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                    [post_content] => 

Dean Lacheca

Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platforms - chatbots, virtual assistants and messaging-based applications - are opening new government service delivery channels. Government CIO need to quickly determine the role of these channels, adjust their digital service delivery strategies and extend their digital government platform to exploit these new opportunities.

Many are already taking notice. Governments are prioritising the implementation of virtual assistants more than many other industry vertical. A recent Gartner survey indicates that 60 percent of government organisations undertaking artificial intelligence and machine learning projects identify virtual assistants as a project goal.

This is in line with growing expectation from citizens of being able to access government services via conversational applications. The Australian Taxation Office recently introduced virtual assistant Alex on its website to help support general taxation enquiries from Australian citizens. Platforms like these consist of multiple related AI technologies that support an interactive and intuitive style of communication.

Conversational applications aim to increase customer satisfaction by reducing customers' need to navigate a complex website or transactional portal. At the same time, they reduce the wait time and resources required to respond to basic government inquiries. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 25 percent of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant technology across engagement channels.

Service provider and government-to-government interactions can also be delivered through conversational applications. Large departments and agencies can use virtual employee assistants to offer more consistent and efficient delivery of internally facing services such as IT help desk, legal, HR and financial services.

Most government services, however, particularly those that involve care or case management, will require human involvement for the foreseeable future. Virtual customer assistants or chatbots can be offered as an alternative or supporting channel to many direct citizen and business-facing services.

Where to start

1. Educate IT and customer experience leaders

Conversational applications suffer from negative customer experience perceptions based on older technologies and involvement with poor implementations.

Customer experience leaders need to comfortable with, and have confidence in, the quality and consistency of the service delivered by the conversational applications. This will require effort to dispel historical misconceptions. Confidence will grow as understanding and experience of the quality and potential for the service grow.

It's equally important to set expectations with the business regarding the take-up of these alternate channels. Though conversational applications should form part of a multichannel service delivery strategy, accept that these channels won't be accepted by all citizens or staff in the short term.

Educate customer experience leaders on the potential for conversational applications and establish vendor showcases or workshops to offer firsthand experience. Then implement an internal pilot of a virtual employee assistant to develop technical skills and create an example to help guide decisions and future strategy.

2. Identify and prioritise opportunities

Many uses for conversational applications exist throughout government. They deliver the best results when the right style or combination of applications is implemented to support the right type of service. Implementing a conversational application is a significant investment and should only be considered for services that are used frequently.

Given conversational applications won't be accepted by all citizens, it's important to understand the service consumer. When targeting citizens, consider factors such as demographics, including language background. When targeting businesses, assess the nature of the business digital maturity of the industry. When targeting government-to-government services, consider the digital maturity of other agencies. When targeting staff, consider the digital maturity of your own agency.

Start by preparing a list of conversational application opportunities based on potential uses and the services delivered by your agency. Work in partnership with your customer experience leaders to refine and prioritise this list based on the complexity of the responses, the demand for the services and the demographics of the targeted audience, including language background.

3. Revise your digital government strategy

Citizens already engage governments across different channels, and their expectation is to receive the same quality of service across all channels. Unfortunately, many agencies struggle to see service delivery channels beyond traditional digital channels like websites and portals.

A digital government strategy should embed multichannel citizen engagement as a foundation of service delivery. The strategy should reinforce the importance of consistency across channels and seamless transition between channels. Multichannel service delivery should apply equally to services aimed at government staff, forming part of the digital workplace strategy.

A strategic focus on multichannel service delivery will influence the architecture of your citizen/customer experience platform to support conversational applications. Develop a business case to secure funding for further AI research and projects.

Dean Lacheca is a public sector research director at Gartner, helping government CIO and technology leaders with their transition to digital government. He will speak about digital government trends at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Australia, 30 October-2 November 2017.

 
                    [post_title] => Conversational AI in government
                    [post_excerpt] => Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platforms are opening new government service delivery channels.
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                    [post_date] => 2017-08-14 14:43:08
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                    [post_content] => The Federal Government announced in the 2017-18 Budget context a number of initiatives to encourage the continued development of the SII market in Australia, including funding of $30 million.

By pure coincidence, the Government also gifted $30m to Foxtel. The difference between this and Foxtel’s $30m is that Foxtel will get it over two years, while SII will have to wait ten years - Ed.

The government’s package includes funding of $30 million over ten years, the release of a set of principles to guide the Australian government’s involvement in the SII market, and notes that the government will continue to separately consider ways to reduce regulatory barriers inhibiting the growth of the SII market.

Social Impact Investing, the government says, is an emerging, outcomes‑based approach that brings together governments, service providers, investors and communities to tackle a range of policy (social and environmental) issues. It provides governments with an alternative mechanism to address social and environmental issues whilst also leveraging government and private sector capital, building a stronger culture of robust evaluation and evidenced-based decision making, and creating a heightened focus on outcomes.

It is important to note that social impact investing is not suitable for funding every type of Australian government outcome. Rather, it provides an alternative opportunity to address problems where existing policy interventions and service delivery are not achieving the desired outcomes. Determining whether these opportunities exist is a key step in deciding whether social impact investing might be suitable for delivering better outcomes for the government and community. Government agencies involved in social impact investments should also ensure they have the capability (e.g. contract and relationship management skills, and access to data and analytic capability) to manage that investment.

The principles

The principles (available in full here) acknowledge that social impact investing can take many forms, including but not limited to, Payment by Results contracts, outcomes-focused grants, and debt and equity financing.

The principles reflect the role of the Australian Government as an enabler and developer of this nascent market. They acknowledge that as a new approach, adjustments may be needed. They also acknowledge and encourage the continued involvement of the community and private sector in developing this market, with the aim of ensuring that the market can become sustainable into the future.

Finally, the principles are not limited by geographical or sectoral boundaries. They can be considered in any circumstance where the Australian Government seeks to increase and leverage stakeholder interest in achieving improved social and environmental outcomes (where those outcomes can be financial, but are also non‑financial).

Accordingly, where the Australian Government is involved in social impact investments, it should take into account the following principles:
  1. Government as market enabler and developer.
  2. Value for money.
  3. Robust outcomes-based measurement and evaluation.
  4. Fair sharing of risk and return.
  5. Outcomes that align with the Australian Government’s policy priorities.
  6. Co-design.
[caption id="attachment_27829" align="alignnone" width="216"] The Australian Government's six principles for social impact investing.[/caption]   [post_title] => Social Impact Investing to get $30m [post_excerpt] => The Federal Government has announced a number of initiatives to encourage Social Impact Investing. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27828 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-14 14:46:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-14 04:46:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27828 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27757 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-03 19:42:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-03 09:42:31 [post_content] => The popular idea that the economic divide between Australia’s cities and regions is getting bigger is a misconception, according to new Grattan Institute research. The working paper Regional patterns of Australia’s economy and population shows that beneath the oft-told ‘tale of two Australias’ is a more nuanced story. Income growth and employment rates are not obviously worse in regional areas. Cities and regions both have pockets of disadvantage, as well as areas with healthy income growth and low unemployment. And while cities have higher average incomes, the gap in incomes between the cities and the regions is not getting wider. Grattan Institute CEO John Daley said the research casts doubt on the idea that regional Australians are increasingly voting for minor parties because the regions are getting a raw deal compared to the cities. “Given that people in regions have generally fared as well as those in cities over the past decade, major parties may need to look beyond income and employment to discover why dissatisfaction among regional voters is increasing,” he says. The paper shows that the highest taxable incomes in Australia are in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, followed by Cottesloe in Perth and Stonnington in eastern Melbourne. The lowest taxable incomes are in Tasmania and the regions of the east-coast states, especially the far north coast of NSW, central Victoria and southern Queensland. But income growth in the regions has kept pace with income growth in the cities over the past decade. The lowest income growth was typically in suburban areas of major cities. While unemployment varies between regions, it is not noticeably worse in the regions overall. Some of the biggest increases in unemployment over the past five years were along transport ‘spines’ in cities, such as the Ipswich to Carole Park corridor in Brisbane and the Dandenong to Pakenham corridor in Melbourne. The biggest difference between regions and cities is that inland regional populations are generally growing slower – particularly in non-mining states. Cities are attracting many more migrants, particularly from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The east coast ‘sea change’ towns are also getting larger, but unemployment is relatively high. The research will contribute to a forthcoming Grattan Institute report examining why the vote for minor parties has risen rapidly over the past decade, particularly in regional electorates. Read the full report here.   [post_title] => City-country divide: not as wide as you may think [post_excerpt] => That the economic divide between Australia’s cities and regions is getting bigger is a misconception. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => city-country-divide-not-wide-may-think [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-03 19:47:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-03 09:47:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27757 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27748 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-03 17:02:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-03 07:02:40 [post_content] => As the council amalgamations fiasco rolls on, it is becoming apparent that for some of the administrators, being lavished millions of dollars of government funds to spend at their discretion is becoming too strong an attraction to say goodbye to at the coming elections. Standing for elections So far at least two administrators have declared their intention to stand for office at the coming council elections. Queanbeyan-Palerang administrator Tim Overall and Armidale regional administrator Ian Tiley have both confirmed they will be standing for election, despite what many believe is an obvious conflict of interest in their current positions as administrators. The Greens believe the Premier must immediately direct these administrators to withdraw their nominations. Greens MP and local government spokesperson David Shoebridge said: “It’s not unlawful, but there is no doubt that it is deeply inappropriate for administrators to be running for council elections. “These administrators have been given an enormous platform in their local communities over the last 18 months, not to mention access to millions of dollars in council funds and community grants. “There is an obvious conflict of interest if administrators are now putting their hand up to run at the upcoming local government elections, after being given the role of a cashed-up local despot for 18 months. “These individuals have had well over a year to implement their agenda and build on their existing local profile, they should not be able to run at the upcoming elections. “The Liberal National government’s forced amalgamation mess continues to be plagued with dysfunction, and as always they treat residents and ratepayers like mugs. “Any competent government would have outlawed this practice; instead we have the Liberal Nationals in charge. “If the Premier had any respect for local communities, she would immediately direct these administrators to withdraw their nominations for council.” Mr Shoebridge said. In the meantime in Sydney, a NSW Government-appointed administrator is seeking to sell off commercial waste services on the eve of council elections United Services Union general secretary Graeme Kelly said a forcibly-merged council in Sydney’s west has come under fire after it was revealed that it will no longer be able to provide waste services to more than 1,000 commercial and trade customers, following a decision to outsource domestic waste services and sell off its fleet of garbage trucks. Cumberland Council, which was formed following the forced merger of Holroyd Council with Auburn and parts of Parramatta, has admitted in council business papers that as a result of the controversial decision by NSW Government-appointed administrator Viv May to outsource domestic waste services, the council would no longer be able to provide services to commercial clients, either. In June, Mr May awarded a $68 million contract to United Resource Management to run domestic waste services for ten years, Mr Kelly said. “The sale of Council’s fleet means Council will not be able to service its trade and commercial waste customers in the future,” the council document states. Mr May is expected to use the next council meeting — the final one before democracy is restored with the election of new councillors next month — to approve a plan to seek expressions of interest from private waste operators to also take over Cumberland Council’s commercial waste operations. Mr Kelly, whose union represents more than 30,000 local government workers across the state, said the NSW Government needed to urgently intervene to prevent the loss of further services ahead of new councillors being elected. “Just a week after Premier Gladys Berejiklian publicly abandoned the NSW Government’s failed policy of forcibly amalgamating councils, one of her government’s administrators is making a last-ditch effort to sell off community services before council elections can take place next month,” Mr Kelly said. “During the past month, this unelected and unaccountable administrator has locked ratepayers into a costly outsourcing arrangement for the next decade, decided to sell the fleet of garbage collection vehicles, and now intends to do the same with commercial waste services. “There are more than 1,000 businesses that will be impacted by this decision, yet there has been no consultation with them, the broader community, or workers. “Having an appointed administrator making major decisions on the eve of elections, including the awarding of multi-million dollar contracts and the sale of council assets, is completely unacceptable and is one of the reasons communities across the state fought so hard against these forced mergers. “Premier Berejiklian and Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton need to urgently intervene to stop the unelected administrator of Cumberland Council from selling assets, cutting services, or entering contracts, with all decisions instead held over until a democratically elected council retakes the reins,” Mr Kelly said. … and Woollahra wants its money back Waverley Councillor John Wakefield believes the administrator has engaged in building a castle-in-the-air and is keen to seek state government re-imbursement for the costs of the merger. “With the merger called off, we have certainty about the future of the eastern suburbs councils,” Cr Wakefield said. “Let’s now consider what the ratepayers of Waverley have paid to jump through the hoops of the State Government’s mega-merger fantasy.” While Woollahra Council and its Mayor led the opposition against the merger, Waverley Council and its Mayor went about setting up Waverley for the merger with Randwick and an unwilling Woollahra. According to Cr Wakefield, a team of Waverley staff has been working for two years on the merger. Consultants were hired to prepare detailed reports on management and staffing structures under a merged council, facilities and office accommodation requirements, vehicle and truck fleet management issues, maintenance contracts, IT systems integration, and numerous other complex issues requiring detailed plans. “We estimate that well over $500,000 was spent by Waverley Council in direct costs to consultants, while hundreds and hundreds of hours of senior council staff time was occupied in meetings, preparing reports, workshopping the incredible complexity of merging three large organisations together whilst attempting to maintain work levels and resident expectations of service delivery. “Simultaneously and additional to this, Waverley Council under Mayor Betts also hired consultants and allocated a significant amount of staff time on a proposal to re-develop Council’s Library and adjacent buildings. This has been marketed as the ‘Civic Heart’ precinct. It was actually a feasibility study to house a merged council’s town hall. “Mayor Betts was preparing to spend a significant amount of ratepayers money to house a now abandoned merged Eastern Suburbs Council,” he said. This Civic Heart project has an allocation of $80 million in Waverley Council’s forward budget but would have in reality cost in the order of $120 million. Combined with Mayor Betts’ grand project for the Bondi Pavilion with a budget of $40 million, this would have exhausted Waverley’s $130 million capital works reserve totally. “We will now be seeking re-imbursement from the State Government of all expenditure related to the merger proposal. “If our motion is successful, a more precise figure will be calculated by Council’s General Manager, but we estimate the total cost to ratepayers of over $2 million wasted in the last two years.” [post_title] => Council administrators: caretakers or career builders? [post_excerpt] => Standing for election, selling off assets... council administrators are in the firing line. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => council-administrators-caretakers-career-builders [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-04 11:09:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-04 01:09:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27748 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27617 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-17 22:40:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-17 12:40:11 [post_content] => Deloitte Access Economics’ Chris Richardson sees a few worrying trends and signs on the horizon for Australian governments. The world is motoring. Growth in the US, Europe and Japan is near 2%, with China and India doing the heavy lifting to raise overall global growth above 3.5%. But China has been tightening the screws, which will see its growth slow during 2018, with flow-on effects for the wider world. And there are structural headwinds for the medium term: the developed world is ageing, with its potential growth sapped by rising retirements. That’s true of China, too. And, at the same time, the business world has been reluctant to invest for a decade, spooked by rising political and economic uncertainty, as well as fears of regulatory and technological developments – creating an additional headwind. Both the world and the Reserve Bank have been doing Australia favours, with China throwing red meat at those bits of its economy that buy big from the Lucky Country, and with the RBA’s 2016 interest rate cuts revving up housing prices. Despite that, production growth has been weak, as big gas projects finish construction, as the big home building boom of recent years starts to peter out, and as Cyclone Debbie took a toll. Yet our stuttering pace of production was still enough – thanks to higher commodity prices – to see national income chalk up a gain of near $100 billion in 2016-17. That brought an emphatic end to five years of ‘income recession’, though to date it has been profits rather than wages that have benefited, while the pace of home building is set to shrink further amid increasing evidence that gravity may soon start to catch up with stupidity in housing markets. And the gargantuan Chinese credit surge is finally easing back, suggesting the global economy won’t be doing Australia quite as many favours from 2018 onwards. Yet those are merely caveats on an otherwise solid outlook. Relative to the rest of the rich world, Australia’s economic outlook may not be quite as impressive as it once was, but we are still kicking goals. Consumer price inflation remains a dog that isn’t barking, both locally and globally. And although global and local leading indicators of inflation are stirring in their sleep, they don’t look like getting out of bed any time soon. We see wage growth set to climb from 2018, as inflation lifts a tad, as retirement among boomers restrains growth in potential workers, and as the ‘income recession’ of the post-2011 period gives way to more settled gains in national income (and workers get their share of that). Even so, the pick-up in inflation and wage gains is likely to be both modest and slow. The past decade saw a growing global gap between economies and interest rates, but the US Fed is continuing a slow grind towards closing the gap. The rest of the world will eventually follow, with Australia’s turn starting during 2018. Yet as J. Paul Getty so neatly put it: “If you owe the bank $100, that’s your problem – if you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.” Australia’s heavily indebted families are now the Reserve Bank’s problem, which is why, although interest rates will indeed rise in the next few years, they won’t rise sharply. On the currency front, Australia will sit more towards the back of the queue for global interest rates normalisation, and there’s the risk of further price pain on commodities. That combination will weigh on the Australian dollar, but not by much. Australia is within a hair’s breadth of a current account surplus for the first time since bell-bottomed jeans were all the rage. However, just like bell-bottoms, Australia’s dash for cash looks set to be very short-lived. We got close courtesy of spikes in coal and iron ore prices, but those same global commodity prices are once again curled up into a ball and rocking. That will increasingly show up as lower export earnings over the next year or so, cementing a return towards our customary deficits. Job growth in the next couple of years will be solid: not as good as 2017 to date, but not as bad as 2016, either. There’s good news in the better gains in national income of late, but overall macro trends aren’t really giving a strong signal either way on job prospects. And while the bugaboos of the moment (disruptive technologies and new business models) grab the headlines, they do more by way of generating churn at the level of individual businesses than they do to ruffle the surface of overall job numbers. The Federal Budget saw the Coalition abandon Plan A (a return to sustainable fiscal finances via spending cuts) to Plan B (tax and spend, amid increases to the Medicare levy, a bank tax, and Gonski2.0). Given Plan A spent years going nowhere, we see great sense in Plan B. But it’s a real worry that a conscious shift to the centre still didn’t unleash much bipartisanship in Canberra. That says official figures (which assume stuff passes the Senate) remain at risk. And, speaking of risks, commodity prices could yet spell trouble for the Federal, WA and Queensland Budgets, while – a little further out in time – housing markets may yet do the same for the NSW and Victorian Budgets. The tussle at the top Among industries, it’s still a tussle for the top of the growth leader board, as mining output rides the crest of earlier investment decisions, while health care rides a demographic dividend topped with technological treats. Both sectors look set to keep growing rapidly, with mining seeing huge gas projects ramp up their production levels (to meet export contracts, and to keep the home fires of domestic markets ticking over), and with health demands marching ever-upwards. But the prospects for both also come with caveats, as mining’s fortunes remain chained to China’s, and health to Canberra’s. Like Manny Pacquiao, the reign at the top of the pops for finance has been long and gloried, but it’s looking a little long in the tooth as the cost of credit finally gets back off the canvas. That said, there’s a long tail of growth still left in finance, and its return to the growth pack may take a few years. Challenges loom for property services too, where a slowdown has already commenced. Similarly, the $A -fuelled rise of fast growth in recreation (thanks to more tourists) and education (thanks to more students) may soon start to moderate from here – the $A’s fall was a while ago, and its benefits are starting to fade. But at least the education sector has the lift in the birth rate over the last decade or so to provide better base demand via extra kidlet numbers. Construction and manufacturing are both bumping along the bottom, but for construction it may be a relatively brief spell in the doldrums, whereas manufacturing’s challenges look rather more structural. Question marks lie over the utilities, where balancing divergent aims (power that’s clean, reliable and cheap) is hard, but becomes even harder now that Hazelwood has closed and with the nation’s onion-eaters arguing the toss on Finkel. That suggests investors may stay sidelined, which is where they’ve already been for an awfully long time. Add in rising prices, and this sector – a pathway to growth for many other industries – is left reliant on population gains to generate much by way of growth. It’s just a jump to the south and east On the State and Territory front, the jump from a China boom to a housing price boom sent the nation’s money and momentum from its north and west towards its south and east. Yet although the ‘sunbelt’ – WA, Queensland and the Top End – is feeling pain as a result of that, much of the drama for those regions already lies in the rear view vision mirror. Their next phase will be one of recovery, albeit not quite yet. And don’t forget that today’s heroes – NSW and Victoria – have clay feet. A house price boom borrows growth from the future, and both NSW and Victoria will have to pay back some of that in the years ahead as today’s housing prices gradually reconnect with reality. Luck’s a fortune, and NSW has it in spades amid the shift to lower interest and exchange rates since 2012. But storm clouds are building, as the housing price boom has artificially supported retail and home building. There’ll be an eventual butcher’s bill to pay as those supports reverse. Victoria has benefited as key cyclical drivers – exchange and interest rates – moved in a ‘Victoria- friendly’ direction in recent years. And this State is experiencing its strongest population gains for many a decade. Yet, relative to other States, its population and housing cycles may be near their peaks. The key headwind to Queensland’s economy for some years now has been falling engineering construction, but that pain is increasingly history. While Cyclone Debbie and slowing housing construction are current negatives, Debbie’s impact will be temporary and gas exports are lifting. South Australia has benefited from favourable shifts in interest rates and exchange rates. In fact, and despite popular opinion, the State economy’s growth actually picked up of late. Even so, some big challenges remain, given both demographics and an unfavourable industry structure. The construction cliff is still weighing on Western Australia. This state saw a virtuous circle of reinforcing growth drivers during the boom, but it has been seeing a vicious bust for a while now. But there has been better news recently out of China, and even vicious cycles run out of steam. Tasmania has been one of the bigger beneficiaries of the lower Australian dollar and lower interest rates, and the state economy’s growth is currently looking pretty good. But structural negatives on the longer-term outlook remain entrenched, suggesting caveats on current conditions. The Northern Territory’s economy isn’t a one-hit wonder, but recent years saw a Gangnam-style blockbuster hit the charts. As construction on the Ichthys project increasingly winds down and its export phase ramps up, the Territory’s challenging conditions won’t disappear for a while yet. The good news for the ACT is that, after the cutbacks and public sector hiring freezes of recent years, the Feds are returning to more of what might be considered business as usual. On top of that, the impact of lower interest rates on the ACT’s economy remains a powerful positive.   [post_title] => Gravity is starting to catch up with stupidity [post_excerpt] => There are a few worrying trends and signs on the horizon for Australian governments. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => gravity-starts-catch-stupidity [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-18 07:21:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-17 21:21:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27617 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27586 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-11 12:25:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-11 02:25:26 [post_content] => Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet have named NSW Customer Service Commissioner Michael Pratt AM as the new Secretary of the Treasury of NSW and Secretary of NSW Industrial Relations. Ms Berejiklian said Mr Pratt’s experience in senior public sector roles, as well as in the banking and finance sector, made him the right candidate to lead the Treasury. "Michael has the perfect mix of private sector and public service expertise, and he will bring the best of both worlds in leading the Treasury at this exciting and important time for our state,” Ms Berejiklian said. “Michael’s focus as Customer Service Commissioner has been on putting people at the heart of service delivery – one of the NSW Government’s key priorities and something he will be bringing to his new job at Treasury. “I look forward to working with him and the Treasurer on making Treasury an even more outcomes and customer focused agency.” Mr Perrottet said Mr Pratt would continue the important work of reforming the way public finances are managed, ensuring taxpayer funds are spent in ways that make a real difference to people’s lives. “I have worked closely with Michael over recent years, and I know he is passionate about reforming Government so that it works harder than ever for the people of NSW,” Mr Perrottet said. “As Customer Service Commissioner, Michael has revolutionised the way the Government delivers services to citizens, and his widely respected financial acumen and capacity to think outside the box are huge assets to the people of NSW. “The task ahead is formidable – continuing to keep NSW finances in excellent shape and laying the fiscal and economic foundations for the future – and I look forward to working with Michael as we face those challenges.” Mr Pratt’s career in banking and wealth management throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia includes roles as CEO of Consumer and SME Banking, North East Asia, with Standard Chartered Bank, Group Executive of Westpac Consumer & Business Banking, CEO of National Australia Bank in Australia, CEO of Bank of New Zealand and CEO of Bank of Melbourne. Mr Pratt will commence in the role from 1 August. He succeeds outgoing Secretary Rob Whitfield, who announced his resignation in late June. A new Customer Service Commissioner will be announced in the coming months. [post_title] => New NSW Treasury and Industrial Relations Secretary announced [post_excerpt] => Michael Pratt AM is the new NSW Secretary of the Treasury and of Industrial Relations. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-nsw-treasury-industrial-relations-secretary-announced [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-11 12:33:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-11 02:33:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27586 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27581 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-10 15:38:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-10 05:38:55 [post_content] => While South Australia extends a program to boost exports of the state’s making, Queensland’s coffers have been boosted by the post-cyclone recovery of its coal exports. Queensland: coal rules The value of Queensland merchandise exports surged 32.2% - or an increase $15.5 billion - in the past year to be $63.4 billion in the 12 months to May 2017, boosted by the recommencement of coal exports following the cyclone. In the 12-month period until May 2015, total Queensland merchandise exports was $46.5 billion. “Queensland posted a record calendar for exports in 2016 with $52 billion. We are well on track to post another record this year,” she said. “Overseas trade supports thousands of local jobs in key industries across Queensland.” The Premier said growth had been across key markets including Queensland’s top three trading partners - China ($16.5 billion total exports, at an increase of 46%), Japan ($10 billion up 26%) and India ($8.5 billion up 61%). Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment Curtis Pitt said a significant rise in the value of coal exports was the primary driver behind Queensland setting another record export total but exports of some agricultural commodities also rose in value. “The significant rise was driven largely by an increase in the value of coal exports, primarily hard-coking coal, and to a lesser extent LNG exports. “This was despite the impacts of TC Debbie which caused significant disruption to coal exports in the May quarter. “While the volume of coal exports was down by an estimated 13.4 million tonnes compared to a year earlier, the nominal values were supported by a surge in coal prices.” Mr Pitt said a number of agricultural exports rose in the May quarter compared with the same period last year. “Crops exports increased $180 million over the year to May quarter 2017 to $474 million, driven largely by an increase in chickpea exports and to a lesser extent wheat,” he said. “Cotton exports rose $61 million over the year to $188 million in the May quarter. “The latest data also showed an increase of $385 million in mineral exports over the year to May quarter 2017, rising to $2.3 billion. “There was a $172 million increase in the value of aluminium exports, particularly alumina,” Mr Pitt said. South Australia’s Export Partnership Program (EPP) The Export Partnership Program provides funding assistance for small and medium-sized businesses to access new global markets through marketing and export development opportunities, and has now been opened up to associations as well as individual businesses. It can help local businesses to:
  • research feasible overseas markets,
  • develop marketing material for distribution overseas,
  • participate in international trade shows, trade missions and overseas business programs,
  • adapt websites for specific international markets,
  • access cultural and export training, mentoring and coaching services, and
  • support incoming buyers.
Successful applicants may receive up to a maximum of $50,000 to assist with export activities. Companies can apply multiple times until they reach the full $50,000 allocation. Grants of up to $5,000 are also available to aspiring exporters for coaching and mentoring expenses. Funding is available to South Australian owned and based businesses that have been operational for at least two years and have an annual turnover of more than $100,000. Must be made in South Australia
  • Eligible applicants must export goods or services that are grown or ‘Made in South Australia’.
  • If goods or services are not made in South Australia, then businesses must prepare a detailed submission outlining the net benefits that the product or service will bring to the state.
  • Goods are considered ‘Made in South Australia’ if the manufacturing process for a business meets those requirements.
  [post_title] => Exports: a tale of two states [post_excerpt] => While SA extends a program to boost exports, Qld’s coffers are boosted by the recovery of its coal exports. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => exports-tale-two-states [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-11 12:10:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-11 02:10:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27581 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27576 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-10 15:18:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-10 05:18:36 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27577" align="alignnone" width="300"] The WestConnex project has not been immune to land preservation issues.[/caption] Infrastructure Australia has launched a new policy paper urging Australian governments to act to protect vital infrastructure corridors and avoid cost overruns, delays and community disruption when delivering new infrastructure. The third paper released as part of Infrastructure Australia’s Reform Series, Corridor Protection: Planning and investing for the long term shows that protection and early acquisition of just seven corridors identified as national priorities on the Infrastructure Priority List could save Australian taxpayers close to $11 billion in land purchase and construction costs. These corridors are: East Coast High Speed Rail, Outer Sydney Orbital, Outer Melbourne Ring, Western Sydney Airport Rail Line, Western Sydney Freight Line, Hunter Valley Freight Line, and Port of Brisbane Freight Line.  “Meeting Australia’s future growth challenges requires long-term vision. As our cities and regions undergo a period of considerable change, strategically important infrastructure corridors need to be preserved early in their planning to avoid cost overruns, delays and community disruption during the project delivery phase,” said Infrastructure Australia chairman Mark Birrell. “Australia’s governments have an immediate opportunity to deliver an enduring infrastructure legacy to future generations. “If we protect infrastructure corridors we will reduce project costs and especially minimise the need for underground tunnelling, where the cost to government and therefore taxpayers can be up to ten times higher than it would have been,” he said. Protecting seven of the corridors identified on the recently revised Infrastructure Priority List could save close to $11 billion. This is the equivalent of more than two years’ spending by the Australian Government on land transport such as major roads, railways and local roads. “State and territory governments historically have shown leadership in protecting infrastructure corridors, but more needs to be done now. Experience clearly shows that planning the right infrastructure early, timing delivery to meet demand and ensuring it is fit for purpose enhances economic opportunity and delivers the best community outcomes,” Mr Birrell said. He quoted the M4, M5 and M7 motorways in Sydney, the M1 and EastLink motorways in Melbourne and the rail line to Mandurah south of Perth as examples where the protection of infrastructure corridors allowed the construction of vital links. Mr Birrell said the most urgent priority for protection is the east coast high-speed rail corridor, as this critical corridor faces immediate pressure due to its proximity to major population centres. He highlighted the cost of tunnelling in comparison to the cost of land acquisition, pointing out that recent tunnelled motorway proposals are expected to cost in the order of $100 million per lane kilometre to build. The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has supported the policy paper from Infrastructure Australia (IA), saying it demonstrates the importance of corridor protection in preventing cost blowouts, project delays and community disruption on infrastructure projects. “ALC has consistently worked to highlight the necessity of corridor preservation as part of a consistent and coherent approach to developing Australia’s national freight infrastructure,” said ALC managing director, Michael Kilgariff. “Good planning leads to good infrastructure outcomes for the community. Preserving corridors to accommodate the infrastructure needed to meet our future freight task lies at the heart of responsible planning policy.” [post_title] => Don’t sell the land [post_excerpt] => More action needed to protect vital infrastructure corridors. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dont-sell-land [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-10 15:24:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-10 05:24:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27576 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27569 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-10 13:53:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-10 03:53:29 [post_content] => The Queensland Government is throwing its support behind a new $60 million Atherton Tableland biorefinery that it says could generate 130 regional jobs and encourage diverse cropping in the region, however, politicians across the nation could well suffer from some voter backlash for their backing of the Adani mine in Queensland. The good: sugar Queensland Minister for State Development Dr Anthony Lynham said the MSF Sugar biorefinery was part of a multi-million dollar investment in 21st century bio-futures plants that could generate more than 130 jobs in regional Queensland. “The proposed MSF Sugar biorefinery is expected to generate 80 construction and farming jobs and an additional 50 operational jobs, delivering a further boost to the region’s economy,” Dr Lynham said. “Powered by an onsite bagasse-fuelled 24 MW Green Power station, the combined biorefinery complex is expected to produce 110,000 tonnes of raw sugar, 200,000 MW of green electricity for the grid and 55 million litres of ethanol biofuel annually.” The company will trial large-scale blue agave cropping as an alternative feedstock to sugarcane in the off-growing season, which could potentially allow the biorefinery to operate 12 months of the year. Blue agave is said to grow well in dryland conditions with minimum irrigation required. Dr Lynham said the government was providing funding that would primarily be used by the company to progress feasibility studies, to accelerate construction commencement of the proposed biorefinery. Dr Lynham said Atherton’s MSF Sugar biorefinery was another step towards achieving the state’s plan for a $1 billion sustainable, export-oriented biotechnology and bioproducts sector. Acceleration of the Atherton project came out of the government’s $4 million Biofutures Acceleration Program that offers support to companies to build commercial-scale biorefineries in regional Queensland to process materials such as agricultural and industrial waste. “More than 120 parties indicated interest in biorefining in Queensland through the program and 26 submitted detailed expressions of interest,” he said. Other biorefinery projects coming to regional Queensland from the Biofutures Acceleration Program are:
  • A biorefinery in another Queensland sugarcane region by US biotechnology company Amyris that would create 70 operational jobs. The company aims to produce 23,000 tonnes a year of a sugar cane-based ingredient called farnesene used in products including cosmetic emollients, fragrances, fuels, solvents, lubricants and nutraceuticals.
  • A planned $26 million expansion of United Ethanol’s Dalby Biorefinery facility by 24ML to 100ML, creating 50 jobs. The company also plans to conduct detailed scientific studies to improve the marketability of its high-value and high-protein animal feed product called ‘dry distillers grain’ later this year.
The bad: subsidising coal A new study has reinforced how cabinet ministers’ electorates strongly oppose coal subsidies. New polling of seven electorates belonging to senior federal cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister, reveals strong opposition to a federal subsidised loan for Adani’s coal project, and support for instituting a moratorium on new coal mines. The Australia Institute commissioned ReachTEL to conduct surveys of 4,712 Australian residents across the electorates of Wentworth (Turnbull), Cook (Morrison), Curtin (Bishop), Dickson (Dutton), Flinders (Hunt), Kooyong (Frydenberg) and Sturt (Pyne) on the 8th of June 2017. Respondents were asked if they supported or opposed the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) giving Adani a one billion dollar subsidised loan for its coal rail line. 17-28% supported the idea while 51-70% opposed it. “Despite a push by some conservatives for coal subsidy polices, these results - in key blue-ribbon Liberal seats - show strong opposition to that very idea,” executive director of The Australia Institute Ben Oquist said. “It makes sense that the Liberal Party base would be so opposed to the idea of spending taxpayers’ money on subsidies for an industry as well established as coal mining. “What makes less sense is the idea that ministers who represent those seats, who believe in free markets and small government principles, would ignore both the politics and economics when it comes to Adani. “When asked more broadly about the idea of taxpayer subsidies for Adani, the opposition was even higher.”
  Cook Curtin Dickson Flinders Kooyong Sturt Wentworth
Support 10.7% 13.3% 19.7% 15.4% 15.2% 17.0% 14.6%
Oppose 70.8% 61.0% 62.2% 67.9% 66.4% 53.3% 70.1%
Don’t know/Not sure 18.5% 25.8% 18.1% 16.7% 18.4% 29.7% 15.4%
  In every electorate, more people supported a moratorium on new coal mines than opposed the proposal. 51% of the Prime Minister’s constituents support the idea with 31% opposed. “These results show that Malcolm Turnbull should be confident in staring down the pro-coal faction in his party room,” Mr Oquist said.
  Cook Curtin Dickson Flinders Kooyong Sturt Wentworth
Liberal/LNP 63% 65% 56% 54% 56% 56% 61%
Labor 37% 35% 44% 46% 44% 44% 39%
  [post_title] => Queensland to boost biofuels, Adani support questioned [post_excerpt] => $60M FNQ biorefinery to create 130 jobs, but support for Adani hits new lows. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => queensland-boost-biofuels-adani-support-questioned [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-10 15:28:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-10 05:28:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27569 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27557 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-06 19:16:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-06 09:16:21 [post_content] => The ACCC is urging small business owners to start preparing for the ban on excessive payment surcharges that will apply to all businesses across Australia from 1 September 2017. The new law limits the amount that a business can charge customers for use of payment methods such as EFTPOS (debit and prepaid), MasterCard (credit, debit and prepaid), Visa (credit, debit and prepaid) and American Express cards issued by Australian banks. It came into effect for large businesses last year. “Small businesses that choose to impose payment surcharges should review their surcharge levels to ensure they are compliant when the ban starts applying to them in under two months,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said. “Businesses can only pass on to customers what it costs them to process a payment such as bank fees and terminal costs. For example, if your cost of acceptance for Visa Credit is one per cent you can only surcharge one per cent on Visa credit card payments onto your customers.” Small businesses will shortly be receiving information from their bank, which will help them to calculate appropriate surcharges when accepting debit and credit cards. The ACCC has also published a fact sheet so business owners can better understand their obligations. “Banks are required to send businesses merchant statements that clearly set out the business’ costs of acceptance for each payment method. The ACCC urges businesses to follow up with their bank if they have not yet received these statements,” Dr Schaper said. Passing on the cost of processing debit and credit card payments is not mandatory for businesses and the ban has no effect on those that do not impose a payment surcharge. “In the lead-up to last year’s excessive surcharging ban on large businesses, many reviewed and amended their surcharging practices to reflect the costs to the business and we hope small businesses will do the same,” Dr Schaper said. The ACCC has published guidance material for consumers and businesses. Background The ACCC has been given new powers to enforce the ban. A surcharge will be considered excessive where it exceeds the permitted cost of acceptance, as defined by the Reserve Bank of Australia. The RBA’s website also provides detailed information for businesses about the Standard, including how businesses can identify and quantify those costs that can be passed on to a consumer as a surcharge. Payment types that are not covered by the ban include BPAY, PayPal, Diners Club cards, American Express cards issued directly by American Express, cash and cheques. [post_title] => Excessive credit card surcharge ban to start 1 September [post_excerpt] => Business owners must prepare for the ban on excessive payment surcharges. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => excessive-credit-card-surcharge-ban-start-1-september [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-06 19:25:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-06 09:25:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27557 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27549 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-05 16:01:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-05 06:01:40 [post_content] => Matt Grudnoff The announcement of a new state level bank levy in South Australia has upset the big banks. This is not surprising and the big banks along with their lobby group the Australian Bankers Association have launched a self-interested campaign to stop the levy. Like most industry political campaigns it relies on exaggerated claims about the impact of the bank levy on ordinary people and the South Australian economy. The South Australian bank levy is designed in the same way as the federal bank levy. Banks cannot avoid the levy by not banking or investing in South Australia. The proposed levy will therefore not disadvantage South Australia compared to any other state or territory. As with the federal bank levy, it will only impact the big four banks (Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and NAB) as well as Australia’s largest investment bank Macquarie Bank. The rate of the levy is set so it will raise from SA the same amount as the federal levy that comes from South Australia. This is achieved by calculated the ratio of South Australia’s Gross State Product and Gross Domestic Product. At the moment this is about six per cent of the total levy. This effectively means the South Australian bank levy is the same size as the federal levy in South Australia. The South Australian bank levy is proposed at 0.0036 per cent or 0.36 basis points. That is $3.60 in every $1,000,000 of determined liabilities. It is expected to raise about $90 million per year over the next four years. Together the five CEOs of the big banks make about half of what the levy is expected to raise each year. The amount the levy is expected to rise also represents just 0.2 per cent of the $44 billion in pre-tax profits the big five made last year.  

"The reality is that the bank levy will have no real impact on ordinary South Australians and its design means that it will not disadvantage South Australia compared to any other state or territory."

  The bank levy is not a new idea and has been implemented in many other countries around the world, particularly in Europe. This, along with the size of the levy, means it will have no material impact on sovereign risk. The bank levy also represents a good opportunity for the federal government to encourage state governments to raise more of their own revenue. The federal government has recently complained that the states are too reliant on it for their revenue. When the states want more revenue they have in past suggested the federal government increase the GST. This means the states get all the revenue and the federal government suffers all the political pain of increasing a tax. The federal government should take this opportunity to encourage the state governments to follow South Australia’s lead and implement their own bank levies. This means state governments would be more reliant and responsible for their own taxes. The federal government should use the COAG process to encourage this to happen. The banks are as unhappy with the announced South Australian levy as they were unhappy with the federal government’s bank levy. This is not unexpected as it opens up an additional tax on the banks and if the South Australian government is successful, it could see other states follow suit. The South Australian bank levy is only tiny in size but the ferocious reaction of the banks is in part because they are concerned that other states will follow South Australia’s lead. As is increasingly the case in Australia, the reaction has been over blown with exaggerated claims of sovereign risk and lost investment opportunities for the South Australian economy. Such exaggeration needs a closer examination. Matt Grudnoff is The Australia Institute’s senior economist. This article is a summary of the discussion paper Bank levy in South Australia: Doing as the Treasurer says, doing as the Treasurer does. [post_title] => The impact of the South Australian bank levy [post_excerpt] => The federal govt should encourage the states to implement their own bank levies. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => impact-south-australian-bank-levy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-05 16:10:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-05 06:10:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27549 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27527 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-03 22:19:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-03 12:19:40 [post_content] => Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Russell Zimmerman and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have launched a program designed for young people entering the retail workforce with the assistance of the Government’s Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare-Trial-Hire) program. The ARA said its aim is growing employment in the retail sector and has been working with the Federal Government to assist internships to young Australians looking to get into retail through the Youth Jobs PaTH program, run by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash. Russell Zimmerman said retail is transforming from a stepping-stone industry into a long-term and professionally fulfilling career, with some of Australia’s most successful business people starting on the shop floor. “We are very excited to be a part of the PaTH program. Our retailers are already major employers of young people and these PaTH internships will now provide another way that employers can give young people a fair go,” Mr Zimmerman said. “With the diverse range of careers in the retail industry, we need our young staff to not only have basic vocational skills but also have a wide range of qualifications before they can start on the job.” The churning danger The Greens and Labor believe the internships are just another way for employers to not have to pay award wages to staff and that the internships will replace full-time, full-wage jobs. “Although I’m sure the Australian Retailers Association was well-intentioned in brokering this deal with the government, I do have questions about why these young people can’t just be offered work under the usual conditions rather than internships where they can be potentially exploited,” Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said. “Under the PaTH process, people are not paid the same as their colleagues. Overseas we have seen examples where businesses use government-funded internship programs to churn through workers, offering them no long-term prospects. “I also have questions about working conditions – it must be ensured that protections that you would see in other employment contracts are available to young people entering these internships, “This rollout must be closely monitored so that young jobseekers aren’t being churned through and viewed as an opportunity for cheap labour by businesses.” The Labor opposition was equally denigrating. “The day after the Turnbull Government supported cutting penalty rates for nearly 700,000 workers, it’s bragging about a program that forces young people to work for less than the minimum wage,” Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Brendan O’Connor said. “The Turnbull Government can’t explain how the Youth PaTh program won’t displace jobs that could go to full-paid employees. “The government has not outlined how its agreement with retailers will stop subsidised workers from being used by some retailers to avoid paying penalty rates - by engaging subsidised, so-called ‘interns’ in penalty shifts that would normally be staffed by employees,” he said. The government responds In launching the program, Mr Turnbull said: “Now we have in Australia at the moment about 12.7 per cent of young people between 15 and 24 who are looking for work in the workforce or are unable to get a job. “Now that’s far too high. If we reduce that by 20,000, that is a full percentage point. So you can see that the 120,000 over four years, if that sets tens of thousands of young people onto the pathway to employment, as it will, who would otherwise not have done that, it makes a very big material difference. Not just to their lives, to give them the chance to get ahead, but to the nation as a whole.” When asked by a journalist “How likely is this to create churn in the workforce?”, the Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash said: “These are new jobs and … the employer has to certify that there is a job available or there is a high likelihood of a job available. This is about getting our young people off welfare and into work and the government has worked very closely with employers in particular to ensure that there are the appropriate processes in place. “We’ve also been very, very clear - if at the end of the internship a job is not offered, there will be an investigation as to why. So very much when this government says we are getting our youth off welfare and into work, I can assure you we are putting in place the programs that are going to do that.” Brendan O’Connor wasn’t convinced, however. “Instead of coming up with a serious jobs plan to help bring down Australia's high rate of youth unemployment, the Turnbull Government is rolling out programs that are replacing properly-paid, entry level jobs,” he said. [post_title] => Retail internships: PaTH to jobs or poverty? [post_excerpt] => Retailers and the Prime Minister have launched a retail internship program for young people. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => retail-internships-path-jobs-poverty [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-04 11:12:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-04 01:12:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27527 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27504 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-06-29 15:22:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-29 05:22:26 [post_content] => The Joint Select Committee on Government Procurement has released its final report into the Australian Government’s procurement rules, including a range of recommendations for improving the rules on how the government spends its money. The committee’s recommendations include:
  • Amending the rules to require all goods purchased by the Australian Government to comply with national standards.
  • The introduction of policies to promote environmentally sustainable procurement and best practice terms and conditions for subcontractors.
  • The appointment of an independent Industry Advocate to provide support for businesses to access Commonwealth contracts, to provide advice to government agencies, and to evaluate and monitor the economic benefit associated with government procurement.
  • The publication of comprehensive guidelines to inform officials’ application of the rules in a consistent, transparent and equitable manner.
Committee chairman Senator Nick Xenophon believes the new procurement rules, to be introduced in March, have the potential to deliver significant benefit to the Australian economy by providing important support to Australian industry. “Implemented effectively, the new rules will enable a broader, more accurate consideration of value-for-money in procurement decision making,” Senator Xenophon said. “However, their impact will be dampened unless the Australian Government acts swiftly to address the implementation concerns identified in this report. “A national Industry Advocate, cast on the highly successfully South Australian model, is urgently needed to overcome a current procurement culture focused on lowest cost rather than value for money, lacking in transparency and unaware of the benefits of engaging Australian businesses.” Last financial year more than $56.9 billion was spent by the Australian Government on the goods and services required to deliver its policy objectives. More than 10,000 businesses were contracted to deliver these items, including 9,595 small to medium businesses. The Joint Select Committee on Government Procurement was formed to investigate the implementation of the new Commonwealth Procurement Rules, which came into effect on 1 March 2017. The Committee considered how the implementation of the new rules could be strengthened to increase the economic benefit procurement delivers to the Australian economy. For more information about the Committee and to view its final report, visit the Committee’s website.   [post_title] => Government procurement rules to change [post_excerpt] => The Joint Select Committee on Government Procurement has released its recommendations for improving how the government spends its money. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => government-procurement-rules-change [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-30 11:45:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-30 01:45:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27504 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27469 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-06-23 13:00:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-23 03:00:48 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27470" align="alignnone" width="300"] Luke Foley delivering his Budget reply. Photo courtesy of the ABC.[/caption] NSW opposition leader Luke Foley has outlined the Labor Opposition’s reply to the NSW Government’s 2017 Budget, focusing on education, electricity and renewable energy, infrastructure and regional NSW. Education and school funding Mr Foley said a Labor Government would have a school building program that will ensure unused public land goes towards school infrastructure. This will be achieved by the Greater Sydney Commission being given the power to seize surplus government land from other departments and agencies for much-needed schools. Labor will also legislate that every new school built includes childcare or before and after school care facilities on-site. This will help achieve the pledge that every child will have access to at least 15 hours of “affordable preschool education per week, in the year before school”. As well, every primary school student in NSW will be taught a second language. For the youth, Labor announced a jobs scheme for the state’s apprentices and trainees. It estimates the scheme will create thousands of jobs for young people every year. Mr Foley said 63,000 fewer students have enrolled in TAFE after the Coalition Government cut budgets, identified campuses in regional and rural areas for sale or closure and started sacking teachers and support staff. Another 500 were terminated this year, bringing the total to 5,700 since the Liberals and Nationals got their hands on TAFE. He committed a Labor Government would require 15 per cent of all jobs on NSW Government construction projects, valued over $500,000, to be allocated for apprentices/trainees, indigenous people and the long term unemployed. He also committed Labor to re-build TAFE, by guarantee at least 70 per cent of NSW vocational education and training funding going to TAFE. Electricity and renewable energy Mr Foley said a Labor government would re-regulate the electricity market to attempt to lower the price of power in NSW, which has approximately doubled since it was deregulated and bills “are set to increase annually by an average of $300 for residential and $900 for commercial users a year.  He said Labor would also use proceeds from the transfer of the Snowy Hydro to invest in renewable generation across regional NSW, set a minimum solar tariff for households with rooftop solar to be paid for the power they generate, and “massively increase solar energy generation on the rooftops of government buildings”. Infrastructure With Sydney public transport and roads, Labor would prioritise the Western Sydney Metro over the Northern Beaches tunnel. Mr Foley committed to the Western Sydney Metro following the current government specifically excluding in the Budget the fast rail link in favour of the Northern Beaches Tunnel. With the Badgery’s Creek airport, Labor has called for the creation of a joint Commonwealth-New South Wales Western Sydney Airport Co-ordination Authority to coordinate land use and surface infrastructure. The authority would focus on essential connections such as electricity, water and sewerage for the airport’s surrounding employment zones. Labor would also like to see the building of a rail connection from day one so people can get where they’re going and avoid congestion on the roads. A fuel pipeline corridor – similar to the underground pipeline from Kurnell to Sydney Airport – also  needs to be reserved and construction of it accelerated as the current plan to supply jet fuel by road will not be sustainable. Regional NSW Luke Foley has laid out his commitments to regional and rural NSW if elected in 2019, including that 100 per cent of the proceeds of a Snowy Hydro sale will be spent on regional infrastructure. He said Labor’s support for selling the state’s share of the Snowy Hydro scheme to the Federal Government is conditional on the proceeds being spent in regional NSW. The sale would also be on the conditional guarantee of ongoing public ownership of the Hydro. All of the $4 to $5 billion in proceeds would be used to improve regional schools, TAFE, hospitals, roads, energy, water, cultural and sporting infrastructure, he said. Mr Foley promised to continue visiting the regions to hear directly from local communities. Recently, Mr Foley travelled to the North Coast, Monaro, the Upper Hunter and this time last year visited Menindee Lakes as part of two-day tour of Broken Hill. Special treatment for Far West NSW, where regional town populations are falling and businesses are unable to attract and retain staff, would include abolishing payroll tax for all small and medium-sized businesses in the Far West. In the Illawarra, Labor promised to assist the steel industry, and upgrade to the WIN Entertainment Centre.   [post_title] => NSW Budget: the reply [post_excerpt] => NSW opposition leader Luke Foley has outlined his reply to the Government’s 2017 Budget. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-budget-reply [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-23 13:33:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-23 03:33:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27469 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27852 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-17 20:00:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-17 10:00:35 [post_content] => Dean Lacheca Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platforms - chatbots, virtual assistants and messaging-based applications - are opening new government service delivery channels. Government CIO need to quickly determine the role of these channels, adjust their digital service delivery strategies and extend their digital government platform to exploit these new opportunities. Many are already taking notice. Governments are prioritising the implementation of virtual assistants more than many other industry vertical. A recent Gartner survey indicates that 60 percent of government organisations undertaking artificial intelligence and machine learning projects identify virtual assistants as a project goal. This is in line with growing expectation from citizens of being able to access government services via conversational applications. The Australian Taxation Office recently introduced virtual assistant Alex on its website to help support general taxation enquiries from Australian citizens. Platforms like these consist of multiple related AI technologies that support an interactive and intuitive style of communication. Conversational applications aim to increase customer satisfaction by reducing customers' need to navigate a complex website or transactional portal. At the same time, they reduce the wait time and resources required to respond to basic government inquiries. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 25 percent of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant technology across engagement channels. Service provider and government-to-government interactions can also be delivered through conversational applications. Large departments and agencies can use virtual employee assistants to offer more consistent and efficient delivery of internally facing services such as IT help desk, legal, HR and financial services. Most government services, however, particularly those that involve care or case management, will require human involvement for the foreseeable future. Virtual customer assistants or chatbots can be offered as an alternative or supporting channel to many direct citizen and business-facing services. Where to start 1. Educate IT and customer experience leaders Conversational applications suffer from negative customer experience perceptions based on older technologies and involvement with poor implementations. Customer experience leaders need to comfortable with, and have confidence in, the quality and consistency of the service delivered by the conversational applications. This will require effort to dispel historical misconceptions. Confidence will grow as understanding and experience of the quality and potential for the service grow. It's equally important to set expectations with the business regarding the take-up of these alternate channels. Though conversational applications should form part of a multichannel service delivery strategy, accept that these channels won't be accepted by all citizens or staff in the short term. Educate customer experience leaders on the potential for conversational applications and establish vendor showcases or workshops to offer firsthand experience. Then implement an internal pilot of a virtual employee assistant to develop technical skills and create an example to help guide decisions and future strategy. 2. Identify and prioritise opportunities Many uses for conversational applications exist throughout government. They deliver the best results when the right style or combination of applications is implemented to support the right type of service. Implementing a conversational application is a significant investment and should only be considered for services that are used frequently. Given conversational applications won't be accepted by all citizens, it's important to understand the service consumer. When targeting citizens, consider factors such as demographics, including language background. When targeting businesses, assess the nature of the business digital maturity of the industry. When targeting government-to-government services, consider the digital maturity of other agencies. When targeting staff, consider the digital maturity of your own agency. Start by preparing a list of conversational application opportunities based on potential uses and the services delivered by your agency. Work in partnership with your customer experience leaders to refine and prioritise this list based on the complexity of the responses, the demand for the services and the demographics of the targeted audience, including language background. 3. Revise your digital government strategy Citizens already engage governments across different channels, and their expectation is to receive the same quality of service across all channels. Unfortunately, many agencies struggle to see service delivery channels beyond traditional digital channels like websites and portals. A digital government strategy should embed multichannel citizen engagement as a foundation of service delivery. The strategy should reinforce the importance of consistency across channels and seamless transition between channels. Multichannel service delivery should apply equally to services aimed at government staff, forming part of the digital workplace strategy. A strategic focus on multichannel service delivery will influence the architecture of your citizen/customer experience platform to support conversational applications. Develop a business case to secure funding for further AI research and projects. Dean Lacheca is a public sector research director at Gartner, helping government CIO and technology leaders with their transition to digital government. He will speak about digital government trends at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Australia, 30 October-2 November 2017.   [post_title] => Conversational AI in government [post_excerpt] => Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platforms are opening new government service delivery channels. 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