The Queensland Government has opened the plan for the proposed $500 million coking coal project in the Cape York Peninsula for public comment.
The Queensland Coordinator-General has is due to release the draft terms of reference for the proposed underground mine, which is about 150 kilometres north of Cooktown.
“The mine has the potential to operate for at least 30 years and could export 1.5 million tonnes of coking coal per year, meaning it would be important to the economic development and Indigenous employment in Cape York and Far North Queensland,” Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Jeffy Seeney said.
The proposed Aust-Pac Capital mine is situated on freehold land owned by the Kalpowar Aboriginal Land Trust.
The call for comment comes after the project was declared significant last month, meaning an environmental impact statement will now be required and will run concurrently with a Federal Government environmental assessment.
“The draft terms of reference form the basis of the project’s EIS which will consider the environmental, social and economic implications of the proposed mine,” Mr Seeney said.
The draft terms of reference can be viewed here
All public submissions must be in writing and received by the Coordinator-General by 5pm on Tuesday 12 June 2012.
Post: The Coordinator-General
c/- EIS project manager – Wongai Project
Significant Projects Coordination
PO Box 15517
City East Qld 4002
The Australian Government is seeking public input to help develop a new strategy for the identification, management and celebration of Australia’s heritage.
The new strategy will cover natural, Indigenous and historic heritage and set the direction for heritage policies and programs at all levels of government for the next 10 years.
Comment is invited from the community about how we can best recognise, manage and celebrate our heritage.
Submissions will be accepted up until 15 June.
To download the public consultation paper, visit www.environment.gov.au/heritage/strategy/submissions.html
City of Perth Chief Executive Officer Frank Edwards has announced his retirement effective on 21 September.
Mr Edwards has held the position since April 2002.
Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said that Mr Edwards had served the City with great distinction during a period of rapid growth in the City. She paid tribute to his managerial and leadership skills and expertise.
She said his departure date will allow the process of seeking a replacement Chief Executive Officer to be completed and a smooth transition to occur.
The Western Australian Government has expressed its concerns over the expected cut to GST revenue, with Premier Colin Barnett saying up to $500 million is expected to be removed from the state’s coffers.
Mr Barnett warned that the sharpest drop in funding is likely to be in the area of training, which Mr Barnett says could not come at a worse time.
"The commonwealth and state had been working well on training, but the commonwealth is now reducing its commitment in this state where we need to train people because there are jobs and labour shortages," Mr Barnett told reporters.
"For the coming year, the state has picked up that shortfall, but we can't continue to do that because we haven't got the GST share to help fund it.
"You're going to see impacts in a lot of those commonwealth/state partnership agreements, and I think that's unfortunate."
South Australian Treasurer Jack Snelling also expressed his concerns with the budget spending.
"What we've got will be the largest writedown in revenue a treasurer in South Australia has ever had to face," Mr Snelling said.
South Australia is likely to face a $2.8 billion hit to its budget over the coming four years as GST revenues and state revenues drop significantly.
"As a government, we are committed to producing a fiscally responsible and financially sustainable state budget.
"In the wake of these revenue falls, tough decision will need to be made."
Queensland has joined other states in voicing their concerns, with State Treasuerer Tim Nicholls saying the Federal Government forgot the state.
“Queensland has received no funding for critical road, rail and port infrastructure across the state,” Mr Nicholls said.
“We have also suffered a cut of $2.5 billion in Specific Purpose Payments (SPP’s) for the next financial year which will result in cuts to services like skills and workforce development, community services, affordable housing and environmental payments.”
The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government has launched a report into how Australia’s communities are embracing the potential of community governance.
The findings have practical implications for the development of a community governance approach and a recognition that community governance requires new ways of working and new ways of understanding the roles of the different parties.
For Local Government
Finding 1 Local government's communities have a stronger expectation that they will be involved in decisions which affect them, and this may influence the way in which individuals vote.
Finding 2 Size and geography both matter.
Finding 3 A community governance approach changes the roles of elected members, from a purely representative democracy model to one where community input is sought issue by issue.
Finding 4 It is critical that all parties are well informed.
Finding 5 A community governance approach highlights the importance of ensuring that the council is able to hear all the voices within the community and not just the traditional 'squeaky wheels' or other loud voices.
Finding 6 In all councils it is councillors who have ultimate responsibility for the council's policy on community engagement but there is a need to tailor actual delivery to the circumstances of the individual council, other pressures on elected members, and the council's culture and structure.
Finding 7 Most councils involved in the study have recognised in different ways the need for community capability building initiatives and community governance often amounts to a process for decision-making about a particular place or places within the larger area served by a council.
Finding 8 Place-based management virtually amounts to a prerequisite for a genuinely effective and comprehensive approach to community governance, and there is likely to be a growing trend for councils to look at reorganising their structures to reflect this.
Finding 9 There is likely to be tension between state government planning, for example planning directed to allocating anticipated population increases within metropolitan centres, and a community governance approach. The former is a top-down approach to imposing decisions on individual communities and the latter a bottom-up approach expressing the community's preferences. Finding 10 Councils adopting a community governance approach recognise the need for three separate roles: around decision-making and implementation, facilitation, and advocacy. Finding 11 The development of community governance as discussed in this report should remain free from statutory direction.
For Community banking
Finding 1 Community banking can be seen either as a stand-alone phenomenon specific to a particular sector and firm, or as a specific example of a more general case; how communities can retake a measure of control over services which in recent years have been centralised away from communities because of issues such as economies of scale (cost cutting), regulatory intervention etc. Seen in this latter way, community banking suggests other possibilities for community delivery of market-based services.
Finding 2 It seems likely that the community reinvestment activity of community bank branches will become an increasingly important contributor to community governance within their catchments. Finding 3 There is a growing recognition of the importance of having good information about the nature of community need, and different means for addressing it. This is likely to result in increased collaboration between local government and community banking.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The evolution of community governance is now a significant development both within local government and through other networks such as community banking. It clearly reflects a growing interest on the part of communities in being much more closely involved in decisions which affect them. The likelihood is that this interest will underpin a continuing shift towards a community governance approach. It is therefore important to draw on learning from this project to determine what can best be done to facilitate the further evolution of community governance. In particular, the emerging relationship between local government and community banking provides a useful way of identifying the pivotal role of local government as the 'soft infrastructure' within the community with the capacity required both to identify the community's needs, preferred options and priorities, and to provide the necessary research and policies.
Within local government, the development of community governance has benefited from the freedom which individual councils have had to develop their own responses to its development as they have perceived it. It is important that this freedom from legislative direction remains – there is no 'one size fits all' approach to community governance, and there is enough diversity amongst different councils to make it clear that finding tailored local solutions will often be the best approach.
At the same time, an understanding of the very real strength of being able to develop solutions unique to the circumstances of individual councils needs to be tempered with recognising the benefits of sharing experience, and identifying common issues which are best approached collectively.
The report finds that consideration should be given to the following:
- A further review of the respective roles of elected members, management and community organisations in community governance with the objective of sharing experience and considering whether there are specific changes required. Such a review would best be undertaken by or on behalf of the sector itself rather than by a higher tier of government.
- Establishing processes and mechanisms by which councils (and others) involved with community governance can share their experience. This could include an interactive website as a means for documenting current practices and facilitating discussion of the issues arising.
- Professional development and capacity building programs for elected members, council management and community groups who may be involved in community governance activity.
- A study of success factors for community governance from a community perspective, exploring the conditions under which communities succeed in establishing community governance as a genuine way of working.
- Ongoing engagement with the community banking network in order to support its community governance potential. This may be best achieved by working collaboratively with Bendigo’s Community Banking Strategic Advisory Board.
- Examination of the extent to which complex regulatory frameworks represent a barrier, or at least a disincentive, to the further development of community governance. One way forward may be to learn from councils and communities who are seeking to overcome these barriers.
For a full copy of the report download from www.acelg.org.au
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has received new funding totalling $180.2 million over four years in the 2012-13 budget.
The Government has allocated $101.9 million over four years in operational funding. ASIC previously received non-ongoing funding to cover operating activities, including $28.8 million in 2011-12. Provision of this funding enables ASIC to continue to provide current levels of regulation and supervision of the financial market.
ASIC will also receive $23.9 million over four years to facilitate the implementation and enforcement of the Future of Financial Advice reforms.
The Government will provide $43.7 million over four years (including $16.3 million in capital) to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to replace its current market surveillance system with an enhanced, integrated system with increased data mining and analysis capacity.
The cost of this measure will be offset by additional fees of $33.0 million over four years on market operators and participants.
ASIC will further receive $10.7 million over four years to develop and maintain an online registration system for auditors of self managed superannuation funds (SMSFs). As part of the registration process, ASIC will develop a competency exam and be responsible for the deregistration of non-compliant auditors.
Up to 4,200 Commonwealth public servants will lose their jobs as a result of measures in the 2012-13 budget, with 3000 expected to be made redundant over the next 14 months.
The CPSU is calling on the Government to guarantee that the job reductions will be done without forced redundancies.
CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said "Finance Minister Penny Wong said last November that the Government had a 'strong expectation' that the 4 per cent efficiency dividend would be met without the need for forced redundancies.
"We welcomed Minister's Wong's statement at the time. Now that the budget position is finally known, we are seeking confirmation from the Government that there will be no forced redundancies," said Ms Flood.
The union also warned that cuts to the public sector will hit regional areas hard pointing out that two third of federal public servants are located outside Canberra.
"Some of the biggest cuts were in agencies with the largest regional footprint such as Tax Defence and Human Services," said Ms Flood.
"We are concerned that public servants in regional centres such as Toowoomba, Wagga Wagga, Newcastle, Nowra, Darwin, Townsville, Hobart and other towns will struggle to find other work if there are redundancies in their offices. In many parts of regional Australia the federal public sector is one of the biggest employers. It is vitally important that every effort is made to maintain public sector employment in regional areas where good jobs are hard to find," said Ms Flood.
"The public sector is not an inexhaustible source of savings for Governments. In many departments there is little or no fat left to cut, all that is left are the staff that run vital programs."
The union also warned that customers will feel the impact of the budget cuts through reduced services and increased waiting times.
"We are already seeing the impact of previous cuts on ordinary Australians and these measures will only make the situation worse," said Ms Flood.
"In DHS, Baby Bonus applications are taking up to 70 days to process and the Family Payments backlog has risen from 30,000 to 70,000 cases. In DVA, Veterans are waiting up to 40 days to have pension increases processed. Customs is seeing delays at airports in peak times of up to 90 minutes", she said.
Western Australian Treasurer Christian Porter has announced that Expressions of Interest will be sought for the provision of the Government Employees Superannuation Board’s (GESB) administrative services.
Mr Porter said the move followed the decision to allow State Government employees to choose their super fund from March 30, 2012, the central reform recommended in the Whithear Review.
“As a result of this choice reform - which has been overwhelmingly supported by public sector employees - GESB will not have the economies of scale to offer the most cost effective administration services in the long run,” he said.
“If GESB is prevented from exploring options to lower the cost of providing administrative services, the effect could be higher costs to those who do choose to remain with GESB.”
Mr Porter said procuring administrative services from a specialist external provider would be aimed at achieving lower costs to members. Outsourcing should also enable GESB to keep pace with the many superannuation reforms and other challenges in a rapidly changing industry.
Mr Porter said many super funds across the industry were currently procuring administration services from external providers to minimise operating costs and gain efficiencies through economies of scale.
“The Government is undertaking this reform so that GESB will be able to ensure their administrative costs are competitive,” he said.
Mr Porter said the provision of GESB’s superannuation administration services was expected to appeal to the market and should result in better outcomes for both existing members and future State employees, primarily from competitive fees and services to members, particularly over the longer term as the superannuation industry continued to consolidate these services.
“This opportunity to compete for the provision of these services offers the market an exciting opportunity to engage with the State and GESB in these reforms to maintain competitive services to members,” he said.
Invitations for Expression of Interest for provision of administrative services will be issued to the market in June and it is anticipated that transition to new superannuation administration service arrangements will begin in the second half of 2013.
The Queensland Government has announced a new wages framework providing pay increases of up to 3 per cent to public servants in return for productivity savings.
Treasurer Tim Nicholls said that with headline inflation running at 1.6 per cent nationally, the wages framework was "very fair and reasonable and fulfils our commitment to good faith bargaining".
“The Newman LNP Government is removing Labor’s arbitrary 2.5 per cent wage cap because we know the public service can and will deliver real benefits through savings and improved productivity in return for higher wages", he said
The Queensland Government has initiated a study into the need for a new venue for Brisbane.
Arts Minister Ros Bates said the study will compare Brisbane to other interstate and international cities and analyse the need for a new venue by considering current and projected demand from local producers and companies, national and international touring acts, and audience trends.
It will set out thinking on medium and long-term (20 years) venue needs, including seating capacity and type of venue and consider the factors to ensure any future performing arts venue infrastructure is sustainable.
“For the performing arts to continue to thrive, we need to know that we have the right balance of venues in Brisbane,” Ms Bates said.
Arts Queensland will manage the study which will be completed by September.
The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has hit out against the Victorian Government over the proposed cut of $20 million to the Green Light Plan, saying the move will hurt local councils trying to convert to energy efficient street lighting.
Cr Bill McArthur, President of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) condemned the cut and called for the program to be reinstated to ensure the Baillieu Government delivered an important election promise to Victorian communities.
“The Government’s decision to cut its $20 million Green Light Plan will significantly reduce the capacity of councils to achieve cost savings for ratepayers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“The surprise benching of this key green reform program is a blow to Victorian communities given that many councils will have to pass on rising energy costs through rates when the carbon price starts in two months.
“There are high upfront costs to change Victoria’s 300 000 local road street lights using old, expensive lamps to energy efficient lights. It’s simply beyond the capacity of many councils.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk have conducted the first meeting to start work on forming a new partnership between the State Government and the Brisbane City Council.
Mr Newman said the meeting had resulted in an in-principle agreement on a number of issues, including work to upgrade rail crossings, the hand back of state-ruin parklands to Council and a resolution on the stalled Howard Smith Whareves redevelopment.
“My Government believes that local councils are best placed to determine what is right for their local communities and unfortunately many of the issues discussed at the meeting were used as a political football by the former State Government,” Mr Newman said.
“But we’re going to get on with the job and re-empower the Brisbane City Council and local councils right across the state to provide practical and appropriate solutions to local issues.”
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk welcomed the new partnership, saying his top priority was to start work on a timeline and budget program to build flyovers at dangerous rail crossings at Robinson Road Geebung and Telegraph Road Bracken Ridge.
“We’ll be allocating money in the coming budget to kick start these works to upgrade these dangerous rail crossings,” Cr Quirk said.
Cr Quirk said the agreement reached meant that Brisbane City Council could get on with delivering for local residents.
“This is an example of the sort of things that can be achieved when you have a state government that’s prepared to work with local government, not against them,” Cr Quirk said.
An in-principle agreement was reached on:
- Handing over the management of South Bank, Roma Street Parklands, Roma Street Forum and Emma Millar Place to the Brisbane City Council, with funding to ensure the BCC is not out of pocket;
- The re-activation of the Brisbane City Council’s Howard Smith Wharves proposal to build a wonderful parkland and boutique hotel;
- The re-submission of the South Brisbane Riverside Neighbourhood Plan to allow 12 storey buildings to be built between Montague Road and the river;
- The establishment of a Land Use and Transport Planning Working Party made up of representatives from the BCC and State Government to better co-ordinate land use and transport planning between the two levels of government;
- The hand-back of ULDA areas – Carseldine, Woolloongabba, North Shore Hamilton, Bowen Hills to be handed back to the Brisbane City Council with ULDA powers; and
- Work to immediately begin on a timeline and budget program for the upgrade of open level crossings at Robinson Road, Geebung and Telegraph Road, Bracken Ridge.
The Western Australian Department of Local Government has commenced an inquiry into matters relating to the governance of the City of Canning.
Issues included in the inquiry are:
- governance by the elected council and relationship with executive staff
- human resources recruitment processes
- procurement of goods and services, including tender processes and contract management
- general performance.
The inquiry will require about six months to thoroughly examine matters related to these issues and any other matters the investigative team discovers during its inquiry.
The inquiry was first announced in February after a request was made by the mayor of the City of Canning to initiate the review.
“The authorised inquiry under Part 8 Division 1 of the Local Government Act 1995 will thoroughly examine matters related to these issues and any other matters the investigative team discovers during its inquiry,” Minister for Local Governmnet John Castrilli said.
The inquiry is expected to require six months before any report is given.
The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has praised the Federal Government’s 2012-13 Budget, saying that its initiatives ensure the continuation of hundreds of millions of dollars in vital local government infrastructure.
“Last year, ALGA launched a national campaign to secure ongoing federal funding to assist councils to maintain local roads and address an estimated shortfall of $1.2 billion in their investment. I am pleased to say that the Australian Government has listened to local government’s concerns and extended the program until 2019,” ALGA Vice President Felecity-Ann Lewis said.
“Local communities across the country will benefit from the Government’s commitment to provide $350 million a year for five years from 2014 to 2019 under the R2R program, ensuring the maintenance of our local roads, which make up more than 80 per cent of our national road system.”
The Government has announced $60 million in black spot funding over five years, as well as $20 million over seven years from 2012-13 onwards.
Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) to local governments will also be maintained in real terms, with the Government deciding to bring forward the first two quarterly payments of the 2012-13 FAGs into 2011-12.
The Federal Government has delivered on its promise to bring the Budget back to black, delivering a $1.5 billion surplus.
The Government delivered its first surplus in the last four years, with the key announcements as follows:
- $3.2 billion over five years for aged care, including initiatives including measures to double home care assistance and improve pay and conditions of aged care workers
- $3.56 billion injection into the Nation Building Program, which, if matched by the NSW Government, could see the completion of the full duplication of the Pacific Highway by the end of 2016.
- $475 million for 76 key health infrastructure projects
- $1.1 billion over the next four years to assist people who receive income support allowance payments better manage unexpected cost of living expenses.
- $1 billion in spending over four years to start the roll out of the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
- $1.72 billion for the 2012-13 year for science and innovation, with an additional $126 million for research in universities
- 54 million package to improve standards of science and maths teaching in Australian schools.
- $40 million in spending over four years to soften the blow of the newly unemployed and assist in making the most of savings while looking for a new job or studying.
- Changes to the eligibility for Family Tax Benefit Part A to help target family payments
- $350 million in funding to assist irrigation infrastructure reform in the Murray Darling Basin, sourced from existing funds.
Cuts announced were:
- Scrapping the 1 per cent company tax to help fund the Government’s $3.6 billion package for low and middle income families and small businesses
- An estimated $5 billion to be cut from Defence.
The Budget papers are available here.
The Australian Government has withdrawn funding of $10.9 million over four years from 2011â€‘12 from the Sustainable Australia — promoting regional living program, which was announced in the 2011â€‘12 Budget.
The funding was originally planned to support nonâ€‘capital cities to conduct targeted marketing strategies to promote the benefits and opportunities of living and working in regional cities.
The Federal Government ahs announced it will spend $1.1 billion over the next four years to assist people who receive income support allowance payments better manage unexpected cost of living expenses.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, and Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans, today announced that from March 2013 allowance recipients would receive a tax-free, twice-yearly Supplementary Allowance.
“Many Australian households are feeling the pressure on their household budgets and families receiving Government allowances are some of our most vulnerable citizens,” Mr Shorten said.
“Some recipients of allowances can find it hard to manage unexpected costs, such as urgent repairs on the family car or appliances, bills that are higher than expected, or unforeseeable medical or dental costs.
Senator Evans said the $210 a year for a single person ($105 per instalment) and $175 for a person who is a member of a couple ($87.50 per instalment) would be indexed twice yearly by the Consumer Price Index to keep pace with inflation, would not be means tested and is tax-free.
“The Supplementary Allowance will help over one million allowance recipients each year to help them prepare better for unexpected costs,” Senator Evans said.
“Combined with doubling the Liquid Assets Waiting Period thresholds, this measure will help both new and long-term income support recipients to manage, and to be more resilient to, unanticipated expenses.”
The Victorian Government has announced a major overhaul and substantial changes to the deployment of staff of the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) with the aim of refocusing it towards delivering research and development to rural stakeholders.
The plan will involve consolidation of operations in metropolitan offices from Box Hill, Frankston, Footscray, Knoxfield, Werribee and Woori Yallock, while shop fronts in Ararat, Birchip, Camperdown, Cobram, Kyneton, Ouyen and St Arnaud will be wound up and these staff members moved to existing rural DPI offices.
The savings generated will be reinvested into future research and development efforts by DPI.
Three floors of DPI headquarters in the city will be closed – two at 55 Collins Street and one floor at 1 Spring Street. There will also be altered service delivery of DPI operations that will see DPI staff currently based in 15 DSE offices relocated to existing rural and regional DPI offices.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the refreshed DPI would focus on better supporting Victoria's agricultural industries to ensure future food supply for Victoria and to take advantage of export opportunities such as emerging Asian markets.
"Victoria's food and fibre exports were worth a record $8.07 billion in the 2010-11 financial year, making the sector the state's second-highest export earner representing 28 per cent of Australian agricultural exports," Mr Walsh said.
"There is growing worldwide demand for Australian agricultural exports and Victoria is well-placed to take a lead role, but it is important that DPI is in a position to deliver the most effective support, research and development to farmers as possible.
Mr Walsh said more DPI staff would be located in regional and rural Victoria than based in Melbourne, providing dedicated services for producers.
"The Government plans to instill new purpose into the DPI as part of its $213 million investment supporting Victoria's agricultural sector, headlined by the $61.4 million Growing Food and Fibre initiative."
Budget allocations in the Transport and Infrastsructure portfolio have included funding to continue evaluation of the High Speed Rail project and support for National Transport Regulator reforms.
The Government will provide $20.0 million over four years to improve national transport planning, with a particular focus on the High Speed Rail Unit to continue to evaluate a High Speed Rail project on the Eastern seaboard of Australia.
$37.9 million will be provided over three years to establish national transport regulators for heavy vehicles, rail safety and maritime safety.
The measure includes:
- $15.6 million over 2011â€‘12 and 2012â€‘13 to establish the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator in Queensland;
- $9.2 million over 2011â€‘12 and 2012â€‘13 to establish the National Rail Safety Regulator in South Australia;
- $10.1 million over 2012â€‘13 and 2013â€‘14 in capital and expenses to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to develop and purchase a national information system to support its role as the National Maritime Safety Regulator; and
- $1.0 million in 2011â€‘12 to each of Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory to assist with the costs of implementing the national reforms.
The Federal Budget has withdrawn the Australian Government’s 2009-10 Budget commitment to provide $50.0 million from the Building Australia Fund to the proposed Darwin Port Expansion project, redirecting the funds for road projects in the Northern Territory.
This funding will be applied to current projects on the Central Arnhem Road and Port Keats Road designed to provide access to Indigenous communities, and projects on roads impacted by the Ichthys LNG project being undertaken by the INPEX Corporation.
The Federal Government has announced a $3.56 billion injection into the Nation Building Program, which, if matched by the NSW Government, could see the completion of the full duplication of the Pacific Highway by the end of 2016.
Federal Minister for Infrastrucrue and Transport Anthony Albanese said the Federal Government is willing to match whatever spending the NSW Government makes on the project.
“We are simply asking the NSW Government to fulfil the commitments they gave prior to last State election and to honour the funding arrangements originally put in place in 1996 and reconfirmed in 2007 by former Prime Minister John Howard,” Mr Albanese said in a statement.
Federal Labor is prepared to step up and match any new funding which the NSW Government allocates to this vital nation building project on a dollar for dollar basis up to a limit of $3.56 billion. Getting this job done will require an equal partnership between both levels of government.
The announcement comes after the NSW Roads and Maritime Services estimated an additional $7.1 billion will be required to complete the works.