown that the Institute delivers strong net economic benefits for Australia for a small investment by taxpayers.”
The Report noted that the true value of AIMS cannot be fully captured in purely economic terms. A key impact of AIMS research is its contribution to the management and preservation of Australia’s iconic tropical marine ecosystems, most significantly the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
AIMS research was also found to contribute to many rapidly growing marine industries, the tourism sector in the Great Barrier Reef, the Western Australian offshore oil and gas industry, and aquaculture industries.
November 7, 2006
Ceasefire in DMO Audit Attack
Significant progress has been made by the Defence Materiel Organisation in enhancing the ability of the Defence logistics information systems that support both operational requirements and management needs.
Following a critical report of the Standard Defence Supply System Upgrade project in 2004, the Auditor-General has published a follow-up which contained no adverse findings or recommendations in relation to SDSS.
In particular the following achievements were noted:
the Get Well and related remediation programs had been successfully completed;
a date processing problem was fixed successfully in April 2006;
an enhanced IT controls framework had been implemented, with full compliance achieved, and
additional resources were being devoted to training, assistance and compliance reviews.
The DMO welcomed the positive report. The auditor made only two recommendations, neither relating to SDSS but to broader logistics management.
Defence agreed with both recommendations and has commenced action.
November 7, 2006
Taskforce To Take Out Awards
The Government has acknowledged that Enterprise awards should only be subsumed by a rationalised award when a substantial majority of parties to the enterprise award support such an approach.
This was one of the conclusions of the Award Review Taskforce’s report on award rationalisation, released recently by the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews.
Under the new industrial relations laws employees not covered by a workplace agreement would continue to work under Federal awards and the Taskforce was set up to help reduce their duplication and complexity.
The Taskforce paid particular attention to rationalizing the Federal awards as well as wages and classification structures. The Taskforce’s report on wages classification has already been delivered to the Australian Fair Pay Commission.
According to Mr Andrews, the Taskforce’s recommendations were consistent with the Government’s commitment that award classification wages and benefits would not be cut.
“The Award Rationalisation report recommends a number of principles which the Taskforce proposes be applied by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission when rationalising awards,” Mr Andrews said.
“The Government supports all of the Taskforce’s proposed principles, either in full or in part.”
The Taskforce’s award rationalisation report followed extensive consultation with interested parties, including employer, union and community groups and was critical to moving towards a simpler and fairer workplace relations system, Mr Andrews said.
“The need to modernise the award system has long been recognised by workplace relations practitioners and others who have to navigate their way through the myriad of awards and detailed award provisions that currently exist,” he said.
Mr Andrews thanked the Chair of the Taskforce, Matthew O’Callaghan and the members of the Award Review Taskforce Reference Group for their efforts in undertaking what he called a very complex and challenging task.
November 7, 2006
Guide Taps Into Water Conservation
With community interest in water saving and conservation at an all-time high, the Minister for the Environment has released a guide to help reduce water use in office and public buildings.
“The Water Efficiency Guide: Office and Public Buildings gives practical ‘how to’ help for building owners, managers and users to reduce water use by up to 30 per cent to 40 per cent,” the Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, said. Senator Campbell said the commercial office building sector was a significant water user, with office water use accounting for as much as 10 per cent of capital city water consumption. A moderate-sized office building, he said, typically consumed more than 20,000 litres a day (more than seven million litres a year) - enough to supply 40 average homes.
“This guide will help building owners and managers to cut water usage,” Senator Campbell said.
“It includes practical tips on design, occupancy and refurbishment, as well as information on water collection and waste water treatment, fitting water-efficient appliances and reducing leakages, and water-efficient landscaping.”
He congratulated water-efficient businesses showcased in the guide, including:
IBM West Pennant Hills Data Centre in NSW, which cut water use by more than 60 per cent in two years, saving 160 kilolitres a day, and
Investa Property Group, the largest listed owner of commercial property in Australia, which reduced water use by 25.8 per cent in two years in a 12-site pilot study in Victoria and NSW.
The guide was developed in collaboration with the NSW, Victorian, Queensland, Western Australian, South Australian and ACT governments, and industry.
“The guide is part of the Australian Government’s integrated approach to reducing urban water use,” Senator Campbell said.
“At a community level, the $200 million Community Water Grants program helps local groups to address their own water use – 1750 projects worth $61 million were awarded in Round 1.”
November 7, 2006
All Working Parts At Workplace Office
The first six months of operations by the Office of Workplace Services had been very positive according Director of the Office, Nicholas Wilson.
Appearing before the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Legislation Committee, Mr Wilson said OWS had enjoyed a busy half year and was well on its way to fulfilling its role and mandated responsibility.
“Since March 27, the OWS has recovered over $5 million, for more than 3000 employees,” Mr Wilson said. “The OWS has been active and committed to fulfilling this mandate.”
He believed the Office was already achieving its objective, saying: “I believe our results – our actions – speak for themselves.”
Mr Wilson said OWS was currently dealing with more than 20 litigations of civil breaches under the new Act in the Courts.
“We now have 193 workplace inspectors all of whom are committed to ensuring the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees are protected.”
He said the OWS inspectors were doing a great job.
“They’ve established themselves as strong contributors to our mission of ensuring the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers under the Act are understood and enforced fairly.”
“With time and the opening of our 12 new offices I am confident they will do an even better job.”
November 7, 2006
New Tool to Tighten Budget Cases
A guide developed by the Australian Government Information Management Office will help agencies with comprehensive cost benefit analysis and detailed project planning.
The revised Information and Communication Technology Business Case Guide and Tools has been released for use across Government in the 2007–08 Budget cycle. While not mandatory for this Budget period, it is intended that future Budget processes will require the use of the ICT Business Case Guide and Tools for all New Policy Proposals with a significant ICT component.
The guide stems from the international success of AGIMO’s earlier Demand and Value Assessment Methodology. Specific cost benefit analysis tools have also been created to help agencies optimise investment in emerging technologies, websites and legacy systems.
The ICT Investment Framework aims to enhance business case development by assisting agencies in developing transparent and auditable assessments of business case propositions for government ICT programs.
Rigorous business case planning ensures that ICT investment across Government is well planned and managed. Robust business cases reduce the risk of time and cost overruns and of projects not achieving anticipated benefits. Better business cases strengthen the quality of strategic alignment, project planning, financial estimates, and cost benefit and options analysis.
Agencies trialling the ICT Business Case Guide and Tools over the past year report that benefits include the development of a common language around investment and business planning.
AGIMO has been providing Government agencies free training in business case development and use of the ICT Business Case Guide and Tools on a train-the-trainer basis and will continue to do so as requested by agencies. Initially, up to 80 trainers can be trained, with a maximum of four personnel from each large agency and two from smaller agencies. Agencies can purchase additional training if required.
Agencies who wish to be kept informed of the latest developments in the ICT Business Case Guide and Tools including updates and training, are invited to register their interest by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 7, 2006
Employment Expos a Good Job Lot
Centrelink is holding a special series of Employment Expos in regional and remote communities around Australia as part of the solution to the increasing skills and labour shortage.
Minister for Human Services, Joe Hockey, has urged job seekers to attend at least one in the special series.
"It's widely acknowledged that Australia is facing a serious labour shortage and these employment expos are part of the solution," Mr Hockey said.
"Helping those with a capacity to work, into work, is part of (the Government’s) commitment.”
Mr Hockey said the expos would link job seekers with employers, industry groups, recruitment companies and training courses to help them get back into the workforce.
"The expos are for everyone and tens of thousands of people will be invited,” he said.
“There will be jobs and information to suit a range of job seekers including those returning to the workforce or finishing school.”
The Minister said information would also be available on the range of Government support services available to help people find work.
The first Employment Expo was held in Mt Isa, Queensland, on 25 October and were continuing through November in such places as Innisfail, Queensland; Albany and Northam in Western Australia; and Port Augusta in South Australia.
Mr Hockey said there would be at least 20 wheld over eight months.
Centrelink will be joined by other Human Services agencies which will provide information about the services they offer.
November 7, 2006
Public Support is Formula for Science Success
The Productivity Commission has found that public support for science and innovation has brought positive returns to Australia’s national productivity as well as paying important social and environmental dividends.
The Commission’draft report Public Support for Science and Innovation finds no reason to make significant changes to the overall level of public spending on science - some $6 billion in 2002-03 - but it found there was a need for incremental shifts in how the money was spent.
Releasing the draft, Commissioner Mike Woods said it was important for Government programs to maintain a balance between pure basic research and commercial product development.
“There has been a trend to focus more on commercialisation,” Mr Woods said. “But in most cases the private sector is best placed to fund the Research and Development that leads to marketable goods and services, and to reap the rewards from their sale.”
He said little extra was gained from any taxpayer subsidy of that process.
According to the draft report, the objectives of Cooperative Research Centres should be re-aligned to the broad attainment of economic, social and environmental goals, not just commercial ones.
Mr Woods said strong public funding support was justified for Rural R&D Corporations with a significant public good orientation.
He said Commission considered that the level of public co-funding for some of the more industry-focused corporations could be reduced when the economic circumstances of the rural sector were more favourable.
The Commission found that certain changes to business programs such as the R&D Tax Concession, which is worth over $600 million each year, could increase the level of socially-beneficial research.
There is also a need.for more nimble R&D collaborative arrangements between business and universities, and the Commission proposed a complement to the CRC program that could achieve this.
“While the proposed Research Quality Framework has some benefits, there are also considerable costs,” Commissioner Woods said.
“The Commission suggests that implementation of the RQF be delayed while other options for assessing and improving the quality and impact of block-funded university research are explored.”
The draft report was welcomed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation with CSIRO Chief Executive, Geoff Garrett saying it was an important and lasting contribution to the debate on public support for science and innovation.
“The report states that there are positive net impacts from Research and Development undertaken in public research agencies such as CSIRO (which receives 10 per cent of the public funding for R & D) and adds that CSIRO’s funding should not be reduced,” Dr Garrett said.
“I am gratified that the report also recommends that CSIRO’s approach to priority setting and performance management may have wider applicability to other parts of Australia’s innovation system.”
The Commission has released its draft report to encourage further discussion and input and wil receive submissions until 21 December. It would complete its report by 10 March 2007.
November 7, 2006
Strong Smell of Success at Stats
Contrary to the belief of some, the Public Service is full of surprises.
Talk to people at a personal level and you'll find a variety of views on the issues of the day. You'll also find people involved in a variety of interesting activities.
That woman you walk past every day might just be a champion hockey player, a historian or a first class musician. And that bloke across the way might be a top grade footballer. Then again he might write novels in his spare time.
It was certainly a surprise to others in the Bureau of Statistic’s Census Public Relations Unit when their Media Relations Manager, Mark Uhlmann started handing out his novels as the unit was wound up last month. The unit had finished a long and successful Census campaign and the novels were in the way of farewell gifts.
Mr Uhlmann's workmates had no idea he wrote novels, but he has written three and has had a number of short stories published in Quadrant magazine.
He can hardly be said to be well known in the literary world, but renowned poet and literary editor of Quadrant Les Murray described him as "a brave, clear-eyed writer who can't be fooled or bullied by the delusive spirit of the age."
In a review of an earlier book in Quadrant, Peter Kocan described Mr Uhlmann as "a Canberra writer with a lucid prose style and a haunted sense of the impairment of contemporary life."
His latest book has just been published under the arresting title: Stink of a Journalist.
"I like the title, but a number of people have told me that they don't," Mr Uhlmann said. "That's OK, just read the book and you'll get the reason for it."
Twenty years ago this month, Mark Uhlmann started as a reporter on The Canberra Times. "In those days I wrote news stories, features and comment pieces. But the first thing I ever had published in the paper was a short story. Later I did other jobs, including working for a "maverick" federal politician, but I came back to The Canberra Times as a night sub-editor in 15 and stayed for 10 years. I wrote my own stuff in the daytime. In the middle of last year I got the Census job."
Insiders see parallels between recent upheavals at The Canberra Times and some of the action in the book. They also see similarities between some of the characters in the book and Canberra Times personalities.
Mr Uhlmann smiles at the suggestion.
"Despite tensions between the two institutions, many people in the Public Service take an interest in the internal workings of the media, particularly here in Canberra.
“There are plenty of internal media workings in this book, but there are also universal elements such as uncertainty about the future, coping with adversity and the need we have to leave some sort of legacy. I also think people will find some of the characters very colourful."
Despite the fact that the Census unit has disbanded, Mr Uhlmann is still on contract for a few more weeks but he has no idea where he will appear next.
“I've applied for a few jobs. I'll see what turns up."
Stink of a Journalist costs $15 and is available at Smiths Alternative Bookshop, Melbourne Building, Alinga Street, Canberra City, phone: (02) 6247 4459.
November 7, 2006
Posties Call to Stamp Out Accidents
Your local postie may deliver the mail through rain, hail or shine, but extreme weather conditions are only the “tip of the iceberg”, according to Australia Post.
In the past 12 months a large number of posties have been injured while going about their daily deliveries and while these incidents can be caused by a number of factors, the overwhelming majority are caused by other vehicles.
As part of the recent Safe Work Australia Week, Australia Post asked the community to spare a thought for their postie.
“Your postie is on the move throughout your neighbourhood every day of the week, delivering your mail,” Australia Post spokesperson Lea Jaensch said.
“It’s easy to rush out of the driveway or down the road, without taking the time to look out for your postie, but we are asking people to do a double-take.”
Due to the frequency of accidents that occur, driveway and road accidents are a constant concern for posties as they go about their delivery rounds, Ms Jaensch said.
“Serious accidents can unfortunately occur, even at very low speeds.”
She said to help keep your postie safe, people should remember the following easy steps when leaving their driveway:
reverse slowly at all times
check your central and rear vision mirrors
turn your head to check that there is no-one in your blind spots
trim bushes that may obscure your vision in your driveway
sound your horn briefly before reaching the footpath
“Although posties undertake regular and rigorous training to deal with the unpredictable hazards and ever-changing conditions of our roads and footpaths, a large number of incidents still occur,” Ms Jaensch said.
“Most of those are preventable,”
November 7, 2006
Testing Time for New Phone Network
Specially equipped test vehicles with an army of engineers from Telstra and Ericsson are travelling more than 10,000 kilometres a day testing Telstra's Next G network.
Telstra’s Executive Managing Director, Wireless, John Gonner, said the vehicles had already covered more than a million square kilometres in their travels and drive testing was part of the company’s continuous improvement program as it grew and enhanced the Next G network.
Mr Gonner said the network already covered 98 per cent of the population.
The testing fleet had 64 vehicles which engineers used to make voice and data calls every 90 seconds to test voice and data quality and performance.
After the test vehicles completed their daily routes, the network teams sent the results to network test centres for compilation and analysis. Engineers then assessed performance and reported on recommended changes.
Mr Gonner said these could be either physical changes such as redirection of an antenna, or data configuration changes to improve the quality of voice calls.
Following implementation of the changes, follow up drive testing determined if further fine-tuning of the network was required.
Telstra recently launched world-first field trials to increase peak network speeds on the Next G network by about 300 per cent - to 14.4 Mbps - by early next year.
The trials, taking place in rural Victoria, would help prepare the Next G network for expected boosts in customer demand for data rich applications and new content services like FOXTEL on mobiles.
November 7, 2006
Bureau Goes Cold on Weather Calendar
The Bureau of Meteorology has released its 2007 Australian Weather Calendar featuring images of the skies over Antarctica.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Bureau, Greg Hunt, said nearly 50,000 copies of the calendar had been printed to satisfy strong demand which had built up over many years among weather enthusiasts and the general public.
"The 2007 edition will not disappoint,” Mr Hunt said, “with 12 striking photographs complemented by information on polar meteorology and data on monthly weather conditions."
"The calendar includes important information about the heroic period of Antarctic exploration and the work of Cooperative Research Centres that report on this cold world.
He said many hundreds of photographs had been submitted for the calendar from ordinary people reacting to a fleeting skyscape. “Others were taken by dedicated skywatchers," he said.
Mr Hunt said of the 12 large photographs featured in the calendar, some were dramatic, such as Margaret Brown's lenticular clouds over the Antarctic Peninsula while others were surreal, like Michel Le Bars' swirling clouds over Perisher Valley, NSW.
There were traditional weather pictures, like Geoff Wheeler's storm cloud over Dubbo, NSW; and meteorologically intriguing images, like Steve Strike's cumulonimbus cloud over the West Macdonnell National Park, NT.
The Weather Bureau produces the calendar with the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society with 7000 copies provided to volunteer and cooperative weather observers in recognition of their essential work.
The remaining calendars are on sale either over the counter at selected Bureau offices for $12, or by mail-order for $17.50 (posted within Australia).
November 7, 2006
Court Out in No Dispute Deal
Resolving disputes without going to Court will be one of the key factors in the broadening of the charter of the National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council so that more people can embrace the growing trend towards cheaper alternatives.
Attorney‑General Philip Ruddock said NADRAC would now be able to promote methods such as mediation, arbitration and conciliation, which all provide cheaper alternatives to litigation.
“I have been delighted with the way the Council has helped to make alternative dispute resolution a vital part of Australia’s legal system,’’ Mr Ruddock said. “It frees up Court time and resources, while allowing for outcomes that are not forced upon parties by a Judicial Officer.
“As the recent reforms in Family Law show, I am committed to encouraging and helping people to adopt mediation rather than litigation and cooperation over confrontation.’’
Mr Ruddock revealed the expanded charter during the 12th National Family Law Conference in Perth.
Under its new charter, NADRAC will also be able to offer advice on restorative justice and the use of alternative dispute resolution in criminal offences.
“The Council has provided the Government with a high standard of advice for more than 10 years,” Mr Ruddock said. “Its credibility and the highly valued expertise of its members mean that it is in a strong position to encourage the continued use of alternative dispute resolution in Australia in years to come.”
November 7, 2006
Alison Blazes Trail for Indigenous Staff
Alison Tucker has her mum to thank for the 11 years she’s worked at the Child Support Agency. According to the Indigenous officer, her mum was the one who pushed her to go for an interview, even though she was nervous and didn’t know what to expect.
Starting out in the mail room as an APS1 in Adelaide, Ms Tucker has worked her way up to a Quality Adviser and Indigenous Relations Officer for the Sydney office making many friends along the way.
“Gradually I learnt more about the CSA and why it exists – to make sure both parents contribute financially to their kids even if they’re no longer living together,” Ms Tucker said.
“It feels great when parents tell me that I’ve helped them to understand child support.”
In July this year, the CSA launched its Indigenous Recruitment and Career Development Strategy 2005-08 in time for NAIDOC Week. The Strategy was developed to improve CSA’s recruitment and retention of Indigenous Australians, like Alison Tucker, as employees.
Figures from September 2006 show Indigenous employees made up 1.64 per cent or 57 of CSA’s staff. CSA is striving to increase the number of Indigenous staff to at least 2.2 per cent by June 2008.
Agency General Manager, Matt Miller thinks this is a good outcome for CSA as it works towards increasing its numbers of Indigenous staff to be more representative of Australian Society and provide better service for Indigenous customers.
Ms Tucker is also a member of the Indigenous Staff Network, which celebrated its first birthday in August. The ISN meets informally to discuss issues and policies that impact Indigenous staff and customers.
CSA has an active and strong ISN with most members currently located in NSW but offering e-mail and phone contact to staff in other states.
Indigenous staff interested in learning more about employment opportunities at CSA can phone 1800 054 226, check the CSA website http://www.csa.gov.au/careers/index.aspx or e-mail CSAIndigenousRecruitment@csa.gov.au.