25 March, 2010

Communications key
to walking the talk

Researchers at the University of Queensland have discovered that major gains in productivity can be achieved by Government Agencies investing in their internal communication networks.
   Specialists at the UQ Business School, Tim Kastelle and John Steen said the research would have major ramifications for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Government Departments as well as large private companies.
   Dr Kastelle and Dr Steen received a grant from the Australian Research Council (ARC) to allow them to survey the network structures of large project-based companies in Australia.
   They said understanding and proactively managing information flow through communication networks was the quickest way to undertake organisational change, make improvements and increase productivity.
   “There are engineering firms who suspect major billion-dollar projects are being compromised because people on different floors are not talking to each other about the project, let alone engaging with groups located interstate or overseas,” Dr Kastelle said.
   “To understand how these companies function we map their communication network, this allows us to see how information is flowing through the organisation, predict key innovation and problem-solving groups within that network, and provide critical advice on communication strategies to improve the network and get them operating more efficiently.”
   Through careful research and surveys, the two researchers developed evidence-based tools to help organisations better manage their networks.
   While Dr Kastelle and Dr Steen’s research has been focused on engineering and mining firms, they said their findings had implications for all large organisations.
   “Large companies should be investing in their networks and studying how they function,” Dr Steen said.
   “Network analysis finds links between the structure of firms and their performance in the areas of innovation and strategy, which are critical to their long-term growth.”
   Their research showed particular relevance to the Queensland Government because the State’s growth was powered by resources and infrastructure firms.
   The said these needed to be managed effectively to reap potential long-term benefits.

25 March, 2010

Storm of applause for
cyclone recovery

Minister for Natural Resources and Energy, Stephen Robertson has applauded the hard work and commitment of PS staff assisting in recovery efforts after the floods around St George and the damage associated with Cyclone Ului.
   Mr Robertson said up to 280 Ergon Energy workers and staff from the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) and SunWater were working in the cyclone-damaged region, with Energex crews on standby.
   “Around 39,000 homes and businesses lost power on Sunday when the cyclone crossed the coast,” Mr Robertson said.
   “Ergon crews have put in a mighty effort. They’re out and about in that bad weather doing what they do best.”
   The Minister said the damage was not confined to overhead power lines.
   “A number of households and businesses in the Airlie Beach business precinct where there are underground power lines, also lost supply,” he said.
   “Overhead lines feed the power underground and if there’s a violent storm or cyclone and trees fall on those overhead feeder lines, everyone is in the same boat, whether their supply is underground or above ground.”
   Mr Robertson said over $740 million had been spent maintaining and strengthening Ergon’s electricity network.
   He visited St George to view the results of the record flooding in the Lower Balonne, meeting and thanking DERM and SunWater staff for their work.
   Mr Robertson said the DERM and SunWater officials had worked long hours to monitor flows, operate Beardmore Dam and support the emergency management effort.
   “The SunWater team remained on-site and ensured the safe operation of Beardmore Dam, despite some staff knowing their homes were in danger of being flooded,” he said.
   The Minister said hydrographers from south-west Queensland and Brisbane had also been working long hours under difficult conditions to take flow measurements from Surat through to Hebel on the border.
   He praised Departmental staff at the St George office for working to keep the communication lines open for landholders and water users so that they could be well informed about how the massive volume of water was working its way down the system.

25 March, 2010

Information Directive
sets records straight

The Public Service Commission has released a new Directive to help Agencies responsibly protect and release personal information about third parties contained in other employees’ records.
   In Directive No 6/10, the Commission specifies limitations to disclosing the third party information to other PS staff.
   The Directive says access to an employee record containing personal information about a third party must be refused if that record contains information that is not itself an ‘employee record’ under PS Regulation 2008, or is protected from disclosure by the law.
   The Directive says however, that Agencies should apply a pro-disclosure bias to information while keeping within the limitations and restrictions outlined in the Directive.
   It says information about a third-party could be granted if the person concerned was “reasonably likely” to be aware, or had “been made aware”, that disclosing the information to another Public Servant was standard Agency practice.
   The Directive also says the information could be released if the third-party agreed; the Chief Executive believed the disclosure was necessary to “lessen or prevent a serious threat to the life, health, safety or welfare of an individual”; it was authorised or required under law; or was considered to be routine personal work information.
   “In deciding whether to release employee records containing the personal information of a third-party, Chief Executives are to determine whether the release of that information would be appropriate,” the Directive says.
   It says Chief Executives must consider whether the disclosure would prejudice the third-party’s right to privacy, could cause harm or would breach a law.
   The Directive says Agencies must make a note of the disclosure on the employee record.
   Directive No 6/10 could be accessed from www.psc.qld.gov.au

25 March, 2010

Conference talks
up call for papers

The Institute of Public Administration Australia has called for papers for its Annual National Conference and the International Conference on Public Administration, both being held in October.
   The conferences aim to bring together Public Service managers to discuss the major issues facing public administration today.
   The IPAA National Conference will see staff from Departments and Agencies across Australia meet with academics and others involved in public administration to learn about new developments, discuss issues and strengthen their networks.
   The IPAA said was particularly keen for proposals that adopt a comparative perspective and address the implications of research and practice for public administration.
   The International Conference on Public Administration (ICPA), to be held in Canberra this year, has a more academic focus and examines research relevant to countries in economic and political transition.
   The IPAA is seeking papers by academics and practitioners on the ‘Australian experience’, especially those that provide possible lessons or guidance for countries looking to establish or restructure public institutions.
   The conference will include a number of papers by scholars from Asia, Eastern Europe and the United States.
   The IPAA said following the Conference, accepted papers would be published with permission on the IPAA Conference website and that some papers may also be accepted for publication in the Australian Journal of Public Administration or Public Administration Today.
   Further information on submitting papers was available from www.ipaanationalconference.org.au

25 March, 2010

Growing number
want no growth

A report commissioned for a forthcoming summit has revealed Queenslanders are evenly divided in their views on further growth for the State.
   The report entitled Social Research on Population Growth and Liveability in South East Queensland was commissioned by the Department of Premier and Cabinet and launched in conjunction with a background paper relating to next week’s Queensland Growth Management Summit.
   According to the Premier Anna Bligh, when the report authors asked Queenslanders to grade on a scale of 100 whether Growth was ‘terrible for SEQ’ (0) or ‘great for SEQ’ (100), respondents recorded an average rating of 47.4.
   Ms Bligh said this clearly showed South East Queenslanders were polarised on the issue and genuine debate was needed.
   “That is why we decided to hold the Queensland Growth Management Summit,” Ms Bligh said, “as a community we are at a point where we need to make choices about how we manage the growth that we are experiencing.
   “These results clearly show that South East Queensland residents have mixed views about population growth but we need to reach a community consensus on a way forward.”
   The report showed 92 per cent of SEQ residents rated their quality of life positively and that the quality of life rating increased the longer they spent in SEQ.
   A quarter of respondents cited increased work opportunities and a wider skills base as the most obvious positive effects of growth and 23 per cent said it was better for the local economy.
   When asked about the negative effects of growth, four per cent of respondents said they had no concerns about population growth while 31 per cent cited greater congestion and inadequate roads as their chief concerns.
   Ms Bligh said the report’s results highlighted some of the major issues in managing growth in Queensland as respondents sometimes reported contradictory views.
   “Across the board at least three quarters of respondents said they wanted to preserve green space which will mean higher density in some areas,” she said.
   “On the other hand, 69 per cent of respondents said they wanted to live in lower density areas which meant more greenfields development.
   “I want the Queensland Growth Management Summit to be about the real questions and real choices that need to be made so our children can enjoy the same quality lifestyle that we have.”
   The report and background paper were available for download from www.qld.gov.au

25 March, 2010

Land valuations
add value to land

The Department of Environment and Resource Management has released almost a million land valuation notices covering 23 local Government areas.
   Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Stephen Robertson said the valuations provided a snapshot of unimproved land values as at 1 October 2009, based on changes in the local property market.
   “The valuations indicate that commercial and industrial property values in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast basically reflect market movements,” Mr Robertson said.
   “In some Local Government areas, including the Gold Coast and Brisbane, commercial and industrial land values show an overall decrease.
   “This should send a clear signal to industry sectors concerned about recent legislative changes and their impact on property values.
   “Concerns about hikes in property values can now be put to rest.”
   The Minister said the results from local Government areas not revalued for four or five years showed land values had increased reflecting the property boom between 2005 and 2008, and before the global economic downturn.
   “This year we’ve introduced a more streamlined process in relation to objections to valuations,” he said.
   Mr Robertson said landowners who thought their valuation was wrong needed to provide information to support their claim to DERM within 45 days of the valuation being issued.
   He said the 2010 valuations were calculated using an ‘unimproved value’ methodology and that next year’s valuation would be based on a ‘site valuation’ methodology for non-rural land.
   “This brings Queensland into line with other States,” Mr Robertson said.
   “It’s simpler and has the support of the property industry, local Governments and key stakeholders.”
   The Minister said a Queensland Valuer-General would be appointed and a peer review process undertake for more complex valuations in 2011.
   “It’s all about being fair and equitable,” he said.

25 March, 2010

Roads back on track
following floods

Main Roads has announced that the south west road network was gradually coming back on line following the worst flooding in the area for years.
   Minister for Main Roads, Craig Wallace said a number of major road links were now open but that some roads south of Thargomindah, Cunnamulla and St George were still flood-damaged.
   “Main Roads crews have travelled more than 6,000 kilometres in the past few weeks, inspecting and assessing damaged roads and carrying out urgent repair work,” Mr Wallace said.
   “The good news is that the Warrego, Landsborough and Moonie Highways and Cooper and Diamantina Developmental Roads, along with sections of Bulloo Developmental Road are now open to all traffic with no restrictions.”
   The Minister said Main Roads crews were also helping local Councils get their roads open sooner.
   “They worked through the weekend on a section of the Carnarvon Highway south of Roma to allow access to Surat, and they’re helping with repairs on the Charleville to Quilpie road,” he said.
   “Main Roads South West Regional Office is also keeping in close contact with the six local Councils in the area.”
   Mr Wallace said the office was monitoring damage and looking at options to help the Council with its repairs.
   He thanked the trucking industry for its patience, saying road closures and restrictions in place had been “very disruptive.”
   A full list of road closures and conditions was available from www.131940.qld.gov.au

25 March, 2010

Health puts bite on
mosquito menace

Queensland Health has issued a public warning to people in the south east to be wary of mosquitoes as reports of Ross River virus surge.
   Senior Medical Officer for Communicable Diseases at Queensland Health, Frank Beard said over 60 cases of the virus were reported across the State in the past week, compared with only 12 in the first week of January.
   Dr Beard said although the figures were not yet as high as in some previous years, people should take precautions now to avoid the risk of contracting the virus.
   “We’re hoping to avoid a blowout in cases by reminding people of what they should do to avoid contracting Ross River virus infection,” Dr Beard said.
   He said the most effective way to reduce the chances of being bitten by mosquitoes was to avoid going outside when mosquitoes were most active, around dusk and dawn; to wear loose clothing and cover exposed skin; use an insect repellent that contains DEET or picaridin and screen doors and windows.
   Local Councils run programs to keep mosquito numbers down in wetland areas, however residents have been encouraged to clean out pot plant saucers, pet bowls, birdbaths and other containers that hold water at least once a week to remove any mosquito eggs.
   Dr Beard said residents should dispose of any items lying around outside that may hold water; empty children’s wading pools after use and clean them thoroughly; ensure roof guttering is in good condition, and install mosquito-proof screens on all rainwater tank openings.
   He said people with Ross River virus infection typically suffered a fever and painful and swollen joints.
   He said joint pain usually lasted two to six weeks and could be severe.
   Ross River virus could also include a rash and tiredness, with some people, especially children, showing few or no symptoms.
   Dr Beard said there was no specific treatment for Ross River virus infection and most people recovered within a few weeks although some took considerably longer.
   Further information on the virus was available from www.health.qld.gov.au

25 March, 2010

Bullying charges
knocked out

A five-month investigation into allegations of bullying at Lockyer Valley Regional Council has been concluded.
   Director-General for the Department of Infrastructure and Planning, Colin Jensen said the investigation cleared the Mayor of the Lockyer Valley Regional Council of bullying Councillors and Council staff.
   Minister for Local Government, Desley Boyle said the investigation produced 10 recommendations.
   “Allegations relating to conflicts of interest or material personal interest against the Mayor have not been substantiated,” Ms Boyle said.
   She said among the recommendations the Council was urged to review its enforcement and compliance policies and resolve how it would move forward and manage the relationships between Councillors, the CEO and Council officers.
   Ms Boyle said the Chief Executive of the Council should develop communication protocols for contact and communication between Councillors and Council officers and implement a training strategy to ensure they had a clear understanding of communication policies.
   She said the investigators recommended no further action be taken in relation to the personal complaint against the mayor as the issue was under review.
   The Council was advised to address workplace health and safety issues “as a high priority” and to review policies, procedures, management and training on harassment and bullying in the workplace.
   Ms Boyle said the Council, the Department and other stakeholders would collaborate to identify and deliver capacity building programs to enhance skills and address deficiencies.
   She said DIP would continue to monitor the Council and would consider recommending other interventions if it did not observe any improvement.
   “The Director-General of the Department of Infrastructure and Planning will hold individual meetings with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Chief Executive Officer and Councillors to reinforce expectations of standards of behaviour and conduct, and to discuss Council’s strategies to progress the recommendations,” Ms Boyle said.
   “The Council has been requested to submit quarterly progress reports on the improvements it makes and these will be monitored over coming months.”

25 March, 2010

CMC taps into funds
to tap into phones

The Crime and Misconduct Commission has received a significant boost in funding to expand its telephone tapping activities.
   Attorney-General, Cameron Dick said $14 million over five years had been allocated to the CMC for phone tapping, which included $605,000 this financial year to implement the system.
   Mr Dick said the funding would allow the CMC to use telephone interception powers in three main operational areas: corruption and serious misconduct; organised crime such as drug trafficking, extortion and fraud; and paedophilia and child sex offences.
   “Telecommunication interception has long been recognised as an appropriate and effective tool for fighting serious and organised crime, both within Australia and throughout the world,” Mr Dick said.
   “Last year, the Queensland Parliament passed the Telecommunications Interception Act 2009, which meant the State’s crime-fighting bodies can pursue telephone interceptions within a framework that also has strict civil liberties and compliance safeguards.”
   He said the laws enabled Queensland’s crime-fighting bodies to apply independently of the police for telecommunications interception warrants when investigating serious crime and corruption to ensure investigations were not compromised.
   “Since the laws were passed last year, the CMC has been operating an interim system while the Government considered funding requests for a full telephone interception function,” Mr Dick said.
   “Now, with this substantial funding injection, the CMC will be fully operational with regard to telephone interception from the 1 July.”
   He said the CMC could now complete recruiting for its Electronic Collections Unit to allow it to be at full capacity by the start of the new financial year.

25 March, 2010

Bike programs push
on to $100 million

The cost of Government safe-cycling initiatives has reached the $100 million mark in the current financial year according to the Premier, Anna Bligh.
   Describing the commitment as “huge”, Ms Bligh said it was evidence that the Government was serious about promoting cycling.
   “Cycling can play a key role in the fight against congestion,” Ms Bligh said.
   “Around 83 per cent of all trips today are by car. Yet half of all car trips cover a distance of less than 5 kilometres.”
   The Premier said if the average person changed just five trips a week from the car to cycling, the number of trips taken by car would fall from 83 to 66 per cent.
   Ms Bligh said the King George Square Cycle Centre and its ‘end-of-trip’ facilities for cyclists was a landmark achievement.
   “More large-scale projects are being delivered as part of major roads projects, including cycleways delivered with the Ipswich Motorway Upgrade, Gateway Upgrade Project and the Ted Smout Bridge connecting Brighton to Redcliffe,” she said.
   Minister for Transport, Rachel Nolan said the Government was actively promoting cycling and other sustainable forms of transport through its TravelSmart program.
   “TravelSmart works to reduce congestion by encouraging public transport, cycling, walking, carpooling and promoting flexible workplace options,” Ms Nolan said.
   “Riding a bike is a fun, environmentally-friendly and healthy way to get around. It enables people to interact socially and feel more at home in their local community.”
   Ms Nolan said the Government had committed $32.7 million to TravelSmart over four years to 2012.

25 March, 2010

No go zones to be
the go for SEQ

A new proposal to divide future planning into ‘go’ zones’ and ‘no-go’ zones in suburban areas has been raised by the Premier, Anna Bligh.
   Ms Bligh said the suggestion was among a number of ideas being put forward for generate debate at the Queensland Growth Management Summit scheduled for next week.
   “This proposal is just one of the ideas that I hope can foster debate and get people thinking about new ways to manage the growth we are seeing in our State,” Ms Bligh said.
   She said under the proposal, State and Local Governments would create new go zones - areas along public transport corridors for higher density development.
   She said no-go zones would be in established suburbs to protect them from high-density development.
   “Go zones could reduce the planning timeline for new developments from years to months,” she said.
   “No-go zones will give communities in established suburbs certainty that their neighbourhood won’t be transformed by higher density living.”
   The Premier said the proposal aimed to maximise new development along major public transport corridors to encourage more people to swap a car journey for a bus or train trip.
   Ms Bligh said she had written to all South East Queensland Mayors seeking their views on the proposal, which was to be considered at the next SEQ Regional Planning Committee meeting.
   She said research commissioned for the Growth Management Summit demonstrated strong support for medium-density development around major suburban centres with train stations or bus interchanges – places like Indooroopilly, Garden City, Chermside, Maroochydore and Robina.

25 March, 2010

New recycling train
no throwaway line

A new recycling service for Queensland Rail passengers has been launched jointly by the Minister for Sustainability, Kate Jones and Executive General Manager of QR, Paul Scurrah.
   Ms Jones said having Queensland Rail on board with the recycling service would significantly increase the opportunity for Queenslanders to recycle while out and about.
   “Queensland Rail will be rolling out dedicated recycling bins in coming months to be installed at more than 40 stations with Roma Street Station being the first,” Ms Jones said.
   “These bins will carry the ‘do the right thing, use the right bin’ branding already in place across Queensland.”
   The Minister said the most common materials expected to be recycled by commuters were newspapers followed by recyclable food and drink packaging.
   She said the Government had worked with the National Packaging Covenant and the Packaging Stewardship Forum to deliver more public place recycling locations across Queensland.
   She said the public locations included Suncorp Stadium, the Ekka, Fraser Island, Woodford Folk Festival, Sea World, Dairy Farmers Stadium, Townsville and Movie World.
   The new bins are being assembled by Help Enterprises, a Brisbane social enterprise network and will be made of recycled printer cartridges.
   Ms Jones said since the Public Place Recycling program began, Queenslanders had recycled over 540 tonnes of waste while away from their homes, which is equivalent to the entire city of Toowoomba filling up their wheelie bins (35,700 bins).

25 March, 2010

Councils line up for
Public Transport bus

Local Government Councils in the south-east have been urged to ‘pitch in for PT’ to help improve the extent and range of public transport in the area.
   Premier, Anna Bligh said public transport spending had doubled over the past six years and that the Brisbane City Council (BCC) contributed around $384 per household to public transport.
   Ms Bligh said if every Council in SEQ made the same contribution as the BCC, an extra $292 million every year would be available to go towards transport.
   “Translink advice says that kind of funding could provide an extra 39,000 public transport services each and every week, including 3,200 extra services each for Ipswich and the Redlands; 5,100 extra services for Logan; 7,500 extra services for the Sunshine Coast; 7,700 extra services for Moreton Bay; and 12,000 extra services for the Gold Coast,” Ms Bligh said.
   “It needn’t be at the cost of higher rates either,” she said.
   “Brisbane City Council’s average rates are not materially higher than any other Local Government in South East Queensland.”
   The Premier said the State was currently rolling out a new three-car train set every month on the passenger network – the largest acquisition since the rail lines were electrified.
   “We’ve significantly expanded the network of fast, frequent, timetable-free bus services and in the last 10 years we’ve delivered more than 20 kilometres of dedicated, high-speed busways,” she said.
   Ms Bligh said she was pleased to see that some Councils like the Gold and Sunshine Coasts had started to take up the PT challenge.
   “The impact this extra funding would make is significant,” she said.
   “More public transport, less congestion, and lower greenhouse gas emissions.”

25 March, 2010

Driving simulator
is the real thing

A life-size car driving simulator has been installed at the Queensland University of Technology in a move that will allow road safety researchers to study human behaviour in controlled but realistic driving scenarios.
   Treasurer, Andrew Fraser launched the $1.5 million advanced driving simulator at QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland.
   Mr Fraser said the simulator was the first of its kind in the State.
   He said with funding through the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) the simulator would enable research to be undertaken that was previously too difficult, costly and unsafe to organise in real driving situations.
   Specialist at the Centre, Andry Rakotonirainy said the simulator would reproduce real traffic situations.
   “The simulator works by using seven to eight computers and projectors to create 180-degree visual surrounds and surround sound,” Associate Professor Rakotonirainy said
   “The vehicle sits on a platform with six degrees of movement to recreate motion, ensuring a realistic testing environment.”
   He said immediate plans for the simulator included studying potential improvements to rail crossing safety and measuring how new in-vehicle technology affected attention levels.
   Research from the simulator is expected to improve road safety, improve traffic flow and reduce road congestion by allowing testing of interventions to occur before their implementation.
   The simulator has been commissioned with financial support from the Australian Research Council and partnership funding provided by MAIC, the Department of Transport and Main Roads and support from the Queensland University of Technology, University of Queensland and Royal Automobile Club of Queensland.
   The Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland was established in 1996 as a joint venture between the MAIC and QUT

25 March, 2010

Service report finds
a State of grace

A report on Government services by the Australian Productivity Commission has found that Queensland was one of the safest communities in Australia.
   Attorney-General, Cameron Dick said the 2008-09 Report on Government Services (ROGS) found 94.3 per cent of Queenslanders felt safe at home during the day – a figure higher than the national average of 93.2 per cent.
   Mr Dick said the 2008-09 data showed 86.4 per cent of Queenslanders felt safe in their homes at night, compared to the national average of 84.3 per cent.
   “While these figures are encouraging, we acknowledge that there is room for improvement, and we will continue working towards lifting those figures even higher,” Mr Dick said.
   He said the ROGS data showed Queensland’s rate of imprisonment of 168 people per 100,000 was higher than the Australian average.
   “Queensland’s Courts are locking up criminals at a rate above the national and international average,” Mr Dick said.
   “Only two other jurisdictions – New South Wales and the Northern Territory – have a higher rate of imprisonment.
   “But throwing people in jail is only part of the solution to the law and order issue.”
   The Attorney-General said the United States had five per cent of the world’s population and more than 25 per cent of the world’s known prisoners, yet there was a growing view that the US criminal justice system was failing.
   “If we are not prepared to learn from the mistakes of others, we are doomed to repeat them,” he said.
   The report was available from www.pc.gov.au

25 March, 2010

Workers needed
to fill the GAP

Queensland Rail has put out a call for 800 more workers to help build the $1.1 billion Goonyella-to-Abbot Point Expansion Project (GAP).
   Treasurer, Andrew Fraser said the project was set to start in early May and would provide plenty of opportunities for skilled workers in the region.
   “Queensland’s coal exports are forecast to double by 2030, meaning more jobs for QR and the new QR National,” Mr Fraser said.
   “The GAP project, which includes the Northern Missing Link, is great for the coal industry, great for QR and also great for the local communities – it will deliver employment and business opportunities in these regions and also inject money into local economies.”
   Mr Fraser said the project included the 69-kilometre Northern Missing Link, which will connect the Goonyella coal rail system to the Newlands rail system, as well as upgrades to the Newlands system.
   “These 800 jobs are additional to the 600 job vacancies across all QR businesses at the moment,” he said.
   Network Executive General Manager at QR, Michael Carter said the GAP project was one of QR’s largest-ever infrastructure projects.
   “To deliver this project by early 2012 we need workers with a wide variety of skills ranging from labourers, concreters, surveyors and plant operators to engineering and administrative staff,” Mr Carter said.
   “In addition to those roles directly involved in delivering the project, we estimate that approximately 2,750 indirect local jobs will be created in industries such as hospitality, manufacturing and equipment and material supplies.”
   Employment information sessions were being held in Bowen and Mackay this week. Further information was available from www.qr.com.au

25 March, 2010
Emergency tents a success
The disaster and emergency deployment skills of the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service were demonstrated recently at a special open day for media, Government Agencies and emergency services at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
   The display focused on the Special Operations Unit’s Flexible Habitat Capability which consists of 24 Western Shelter tents to support Disaster Management Agencies and communities.
   The exercise helped the QFRS assess its capability to quickly deploy the tents.

Safety upgrade for Gold Coast
The Gold Coast’s security camera network now includes a smart monitoring system and streamlined control room after undergoing a safety upgrade.
   Footage and information gathered by the cameras will help police prosecute offenders and act as a deterrent against anti-social behaviour.
   The network covers the Gold Coast’s most popular holiday and recreation spots including Surfers Paradise, Coolangatta, Broadbeach, Southport and the newly opened Broadwater Parklands.

Solar panels take the heat
The redeveloped Gold Coast Stadium at Carrara is to have solar panelling covering its roof.
   The project is a first for Queensland, with the panelling expected to generate around 275,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per annum, or more than 20 per cent of the stadium’s total electricity needs.
   Work on the 25,000 capacity stadium is on track, with completion expected in the middle of next year.

First steps for ABC
A sod-turning ceremony has marked the beginning of construction on the ABC’s new Brisbane headquarters in South Bank.
   The 15,500 square metre building will hold 450 ABC staff and members of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and is expected to be complete in early 2012.
   The purpose-built facility, located in the arts and cultural centre of Brisbane, will be a state-of-the-art broadcast centre.

Digital coverage extended
Legislation has been introduced by the Commonwealth to get a satellite broadcasting service up and running to allow all Australian residents to access the full suite of digital television channels.
   The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Television) Bill 2010 would create three new commercial television licence areas specifically for the new satellite service in Northern, Western and South Eastern Australia.
   The Bill is expected to improve the choice and quality of digital television services for those living in regional areas.

Regional Development online
The new Regional Development Australia (RDA) website has been launched to help people engage with their local communities and follow the work of their local RDA committee.
   RDA is a new national network of 55 committees which have been set up to work across all levels of Government to support the growth and development of regional Australia.
   The new website will keep people up-to-date with RDA news and information and could be accessed at www.rda.gov.au

Trucks stop for rest areas
Three new rest areas have been announced for the Flinders and Landsborough highways at Hughenden, McKinlay and Fullarton River
   The rest areas have been designed to allow heavy vehicle drivers to recuperate and will feature parking spaces for six long-haul heavy vehicles, two fully sheltered picnic tables and chairs, toilet facilities and solar-powered lighting.
   Construction has commenced on the Fullarton River site, with each rest area expected to take about three months to build.

Ipswich Police Station open
A new $18.9 million Ipswich Police Station has been officially opened.
   The state-of-the-art station will require four additional assistant watchhouse officer positions, which will be advertised shortly, to support its increased functions.
   The station’s design incorporates the watchhouse and Courthouse and supports two permanent District Courts. Previously Ipswich only had periodical District Court sittings.
   The project is the biggest in central Ipswich in more than a decade.

18 March, 2010

Ipswich workers push
for Ipswich switch

The Queensland Public Sector Union has hosted a forum to allow PS staff in the Ipswich region to have their say on plans to move workers from Brisbane to new offices in Ipswich.
   Around 80 Ipswich-based staff members attended the forum, calling to be posted to the new Ipswich offices instead of being required to continue to travel to Brisbane to work.
   Staff who attended the forum said they wanted to be given first preference to have their work moved from Brisbane to Ipswich so they could work closer to home.
   General Secretary of the QPSU, Alex Scott said under the Government’s relocation plans, hundreds of Brisbane-based Public Servants could be forced to travel to Ipswich to work while Public Servants based in Ipswich would continue travelling to Brisbane.
   “There are hundreds of workers responsible for public service delivery who live in and around Ipswich,” Mr Scott said, “and many of them have been saying it would make sense to post them at the new Ipswich offices instead of making them travel to Brisbane every day.”
   “It makes sense from a transport, planning and community perspective to have Ipswich locals working in any new Ipswich offices – this hasn’t been the case so far and we want that to change.”
   Assistant General Secretary of the QPSU, Kate Flanders said she was looking forward to ensuring workers’ views were heard by the Government.
   “The recent forum revealed some Public Sector workers’ stories that drove home why workers who already live in and around the Ipswich region should be able to work closer to where they live,” Ms Flanders said.
   “This is not just a question of what’s reasonable for Public Servants, it’s also part of Queensland’s long term environmental sustainability.”
   Ms Flanders said one Public Servant had moved to Ipswich with her daughter but then had her job transferred to Brisbane.
   “My clients are in Ipswich, Toowoomba, Logan and the Gold Coast which means I live closer to them now that I’m living in Ipswich,” the woman said.
   “They [the Government] don’t understand that’s it’s not worth commuting to Brisbane when we are out travelling and doing things anyway.”
   The forum was held on 5 March in Brisbane.

18 March, 2010

Website of future
available now

An interactive website has been launched to allow Queenslanders to register their preferences for the future growth of the State and then see how they would affect it.
   The new “SEQ Futures” application on the growth management website www.qld.gov.au/growthsummit was unveiled by the Premier, Anna Bligh.
   Ms Bligh said the program allowed people to tell the Government what they valued most about south east Queensland such as, for example, environmental protection or quiet neighbourhoods.
   “The program then uses this information to offer the user a snapshot of what that future will look like, depending on the choices they make,” Ms Bligh said.
   She said the SEQ Futures tool meant Queenslanders would also be able to see the implications of different housing and transport choices.
   “The site asks questions such as do we sprawl out or become more compact, should we prioritise new roads or more public transport?” Ms Bligh said.
   “Managing growth effectively involves trade-offs to make sure we protect the lifestyle we love.
   “The Government does not shy away from the fact that there are choices to be made if we are to manage growth better.”
   She said the application would show Queenslanders a range of different growth futures and encouraged residents to log onto the site and see what their Queensland would look like.
   The Premier is hosting a Growth Summit at the State Library on 30/31 March.

18 March, 2010

New foil rules to
foil foil danger

New safety measures governing the installation of foil ceiling insulation in Queensland homes have been announced by the Minister for Industrial Relations, Cameron Dick.
   Mr Dick issued a Ministerial Notice requiring insulation installers to arrange an inspection by a licensed electrical contractor before foil insulation is installed in a ceiling.
   “Installers must also ensure safety switches are installed on all circuits in the ceiling space before work begins,” Mr Dick said.
   “Foil insulation must be marked and separated from any wiring that cannot be protected by a safety switch.”
   He said the Electrical Safety Office had advised there was a large stockpile of foil insulation products in Queensland which could be sold at discounted prices and installed outside any new Federal scheme.
   “The Queensland Government is concerned that these foil products could be rushed into the marketplace and exacerbate any electrical risks that already exist,” Mr Dick said.
   “The Electrical Safety Office has previously issued electrical safety alerts advising that installation defects, vermin damage, the natural ageing of electrical cables and home maintenance activities, can result in the electrification of foil insulation over time.”
   The Minister said the Notice would ensure the strongest possible precautions were in place for the safety of workers and householders.
   Mr Dick said the notice would apply in Queensland regardless of any requirements or conditions that were imposed through the Australian Government’s Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme, which has not yet commenced.
   He said investigations by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and the Electrical Safety Office into the deaths of three insulation installers since last October were continuing.
   Mr Dick issued the Notice under the Electrical Safety Act 2002.

18 March, 2010

Registry delivers on
birth certificates

The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages is to replace important certificates free of charge for Queenslanders whose documents suffered water damage due to the recent floods.
   Attorney-General, Cameron Dick said the replacement offer applied to residents in the Balonne, Barcoo, Blackall-Tambo, Bulloo, Diamantina, Maranoa, Murweh, Paroo, Quilpie and Western Downs Local Government areas.
   “The recent floods – particularly those in central and south-western Queensland – have turned many residents’ lives upside down and it’s important we help in any way possible,” Mr Dick said.
   “While the loss of a birth, death or marriage certificate is minor compared to personal injury or the loss of property, I hope waiving the usual fees will make it easier for people recovering from the floods.”
   He said people who needed replacement certificates should present their damaged certificates, or provide advice that they have been destroyed, to any Queensland Courthouse or Queensland Government Agent Program office.
   “This small but hopefully helpful gesture to flood-affected communities is part of this Government’s determination to help them get their lives back in some order after a traumatic event, and help individuals get back on their feet as soon as possible,” Mr Dick said.
   The free replacement certificates will be available until 30 June 2010.
   Further information on replacement certificates was available by contacting the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages on 1300 366 430.

18 March, 2010

Parliament rises to
take message north

The Queensland Parliamentary Service is hosting an education and training conference for North Queensland Public Servants on 28 April.
   The one-day Parliamentary Education and Training Conference for the Public Sector will be held in Townsville and aims to educate participants on the functions of Parliament.
   Clerk of the Parliament, Neil Laurie encouraged all Public Servants to register for the conference.
   “The aim of the conference is to provide Public Sector officers with a detailed knowledge and understanding of the role and functions of the Queensland Parliament and its relationship with the Executive,” Mr Laurie said.
   The conference aims to inform Public Servants on the roles of Members of Parliament and their interaction with the Public Service, discuss the relationship between Parliament and the Executive and identify PS responsibilities in relation to the processes and practices of Parliament.
   Attendees will be addressed by the Speaker of the Parliament, John Mickel; senior Members of Parliament, the Clerk of the Parliament, Mr Laurie; and other senior officers from the Parliamentary and Public Services.
   At the conclusion of the seminar, participants are expected to understand the unicameral Parliamentary system and the legislative processes of Parliament; further understand the role of Parliamentary committees in scrutinising the Executive; and have improved knowledge of Budget and Estimates committees processes.
   Further information on the conference, which will be held in the Ballroom at Jupiters Hotel, was available from www.parliament.qld.gov.au
   Registrations close on 2 April.

18 March, 2010

Builders wade in with
flood repair warning

The Building Services Authority has advised homeowners affected by the South West Queensland floods to take special care when arranging for their flood-damaged homes to be repaired.
   Minister for Public Works, Robert Schwarten said while he understood people would be eager to get their homes back to normal, they should be careful about who they chose to complete the repairs.
   “A natural disaster is bad enough, without following it up with a man-made one,” Mr Schwarten said.
   General Manager of the Building Services Authority (BSA), Ian Jennings warned flood victims to be wary of builders or trade contractors going door-to door selling their services, especially those who did not have a local address and were not known in the local community.
   “It is in your best interest to take the time to check the contractor’s qualifications and confirm their references before making any commitment,” Mr Jennings said.
   “Find out for free if a contractor has a BSA licence by performing an Online Licence Search at www.bsa.qld.gov.au or phoning 1300 272 272.”
   Mr Jennings said appropriately licensed contractors who wanted to help rebuild and repair damaged homes could register on the BSA disaster recovery website www.bsadisasterrecovery.qld.gov.au
   He said the BSA recommended six steps to help make the clean-up process as painless as possible:
  1. Contact your insurance company;
  2. Check contractors’ BSA licences;
  3. Check the licence details with BSA;
  4. Ask for references to check the contractor’s past performance;
  5. Get written quotes from at least two qualified contractors with good track records; and
  6. Once a contractor has been selected record the agreement in writing and keep a copy.

18 March, 2010

Left lane truck rule
on right track

Trucks and heavy vehicles are to be restricted to the left hand lane of the Brisbane Urban Corridor (BUC) on the city’s southside in a six-month trial aimed at easing congestion for the 50,000 motorists who use the corridor every day.
   Premier, Anna Bligh said heavy vehicles accounted for up to 13 per cent of traffic using the BUC every day.
   “We’ll be saying to truckies during the trial that the BUC stops here,” Ms Bligh said.
   “Congestion is one of the major challenges of growth and we have to look at new ways to make a difference.”
   She said by restricting heavy vehicles to the left hand lane, trucks and cars could be separated and peak hour traffic helped to move more seamlessly along the route.
   The Premier said the trial aimed to see if limiting trucks to the left lane would make a difference to traffic congestion.
   Minister for Main Roads, Craig Wallace said a $40 fine would apply if truck drivers didn’t obey the signs and stay in the left hand lane.
   “But that will be waived for the first month of the trial as they get used to the new rules,” Mr Wallace said.
   The trial will cover a distance of about eight kilometres, starting just after Bulimba Creek, running along the BUC through Coopers Plains, Robertson, Nathan, MacGregor, Upper Mount Gravatt and Wishart.
   Preliminary traffic surveys identifying how many trucks an hour used each lane began in November last year and follow-up surveys will be conducted during the trial, which ends in September.
   Mr Wallace said the new trial came on top of restrictions already in place along the BUC which meant no trucks over 4.5 tonnes were allowed to use the corridor as a through-route.
   Public comment on the success of the trial will be sought at a later date, with further information available from www.tmr.qld.gov.au

18 March, 2010

Gear goes west as
flood water rises

Thieves have broken into a Land Cruiser operated by Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol while officers were helping the community at Roma deal with damaging floods.
   Almost $3,000 worth of equipment was stolen.
   Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland, Tim Mulherin said he was disgusted by the robbery.
   “This is totally out of character with the community spirit shown in flood-affected towns,” Mr Mulherin said.
   “It’s a low act, especially at a time when the vast majority of people are working tirelessly to help each other through a very distressing time.”
   He said the stolen equipment included a personal digital assistant (PDA), two voice recorders, a torch and a USB memory stick.
   “Our Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol (QBFP) officers have been flat out helping the SES within the local community during the past couple of weeks,” Mr Mulherin said.
   “QBFP Roma has assisted with rescues and evacuations, provided equipment support and assisted energy companies in securing the local environment.
   “They have even helped reunite pets with their owners.”
   The Minister said the PDA was very specific to the type of work officers performed as part of their duties.
   District Officer at QBFP, Coby Walker said anyone with information on the break-in should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
   “All the equipment has been reported to the Police with serial numbers so selling the gear in the future would be a pretty risky business,” Mr Walker said.

18 March, 2010

Valuable changes for
valuation system

The appointment of an independent Valuer General is among a number of major changes to be made to Queensland’s land valuation system.
   Premier, Anna Bligh said the Valuer General would provide transparency in the assessment and issuing of valuations.
   Ms Bligh said under the changes, site valuation would be made consistent with other States and in line with advice from the property industry and Local Government.
   “In dealing with the past, the Government will legislate to maintain the status quo by validating valuations already issued,” Ms Bligh said.
   “The Government will pass legislation so the method for valuing property is crystal clear, now and into the future.”
   The Premier confirmed that a number of amendments to the Valuation of Land and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 would be made to allay some industry concerns about property valuation that had been raised in recent weeks.
   She said the changes would be implemented from 2011 to allow for sufficient time to engage with stakeholders.
   The new methodology will not apply to rural areas, Ms Bligh said.
   Minister for Natural Resources, Stephen Robertson said for the landholder, the new legislation would mean valuations would reflect what could actually be “seen from the street” and would allow easier comparison with other land values.
   “Importantly, the new system will not result in significant changes to rates and property taxes,” Mr Robertson said.
   “This is not a new revenue-raising measure – this is about providing certainty for the future.”

18 March, 2010

Praise floods in
for flood heroes

The selfless commitments of Emergency Services personnel responding to the recent flood crisis have been recognised and applauded by the Minister for Emergency Services, Neil Roberts.
   Mr Roberts told State Parliament that Queensland could be proud of the commitment, professionalism and dedication of the State Emergency Service, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, Emergency Management Queensland, rural fire service volunteers, Queensland Ambulance Service, Police and Local Council officers.
   “Working in partnership with local disaster management groups and Councils, they have helped communities prepare for flooding, and manage inundation and isolation,” Mr Roberts said.
   “I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of the Department of Communities and Primary Industries and QBuild for their logistical and community support, and non-government organisations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Lifeline and local community groups who do a fantastic job in supporting communities in need.”
   The Minister said the organisations had worked tirelessly to support evacuation centres in Charleville, Roma, St George and Theodore where hundreds of residents found refuge.
   “We witnessed neighbours helping neighbours and volunteers from all over the State relocating to flooded communities to help those in need,” Mr Roberts said.
   “On behalf of those communities we thank them for their spirit of generosity.”

18 March, 2010

Tourists’ new deal as
Roads come up dumps

A $150,000 program to increase the number of ‘dump points’ on the side of the State’s roads is expected to make travelling by tourists in motor homes and caravans more popular in the years ahead.
   Dump points are special disposal spots used by road tourists to empty toilet waste from their travelling vehicles.
   According to the Minister for Main Roads, Craig Wallace, the move is in response to expectations of a bumper tourist season after the big wet.
   “With dump points, grey nomads are able to visit more places off the beaten track, knowing they’ve got somewhere safe and secure to dispose of their waste,” Mr Wallace said.
   “More dump points mean more dollars for regional Queensland, with tourists spending money at take-away shops, corner stores, newsagents and petrol stations in small communities.
   The Minister said that over the past two years, the Government had installed 22 dump points across Queensland.
   “We’ve put them in Charleville, Coen, Duaringa, Rockhampton, Tambo and Yeppoon,” he said.
   “We’re about to roll them out in Aramac, Atherton, Augathella, Betoota, Chillagoe, Einasleigh, Jundah, Morven and Muttaburra.
   “All up, we’re going to install an extra 34 dump points around Queensland.”
   Mr Wallace said the Government would work closely with the Campervan and Motor Home Club and Local Councils to identify the best places for the new dump points.

18 March, 2010

Business inspectors
in business

The State’s biggest-ever workplace health and safety program targeted at medium-sized businesses has been announced by the Minister for Industrial Relations, Cameron Dick.
   Mr Dick said from this month, the Government would start an inspection program to ensure the 7,750 medium-sized businesses in Queensland had effective systems in place to manage workplace health and safety.
   “Medium-sized businesses employ about one in five of our State’s workforce,” Mr Dick said, “however they account for about one in three workers’ compensation claims lodged every year.”
   “The only way we can tackle the high number of workplace injuries and fatalities that occur in Queensland each year is to target the areas of largest concern.”
   The Minister said all medium-sized businesses would be offered a free safety advisory session to help them identify any issues before the inspections began.
   “These advisory sessions will allow Queensland’s medium-sized businesses to work with us to discuss workplace health and safety issues, identify problem areas and develop better safety practices,” Mr Dick said.
   “Businesses that take advantage of the offer will be given time to apply what they have learnt and make improvements to their safety systems, if needed, before being inspected.
   “Those businesses that do not attend a voluntary advisory session may be inspected at any time.”
   He said many medium-sized businesses were involved in manufacturing, construction and retail which included a high incidence of manual task injuries.
   “This initiative is in response to the high percentage of workers’ compensation claims lodged by medium-sized businesses,” Mr Dick said.
   “Inspections and advisory sessions will be conducted over the next 12 months with half of Queensland’s medium-sized businesses to be contacted this month and the other half in September, 2010.”
   Further information on the advisory sessions was available from www.worksafe.qld.gov.au

18 March, 2010

Water reports
to gush forth

Monthly reports on the quality of drinking water in South East Queensland are to be made available to residents under new arrangements announced by the Minister for Natural Resources, Stephen Robertson,
   Mr Robertson released the SEQ Water Grid’s first Customer Confidence Report (Bulk Water) which includes information on drinking water distributed under the region’s new supply arrangements.
   He said bulk water was supplied wholesale to Councils through the SEQ Water Grid for retail sale to the public.
   “This report gives South East Queenslanders access to one of the most comprehensive drinking water quality reporting regimes in Australia,” Mr Robertson said.
   “When South East Queenslanders turn on their taps, they want to have confidence that their water not only looks clean and clear but is also healthy and safe to drink.”
   Chair of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC’s) Water Quality Advisory Committee, Don Bursill said the initiative aligned with the future vision of the Australian water industry and kept South East Queensland at the forefront of water quality management.
   Mr Bursill said the publication would highlight the transparency of water management systems.
   Mr Robertson said the report covered from June 2009 to January 2010 and showed bulk drinking water in South East Queensland complied with the NHMRC’s Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2004.
   According to the report over 8,300 individual water tests were carried out on bulk drinking water.
   The water is tested against 14 key health and aesthetic parameters with the results measured against the NHMRC’s criteria.
   The publication will be made available online at www.seqwgm.qld.gov.au each month.

18 March, 2010

New development
in land protection

A milestone in land protection has been passed by the State Government with the Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Kate Jones announcing that the total area under protection had passed 10 million hectares.
   Ms Jones said 13 new nature refuge agreements and an extension to an existing refuge had been signed.
   She said the nature refuges ranged in location from the Sunshine Coast and Gympie, out west near the Northern Territory Border to Weipa in the far north.
   “This contributes significantly to the Government’s commitment to reach 20 million hectares of protected area by 2020,” Ms Jones said.
   “In fact, combined with other forms of protection such as national parks and forest reserves, it takes our total protected area to 10.3 million hectares.”
   She said the new agreements were voluntary protection by Queenslanders who owned areas of high conservation value.
   “They range from nationally-recognised wetlands and threatened vegetation, to vast tracts and corridors of forests and bushland serving as important habitat for many threatened plants and animals including koalas, turtles, frogs, rock wallabies and several species of birds, including the cassowary,” Ms Jones said.
   “The addition of nearly 800,000 hectares of new nature refuges under Queensland’s protected areas is the single largest gazettal in the 17-year history of the State Government program.”
   The newly protected land includes the Holroyd Nature Refuge 150kms south-east of Weipa, which is now Queensland’s largest nature refuge at 283,000 hectares.
   “At the other end of the scale is kulki anga Nature Refuge, 45kms north of Port Douglas, which protects 2.12ha of threatened vegetation on the Daintree lowlands frequently visited by the endangered southern cassowary and known to support several rare plants,” Ms Jones said.

18 March, 2010

Tight new laws to
squeeze drivers

A discussion paper proposing tough new drink-driving laws has been released for public comment.
   Premier, Anna Bligh said the Drink Driving in Queensland Discussion Paper asked Queenslanders to comment on a range of tough measures which are under consideration by the Government.
   “The paper canvasses dropping the blood alcohol limit lower than 0.05,” Ms Bligh said.
   “I believe this is something that would need to be done nationally but I am interested in hearing Queenslander’s views.”
   The Premier said other options presented for discussion included immediate drivers’ licence suspension for offenders with a blood alcohol level of 0.10 (which would be down from 0.15.) and impounding vehicles for drink drivers who committed two or more drink driving offences.
   Ms Bligh said Queenslanders could give their view on increasing the duration of vehicle impoundment for offenders from the current 48 hours to seven or 28 days.
   Minister for Transport, Rachel Nolan said some of the possibilities contained in the discussion paper had been adopted in other States and overseas.
   “We want to know the views of the community on these proposals before considering future drink driving initiatives,” Ms Nolan said.
   “Not all suggestions may be feasible, but all ideas will be considered.
   “The feedback received will be used to inform the Government’s future direction to combat drink driving in Queensland, so I would encourage everyone to have their say.”
   Ms Nolan said new laws were now in force requiring repeat drink drivers and those with excessive blood alcohol levels to pay for the installation of alcohol interlockers in their vehicles to keep them off the road.
   She said alcohol interlockers required drivers to pass a breath test before they could operate their vehicle.
   They are an in-vehicle breath testing instrument connected to the ignition.
   “If they choose not to install an interlock they will be prohibited from driving for two years,” Ms Nolan said.
   She said the discussion paper and details of the survey were available at www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au

18 March, 2010

New push against
domestic violence

A consultation paper on domestic and family violence in Queensland has been released for public comment.
   Part of a five-year plan to reduce domestic violence, the paper was launched at Queensland Police Headquarters in Brisbane by the Minister for Community Services, Karen Struthers and Minister for Police, Neil Roberts.
   Ms Struthers said feedback on the paper would help the Government review current domestic violence legislation.
   “A lot has changed with the way domestic violence is viewed but more action is still needed,” Ms Struthers said.
   “Domestic violence used to be viewed as a private matter but it is now it is finally coming out from behind closed doors.
   “We need everyone to take responsibility and we need everyone to act.”
   Mr Roberts said the consultation paper would focus on preventing domestic violence; protecting victims; civil and criminal law; planning and coordinating domestic violence services; and holding perpetrators responsible.
   “We want to hear from stakeholders and the community on what works and what doesn’t in relation to domestic and family violence prevention measures,” Mr Roberts said.
   “Our Domestic Violence Liaison Officers see the effects domestic violence has on families all over Queensland first hand.
   “That’s why we’re seeking their input to see what changes can be made to legislation to better protect victims and make sure perpetrators are held to account.”
   He said the review would also consider work being undertaken by the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children and domestic violence laws in other Australian States and Territories.
   The consultation paper was available for download at www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au and submissions close 31 May.

18 March, 2010
Gold Coast games a goer
The Government has committed up to $11 million to support the Gold Coast’s bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
   The decision follows an official review of the Gold Coast’s Games prospects which concluded it was eligible to host the Games in key areas of facilities, accommodation and transport.
   Under the plan, the Gold Coast region would host all core sporting events, with a handful of additional events to be held in Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville.
   The bidding process will take place over the next year and a decision is expected to be made by the end of 2011.

Tax laws good news
Tax changes to lessen the financial hardship experienced by those affected by the North Western Queensland floods have passed through Federal Parliament.
   The legislation ensures the income recovery subsidy that was available to those who suffered loss of income as a direct result of the 2009 floods is exempt from income tax.
   The change applies to the 2008-09 income year.

Trade Centre flies high
The new Trade Training Centre at Aviation High School in Brisbane has been officially opened by Minister for Education and Training, Geoff Wilson and the Federal Minister for Education, Julia Gillard.
   The Centre is part of a program to teach trades skills in high schools around Australia and already teaches over 380 students a range of aviation-related qualifications.
   The program gives every high school in Australia the opportunity to obtain $500,000 to $1.5 million to construct a Trade Training Centre. As of 1 March 2010, 121 projects were underway and 68 Centres are expected to be complete by next year.

Intersections worked over
Work is being carried out on 20 dangerous intersections that have recorded a high number of incidents over the past three years.
   The intersections all have high volumes of traffic and are part of a $3.53 billion program to upgrade roads around the State.
   Motorists have been urged to take care while driving around the roadworks in Cairns, the Gold Coast, South Brisbane, Brisbane, South West Queensland, Townsville, Fortitude Valley, Proserpine and Marsden.
   Information on locations was available from www.projectlink.com.au

Kangaroo harvester wins award
The Queensland Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation’s (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Award and its $10,000 bursary has gone to Sharyn Garrett, an advocate for kangaroo harvesting.
   Ms Garrett will now be in the running to win the national award.
   Jane Milburn, a freelance writer and independent media consultant working in the rural sector was the runner-up.
   The event was sponsored and coordinated by the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation.

Prison pups move on
The Pups In Prison Program is being extended to the Borallon Correctional Centre after successfully operating at the Darling Downs Correctional Centre since November 2006.
   The project is a joint venture between Assistance Dogs Australia, and Serco, the private operators of the Centre and aims to reduce re-offending behaviour in young prisoners.
   Prisoners involved in the program at Darling Downs have so far helped train eight dogs to become assistants to people with disability.

11 March, 2010

Archives files in
with water advice

Queensland State Archives has issued preservation advice to organisations dealing with public records which may be affected by water or storm damage.
   In its advice, Archives said it was important to act quickly but that staff safety should always be the top concern.
   “Ensure the affected area is safe and that responsible disaster management personnel have approved entry,” the Advice says.
   “This may require the expertise of a structural engineer if floor capacities, roofs or other structural elements have been compromised.”
   It said agencies should determine whether the flood waters were contaminated and seek guidance from their Workplace Health and Safety representative.
   It advised that personnel should be supplied with appropriate equipment including gloves, disposable respirators, goggles and protective footwear and clothing.
   It recommended agencies document the damage by photographing and filming the damaged areas and records before removing undamaged records to safe storage.
   “Staff should compile a list of all affected records, their priority and retention status to assist in the allocation of suitable financial and staff resources,” the Advice says.
   “Although prioritisation is ideally performed prior to the disaster, it is essential it be completed before any recovery begins.”
   The Advice says that Archives’ Preservation Services could provide advice in the event of a disaster but that agencies might need to contact commercial disaster recovery operators for further assistance.
   It said time was important when treating flood or water damaged records as mould could become a high risk within 48 hours.
   “It may be necessary to freeze records as soon as possible in order to stabilise them in the short term,” it said.
   The Advice said public records could only be disposed in accordance with an approved Retention and Disposal Schedule.
   Further information on preparing a Records Disaster Management Plan was available in Online Disaster Planning and Response Resources, which was online at www.archives.qld.gov.au

11 March, 2010

Women don’t skirt
the progress issue

The Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Services, Peta Kaye Croft has paid tribute to the number of women participating in Queensland’s workforce, but said there was still more progress to be made.
   Speaking at the Department of Community Safety Women’s Reference Group International Women’s Day Forum, Ms Croft said the number of women employed in the Department was a testament to how far Queensland had come towards workplace equality.
   “But it is also an acknowledgement of how far we have yet to go,” she said.
   “We have hundreds of women making incredible contributions to the safety of Queensland in all divisions of the Department.
   “Paramedics, prison officers, firefighters and hundreds of volunteers in the State Emergency Service, rural fire brigades and local ambulance committees do a fantastic job.”
   However, Ms Croft said women continued to get a “raw deal” with regard to superannuation equity and still performed 70 per cent of the housework and 90 per cent of child rearing.
   “With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality,” she said.
   “The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.”
   Ms Croft used her speech to applaud the women working at DCS.
   “I am pleased women are able to now make choices about what roles they wish to fulfil and how they achieve their personal success and that organisations such as yours are helping women in areas of personal and professional development,” she said.
   A spokesperson for the DCS Women’s Reference Group said around 100 staff from the DCS, prisons and Fire and Ambulance Services had attended the forum and more had viewed it online through video conferencing.
   The spokesperson said the forum acknowledged women who helped make Queensland a safer State.
   “The issues included the differences between how men and women perceive the workplace, as well as why these women take on these non traditional roles,” she said.
   “We also looked at the obstacles they had to overcome - be it physical or cultural.”
   The DCS Women’s Reference Group is a voluntary group within the Department which promotes and advocate women’s issues.

11 March, 2010

Security review
to mend fences

A State-wide security audit of correctional centres has been announced by the Minister for Corrective Services, Neil Roberts.
   Mr Roberts said the review was recommended by the Chief Inspector of Prisons in an interim report into the disappearance of a gun at Lotus Glen Correctional Centre in Far North Queensland. The gun has since been recovered.
   He said an independent, external expert would be engaged to lead the review team which would include Corrective Services personnel.
   “Work was under way on forming this review team when a cell key was located in a residential section of Maryborough Correctional Centre during a routine security sweep,” Mr Roberts said.
   “Despite security at MCC not being compromised, this incident is totally unacceptable and is the second major security breach at one of our correctional centres in recent months.”
   The Minister said an independent expert would bring a fresh set of eyes to the review.
   “I am confident that Queensland has one of the most secure correctional systems in the country,” Mr Roberts said.
   “Queensland Corrective Services has invested heavily in security infrastructure in recent years. There has not been an escape from secure custody since 1998.”
   However, he said all systems needed to be constantly reviewed.
   “Security is a critical issue and we need to make sure that we are constantly reviewing, changing and updating our arrangements and procedures,” Mr Roberts said.

11 March, 2010

Hospital takeover
is healthy choice

The Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, Paul Lucas has described parts of the Commonwealth’s proposed national takeover of health and hospital services as a “huge win for Queensland.”
   Hailing the national plan as “bold”, Mr Lucas said it was overdue recognition that there needed to be a significant Federal involvement in the State health system.
   Mr Lucas said a single, national funding entity would go a long way towards ending the health service blame game.
   “But we need to ensure that the funding model recognises the unique demographics and geography of health service delivery in a State as decentralised as Queensland,” he said.
   “You can’t compare a major metropolitan hospital with a regional hospital or a smaller rural hospital.
   “Any funding models need to take into account the cost of doing business in different hospitals and different regions.”
   Mr Lucas said the Queensland Government had repeatedly called on the Commonwealth to make specialist outpatients services a key priority for reform.
   “We have the shortest elective surgery wait times in the nation, and our emergency department performance has moved from sixth to third, but specialist outpatients is a real problem,” he said.
   Mr Lucas said Queensland had the highest share of public outpatient services of any State or Territory but had been under-funded by at least $240 million per year by the Federal Government.
   He said he was pleased the Commonwealth had committed to a full takeover of outpatient services.
   The Queensland Government is expected to look closely at the details of the reform over the coming months.
   “For far too long Queensland has received a significantly lower share of Commonwealth funding for outpatient services, compared with other States and Territories,” Mr Lucas said.

11 March, 2010

Flood of repairs
for Main Roads

Repair crews from the Department of Main Roads have been busy assessing road damage and carrying out emergency repairs over the past week.
   Minister for Main Roads, Craig Wallace said Queensland’s vast road network had taken a “real hammering” from rain and floods, with hundreds of kilometres of roads under water.
   “Our first priority is to repair the worst-affected areas and most dangerous sections to make them safer for motorists,” Mr Wallace said.
   He said the Department was working closely with industry to ensure vital food and medical supplies could reach flood-bound regions such as Roma and Charleville.
   “We’ve got road crews ready to get cracking on emergency repairs as soon as it’s safe for them to do so,” Mr Wallace said.
   “The road network is being regularly monitored and the damage will be assessed as soon as floodwaters subside.
   “I expect the damage bill to run well into the millions.”
   The Minister said RoadTek staff and maintenance contractors from the Maranoa Regional Council were hard at work, repairing the roads.
   He commended Main Roads workers in Roma for pitching in and helping the community mop up after the floods.
   “They would have been personally affected by the floods with their own homes inundated, and yet they’ve put the community’s needs ahead of their own,” Mr Wallace said.
   “That’s what I call real community spirit.”

11 March, 2010

Land developer to
develop students

The Urban Land Development Authority has signed an agreement with four schools on Brisbane’s northside to provide on-the-job work experience for high school students at its Fitzgibbon Chase housing development.
   Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Stirling Hinchliffe said connecting with students in this crucial phase of their education would increase their awareness of career paths.
   “This important initiative supports the Government’s Smart Target outlined in our Towards Q2 strategy,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
   “Developing skills in these areas is helping prepare for the Queensland of tomorrow.”
   He said the scheme would give students on-the-job training in a range of areas including concreting, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, roof and wall framing and landscaping.
   The Urban Land Development Authority’s (ULDA’s) builder partners, AV Jennings, Ausbuild and AusHomes, will soon be constructing homes at Fitzgibbon Chase.
   Mr Hinchliffe said this would provide work experience opportunities on site. The Smith Family is to coordinate the program between the builder partners and the schools.
   Director of Development at UDLA, Matt Leyshon said the Authority aimed to not only build houses but to build communities as well.
   “The ULDA is striving to ensure that future residents of our developments are an integral part of the new community as well as the existing community,” Mr Leyshon said.
   “We are also looking at ways for the students to become involved in some of the feature designs to be included in and around Fitzgibbon Chase such as pathways and bikeways, public art, and signage for nature walks and fitness trails.”
   A range of off-site opportunities could also evolve for students as part of the program, including computer-aided design and administration tasks.

11 March, 2010

Recruits on fire as
they up the ant-e

A team of new field officer recruits with Biosecurity Queensland have hit the ground running in their new careers, uncovering a fire ant infestation near Park Ridge State High School on the very first day on the job.
   Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland, Tim Mulherin said the team found the first nest 100 metres from the current restricted area boundary and 600 metres from the nearest known colony at Park Ridge.
   “They were out doing surveillance on the first day of being qualified when one of the officers noticed a disturbed patch of soil,” Mr Mulherin said.
   “It was great that these new officers had an opportunity early on and I was impressed that they got on to it so quickly with identification tools.”
   He said the team then found a further three nests after surveying the area.
   “Fortunately, none of the infestations were on the school grounds themselves, but preventive treatment has been conducted across the school grounds to ensure they remain free of the fire ant menace,” Mr Mulherin said.
   Centre Director of Biosecurity Queensland, Neil O’Brien said data from the colonies had been collected for research and the colonies would now be destroyed with liquid insecticide.
   “The confirmation of a new infestation means movement controls will be imposed and a new Restricted Area will be declared,” Mr O’Brien said.
   “Restricted Area status means nearby residents cannot move high-risk materials, such as soil, baled hay, straw and potted plants without approval.”
   The team who discovered the four nests included eight of 64 new recruits who joined Biosecurity Queensland in early February to expand fire ant operations.

11 March, 2010

Staff freeze heats
up cutback debate

A freeze on Public Service recruitment for non-essential positions and possible caps on PS pay increases have been announced by the Government of the Australian Capital Territory.
   The belt-tightening follows cuts to the ACT’s share of GST revenue recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
   ACT Treasurer, Katy Gallagher, revealed the recruitment freeze and suggested future payrises for the ACT Public Service could be held to 2 per cent a year. The Government had already offered 2.5 per cent in its current round of talks.
   Speaking to the media, Ms Gallagher said the $85 million reduction came as a “nasty shock” to the Territory’s Budget.
   “No other jurisdiction is being asked to accept a 10 per cent cut to their GST revenue,” she said.
   “We’ve taken some decisions in relation to the staffing freeze that’s been imposed on the ACT Public Service for non-essential frontline services, so of course that leaves out health and education and those areas where we need to continue to provide service.”
   The Community and Public Sector Union criticised the ACT Government for failing to consult with staff or unions before announcing the hiring freeze.
   In a statement, the CPSU said it was unclear which jobs were considered to be non-essential or how long the freeze would last.
   “While the CPSU acknowledges the extent of the financial issues the Government is facing, we are concerned that the hard-line approach they are taking will have a negative impact on staff and services,” it said.
   The CPSU said in a bid to recognise tough economic realities, it had lowered its wage increase demand from 4 and 4.5 per cent over the next two years to 3 and 3.5 per cent.
   “Unfortunately the Government is still only offering 2.5 per cent in the first year and 2 per cent in the second year,” the union said.
   “The Government needs to understand that the local service is not a magic pudding and they cannot continue to cut millions of dollars every time there’s budget pressures,” the union’s Vince McDevitt was quoted as saying in the Canberra Times.
   The ACT Public Service employs around 20,100 staff.

11 March, 2010

Talks planned before
landing land deal

The Coordinator-General has begun a round of consultations on the Curtis LNG Project to see if he needs to exercise his powers of compulsorily acquiring land for vital State infrastructure.
   Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Stirling Hinchliffe, said the proponent of the LNG project, Queensland-based QGC, had applied to have the project approved as an Infrastructure Facility of Significance (IFS).
   Mr Hinchliffe said IFS approval could be sought for projects with the potential to contribute to the State by encouraging economic growth and creating jobs.
   “Such an approval is not given lightly as it could ultimately give the Coordinator-General the power to acquire land for QGC for infrastructure for the project,” he said.
   Mr Hinchliffe said QGC wanted to obtain access to land for the gas field and pipeline components of the LNG project.
   He said before the Coordinator-General could acquire the land, QGC needed to take all reasonable steps to negotiate an agreement with landholders, including those who held or claimed to hold native title.
   “This is a critical LNG project in a critical industry and QGC is one of the five major LNG consortia vying to develop in and around the south-west Queensland and Gladstone regions,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
   “This project, if it proceeds, could create about 5,000 direct jobs during the construction phase and could contribute to further growth of the Queensland economy.”
   Coordinator-General, Colin Jensen said three key components were the subject of the IFS application: a network of underground gas and water pipelines, compression and processing facilities; a 340 kilometre underground gas transmission pipeline; and the LNG facility which is a gas liquefaction facility, export jetty and associated infrastructure.
   “The consideration of an infrastructure facility of significance declaration does not in any way constitute approval, or endorsement, of the project which is also being assessed separately through an Environmental Impact Statement process,” Mr Jensen said.
   “I encourage those people who may be affected by the proposed facility to lodge a submission.”
   He said submissions close on 31 March and further information was available from www.qclng.com.au

11 March, 2010

NBN raises sites for
broadband network

Parts of Townsville have been named as the first in Queensland to be hooked up to high speed broadband as part of the National Broadband Network (NBN).
   Federal Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy announced the five initial sites jointly with the Chief Executive of NBN Co, Mike Quigley, saying they would be used to test the network’s design and construction methods as well as provide important information to assist in the scheme’s roll out.
   Senator Conroy and Mr Quigley said the other sites were in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, two NSW towns near Armidale and Wollongong and Willunga in South Australia.
   Premier Anna Bligh said over 3,000 Townsville homes and businesses would trial the new service and consequently play a big part in establishing Australia’s future digital economy.
   Member for Mundingburra, Lindy Nelson-Carr said delivering faster internet into Queensland homes was just one of the benefits flowing from the NBN roll out.
   Ms Nelson-Carr said as the roll-out progressed it would also see improvements in remote health care and support learning for Queensland students.
   Senator Conroy said the trial sites had been chosen based on a range of criteria such as demographics, climate, existing infrastructure and terrain, to ensure the physical roll out of the NBN was as smooth as possible.
   “NBN Co will be using the first sites to test different construction techniques to suit different geographical regions across Australia,” he said.
   Senator Conroy said NBN Co would consult with the communities about its plans during the design phase and they could expect to receive high speed broadband services early next year.

11 March, 2010

Code dives deep
for diver safety

A new recreational diving code has been introduced by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland to raise safety standards in the industry.
   The new Recreational Diving, Recreational Technical Diving and Snorkeling Code of Practice 2010 introduces new provisions for dive training and solo diving, a compliance checklist for recreational diving and snorkelling, and safety advice for treating marine stings.
   Minister for Industrial Relations, Cameron Dick said about 1.2 million people undertook recreational diving and snorkeling activities each year in Queensland, and there was also a significant occupational diving sector that included harvesting, construction and scientific diving work.
   “With such a large number of people involved in diving activities, it makes sense to have a code that will help to further reduce risks faced by divers,” Mr Dick said.
   He said the Code had been revamped in response to coronial recommendations following dive incidents and included the Compressed Air Recreational Diving and Recreational Snorkeling Code of Practice 2005 and the Recreational Technical Diving Code of Practice 2002.
   “It also removes overlaps and inconsistencies under previous legislation,” Mr Dick said.
   Member for Cairns, Desley Boyle said the changes to the code would boost safety and health standards which were important for the dive industry and tourism.
   “Tragically, between four and six people die each year while either diving or snorkeling,” Ms Boyle said.
   “While the physical health of divers and snorkelers is a recognised factor in the cause of fatalities, the changes to the code have raised the health and safety bar even higher.”
   Mr Dick said Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, in conjunction with various diving associations, would host a series of industry presentations on the new Code.
   “These will be held in major dive destinations and will allow industry members to get more information on the new code as well as the specific changes being made,” he said.
   Further information and access to the new Code was available from www.worksafe.qld.gov.au

11 March, 2010

Big plans for a
bigger Surat

A plan for the future management of growth in the Surat basin has been announced by the Premier, Anna Bligh and Minister for Primary Industries, Rural and Regional Queensland, Tim Mulherin.
   Ms Bligh said the Government wanted to ensure communities in the region benefitted from the creation of a $40 billion LNG industry in the Surat basin.
   “An important part of our better growth management strategy is to create opportunity in the regions to move more of our population growth outside of the South East Queensland corner,” Ms Bligh said.
   “The only way that will work is if we manage growth well in these regions to make sure we retain and improve levels of livability.
   “Our boom areas need to be places where people want to live and raise a family.”
   Ms Bligh and Mr Mulherin released the Surat Basin Future Directions Statement which covers the Local Government areas of Toowoomba, Western Downs and Maranoa, Banana to Gladstone.
   The statement commits the Government to working with Local Government and industry to produce plans to manage future growth in the regions.
   “We have learnt from the experience in the Bowen Basin that rapid growth associated with resource industries can put pressure on communities,” Ms Bligh said.
   “That’s why we want to work with local people to make sure this doesn’t happen in the Surat.”
   A Regional Development Forum is to be held in Roma on 18 March to discuss the planning process.
   Mr Mulherin said $4.3 million would be put towards road safety upgrades for the Surat basin including $1 million to improve road intersections.
   He said $3.3 million would be used to widen and rehabilitate the Kogan – Condamine and Chinchilla – Tarra Road (south of Kogan and Condamine Roads).

11 March, 2010

Higher education
goes up online

A new website to serve university students and their families in the way My School serves primary and secondary school students has been announced by the Federal Minister for Education, Julia Gillard.
   Ms Gillard said the ‘My University’website would feature information about institutions, courses and pathways and would showcase Australia’s higher education providers.
   She said it would include information on student-to-staff ratios, results of student satisfaction surveys, measures of graduate skills, graduate outcomes and fees.
   Information detailing access to student services and the quality of teaching and learning outcomes would also be available.
   “The Government wants students to use this data to make their choice about their university on the basis of information about quality rather than students having to rely on hearsay, inference from entry requirements or the perceived prestige of universities,” Ms Gillard said.
   “My University will provide a robust, consolidated and transparent source of information about all of Australia’s 39 universities.
   “Information will be provided in an easily accessible form for students and parents.”
   Ms Gillard said the website would help students decide which university to attend as the Government uncapped places from 2012.
   She said the new website was supported by universities and would be developed with their input.
   Ms Gillard said the website would commence in time for the new system in 2012.

11 March, 2010

Whitsunday growth
to be plan-handled

A new regional plan for the Whitsunday hinterland and Mackay region is to be developed to manage population growth and protect the region’s lifestyle and environment.
   Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland, Tim Mulherin said the Whitsunday hinterland and Mackay region were home to over 167,000 residents but that the population was predicted to grow by more than 5,000 people per year for the next seven years.
   “By 2013 the population could reach 255,000,” Mr Mulherin said.
   “The State Government must safeguard Whitsunday’s and Mackay’s unique and enviable environment and lifestyle while catering for economic growth and dealing with issues like climate change, transport needs and social challenges over the next 20 years.”
   Mr Mulherin is to chair a Regional Planning Committee (RPC) meeting to discuss the issue later this month.
   Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Stirling Hinchliffe is to oversee development of the Whitsunday hinterland and Mackay (WHAM) regional plan.
   “The WHAM regional plan covering the Mackay Regional Council, Isaac Regional Council and Whitsunday Regional Council has the unique position of having the Great Barrier Reef, rare rainforests, thriving industrial centres and some of the nation’s most productive agricultural, fishing and mining sectors in close proximity,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
   “In addition, these three Councils have experienced an influx of new residents in the recent years, with an extra 22,000 people moving to the region from 2001-2006.”
   Member for Whitsunday, Jan Jarratt said Queensland was the only State to implement statutory regional plans outside major capital cities.
   Ms Jarratt said the statutory plan would emphasise a preferred pattern of settlement for the 90,000 square kilometre region and show where future growth should occur to balance social, environmental and economic needs.

11 March, 2010

Ship memorial is
grave occasion

A national memorial service for the 332 victims and survivors of the sunken Hospital Ship Centaur has been held in Brisbane.
Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd and Premier, Anna Bligh joined military officials, survivors, relatives and members of the public at St John’s Cathedral for the service.
   Ms Bligh said the AHS Centaur was sunk without warning by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine on 14 May 1943, about 50 miles east north-east of Brisbane.
   She said the 66-year mystery surrounding its final resting place was solved late last year when the ship’s wreck was discovered off the Queensland coast on 20 December.
   The AHS Centaur has been declared an historic shipwreck and should not be interfered with in anyway.
   The national memorial service was the first of two commemorations to be held, with an ‘at sea’ ceremony being organised for later in the year.
   Mr Rudd said the wreck was now an eternal reminder of all those onboard and their commitment to Australia in a time of great need.
   An 87-year-old Centaur survivor, Martin Pash spoke at the service and students from Centaur Primary School read out the names of the 268 men and women who were killed.
   A commemorative plaque was placed on the fore deck of the wreck on 12 January.
   Created by The Centaur Association, the plaque contains a CD with the names of everyone who served on the Centaur and personal notes from family members.
   The Australian and Queensland Governments committed $4 million to the search for the Centaur, which was led by David Mearns from Bluewater Recoveries.

11 March, 2010

Refugees home in
on warm welcome

A welcome day for refugees has been held at Brisbane’s Southbank Institute of Technology.
   Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Annastacia Palaszczuk said the event paid tribute to some of Queensland’s newest citizens, who as refugees, had made an important contribution to Queensland’s social, economic and cultural life.
   “Since 2005, the State has become home to more than 7,500 new refugees from at least 70 different countries,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
   “The largest numbers have come from Sudan, Burma and Afghanistan.”
   She said Queensland’s culture continued to be shaped by refugee and migrant arrivals from across the globe.
   “They’ve come to Queensland to build better lives for their families, and I want to assure them that they can always count on the support of the Government,” she said.
   “Almost one in five Queenslanders were born overseas and the State is home to more than 200 cultures.”
   The Minister said Queenslanders valued the contribution refugees made to their State.
   She said refugee groups came from a number of countries, citing the Nepali-speaking Hindu Bhutanese group who had made their home in Cairns last year as an example.
   She said they had been ejected from their country after objecting to the Government’s promotion of the dominant Buddhist culture.

11 March, 2010
Ipswich turns 150
Ipswich, one of Queensland’s oldest Councils, has celebrated its 150th anniversary.
   Ipswich began as a mining town with a population of just under 3,000 a century and a half ago and has grown to almost150,000 residents today and covers more than 1200 square kilometres.
   It housed Queensland’s first defence force, the State’s first secondary school and railway, had the first pumped water supply and held the first eisteddfod.
The first towels made in Australia were bath towels from East Ipswich and it was the second settlement in Queensland to take advantage of the Municipalities Act of 1858.

Flood appeal online
An appeal to help those affected by flooding in the State’s south-west has been launched with a $500,000 contribution from the State Government.
   The Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal will focus on the Murweh, Maranoa and Balonne Shires where disaster situations have been declared.
   Residents can donate by phoning 1800 173 349 or visiting www.qld.gov.au
   All donations of $2.00 or more to the appeal will be tax deductible.

Courthouse open for business
A new $92 million Courthouse has been officially opened at Ipswich.
   The Courthouse, which will serve Ipswich and the western corridor, is the biggest infrastructure project in central Ipswich for more than a decade.
   The five-storey building is the centrepiece of the city’s new $111 million legal precinct, which also includes a new watch-house and 24-hour police station.

Workforce needs addressed
The National Resources Sector Employment Taskforce has released a discussion paper to generate conversation on how to address the workforce needs of major resources projects over the next five years and beyond.
   The Taskforce has encouraged interested parties to provide feedback on the paper and will consult with stakeholders to gather additional information.
   Submissions are due by 9 April with further information available from www.deewr.gov.au

Palmview comment saught
Sunshine Coast Regional Council has called for public comment on a new greenfield development area at Palmview.
   The 30-business-day consultation period was announced to allow the community to have a say to ensure the development finds the “right mix” in an area which could become home to nearly 14,000 people.
   Submissions close on 19 April, with further information available from www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au

Prisoners’ garden for public
A community garden is to be provided at Innisfail State College by low-risk offenders from the Innisfail Work Camp, working with Cassowary Coast Regional Council and Landcare Queensland.
   The garden is to include a small public access orchard, with the prisoners to clear the site, lay paving between the plots and plant a public access orchard.
   Prisoners will learn valuable skills including bobcat operation, paving and the preparation, planning and maintenance of the fruit trees.

Post previews website
Australia Post has called for community feedback on its new website after launching a preview.
   The new site aims to cater for the entire community, with improved accessibility for people with disabilities.
   To view the site and make comments on its usability, visit preview.auspost.com.au

Rescue services boosted
The $2.5 million Redland Bay Fire and Rescue Station has been officially opened.
   The Station, built on time and within budget, provides a boost to fire and rescue response capabilities across the bay area.
   A new firefighting vehicle to help service the local community was also being commissioned for the Station.

4 March, 2010

Just praise for
justice system

The efficient and cost-effective performance of the State’s Court system has been applauded by Attorney-General, Cameron Dick.
   Tabling the 2008-09 annual reports of the Supreme, District and Magistrates Courts, Mr Dick said they showed impressive clearance rates.
   The Court of Appeal had a combined clearance rate of 101.6 per cent, meaning it finalised more matters than were lodged, an improvement on its 2007-08 rate of 98.4 per cent.
   The trial division of the Supreme Court had a clearance rate of 99.6 per cent; the District Court had a combined clearance rate of 100.7 per cent and its civil clearance rate rose from 97.2 per cent in 2007-08 to 104.4 per cent.
   Mr Dick said there was a clearance rate of 100.5 per cent in the Magistrates Court’s criminal jurisdiction, despite an increase of 4.12 per cent in the number of matters lodged.
   The Attorney-General thanked the Public Servants, judges and magistrates who support court operations and said he looked forward to them continuing to play important roles in the future.
   He said the clearance figures complemented the information released last month in the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services 2010, which showed the Courts compared favourably with other Australian jurisdictions.
   “Queensland courts finalised more than 217,000 criminal matters and 97,000 civil matters in 2008-09,” he said.
   “When the number of judicial officers per capita is taken into account, the figures indicate that our Courts are among the most efficient in the country.”
   Mr Dick said the annual reports foreshadowed the Government’s reform program to further improve Court operations.
   “This reform process took a major step forward in December 2009 with the start of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal which provides the framework to allow minor civil disputes to be resolved faster,” he said.
   “Further changes are proposed as part of the sweeping reforms outlined in the Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction Reform and Modernisation Amendment Bill, which was tabled as a consultation draft last year.”
   These reforms are expected to be introduced later this year.

4 March, 2010

Truck regulator
to park in State

Queensland has beaten NSW and Victoria to be chosen as headquarters for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator being set up by the Council of Australian Governments.
   Minister for Transport, Rachel Nolan told Parliament the decision showed confidence in the State’s ability to lead the way on heavy vehicle reform.
   Ms Nolan said Queensland would be home for the Regulator’s office and its Chief Executive.
   “Almost 75 per cent of freight in Australia is carried by trucks, including every item you see on supermarket shelves,” she said.
   “The number of freight vehicles in Queensland has grown by 23 per cent in the last four years alone and is expected to triple by 2050.
   “Trucks don’t know borders and even little differences in rules and red tape can add big costs to doing business.”
   Ms Nolan said the regulator would address the challenge of inconsistent heavy vehicle regulation between State and Territory jurisdictions.
   She said the decision to create a heavy vehicle regulator was part of the Federal Government’s efforts to create a seamless national economy.
   Ms Nolan acknowledged the work of trucking industry leaders Hughie Williams from the Transport Workers Union and Peter Garske from the Queensland Trucking Association for their tireless work to strengthen the State’s industry.
   She said it was proposed that all heavy vehicle regulation reforms would be fully implemented by 2013.

4 March, 2010

Fish survey fishes
for information

A 12-month survey of recreational fishers is to be carried out by Fisheries Queensland to capture an accurate picture of the State’s recreational fishing scene.
   More than 4,000 fishers will take part in a telephone survey beginning later this year.
   Minister for Fisheries, Tim Mulherin said the survey would provide a more up-to-date view of Queensland’s recreational fishing population and catch since the last State-wide survey was conducted in 2004-05.
   “Information from this year’s survey will help establish the value of recreational fishing to the State economy and will be used to shape decisions about the sector to boost development and enhance the recreational fishing experience,” Mr Mulherin said.
   The Minister said one of the key findings in the 2004-05 survey was the general decline in recreational fishing participation rates.
   “While declining recreational fishing rates is a worldwide trend, Queensland’s environment has changed,’ he said.
   “Since 2005, the population in Queensland has grown from 3.86 million to 4.38 million.
   “Technology has created more accurate fishing methods, and significant development has occurred, especially in coastal areas.”
   Managing Director of Fisheries Queensland, Jim Groves said $500,000 was being invested in the telephone survey which would focus on gathering information on participation rates, where people fished and what they caught.
   Senior fisheries scientist and survey coordinator, Stephen Taylor said there were definite advantages to carrying out research by telephone.
   “We will use a team of skilled telephone interviewers who will contact respondents on a regular basis, recording all of their fishing activity,” Mr Taylor said.
   “This frequent contact means the burden of remembering to record information is not on the respondent but on the interviewer, which reduces drop-out rates.”

4 March, 2010

Fine crackdown
is fine idea

The continuing fight against fine defaulters is to step up a gear when it begins targeting corporate fat cats in the months ahead.
   Premier, Anna Bligh said new laws would target corporations which had unpaid fines.
   “The new laws will authorise the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) to commence winding up action against corporations who have unpaid fine debt,” Ms Bligh said.
   “These new laws will give SPER officers a powerful new weapon. If a corporation doesn’t pay their fines they will be wound up and efforts will be made to recover the value of the fines during that process.”
   She said no one was above the law.
   “I can’t think of a single reason why big business should be able to get away with this when ordinary people are being asked to do the right thing,” Ms Bligh said.
Attorney General, Cameron Dick said under the new laws, the threshold for SPER officers to make claims on the Register of Encumbered Vehicles System (REVS) could be halved from $1,000 to $500.  
   “Lowering of the REVS threshold to $500 would enable SPER to target a broader pool of fine defaulters,” Mr Dick said.
   “Offenders whose fines are referred to SPER have several ways to pay their debt, including individual instalment plans tailored to their financial circumstances, so there is really no excuse for continuing to do the wrong thing.”
   He said the laws were the next step in the Government’s campaign to ensure people with outstanding fines pay their debts.
   “From 1 January 2010, SPER enforcement officers were granted powers to clamp the wheels of vehicles and to seize property of serial fine dodgers who ignore their responsibilities,” Mr Dick said.
   “It is critical to preserving public confidence in the law and maintaining the integrity of fines as a deterrent.”

4 March, 2010

Teachers tested on
primary subjects

Tough new laws to lift the standard of teaching in Queensland will require Primary School teachers to pass tests on literacy, numeracy and science before they’re allowed to teach children.
   Minister for Education and Training, Geoff Wilson said the amendments would allow the Queensland College of Teachers to develop a new testing regime for teaching graduates.
   Mr Wilson said he expected testing to begin by the end of 2011.
   He said the move followed a key recommendation made by Professor Geoff Masters in his report into Queensland’s education system.
   “Our teachers are dedicated, passionate professionals who make a difference in the lives of children every day, but we know that some of our teachers currently come out of university feeling unprepared to teach these key subjects,” Mr Wilson said.
   “We want to see university education faculties lifting the bar and teaching to the best possible standards.”
   The Minister said the new laws included provisions requiring individual childcare centres to display logbooks reporting any notifications from the Office of Early Childhood Education and Care.
“The vast majority of services in Queensland provide top-quality care and know they have nothing to fear from these laws,” he said.
“Parents want to know the centres caring for their children are safe places providing quality care.
“That’s why we have passed these amendments – to ensure parents have access to as much information as possible.”
   Other changes included the recognition of experience for those working in non-school settings such as kindergartens or TAFE Senior Colleges for the purposes of teacher registration.

4 March, 2010

Growth summit
taking shape

Over 200 local and State Government representatives, industry experts, community spokespeople and conservationists from around Queensland are to meet at the State Library this month for a Growth Management Summit.
   Premier, Anna Bligh said the summit was a chance for the representatives to come together to discuss how better to manage Queensland’s growth.
   Ms Bligh said members of the public could also be part of the debate as the summit would be streamed live online.
   She said visitors to the summit’s site could submit questions to be asked at the summit   She said the summit would take the form of several key note addresses, panel discussions and workshops and would include a 'great debate' to highlight ideas and solutions to the State’s growth.
   Visitors to the website would be asked to complete a survey to share their opinions on the issue.
   "This survey will be used to help the Queensland Government understand the community's views on the impacts of population growth," the Premier said.
   In the lead up to the summit, Queenslanders will get the chance to have their say on how school ovals and playing fields could be transformed into recreational green spaces.
   Ms Bligh said the ideas would be included in a series of documents that would be progressively released this month.
   "We want to open up as much green space as possible, particularly in the South East Queensland corner, to ensure the amount of land for public recreation expands in line with a growing population," she said.
   "Some school ovals do open after hours on an ad hoc basis but what we are proposing is a structured scheme that can open up schools right across the State.”
   The Premier said the Department of Infrastructure and Planning would compile the first inventory of land available for community recreation in Queensland.
   "A statewide green space inventory of land for public recreation will be developed and we expect to have a better picture by the end of this year," she said.
   The summit will take place on 30 and 31 March, and will be streamed at www.growthsummit.premiers.qld.gov.au

4 March, 2010

New curriculum
is class act

The Commonwealth Government’s draft national school curriculum has been welcomed by State Minister for Education and Training, Geoff Wilson.
   Mr Wilson said Queensland had been heavily involved in developing the national curriculum through its representatives on the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, which is responsible for the proposal.
   “The development of the National Curriculum will help ensure consistency of learning throughout Australia,” the Minister said.
   “It will also be helpful for those 80,000 students who move interstate each year.”
   He said the recently-released draft focused on the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy, science and history.
   “Here in Queensland we are already increasing our focus on these key learning areas because we know they are critical skills for students,” Mr Wilson said.
   “We also have a strong focus on teacher professional development, particularly in these subject areas.”
   He said literacy and numeracy coaches were on the ground in Queensland schools to help staff further develop their teaching skills.
   “Our 100 specialist science teachers and 15 regional science managers are doing the same in science,” Mr Wilson said.
   The Minister said a solid understanding of history was vital for students, and he supported its inclusion in the National Curriculum.
   “It’s important that students are exposed to a broad range of perspectives when it comes to studying our nation’s history,” he said.
   “I look forward to hearing feedback from the community around the proposed National Curriculum.
   “I would encourage all parents, educators and interested community members to have a look at the draft and have their say.”
   Comments and feedback on the draft, K–10 Australian Curriculum, could be submitted at www.australiancurriculum.edu.au until 23 May.

4 March, 2010

Indigenous take lead
in new preamble

A new preamble has been inserted into the Queensland State Constitution.  
   Premier, Anna Bligh said the addition acknowledged and respected the significant contribution made by Indigenous peoples to Queensland.
   “I am proud to have a preamble to the Queensland Constitution which says something noble and inspiring about who we are and where we have come from,” Ms Bligh said.
   “This preamble is a statement for all Queenslanders, and with it we take another step forward on the path to reconciliation.”
   The preamble says the people of Queensland, “honour the Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the First Australians, whose lands, winds and waters we all now share; and pay tribute to their unique values, and their ancient and enduring cultures, which deepen and enrich the life of our community.”
   Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Desley Boyle said the wording for the acknowledgement was formulated by the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council.
   “They have come up with wording that is inclusive, positive, strong and reflects the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their values that will forever be marked in history” Ms Boyle said.
   Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Annastacia Palaszczuk said the preamble acknowledged the achievements of the State’s forebears from many backgrounds.
   “The acknowledgement of the adversity and injustices our descendents have overcome is a testament to the strength of today’s Queensland,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

4 March, 2010

Fair shares unfair
say Treasurers

A call by State Treasurer, Andrew Fraser for the Federal Government to come up with a fairer way of allocating the nation’s GST pool has attracted support from his Western Australian counterpart, Troy Buswell.
   Mr Fraser and Mr Buswell said Queensland and Western Australia were key economic growth States and needed a fairer share of GST revenue.
   They said a draft report by the independent Commonwealth Grants Commission (CGC) recognised the two States’ population booms and resulting infrastructure burden.
   Mr Fraser and Mr Buswell recommended the report’s methodology be implemented in full.
   “The new methodology is a fairer way to carve up the GST pool, which is central to every State’s budget,” Mr Fraser said.
   “The Queensland and Western Australian Governments have shouldered the load when it comes to building the infrastructure our growing populations need. That burden won’t change as population pressures intensify.”
   He said New South Wales was currently allocated more GST per person than other big States, and would continue to do so even if the CGC’s draft report was implemented.
   “We are not asking for a larger allocation of GST funding than NSW,” the Treasurer said.
   “We just want a fairer allocation that doesn’t rob the growth States of the funds we need to cater for our very rapidly growing populations.”
   Mr Buswell said NSW was already compensated heavily by the Queensland and Western Australia’s resources sector.
   “NSW was once the driver of the national economy – that is no longer the case,” Mr Buswell said.

4 March, 2010

Drivers driven
to distraction

A new road safety campaign has been launched to remind drivers of the dangers of common distractions such as answering the phone, changing a CD or radio station or dealing with children in the backseat while trying to drive.
   Minister for Transport, Rachel Nolan said while speeding, drink driving, driving fatigue and failure to wear a seatbelt remained the primary contributors to the road toll, it was important to remember that a distracted driver was a dangerous driver.
   “In the split second it takes to answer your phone, change a CD or deal with the kids in the backseat, tragedy can happen,” Ms Nolan said.
   “In 2009 alone, preliminary figures reveal that undue care and attention was a contributing factor in 29 fatalities in the Queensland road toll, and distractions, specifically involving mobile phone use, led to two deaths.”
   She said the figures meant almost one in 10 deaths on Queensland roads was due to driver distractions.
   The Distractions campaign is currently on the air with television commercials; radio, press and outdoor advertising running during March and April.
   Ms Nolan said a survey of 300 motorists conducted by Queensland Transport in 2009 found 51 per cent drove while talking on a mobile phone, 28 per cent read or wrote texts while driving and 63 per cent changed CDs or their iPod while driving.
   “These figures are quite alarming considering over 80 per cent of drivers believe these activities are extremely risky,” she said.
   “It is vital motorists concentrate on only one thing at all times when they are behind the wheel – driving.”
   Ms Nolan said Queensland Police had issued an increasing number of tickets each year to motorists who drove and used their phone.
   She said 22,756 tickets were issued in 2007, rising to 28,526 in 2008 and 27,646 in the first 10 months of 2009.
   “Using your mobile phone while you’re driving or stopped at traffic lights is illegal and can cost you $300 and three demerit points,” Ms Nolan said.
   “You also risk not being covered by your insurance, which, in the event of a crash, could be extremely costly.”

4 March, 2010

State wind map a
blow for progress

A map of wind energy potential produced for the Office of Clean Energy is expected to lead to significant increases in local investment.
   Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Stephen Robertson said the map would show the international investors in clean energy that Queensland was well and truly open for business.
   “The Wind Atlas, an initiative of the Government’s Queensland Renewable Energy Plan, highlights zones of wind speed and strength across the State,” Mr Robertson said.
   “In particular, the areas around the regions including Atherton to Cooktown through to Cairns are shown to be peculiarly windy, with higher wind renewable energy potential.”
   He said the Office of Clean Energy would use the map to identify Renewable Energy Zones for the State.
   “The wind energy map is overlaid with key information such as the location of national parks and existing power infrastructure, and future updates will add even more information,” Mr Robertson said.
   He said the Office of Clean Energy contracted Hydro Tasmania Consulting, to produce the map, citing the company’s experience in renewable energy, wind and hydroelectric industries.
   The Minister said the wind zones would be similar to a minerals province and would be the prime areas where access to State land would be facilitated, planning processes streamlined and incentives developed for renewable energy proponents.
   “This is a significant milestone in the Queensland Government’s overarching plan to leverage $3.5 billion of renewable energy investment and to create 3,500 green jobs,” Mr Robertson said.
   The Queensland Wind Map could be downloaded free from www.cleanenergy.qld.gov.au

4 March, 2010

Adventure industry
takes chance on guide

New safety guidelines for the Adventure Activity industry have been released with the assistance of the Minister for Sport, Phil Reeves.
   Written by the industry with Government assistance, the comprehensive Queensland Adventure Activity Standards (AAS) are expected to help the outdoor recreation sector maintain safe operating procedures.
   “All aspects of adventure activity planning, leader skills and responsibilities, equipment and environmental practices for each activity have been considered and developed into the Standards,” Mr Reeves said.
   “The Standards will assist activity providers to establish their own Standard Operating Procedures, and while these are voluntary, they set minimum benchmarks which should encourage a high level of industry acceptance and compliance.”
   Chief Executive of the Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation, Donna Little, said the Standards were a positive example of collaboration.
   "The Standards were written by the industry and for the industry with the assistance of Government's resources,” Ms Little said.
   “This means they are a practical tool for outdoor providers to use.”
   She said industry would continue to work with Government to make sure the guidelines remained relevant.
   Mr Reeves said the Standards would complement existing Workplace Health and Safety, Transport and Maritime Safety legislation that also governed adventure activities.
   “We all know that participating in outdoor recreation and getting active is one of the best ways to improve our quality of life, both physically and socially,” he said.
   The Adventure Activity Standards provide information on a range of activities including abseiling, bushwalking and canoeing or kayaking.
   Further information was available from www.sportrec.qld.gov.au

4 March, 2010

Police software to
hit crime hard

A training conference for police from around Australia and New Zealand dealing with child exploitation is to be hosted by Queensland Police’s Taskforce Argos.
   According to Police Minister, Neil Roberts, Taskforce Argos is recognised nationally and internationally for its achievements in investigating online child exploitation and for developing proactive policing strategies.
   The conference will look into specialist software being used by the Taskforce to successfully target and apprehend people who commit child exploitation offences.
   Mr Roberts said the software - the ‘Wyoming Toolkit’ - helped police identify people who distributed child exploitation material across “peer-to-peer” networks.
   He said the training course would teach investigators how to use the software.
   “The internet has opened doors for paedophiles, enabling them to communicate with each other instantaneously and stalk unsuspecting victims online,” the Minister said.
   “In the past, online predators have relied on anonymity to target their victims, but now police are using the latest technology to track these offenders.”
   Mr Robertson said since adopting the Wyoming Toolkit software in March 2009, Taskforce Argos had made some significant arrests, beginning action against 31 offenders on 83 charges.
   Deputy Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the software proved its value almost immediately.
   “On the second day of training a person was identified trading child exploitation material,” Deputy Commissioner Stewart said.
   “A search warrant was executed on his house the same day and the man was charged with a total of 35 offences, including possessing, accessing and making child exploitation material.
   “We couldn’t have asked for a better result from an investigative tool.”
   Investigators attending the training will include police from New Zealand, New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia, the Australian Federal Police and the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

4 March, 2010

Koala land to be
more bearable

A new program for protecting koalas in the south east is to make $4 million available to landowners in the area to use on rehabilitating their land to make it suitable for the animals..
   Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Kate Jones said she would ask owners of property in koala-mapped areas to consider offering their land as nature refuges.
   “If the land is suitable, we will offer financial assistance to owners to rehabilitate their land for better koala habitat,” Ms Jones said.
   “The priority areas we’re looking at are within Pine Rivers and Koala Coast (primarily Redlands).
   “However, we will also consider properties located within the Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay, Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich and Gold Coast regions.”
   She said to qualify for the funding the land needed to be over two hectares in size and mapped as high or medium value for rehabilitation into koala habitat bushland.
   Ms Jones said the new program built on the koala protection measures launched last year.
   “We’re targeting koala disease with research funding, giving Councils greater planning and assessment powers to protect habitat in their area as well as allocating funding to protect and rehabilitate koala habitat,” she said.
   Landholders would be able to apply for funding for rehabilitation and associated management costs for activities such as planting of koala habitat trees, constructing koala-friendly fencing and undertaking weed control.
   Applications close on 29 March, with further information available at www.derm.qld.gov.au

4 March, 2010

Fair Trading gives
north a fair chance

The Office of Fair Trading is to deploy specialist consumer support officers in remote far north communities to help residents with consumer affairs issues.
   Minister for Fair Trading, Peter Lawlor said the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) would partner with the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN) to deploy specially trained officers in Yarrabah and Palm Island.
   “Remote Indigenous communities can often be the target of unscrupulous businesses due to their isolation and lack of marketplace competitiveness," Mr Lawlor said.
   He said last month hundreds of far north Queenslanders entered into costly and unfair contracts after a household goods rental firm door-knocked local homes.
   “In this recent case, ICAN was able to pass on information direct from the affected consumers,” Mr Lawlor said.
   “OFT then investigated and got the firm to cancel all 800 of the rental contracts and pay back in excess of $13,000 it had obtained from residents.”
   Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Desley Boyle said the Indigenous community did not traditionally lodge consumer complaints direct to OFT or pass on information when things went wrong.
   “We need to change this situation which is why seven ICAN staff are being trained on fair trading matters,” Ms Boyle said.
   “They'll work on the ground within the community and be armed with even more knowledge and skills to help protect the rights of residents, and where necessary pass on information to OFT for enforcement action.”
   The trained staff are to discuss locals' concerns and advise them on their consumer rights and where to go for help.
   Chief Executive of ICAN, Aaron Davis said the staff would become the “eyes and ears” on consumer issues.
   "We'll educate residents on things like managing finances, and they can come to us to help resolve issues, investigate matters and pass on information to the OFT,” Mr Davis said.

4 March, 2010

Bravery medals to
show their mettle

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra has announced that its collection of Victoria Cross medals awarded from Gallipoli is to go on a national tour, including Queensland, to mark the 95th anniversary of the wartime landing.
   Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Alan Griffin said it would be the first time the medals had toured and it would allow many Australians to see the Anzacs’ decorations first hand.
   “Gallipoli was where the Anzac legend was born,” Mr Griffin said.
   “These nine Anzacs epitomise the courage and sacrifice of those who fought there.”
   He said the nine Victoria Crosses to go on tour belonged to Corporal Alexander Burton, Corporal William Dunstan, Private John Hamilton, Lance Corporal Albert Jacka, Lance Corporal Leonard Keysor, Captain Alfred Shout, Lieutenant William Symons, Second Lieutenant Hugo Throssell, and Lieutenant Frederick Tubb.
   Seven of the nine Victoria Crosses awarded at Gallipoli were for bravery during the battle of Lone Pine in 1915.
   A total of 97 Australians have received the Victoria Cross.
   Director of the Australian War Memorial, Major General Steve Gower said the Victoria Cross was the highest form of recognition that could be bestowed on a soldier for remarkable and unselfish courage in the service of others.
   “The entire nation draws pride and inspiration from these brave men,” Maj-Gen Gower said.
   The exhibition, This company of brave men; the Gallipoli VCs, will also travel to Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia and Victoria, from 20 March, 2010.

4 March, 2010
2010 Public Sector Conference
The Institute of Public Administration will hold its 2010 Public Sector Conference in Brisbane on 9 September.
   The full-day program will cover understanding Government reform, productivity and performance.
   It will be followed by the annual Public Sector Excellence Dinner.
   Registrations open from late March with further information available from www.vic.ipaa.org.au

Health rego overhaul
Legislation to establish a national system of registration and accreditation of 10 health professions has been introduced into the Federal Parliament.
   Under the proposed changes health professionals would not need to re-register every time they moved across State or Territory borders.
   Legislation is also required to be introduced into each State and Territory which Queensland has already passed.

Integrated campus opens
Innisfail State College, Queensland’s first fully integrated TAFE and secondary campus, has opened.
   The $38 million development brings together students from secondary and special schools and the TAFE institute.
   Innisfail is one of four areas to benefit under the State Schools of Tomorrow initiative after Innisfail State High School was badly damaged by Cyclone Larry in 2006.

Mount Isa lead free
An investigation conducted by the Department of Environment and Resource Management has found that Mount Isa residents were not exposed to excessive levels of lead in the air between October and December 2009.
   The Department found that mining group Xstrata did not exceed its statutory limits for lead and was satisfied there had been a reporting error and no breach.
   The Department’s investigation showed that anomalies or unexpected results were immediately examined and acted on.

Bus route saves time
The first bus route in the CLEM7 tunnel under Brisbane is expected to shave about 20 minutes off a 30km cross-city journey between the northside and southside of Brisbane.
   Route 77 will commence next month and will link Eight Mile Plains to Chermside.
   The journey is expected to take 39 minutes compared to 55 minutes when travelling via the CBD.

Teaching scholarships awarded
A total of 21 aspiring teachers have been awarded scholarships valued at more than $360,000.
   Thirteen ‘Bid O’Sullivan’ scholarships were awarded to Queenslanders from rural and remote parts of the State who had been accepted into a teaching course at a Queensland University in 2010 and eight ‘Pearl Duncan’ scholarships to future teachers with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage.

ATSI Youth Parliament
Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are being encouraged to take part in the second Indigenous Youth Parliament in Brisbane.
   The 2010 Parliament is part of the Young Indigenous Leaders Forum which is being held from 30 May to 5 June.
   Applications close on 2 April and further information was available from www.reconciliation.qld.gov.au

Olsen Avenue consultation
Detailed information for nearby residents is being prepared for the planned community consultation along the Olsen Avenue rapid transit corridor.
   Local residents can call 1800 967 377 to speak to the rapid transit team about any potential impact on their properties.
   A newsletter is to be distributed to residents over the next few weeks to provide a detailed design for the corridor.

Ready, set, read!
The first official registrations of ‘Ready Reader’ volunteers have begun.
   The Ready Reader campaign aims to boost the literacy skills of Queensland students by signing up 3,000 volunteers to read with children in schools
   People can register to become a Queensland Ready Reader on the Volunteering Queensland website, www.volqld.org.au.
   The first volunteers will be in classrooms from Semester 2 in Toowoomba, Townsville and Wide Bay, with the program to be rolled out Statewide in 2011.

Guardian dog
Biosecurity Queensland is to conduct research into how effective guardian dogs are at stopping wild dogs from killing stock.
   Researchers will study the Maremmas breed which originated in central Italy and has been used for centuries by Italian shepherds to guard sheep from wolves.
   If successful, the guardian dog would be an important non-lethal method of controlling wild dogs on properties.