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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27755" align="alignnone" width="287"] 
Cr Jennifer Alden, Craig Lloyd and Cr Andrea Metcalf (L-R).[/caption] Recent audits of local waste and recycling bins have shown that Greater Bendigo residents are still sending significant amounts of recyclables straight to landfill by placing many items that could be recycled into their waste bins. In an effort to improve recycling rates, the City of Greater Bendigo has launched a new community education Sort it out before you throw it out! advertising campaign. The campaign will provide useful information about the items that residents are currently not recycling to make them aware that they can. It will utilise television, radio, print, social media and signage to encourage residents to think about and improve the way they sort their waste, organics and recycling. City of Greater Bendigo Presentation and Assets director Craig Lloyd said the City’s recent waste bin audits showed that 40% of the contents of local waste bins should have been placed in the recycling bin while 22 per cent could have gone in the organics bin. “The audit is backed up by State Government figures that place Greater Bendigo in the bottom 50 per cent of Victoria’s 79 local government areas for waste resource recovery,” said Mr Lloyd. “Unfortunately, many Greater Bendigo residents are still placing recyclables such as paper and cardboard, glass bottles and jars, cans, plastics and organic garden and food waste in their red lid waste bin. “Objects that can be recycled are a valuable resource and the cost of sending waste to landfill will continue to rise so the more we recycle and the less we send to landfill the better. “Greater Bendigo wants to become one of, if not the best, local government area for resource recovery in the future. “Many people may be surprised to learn that Greater Bendigo residents are not very good at recycling and we want to see this change for the better in the near future.” Results from the audit:-
  • The average residential red lid waste bin contains 40% recyclable items, 22% organics and 38% actual waste.
  • The recyclable materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly paper and cardboard, glass, plastic and metals.
  • The organic materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly grass clippings and leaves, general food waste and food in packaging.
  • The average residential recycling bin contains 9% contamination. This is comprised of 5.3% general waste and 3.7% of materials such as clothing, crockery and scrap metal that cannot be processed through the kerbside recycling collection.
  • The average organics bin contains 2% contamination. This is comprised of 1% general waste and 1% recyclables such as glass, plastics and metals.
  [post_title] => Recycling audit hopes to educate [post_excerpt] => City of Greater Bendigo has launched a community recycling education campaign. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => recycling-audit-hopes-educate [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-03 18:55:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-03 08:55:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27754 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27593 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-12 17:56:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-12 07:56:46 [post_content] => The Federal Government has declared the half-way point in the roll-out of the National Broadband Network. Minister for Communications Senator Hon Mitch Fifield said at a press conference: “The NBN is now available to half of Australia. That’s ahead of schedule and ahead of budget. The NBN is now available to 5.7 million premises nationwide. 2.4 million premises have taken up that opportunity already. By the middle of next year NBN will be three quarters complete and will be done and dusted by 2020.” There are, however, some questions remaining: why have only half of the eligible households connected to the NBN; what is the data and service quality; and indeed, why has NBN Co. spent $177m on copper wires to the end of the financial year – would it not have been better to replace the old technology with fibre, rather than repairing the old copper? “Fibre to the node is a good product,” Minister Fifield retorted. “And an overwhelming majority of people on fibre to the node have a good experience. People on HFC have a good experience. People with fixed wireless have a good experience. People with satellite overwhelmingly having a good experience. This is a major project. There will obviously be a percentage of experiences in the rollout which aren’t perfect. But NBN is working day-by-day to improve that experience.” Customers say otherwise Connection rates are remaining slow and many customers are holding back in their allowed 18 months of connection time, unsure of the dependability of the NBN service. A recent Choice survey reported that 76% of Australians on the NBN said they had a problem, mentioning slow speeds or disconnections/drop outs. And if you have an NBN connection and would like to join the Choice project to monitor service provider broadband speeds, you can sign up to be part of the project, with CHOICE and Enex selecting participants based on postcode to ensure national coverage: www.choice.com.au/broadband. Many existing users are reporting data drop-outs and extended waiting times for repairs and service, with one customer the Sydney Morning Herald talked to finding himself in “bureaucratic limbo” for four months between his service provider, the Telecommunications Ombudsman, ACCC and NBN, on a fault that took just 48 hours to fix once the newspaper got involved. The NBN’s SkyMuster satellite service is equally – or even more – in the doldrums, and this writer can attest to the service going AWOL many times a day for no apparent reason and large file transfers (read 2MB or more) are cup-of-tea affairs. (I.e., once you press the button you have time to go and make a cup of tea – and drink it! – by the time it is downloaded.) Streaming movies, or even audio, are a subject for dreams. While the Minister was not admitting it, NBN CEO Bill Morrow told Senate Estimates in June that the organisation is looking into improving the satellite service following widespread complaints about congestion and slow speeds. Mr Morrow said several options are under consideration to improve the Sky Muster satellite service, including launching a third satellite, buying space on a third-party satellite, building more towers, or improving the connectivity technology on the two current satellites. "[A third satellite] is one of the options that we are looking at to satisfy Minister Fifield and Minister Nash's requests," Mr Morrow said in June. "We will look at enhancing the existing technology with the two satellites that are up there today; we will look at a third satellite to see if that's feasible; we will look at other satellites that are third party that will be up in the sky that maybe we can leverage those satellites to get more capacity; we will look at getting some other towers to relieve the congestion of the satellite beams that are coming down.” Renters can forget it Whilst officially half of all Australian properties can access the NBN, this figure is reduced to a fraction when it comes to rental properties. Rent.com.au has told ZDNet that only around one third of all its rental properties have access to the broadband network. As of the end of June, NBN services were available at just 31 per cent of Rent's rental premises in the Australian Capital Territory; 32 per cent in Victoria; 35 per cent in Queensland and Western Australia; 36 per cent in New South Wales; and 37 per cent in South Australia. Only Tasmania and the Northern Territory – two of the earliest NBN rollout areas – at 80 per cent and 92 per cent, respectively, are above the one-third mark. [post_title] => NBN ‘all good’ – if you’re the minister [post_excerpt] => The NBN has declared the half-way point in the roll-out of the network. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nbn-good-youre-minister [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-12 18:20:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-12 08:20:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27593 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27484 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-06-27 10:23:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-27 00:23:02 [post_content] => The Board of Australia Post has selected Christine Holgate as the corporation's next managing director and group CEO, to succeed Ahmed Fahour, who is leaving in July after seven-and-a-half years in the role, following the outcry over his multi-million dollar salary package. Ms Holgate will officially start in the position mid-to-late October 2017. She joins Australia Post after a successful nine-year tenure as CEO of Blackmores and previous executive roles with Telstra, JP Morgan and Cable & Wireless. Ms Holgate, who is the inaugural Chair of the Board of the Australia-ASEAN Council, supporting the development of trade and cultural relations between Australia and the 10 member countries of the ASEAN region, joined Blackmores in 2008 and took the company some wild and turbulent years, including an aggressive expansion into China. Australia Post chairman John Stanhope said Ms Holgate’s Asian and eCommerce experience were important factors. "The Board was impressed by her experience of working very successfully in a range of different industries that are highly regulated. And, on top of that, she has a proven ability to implement strategy – and successfully grow a business in Asia. "Her knowledge of global eCommerce will be invaluable as we pursue our Asian Strategy, which is all about offering logistics support to Australian businesses that are either selling in Asia, or sourcing their products there. "Ms Holgate has a demonstrated track-record of delivering results in large, complex organisations, both here in Australia and internationally. " Ms Holgate's business philosophy is also a perfect fit for Australia Post. She is a firm believer that businesses must perform commercially, but also serve the community. And that's entirely consistent with our objectives as a community-based business that has both commercial objectives and community service standards to uphold." Ms Holgate said: "Australia Post has proven itself to be one of the most resilient and successful postal businesses anywhere in the world.  I feel fortunate to be joining at a time when we can really strengthen Post's leading position in the eCommerce market – both here, in Australia, and in Asia. "I'm a passionate advocate for Australian business seizing the opportunity that's on our doorstep in Asia and that creates opportunities for everyone – our workforce, our shareholder, the community, as well as businesses across Australia. What about the pay? Ms Holgate's remuneration has been set at $1.375 million fixed annual total remuneration and the potential to earn incentive payments of up to $1.375 million, in accordance with the parameters set by the Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal. In the meantime, current Australia Post Group chief customer officer Christine Corbett will lead the business through the CEO transition period, between Ahmed Fahour's departure on 28 July and Ms Holgate's arrival in October. [post_title] => Blackmores CEO to head up Australia Post [post_excerpt] => Blackmores' Christine Holgate has been named Australia Post's new MD and Group CEO. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => blackmores-ceo-head-australia-post [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-27 14:43:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-27 04:43:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27484 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27306 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-06-05 18:41:50 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-05 08:41:50 [post_content] =>

 

Is the federal government two Tim Tams short of a packet?

 

By Lucy Marrett 

The federal government is backing a principles-based approach for product packaging in response to industry calls to review measurement labelling laws. The government was responding to calls to address industry requests to cut red tape with options to change measurement marking placement rules. At present, a products exact weight and/or volume must appear on the front of the packet under the national trade measurements regulations (NTMR) 2009 Part 4. If the industry proposal is successful, weight and volume markings could be moved from the front of packaging making it difficult for consumers to compare products and value for money. The current proposal to review the NTMR outlines three possible options: leave regulations as they are; clarify the regulations; implement a principles-based approach. The government is in favour of the third option, which, if implemented will see the removal of regulations controlling size, orientation, and position of the measurement mark. Read more here.  This story first appeared in C&I Week.
[post_title] => Industry vs consumer in labelling laws review [post_excerpt] => Removing weight and volume markings from packaging. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => government-vs-consumer-packaging-laws-review [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-06 11:26:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-06 01:26:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27306 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26689 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-03-28 11:29:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-28 00:29:33 [post_content] =>
[caption id="attachment_26690" align="alignnone" width="377"] Hemp oil and seeds. Hemp seeds from low-THC Cannabis Sativa do not have an intoxicating effect when eaten as food.[/caption]
   
By Ben Hagemann  Although it wouldn’t be considered revolutionary anywhere else in the world, the legalisation of hemp seed as a food here in Australia could be a major game changer. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) has recently announced that it will permit the sale of low-THC hemp seed products, such as flours and oils, for human consumption. The regulatory body has already prepared and assessed a proposal to develop new regulation that will allow the sale of products derived from low delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol varieties of Cannabis Sativa. It is expected that a decision will go before the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation on April 28 this year, which is also when the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting will be held.   Read more here.
This story first appeared in C&I Week.  [post_title] => Hemp seeds to be approved as food in Australia [post_excerpt] => FSANZ will permit sale of low-THC hemp seed products. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => hemp-seeds-approved-food-australia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-28 11:29:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-28 00:29:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26689 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25983 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-01-13 12:37:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-01-13 01:37:04 [post_content] => Complaint form   By Emily Bencic More than 20,000 shoppers complained to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) about consumer guarantees in 2016, with more than a quarter reporting problems returning electronics and whitegoods to retailers. As the Christmas period ends and Boxing Day sales wind down, the ACCC is reminding shoppers they have automatic guarantee rights that a product will work for a reasonable period of time under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). Read more here. This story first appeared in Appliance Retailer.  [post_title] => ACCC receives over 20,000 complaints [post_excerpt] => As consumers rush to return products. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => accc-receives-20000-complaints [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-01-13 12:56:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-01-13 01:56:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25983 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23640 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-12-20 16:43:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-20 05:43:33 [post_content] => phone hammer drop  One year on and Human Services clients are still tearing their hair out in frustration over the Department’s dysfunctional, bug-ridden mobile apps. According to user reviews, the three main apps -- Express Plus Centrelink, Express Plus Medicare and Express Plus Child Support -- are still giving users headaches and holding up benefit payments and Medicare claims. Government News covered this sorry state of affairs in March last year and it appears few improvements have been made over the last 12 months. The same problems continue to occur and many customers remain disenchanted. Apps designed to save time for customers and DHS staff end up driving people to despair and into their nearest DHS office or phone queue, twice as frustrated as before. This app is crap photo1_opt (1)Express Plus Centrelink The Centrelink app was probably the most complained about of the three apps, with many reviewers hitting their caps lock and exclamation marks to vent their spleen. It is also probably the most heavily used, by students, job seekers, seniors and families to update family income estimates, report wages and update study details. The most frequently mentioned gripes - using only current reviews from February to April 2016 - were:
  • Log-in problems
  • Long loading times
  • Difficulties reporting earnings or hours or updating personal details
  • Bugs in the registration screen, where users could not see the whole password they entered (Tip: if your password is longer than 8 characters keep typing then hit submit)
  • Frequent crashing
  • Poor layout
  • No notices about maintenance or outages
Customers had some choice words for the Department and its apps and many people were upset that they could not use the app to report their earnings or their hours. One Centrelink customer said: “It’s constantly down. Hopeless app. Hopeless system that keeps referring us to use the broken app. How is it that a department that so many people have to report to keeps getting it wrong?” Another said: “Tells me to report. Tells me I have not reported. The list goes on.” One enterprising wag suggested drug-addled rodents would do a better job: “Warning to anyone who plans to download this app: don’t, it will not let you report. A hamster on speed could report for you better. FFS!” “Had to spend an hour on the phone just to report my earnings because this app wouldn’t let me. Should have had this running properly before shutting down the job seeker’s app, which worked perfectly fine!!! Doesn’t even deserve one star!!! NOT HAPPY,” said another unsatisfied customer. Some people complained that they were not allowed to report their income until after the reporting date, at which time the app informed them they were too late: “Constantly down, won’t let me report yet tells me daily I’m overdue for reporting.” More seriously, some people said they had missed their benefit payments because of glitches in the app. “Says report has been submitted but not processed and I haven’t been paid. Will have to spend hours on the phone. Grr,” one frustrated person said. Another had also missed out on payments: “Not sure Centrelink are getting my updates for the past month. I updated my study twice. Now I’ve missed out two fortnights of payments so I’ll be expecting back pay. Says my claim is incomplete so I click on it and it won’t do anything. I’m going to have to go into office and get it sorted.” One Express Plus Centrelink user said: “If DHS employees had these many hoops and roundabouts to get paid there’d be a senate inquiry. Alan Tudge sir, you suck!” There were a few words of cold comfort for Human Services, “Yeah, not bad. Considering that this is a government app it appears to work ok.” “App has improved recently and is really helpful” and “very well laid out application. Easy to report my income using the timesheet option.” Express Plus Medicare The Express Plus Medicare app, which can be used to claim Medicare benefits and view information such as immunisation records and your Medicare Safety Net balance, came in for a bit of a serve too. Claimants reported difficulty installing and opening the app, constant crashing and over-compressing images of photographed documents so that claims could not be read or processed. Comments included: “Can’t even take clear photo of invoice through app (photo is pixelated). What is the point if we can’t take a clear picture? This app is really terrible. Please get your act together and stop wasting the taxpayers’ money and produce an app that functions as it should. The government wants us to use these news tools to innovate but can’t even write a simple app!” “Stupid app is stupid. When are claimants going to be able to claim Medicare rebates easily?” One Medicare user said it took him four attempts to claim resulting in him receiving a Medicare letter by post demanding more information: “this app is so buggy it makes going to a Medicare office the quick and easy option.” “Even giving it one star is favouring it. The most useless app ever.” “The level of suckyness (sic) of this app is unending.” “Your stupid app only crashes and your staff insist I use it and won’t help me in person.” “What a convoluted process to try and make a claim. Linking accounts, have a My Gov account, need a user names, password, secret questions, PIN! Need to go to the My Gov website, will not accept personal details! Dozens of prompts in help section! You cannot be serious about citizens using this app!” Express Child Support There were similar but fewer rotten tomato reviews for the Department’s child support app, with users complaining about loading problems, log-in difficulties, limited functionality and not being able to load documents. One said: “Worst app of all time … doesn’t ever load. Need to check apps before u (sic) make them available.” “This app has never opened since I installed it. It keeps saying “unfortunately child support has stopped working. EVERY SINGLE TIME I OPEN IT!!” This app won’t log in at all.” “So far it’s still downloading and has been for five and a half hours.” An app developer's view App developer Danny Gorog from Outware took a look at the Express Plus apps and gave Government News his verdict, one year on from his last comments. Mr Gorog, who is currently designing apps for Transport NSW, said he could see little improvement since he last reviewed the apps for Government News in March 2015. He said the user interface (UI) remained very complicated. “It’s a non-native app … it feels very clunky and it feels like a situation that no-one is really taking seriously,” Mr Gorog said. “I’m sure they’ve spent a lot of money on it but it feels like it has been built as a cross-platform app, using the same code for Android and Apple.” He was also heavily critical of the lack of accessibility for people with disabilities, such as vision impairment. “Apple and Google have very strict accessibility guidelines so people with disabilities won’t find it hard to use. The accessibility and the UI should be thought through. “I had a look at it and I’m disappointed,” he said. “It needs to conform to iOS and Android guidelines of how apps should look and work on the platform and this doesn’t conform to any of them. I would be building native code.” Mr Gorog said those responsible for developing the app needed to trawl through customer complaints and start fixing things. “The truth is that it’s often hard for government. They’ve got a budget for app development for the year. The number is normally too low and the government wants cheaper solutions. “[they might say] “we are over budget and you can’t spend any more.” Response from Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen (in full) Government News  sought comment from Human Services regarding the user experience and performance of the department's apps. Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen said: "The multiple award winning Express Plus mobile apps continue to be a highly popular way for our customers to self-manage their routine business with the department, with the number of downloads approaching 7 million as of February 2016. "As technology evolves, we continue to make enhancements to our mobile apps to ensure they remain world class and continue to provide superior digital access to services for our customers. "We’ve added new functionality like booking appointments and Income Management to enable our customers to use mobile apps for more services. Further improvements are planned for next financial year and will be communicated to customers when they become live. "Our apps have proven to be hugely popular with our customers and demand continues to grow with more than two million new app downloads and more than 54 million transactions made using the apps in the 2015-16 financial year to date. At any one time we have an average of 80,000 concurrent connections through our gateway. "All customer complaints and feedback made through our feedback channels are responded to in accordance with the DHS complaints and feedback policy. While we do monitor customer feedback on iTunes and Google Play, we do not respond to comments, leave reviews or post information in the reviews section. "We work as one digital team across the Department and in close collaboration with the Digital Transformation Office. This approach ensures all digital products are developed in multi-disciplinary teams that include insights from technologists, specialist, and frontline staff and often directly from our customers as well. This ensures an end-to-end solution approach and greater uptake." [post_title] => Best of 2016: This app is STILL crap: Centrelink and Medicare clients [post_excerpt] => One year on: "The most useless app ever". [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => this-app-is-still-crap-centrelink-and-medicare-clients [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-20 16:44:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-20 05:44:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23640 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 9 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 22764 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2016-12-20 16:29:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-20 05:29:00 [post_content] => Yea Post Office   In the wake of Australia Post's new two-speed letter deliveries, announced earlier this month, we revisit what went wrong. All is not well with Australia Post. It is losing money with the death of the stamped letter. It is making money from parcels, but the numbers don’t add up. Australia Post recently announced a full-year loss of $222 million in 2014-15. It is the first time the organisation has been in the red since it was corporatised in 1989. The reason is clear. Hardly anybody sends letters any more. Personal mail hardly exists in the Internet era, except for Christmas cards, and even they are in serious decline. Business mail has been the mainstay of the postal system in recent years, but is also declining quickly with the move to online invoicing and statements. The decline has been obvious for years, but it has been accelerating, not declining. Last year alone addressed letter volumes fell by 7.3 per cent, with ordinary stamped letters falling by 10.3 per cent, off bases that had already declined sharply. Australians now send a billion fewer letters a year than they did in 2008, when mail was already in serious decline. Australia Post would have got out of this loss-making business years ago if it weren’t for its Community Service Obligation (CSO), a statutory requirement to deliver mail and keep post offices open. For many years the big money has been in its parcel division, now separately branded as StarTrack (Australia Post bought out Qantas’s half share in 2012). The parcels business is booming, in large part because of Australia’s love affair with Internet shopping, which is growing as quickly as ordinary mail is declining. Products can be ordered on the Internet, but someone still has to deliver the things, and Australia Post is doing well in a very competitive market against the likes of FedEx, UPS and Toll (recently acquired by Japan Post). Australia Post is led by Ahmed Fahour, Australia’s highest paid public servant. He was brought in to restructure the organosation, but he is having to balance this against the Community Service Obligation. No Australian government wants to be seen to be cutting postal services. It is a continuing battle, one which will eventually have to confront commercial reality. The numbers are stark. Australia Post’s loss of $222 million last year was an enormous turnaround from its $116 million profit the previous year. Revenue was constant at $6.37 billion, with the parcel business comprising more than half for the first time, up 3.6 per cent to $3.21 billion. Last month Australia Post asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to allow it to increase the price of a stamp by more than 40 per cent, from 70 cents to $1, to “better reflect the cost of the regulated letters service.” The government supports the application, which also. includes keeping the concession stamp price at 60 cents for 5.7 million concession cardholders, and the price of Christmas cards at 65 cents. Concession and season greeting (Christmas) mail comprise nearly half of all mail sent by consumers. The great majority (97 per cent) of regular mail now comes from business and government, with very few personal letters. Last week the Senate approved the reforms, which also include reducing the number of post boxes nationally from over 15,000 to the 10,000 specified by the CSO, and cutting 1900 jobs (from 32,000 current full-time and part-time employees). Regular post will still be delivered every day, but it will be slowed down by up to two days to allow for savings on air freight. It is not certain the changes will be enough to cut the losses. Mr Fahour’s enormous $4.6 million salary will remain, though there may be some cuts to the 400 Australia post managers who earn more than $195,000 a year (a figure from last year’s annual report). Mr Fahour has, unsurprisingly, defended his salary as consistent with that paid to his private sector counterparts. He was formerly CEO of National Australia Bank. “We continue to make headway with reforming our letters business and we are investing in the infrastructure and digital capabilities – vital to servicing the changing needs of our customers,” said Mr Fahour last week. “We are confident we have the resources, infrastructure and support in place to manage the ongoing transition of our letters business as we become a more e-commerce-centric organisation.” Last month Mr Fahour announced the establishment of an industry working group to consider regulatory reform of the letters business and “other strategic issues facing the postal sector.” It follows a Senate Inquiry into the Licensed Post Office network, which recommended the establishment of the group. It will be chaired by former Victorian Liberal Senator Helen Kroger, and will include representatives from the printing industry, mail houses, post office licensees and unions (the Communications Workers Union is the main union covering Australia Post workers). Ms Kroger, married to Victorian Liberal Party powerbroker Michael Kroger, lost her Senate seat at the last federal election to Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party senator Ricky Muir. The Communications Workers Union recognises the need for change, but says reforms should be done “sensibly” and without forced job losses. “It is abundantly clear that the letter side of the business cannot be profitable in its current form,” said CWU National Secretary Greg Rayner after the losses were announced. “The very encouraging part is the parcel side of the business, which is a huge growth area and will see substantial jobs growth in coming years. “The digital disruption to letter volumes we are seeing now is nothing new to Australia Post. The company, its hardworking loyal staff and the CWU have adapted before and will adapt again. “This union was working with Australia Post when it was horses and carts. Our members have transformed it from a network of telegraph wires to one of fibre optics and modern precision logistics. “We are committed to partnering with Australia Post to transform the business again because that’s the only way to guarantee secure, quality jobs for our members and a reliable, useful service for all Australia.” Mr Rayner said with the right approach, these results and the reform they demand lay a path to more jobs, better conditions and greater job security for postal workers. “We have been at the table with Australia Post at the highest level for months now preparing a long term response to reform. In the coming weeks we hope to unveil an Accord to support our members and all Australia Post employees through reform and help guide Australia Post into the future,” Mr Rayner said. Good luck to him, to Mr Fahour, and to the government. It is something of a race against time, and one that Australia Post has been losing thus far. The postal business continues to decline faster than the parcels business is growing – if losses continue expect Mr Fahour to depart (with his millions) and his successor to initiate a new round of restructuring. This story first appeared in Government News magazine in October/November 2015. In January 2016, Australia Post announced it would create a two-speed letter delivery system. Priority letters would cost $1.50 and arrive within one to four business days (depending on the destination), while Regular mail - which increased from 70 cents to $1 - could now arrive up to two business days afterwards, potentially taking more than one week to reach the recipient’s letterbox.   [post_title] => Best of 2016: Where to now for Australia Post? [post_excerpt] => Going postal: what went wrong. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => where-to-now-for-australia-post [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-12-20 16:31:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-12-20 05:31:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=22764 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 6 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25562 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2016-11-15 12:05:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-11-15 01:05:04 [post_content] => spatial-sourcd_opt-2     By Anthony Wallace Directors and managers from space agencies around the world met in Brisbane last week for the annual Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) plenary, culminating in the launch of the Australian Earth Observation Community Plan. The CEOS plenary occurs annually and enables short and long term planning of how billions of dollars of funding are directed to designing and operating satellite imaging systems used for remote sensing. As part of the CEOS Plenary, the Australian Earth Observation Community Coordinating Group (AEOCCG) has released the new Earth Observation Community Plan as a roadmap for the next ten years leading up to 2026.   Read more here. This story first appeared in Spatial Source.  [post_title] => Launching Australia’s new earth observation community plan [post_excerpt] => The future for satellites. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => launching-australias-new-earth-observation-community-plan [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-11-15 12:06:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-11-15 01:06:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25562 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25159 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2016-10-04 09:53:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-10-03 22:53:12 [post_content] => samsung-lead-image-2_opt Burned out Samsung washing machine.   By Emily Bencic Consumer group Choice is warning the Federal Government not to relax the mandatory reporting requirements for businesses whose products kill or injure someone as it risks further compromising a product safety system that is already failing consumers. The warning follows a push by retailers for the mandatory reporting period to be relaxed from 48 hours to four days in submissions to the Australian Consumer Law review. The current legislation requires businesses to make a timely report after being notified their product has caused a death or serious injury. “It’s ridiculous to suggest the timeframe for mandatory reporting should be relaxed and symptomatic of a culture within industry that all too often puts profit and brand management ahead of consumer safety,” Choice head of media Tom Godfrey said. Read more here. This story first appeared in Appliance Retailer.

 

[post_title] => Choice fights push for relaxed product safety reporting [post_excerpt] => Points to current recall rate. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => choice-fights-push-relaxed-product-safety-reporting [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-02 15:23:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-02 05:23:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25159 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23843 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-05-11 11:28:23 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-05-11 01:28:23 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23844" align="alignnone" width="300"]Electronics burnout_opt (1) Electronic burnout.[/caption] Why did electronics retailer Dick Smith go from retail superstar to bargain basement? This is the question a federal senate inquiry will attempt to answer in its report out tomorrow (May 12). The Economics References Committee has spent the last three months trying to uncover the causes and consequences of the collapse of listed retailers in Australia - Dick Smith being the most notable in recent times - with receivers calling time on the business in February this year and 3,000 people left out of a job. The senate inquiry looked at:
  • The conduct of private equity firms around corporate takeovers
  • The role of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in overseeing corporate takeovers
  • How appointing external administrators affected secured and unsecured creditors, including employees and consumers
  • How external administration affects gift card holders and people who have made deposits on undelivered goods
  • Remedy for gift card holders who can’t redeem gift cards once external administrators have been appointed. These could include making directors personally liable for refunds and forcing external administrators to honour gift cards.
Failure theories Some commentators have laid the blame squarely at the feet of Anchorage Capital Partners (ACP), which took over Dick Smith for $115 million in November 2012 and floated it publicly just over a year later for $520 million. There has been speculation that ACP exerted enormous pressure on Dick Smith’s management team to hit sales targets and pushed them into making decisions, such as emphasising private label goods over well-known brands where margins were higher, the endgame being to exceed the float prospectus guidance and make the company more attractive to investors. ACP defended itself in its submission to the senate inquiry, arguing that its ownership did not contribute to Dick Smith’s financial meltdown: “Publicly available information shows that such claims are misleading and factually incorrect.” “When Anchorage’s involvement with Dick Smith ended, the company was in a strong financial position, had no borrowings, and had strong earnings momentum,” ACP said. “We await the release of the administrators' report which we hope will provide clarity on how a company with such a strong balance sheet and operating momentum has ended up in this regrettable situation so suddenly. “Given the administrators' report has not yet been released, Anchorage may seek to contribute further to the senate inquiry following the release of the report.” There’s an excellent piece about this by Sydney Morning Herald business reporter Michael West, read this here. Others have blamed Dick Smith’s collapse on relationships souring between the retailer and banks NAB and HSBC, after the company paid off unsecured creditors ahead of reducing its debts with the bank and made a series of snap decisions, including a massive write down of inventory in November 2015. Gift cards Gift cards will have been one of the main talking points during the inquiry, particularly after external administrators Ferrier Hodgson refused to honour them following Dick Smith’s implosion. In its submission to the senate inquiry, consumer advocate CHOICE said it was concerned about the lack of protection for consumers with gift cards when retailers tank and the dearth of information available. “Gift cards effectively translate the value of cash into a product, with far more limitations, terms and conditions and creating clear benefits for retailers and obvious risks for consumers,” said CHOICE’s submission. “These risks are exacerbated in the case of a collapsed retailer where ambiguity and a lack of regulation cause problems and confusion for consumers. Reforms are needed to clarify consumer rights for gift cards.” CHOICE recommendations include: a minimum of five years expiry; external administrators to honour all gift cards while the retailer continues to trade; customers being able to cash out their cards if the value drops below $10. Several recommendations were directly specifically at large and medium retailers, aimed at giving consumers access their gift card records online and having the option of storing their details and funds from gift cards. The lobby group also recommended that the proceeds from gift cards sold by medium and large retailers be held in a trust account. CHOICE said it received a steady stream of complaints about gift cards, which spiked when Dick Smith collapsed. But the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Australian Merchant Payments Forum (AMPF) denied there was a problem: “There is no evidence of consumer detriment in this market segment” insisting “consumers are comfortable and confident in their use of gift cards.” [post_title] => Why Australian retailers like Dick Smith are imploding: senate report [post_excerpt] => From electronics superstar to bargain basement. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => australian-retailers-like-dick-smith-imploding-senate-report [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-05-13 11:17:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-05-13 01:17:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23843 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23830 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-05-10 09:42:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-05-09 23:42:51 [post_content] =>  Crushed coke can_opt (2)   One of Australia’s largest and most powerful drinks companies has moved to reassure its investors that NSW’s new 10 cent refund container deposit scheme (CDS) will not immediately hit its bottom line but cautioned it was still too early to gauge the future financial impact. The new CDS is slated to start from July next year. It will apply to most drink containers between 150ml and three litres and containers can be dropped off at large depots, pop-up sites or reverse vending machines. The drinks industry has been in high dudgeon over the plans, primarily because beverage suppliers will be forced to fund the 10 cent refund, along with the associated handling and administration fees. The scheme is likely to translate into higher drinks prices and could lower company profits. Coca-Cola Amatil’s (CCA) announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange today (Monday) said: “Given the scheme will not be implemented for some time, there is no immediate impact for the company. CCA is working through the potential implications and once further details are known, will update the market as appropriate. “It is uncertain whether any additional states may consider the introduction of a container deposit scheme, however the Queensland and ACT governments have both previously indicated their interested in developing a similar scheme to, or aligned with, NSW.” South Australian and the Northern Territory both already have similar schemes in place. The drinks industry campaigned for an alternative scheme, Thirst for Good, led by the Australian Food and Grocery Council, with proposed measures including more public bins, extra litter collectors and education programs. The industry said it would contribute $15 million a year towards it. NSW Premier Mike Baird announced the litter-busting move on Sunday afternoon (May 8), possibly hoping that it would be overshadowed by the official announcement of the July federal election and Mother’s Day festivities and fly under the radar with drinks industry executives. Mr Baird said the program would dramatically reduce the amount of litter in the state, much of which is made up of drinks containers. The National Litter Index has reported that drink containers account for some 44 per cent of all litter in a public place. “The scheme we are announcing today is the single largest initiative ever undertaken to reduce litter in NSW,” Mr Baird said. “Giving people a financial incentive to do the right thing and recycle drink containers will help to significantly reduce the estimated 160 million drink containers littered every year.” Greens spokesperson for Consumer Affairs, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the NSW decision would provide a “massive impetus” for other states to follow suit. “Ultimately the beverage industry will come to realise that unified national scheme is in their own best interest, rather than having a patchwork of state schemes to deal with.” City of Sydney Council is ahead of the curve and installed four trial reverse vending machines in Haymarket, Circular Quay, Redfern and Wynyard in 2014. The machines offer small rewards, like food truck vouchers or charity donations, in return for plastic bottles and aluminium cans. Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the reverse vending machines had been highly effective in increasing recycling and promoting behavioural change. “Our machines have recycled nearly 2,000 kilograms of cans and bottles since they were installed less than two years ago,” Ms Moore said. “It’s encouraging that so many Sydneysiders have embraced recycling and are doing the right thing by the environment. By using these reverse vending machines, they have saved 139,000 containers from landfill and helped turn rubbish into a valuable resource.” [post_title] => Coca-Cola Amatil reassures investors as NSW container deposit scheme finally approved [post_excerpt] => Litter busting scheme by July 2017. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => coke-reassures-investors-nsw-container-deposit-scheme-approved [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-05-13 11:16:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-05-13 01:16:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23830 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 4 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23085 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-02-17 11:23:23 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-02-17 00:23:23 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23086" align="alignnone" width="640"]Gardeners Lodge Cafe - Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Aunty Beryl Van-OplooFINAL Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore with Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo, who runs Gardener's Lodge Cafe.[/caption]   A new procurement paradigm is changing the way the federal government does business and Australia’s local councils look set to follow the Commonwealth’s lead. Since June 2015, federal government departments and agencies have had a purchasing target of 0.5 per cent of domestic government contracts to go to small and medium Indigenous companies in 2015-16, rising to 3 per cent by 2019-20. Contracts may be directly with Indigenous enterprises, subcontracts or joint ventures. Although there are no targets set for local (or state) government, many local councils have proactively increased their Indigenous procurement spend, some of them through their Reconciliation Action Plans. City of Sydney Council has a well-developed approach to Indigenous procurement. The council won an award for engaging with and mentoring Indigenous businesses last year and was a founder member of Indigenous business certifier Supply Nation. The City’s Procurement Manager, Ian Rudgley, became an indigenous procurement champion after attending aboriginal cultural awareness training. “It was a paradigm shift in my thought process,” Mr Rudgley said. “I understand their problems from a commercial, business point of view and it really gave me a better idea of how to engage and help them. I was treating Aboriginal start-ups the same as other businesses [before]. It had a profound effect on me.” Mr Rudgley said he learned to work within some of the restrictive local government procurement rules and to mentor and support Indigenous businesses. These days City of Sydney deals with around 20 Indigenous companies certified by Supply Nation in areas including design, catering, legal advice and stationary supplies. “I think each organisation needs to be committed. We certainly are at the city,” said Mr Rudgley. “Our executive, councillors and the CEO are all committed to it. It is part of my performance plan targets to get Aboriginal companies on board. “We are just scratching the surface of something that I absolutely believe is going to be a very exciting time in the next two or three years and any procurement person that’s not on board should have a serious think about why they work in local government.” Mr Rudgley’s number one piece of advice to local councils is to meet suppliers and understand their business and who they’re dealing with and thrash out important issues such as understanding the supply chain and cash flow. For example, having an agreement to turn payments around quickly: “to get them into a position where they can actually do business with us." “You can’t judge on experience [of an emerging business], you need to work with them early to have a good understanding of what they can provide,” he said. “Get them in, have a chat with them, see how you can help and develop a process that works. This needs to be driven by procurement professionals.” Sometimes you need to drive support processes that work for both sides. For instance, if you hire consultants mention you are looking for indigenous businesses or ask how many Indigenous workers they have and what training they offer. Having recommended targets is also helpful, “if you want to do it seriously” suggested Mr Rudgley. He is, however, unwilling to back compulsory targets. “If you make it mandatory for local and state government my gut feeling is that suppliers themselves wouldn’t be able to cope. You can inundate a company; they might get involved with one client and then go broke.” It is vital to make other council staff aware of your council’s Indigenous procurement strategy and useful to compile a catalogue of the Indigenous companies you have worked well with. Mr Rudgley also suggested mitigating the risk of using a new supplier by having smaller contracts with multiple suppliers. One of the City’s Indigenous contracts is with a hospitality training company that runs Gardener’s Lodge Cafe in Victoria Park. The company trains Indigenous catering staff and serves up bush foods like warrigal greens, lemon myrtle, quondong and munthari berries, as well as doing some of the council’s catering. “I see these young Aboriginal kids coming in and I see their enthusiasm. I think it’s brilliant,” Mr Rudgley said.   Boosting indigenous procurement – tips for councils Understand how an Indigenous emerging business works and their challenges Bring them in for a chat Consider cash flow Spread your risk, start small Get buy-in from senior management Promote the strategy internally Send procurement staff on Aboriginal cultural awareness training Set targets Contact bodies such as Indigenous Business Agency and Indigenous chambers of commerce [post_title] => City of Sydney backs Indigenous procurement drive [post_excerpt] => Local councils follow the federal government's lead. 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The 12-month trial, which Woolworths won the competitive tender for, may then be rolled out to other train stations and include other supermarket chains. The rules are: minimum orders must cost $30 and there is no maximum order. Large items like a broom or an ironing board, that won't fit into a locker, can't be ordered. Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance said the scheme would save people time after their commute home. “Everyone has time pressures, so we thought why not help train customers save time and be able to pick up their groceries at the station on the way home,” Mr Constance said. “We’re trying to get customers home quicker and avoid the mad afternoon dash to the shops. Customers will be able to pick up a range of products from fresh food to frozen, even last minute ingredients for dinner.” Shoppers can order their shopping online from Woolworths on their mobile before 11am and pick it up in the afternoon, as they journey home. “Bondi Junction is one of our busiest suburban stations, with around 40,000 customer movements each day,” he said. “It’s also a busy bus interchange, so seemed like the logical choice to see if our customers like the idea. “I am determined to tap into new technology that will improve the transport experience for our customers. This is a great example of the new initiatives customers can expect to see more of.” A Woolworth’s spokesperson said the locker-based click and collect scheme was a free service and the price for the products was the same as it was instore. To keep food fresh, there are refrigerated lockers for items that need to be chilled and freezer lockers for frozen items. “Woolworths and Sydney Trains are working together to identify other sites to be included in the trial … these will include 24-hour lockers that can be accessed via a code,” the spokesperson said. Kate Langford, Woolworths General Manager Digital Retail said: “Woolworths is always looking for new and innovative ways to serve our customers and make their shopping easier and more convenient. “Click & Collect is already popular in our stores and at our drive through locations. Now our customers will be able to collect their groceries at the station on their way home which is great for commuters," Mrs Langford said. Countries like the UK have been running similar schemes for several years, including in London Underground station car parks and suburban park and ride facilities. UK commuters can also arrange to have other online purchases, such as clothes and shoes, delivered to train stations. The Sydney trial certainly opens up new parcel delivery possibilities for Australia Post, as well as for Sydney Trains and commuters. Woolworths struck a deal with eBay early last year that allowed people to pick up their eBay purchases in some Woolworths and Big W stores. [post_title] => Click and collect your groceries from train stations [post_excerpt] => Woolworths wins tender for Bondi Junction trial. 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Cr Jennifer Alden, Craig Lloyd and Cr Andrea Metcalf (L-R).[/caption] Recent audits of local waste and recycling bins have shown that Greater Bendigo residents are still sending significant amounts of recyclables straight to landfill by placing many items that could be recycled into their waste bins. In an effort to improve recycling rates, the City of Greater Bendigo has launched a new community education Sort it out before you throw it out! advertising campaign. The campaign will provide useful information about the items that residents are currently not recycling to make them aware that they can. It will utilise television, radio, print, social media and signage to encourage residents to think about and improve the way they sort their waste, organics and recycling. City of Greater Bendigo Presentation and Assets director Craig Lloyd said the City’s recent waste bin audits showed that 40% of the contents of local waste bins should have been placed in the recycling bin while 22 per cent could have gone in the organics bin. “The audit is backed up by State Government figures that place Greater Bendigo in the bottom 50 per cent of Victoria’s 79 local government areas for waste resource recovery,” said Mr Lloyd. “Unfortunately, many Greater Bendigo residents are still placing recyclables such as paper and cardboard, glass bottles and jars, cans, plastics and organic garden and food waste in their red lid waste bin. “Objects that can be recycled are a valuable resource and the cost of sending waste to landfill will continue to rise so the more we recycle and the less we send to landfill the better. “Greater Bendigo wants to become one of, if not the best, local government area for resource recovery in the future. “Many people may be surprised to learn that Greater Bendigo residents are not very good at recycling and we want to see this change for the better in the near future.” Results from the audit:-
  • The average residential red lid waste bin contains 40% recyclable items, 22% organics and 38% actual waste.
  • The recyclable materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly paper and cardboard, glass, plastic and metals.
  • The organic materials found in the red lid waste bin were mostly grass clippings and leaves, general food waste and food in packaging.
  • The average residential recycling bin contains 9% contamination. This is comprised of 5.3% general waste and 3.7% of materials such as clothing, crockery and scrap metal that cannot be processed through the kerbside recycling collection.
  • The average organics bin contains 2% contamination. This is comprised of 1% general waste and 1% recyclables such as glass, plastics and metals.
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