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                    [post_date] => 2017-08-18 09:53:31
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-17 23:53:31
                    [post_content] => 

The Auditor-General for New South Wales Margaret Crawford has released her report, in which she finds that NSW Health’s approach to planning and evaluating palliative care is not effectively coordinated. There is no overall policy framework for palliative and end-of-life care, nor is there comprehensive monitoring and reporting on services and outcomes.

“NSW Health has a limited understanding of the quantity and quality of palliative care services across the state, which reduces its ability to plan for future demand and the workforce needed to deliver it,” said the Auditor-General. “At the district level, planning is sometimes ad hoc and accountability for performance is unclear.”

Local Health Districts’ ability to plan, deliver and improve their services is hindered by:
  • Multiple disjointed information systems and manual data collection.
  • Not universally using a program that collects data on patient outcomes for benchmarking and quality improvement.
NSW Health should create an integrated policy framework that clearly defines interfaces between palliative and end-of-life care, articulates priorities and objectives and is supported by a performance and reporting framework. NSW Health should improve the collection and use of outcomes data and improve information systems to support palliative care services and provide comprehensive data for service planning. The  Auditor-General made four recommendations that called for the development of an integrated palliative and end-of-life care policy framework; proper data collection on patient outcomes; a state-wide review of systems and reporting for end of life management; and improved stakeholder engagement. Some improvements evident Over the last two years, NSW Health has taken steps to improve its planning and support for Local Health Districts. The NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation has produced an online resource that will assist districts to construct their own, localised models of care. And eHealth, which coordinates information communication technology for the state’s healthcare, aims to integrate and improve information systems. These initiatives should help to address many of the issues now inhibiting integrated service delivery, reporting on activity and outcomes, and planning for the future. NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord welcomed the report, saying it provided a roadmap for the State Government to improve end-of-life care in NSW. “As a prosperous nation, Australia and NSW have the means to ensure that the final years, months and days of elderly people and those with terminal diseases are lived in dignity,” Mr Secord said. “In my view our prosperity brings an obligation to do no less. “We have to recognise that palliative care is a field that will only grow as Australians now have the longest life expectancy in the English-speaking world. “Accordingly, we need a government response that embraces helping people to remain independent in their homes by finding ways to expand home and community care,” Mr Secord said. A full copy of the report is on the Audit Office website.   [post_title] => Palliative care: NSW Health must improve [post_excerpt] => NSW Health has a limited understanding of the quantity and quality of palliative care services across the state. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => palliative-care-nsw-health-must-improve [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-18 10:28:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-18 00:28:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27860 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27834 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-14 15:19:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-14 05:19:18 [post_content] => A disproportionate number of children expelled from Victorian Government schools have a disability, are in out of home care, or identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, according to the Victorian Ombudsman. Tabling an Investigation into Victorian government school expulsions in Parliament, Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass said children as young as five and six are being excluded from government schools in a process riddled with gaps that lacks concrete data. The report found significant reform is required to measure exactly how many children are excluded from government schools each year, and to ensure no child is ever excluded entirely from the Victorian education system. "A key purpose of the investigation was to find out whether expulsions complied with the Ministerial Order - which includes ensuring the student is provided with other educational and development opportunities," Ms Glass said. "What we found was a confused and incomplete picture. There were so many gaps in the expulsion reports it was not possible to answer the questions with any certainty. But we can say that some two-thirds of expulsions fail to comply on at least one count, with the lack of information suggesting that this number may well be considerably higher." Education Department figures state that 278 children were expelled from the Victorian Government school system in 2016. "The official number is likely to be only a fraction of the number of children informally expelled, on whom no data is kept. Somewhere between hundreds and thousands of children each year disengage from formal education at least in part as a result of pressure from schools. We simply do not know where they end up," Ms Glass said. "But we do know that some 60 per cent of those in the youth justice system had previously been suspended or expelled from school, and over 90 per cent of adults in our prisons did not complete secondary school. The link between educational disadvantage and incarceration is not new, but remains compelling." A previous Ombudsman investigation in 2015 on the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners identified educational disadvantage starting in childhood as a key factor leading to imprisonment as an adult. Ms Glass called for additional resources for principals facing the difficult balancing act of supporting children with challenging behaviours while also providing a safe environment for work and study. The investigation - which involved outreach with parent and community groups across the state - identified that many children expelled from schools display behaviour stemming from disruption and disadvantage in their lives and called for major investment in the school system to help such children. "A welcome start would be recognising that while expulsion remains an option of last resort, no child should ever be expelled from the state's education system as a whole. A commitment to supporting early intervention is also vital. The challenging behaviour of children is frequently rooted in trauma, disability or mental health. The investment not made in supporting schools to deal with this behaviour will almost inevitably require a vastly greater investment later, elsewhere, to deal with their challenging behaviour as adults," said Ms. Glass. The key recommendations from the report are:
  • [That the Minister for Education] Amend Ministerial Order 625 to ensure that a principal cannot expel a student aged eight years old or less from any government school without the approval of the Secretary or her delegate and consider any additional changes to the Order necessary to give effect to the recommendations that follow.
  • [That the Department of Education] Embed the principle and expectation in policy or guidance that no student of compulsory school age will be excluded from the government school system (even if expelled from an individual government school).
The investigation did not examine expulsions from private schools, as the Victorian Ombudsman does not have jurisdiction in the area. Read the full report here.     [post_title] => We are neglecting the most-in-need: Ombudsman [post_excerpt] => Expulsion is not the answer, says the Victorian Ombudsman. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => victorias-education-neglecting-need [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-14 21:44:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-14 11:44:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27834 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27800 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-10 17:23:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-10 07:23:52 [post_content] => Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAP) are now mandatory for all councils in Greater Sydney and Wollongong after the Bill passed the NSW Parliament. The NSW Government introduced the Environmental Planning and Assessment and Electoral Legislation Bill, it says, as a safeguard against corruption. The Bill only passed in its amended version, which means that property developers and real estate agents will not be able to sit on the panels. Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts welcomed the passing of the legislation in the Legislative Assembly after a late-night sitting in the Upper House passed the Bill.  “This is a fantastic outcome for ratepayers as IHAP bring transparency, integrity and a high degree of probity to the development application (DA) assessment process. “These panels, which will consider applications valued at between $5 million and $30 million as well as a range of high-risk development types, will give communities and ratepayers greater certainty about planning decisions. “Most importantly, local councils will be able to focus on preparing the strategic plans and development controls that will identify the range and location of development types for their local area.” The Bill sets a standard model for IHAP, comprising three independent expert members and a community member.
  • The community member, to be selected by the council, will represent the geographical area within the LGA of the proposed development, to provide local perspective.
  • IHAP members, who will be chosen by councils from a pool managed by the Department of Planning and Environment, will have to be expert in one or more of the following fields: planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism, or government and public administration.
  • The chairperson must also have expertise in law or government and public administration.
  • The panel members themselves will be subject to statutory rules such as a compulsory code of conduct and operational procedures for the panels.
Local councils will still process most applications for individual houses or alterations to existing houses. Existing independent hearing and assessment panels will continue to operate after the upcoming council elections on 9 September.

At least developers have been excluded: Labor

The NSW Labor Opposition says it has secured vital amendments to the new law, ensuring developers and real estate agents are unable to sit on new planning panels that will determine major development proposals. Labor’s amendments, which it says were unanimously agreed to by the government and the crossbench, ensure that developers, real estate agents, and serving councillors cannot sit on any local planning panel. Decisions will also be made publicly available. They also guarantee that members of the local planning panels will be scrutinised by ICAC, much like MPs and councillors are. Labor has been calling for developers and real estate agents to be banned altogether from sitting on councils. Shadow Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Michael Daley said: “It begs the question: if the Government is happy to admit that developers should not sit on local planning panels, why should they be allowed on councils? “Labor calls on the Government to immediately rectify this issue – before September’s council elections.”

The Council is not happy…

Liverpool City Council has expressed its frustration at the decision by the NSW Planning Minister to strip Sydney and Wollongong councils of powers to determine developments over $5 million. “This is a naked power grab by the NSW Government – taking the decision-making authority to shape how our communities grow and develop away from elected representatives,” Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller said. Mayor Waller said Liverpool was one of the first of 15 councils in the Sydney basin to establish an IHAP. Council has used this independent expert advice to improve decision-making on major planning proposals for 20 years. “We have long understood the importance of independent assessment when it comes to planning, but Council always had the option to bring matters of significant public interest back into the hands of elected representatives,” Mayor Waller said. “We had the checks and balances in place and they were working well. “The only thing this power grab by the State Government achieves is that it takes decisions further away from the community at the very time when Liverpool is growing fast and residents need to have a stake in this rapid expansion.

… but developers are

The announcement by the NSW Government that independent planning panels will determine all development applications with a value of between more than $5 million but less than $30 million in value in Sydney and Wollongong will streamline planning in metropolitan Sydney, said the developers’ union the Urban Taskforce. “The announcement that all local councils in Sydney and Wollongong must establish independent planning panels will make the planning process much more efficient,” said Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson “The role of the elected councillors is in setting the strategic planning framework and the assessment of compliance with the framework is best undertaken by experts in the field.” “The Urban Taskforce agrees with the Minister that mandating the Independent Planning and Assessment Panels (IHAP) will ensure a level playing field for everyone. Having a central pool of experts will also ensure effective use of resources and that all panel members have up to date knowledge of the planning rules.” “The quality of panel members will be important to ensure they are assessing against the rules rather than becoming arbitrators trying to balance community concerns with the viability of the applicant’s proposal. Panel members must be supportive of growth that complies with the strategic plans approved by council or the state government. Having one member of the 4-person panel from the local area ensures an understanding of local issues.” [post_title] => Councils lose development control [post_excerpt] => IHAP are now mandatory for all councils in Greater Sydney and Wollongong. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-lose-development-control [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-11 12:55:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-11 02:55:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27800 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27775 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-07 14:08:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-07 04:08:42 [post_content] =>   The Australian Public Service Commission has released its updated guide to social media use by Federal public servants. The guide, Making public comment on social media: A guide for employees, leaves absolutely no room for employees to make critical comments of any of their ministers, superiors, or departments. Furthermore, it suggests public servants are liable to be disciplined even if they don’t promptly delete a critical post on their social media account by an outsider. First brought to light by a critical article in The Australian newspaper, the nine-page, 3,000+ word guide goes into some detail as to what is and what is not acceptable. Now listen up! “As members of the Australian community, Australian Public Service (APS) employees have the right to participate in public and political debate,” the document begins. “But this is not an unlimited right. APS employees have particular responsibilities under the Public Service Act 1999 that come with being employed as a public servant by the Commonwealth of Australia. In some cases, these responsibilities limit their ability to participate fully in public discussions, including on social media.” Criticism is a definite no-no. Whether it is the employee’s current agency, Minister, previous agency, or observations of a person, the guide is clear to begin with: “Criticising the work, or the administration, of your agency is almost always going to be seen as a breach of the Code. The closer your criticism is to your area of work, the more likely this will be.” The guide then goes on to warn that critical posts are not allowed after hours or in a declared private capacity, or even anonymously: “Even if you don’t identify yourself you can still be identified by someone else.” And just in case you’re wondering, your right to freedom of speech is, well, worthless: “The common law recognises an individual right to freedom of expression. This right is subject to limitations such as those imposed by the Public Service Act. In effect, the Code of Conduct operates to limit this right.” The commissioner responds The Australian Public Service Commissioner The Hon John Lloyd has responded to the detailed article published by The Australian newspaper, declaring it to be misrepresentative: “The use of social media by employees requires discretion and judgement,” he writes. “For this reason it is important that all employers, including those in the APS, ensure their employees clearly understand the expectations of their behaviour when they use social media. “The APSC consulted extensively with APS agencies and employees in late 2016. This consultation indicated that the policy settings did not need to change, but that current obligations were not well understood by employees. The CPSU encouraged its members to participate, and made a submission. “It is not more restrictive than previous guidance. Rather, it clarifies the parameters around what public servants can and cannot say, and should give greater confidence to APS employees when they are participating online activity. Submissions to the review indicated that aspects of the previous guidance was unclear and ambiguous, and that revised guidance should be simpler and easy to understand.” Straight from the Trump playbook: The Greens Greens employment spokesperson Adam Bandt MP slammed reports in The Australian that the Turnbull government will impose restrictions on public servants criticising his government on social media. "There must have been a few paragraphs missing from the leaked Trump/Turnbull transcript, because this latest crackdown on the public service is straight from the Trump playbook," said Mr Bandt. "If anyone challenges Trump, they get fired. Malcolm Turnbull, in his desperation to hang onto power, is trying to do the same. "Holding public servants responsible for what others post on their page is the stuff of the thought police. Your job shouldn't be in danger because someone shares a post on your page about marriage equality or action on climate change and you don't delete it. "This is a ruthless assault on freedom of speech that would make any demagogue proud.” The guide, Making public comment on social media: A guide for employees, is available here. [post_title] => Though shalt not criticise [post_excerpt] => The updated guide to social media use by Federal public servants has been released. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => though-shalt-not-criticise [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-07 14:53:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-07 04:53:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27775 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => 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 ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27734 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-01 11:17:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-01 01:17:12 [post_content] => The NSW Government has once again announced that the Powerhouse Museum will be moved from its current Harris Street, Ultimo location to a riverside site in Parramatta, next to the Riverside Theatre, which will undergo unspecified redevelopment and become 50 per cent state-owned. The government has remained stum on what it will do with the current Ultimo site, but it is widely expected to be sold off for unit development. What we know The NSW Government has reached an agreement with Parramatta Council for a massive investment in new cultural infrastructure in Parramatta, which is the first major step in the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to Sydney’s west. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said “the $140 million agreement laid the foundations for a vibrant arts and cultural precinct in Parramatta and secured the best site for the new Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta. “Today is a major step forward in the NSW Government’s commitment to relocating the Powerhouse Museum to Western Sydney,” Ms Berejiklian said. “The relocated Powerhouse Museum in Parramatta will be the anchor for arts and culture for the region, and now the site for the museum is locked in. “The Powerhouse at Parramatta will include the best exhibits currently at Ultimo, and will build on them. The new Powerhouse in Parramatta will be bigger and better than anything this State has seen and will be a drawcard for domestic and international visitors.” The $140 million in-principle agreement will see:
  • The NSW Government purchasing the riverfront site for the Powerhouse Museum (Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences).
  • The City of Parramatta committing $40 million to fund and grow arts and culture in the community over the next 20 years.
  • A partnership between the NSW Government and the Council for a $100 million redevelopment of the Riverside Theatre with the State taking a 50 per cent interest in the project.
The NSW Government said it will retain an arts and cultural presence at the current Ultimo site following the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, and is undertaking a business case to determine the future of the site. More info needed The NSW Labor Opposition said the Berejiklian Government has bungled the Powerhouse Museum move from Ultimo to Parramatta at every step of the process – “continually chopping and changing” and providing no detail on the fate of the Ultimo site. Originally, the then Premier Mike Baird said it would cost “$10 million to relocate the Powerhouse” but it has spiralled to a minimum of more than $1 billion. Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Arts Minister Don Harwin have provided no answers for what was going to happen to the Ultimo site and were unable to state the final costs. “Today’s announcement only related to buying the Parramatta land. This also gave rise to even more questions, putting further doubt into the community’s mind on the Government’s ultimate plans for the Ultimo site,” Labor said. “NSW Labor is calling on them to release the business case and detail the scale of the development plans at the Ultimo site.” And Parramatta is stuck with the decision The NSW Government's decision comes just a month before popular council elections are held, which means that councillors elected in September will have to honour the agreement. And the decision to commit to the sale of council assets so close to an election was criticised by at least one community group. "We are highly suspicious of a state government-appointed administrator selling major Parramatta council assets one week short of caretaker mode and six weeks before council elections," Suzette Meade, president of the North Parramatta Residents Action Group told The Sydney Morning Herald.   [post_title] => What will go into the blig black hole in Ultimo? [post_excerpt] => The NSW Government will move the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => will-go-blig-black-hole-ultimo [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-01 11:19:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-01 01:19:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27734 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27724 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-28 12:16:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-28 02:16:20 [post_content] => It has now been a full 24 hours since the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that proposed council mergers before the courts will not proceed, and the original rejoicing and merriment in the streets is being replaced by anger and – well, more uncertainty. “Due to the protracted nature of current legal challenges and the uncertainty this is causing ratepayers, those council amalgamations currently before the courts will not proceed,” the announcement said. “We want to see councils focusing on delivering the best possible services and local infrastructure to their residents. That is why we are drawing a line under this issue today and ending the uncertainty,” the Premier said. The following proposed mergers will not proceed:
  • Burwood, City of Canada Bay and Strathfield Municipal councils
  • Hornsby Shire and Ku-ring-gai councils
  • Hunter’s Hill, Lane Cove and City of Ryde councils
  • Mosman Municipal, North Sydney and Willoughby City councils
  • Randwick City, Waverley and Woollahra Municipal councils
Minister for Local Government Gabrielle Upton said it was important for local communities to have certainty in the lead up to the September local government elections. “The Government remains committed to reducing duplication, mismanagement and waste by councils so communities benefit from every dollar spent,” Ms Upton said. Naturally, most of the merged councils now want to explore de-merging, and the once who had put up a fight, want to recover their legal costs. And of course the Premier did not, and refuses to, guarantee that the mergers will not be attempted again past the elections. Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Primrose MLC said: “The justification for forced mergers has been a political fix from day one. The Government must release the KPMG report and stop avoiding scrutiny. “Premier Gladys Berejiklian has failed to rule out forced council amalgamations beyond 2019. As well, the Government must release the secret $400,000 KPMG report used by the former Premier to justify the forced mergers.” NSW Labor is now demanding Premier Berejiklian allow communities in forcibly merged councils to hold referendums to choose whether or not to demerge. Not our fault: developers Whilst developer lobby group Urban Taskforce was keen on the amalgamations, it distanced itself from the NSW Government’s version. “The Urban Taskforce originally proposed a council reform that had a district structure for planning decisions and left local matters to local councils,” said Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson. “The NSW Government’s back down on their version of council reform means the scale of thinking about growth will now be local not regional. The value of larger councils was to move management and planning to a less local and more regional level but it seems the government’s processes were not legally tight and appeals have delayed the process leading to uncertainty for all. “The Urban Taskforce believes that the NSW Government must now play a much stronger role in driving housing supply with councils only focussing on local issues.” “The Urban Taskforce is concerned that today’s back down indicates a less reformist approach by the NSW Government than its previous position. This more cautious approach a year and a half before the next state election could put many important initiatives on hold.” Let’s have some stability The association of Local Government Professionals Australia, NSW welcomed the government’s announcement on council amalgamations, bringing sector stability before September elections. “The uncertainty the amalgamations agenda have brought to the sector have been a huge resource drain on local councils and have distracted the sector from much needed reform to address sector innovation, misconduct in local government, cost shifting, rate pegging and professional development,” said general manager of Hunter’s Hill Council and president of Local Government Professionals Australia, NSW Barry Smith. “We were engaged from the start of the reform process back in late 2011 where the entire local government sector came together to develop real solutions. Regrettably, the focus shifted toward amalgamations, and it is a shame it has taken six years for the State Government to allow all councils to get on with the job of delivering for their community.” The Independent Local Government Review Panel, which first proposed amalgamations, included 64 other recommendations to improve council performance. “Despite sector uncertainty, we have been committed to providing sector wide professional development opportunities, significant council improvement programs and support for councils going through amalgamations. “With this change in policy, we would welcome Minister Upton proactively re-engaging with the sector to ensure that real reform issues raised during the Destination 2036 discussions are dealt with. We must all refocus on supporting innovative council practices and solutions to improve performance, and address critical workforce shortfalls,” chief executive officer Annalisa Haskell said. Back to the courts Without exception, the councils that fought the merger are expected to put in a claim to recover their legal expenses. Additionally, many of the 20 merged councils will seek to de-merge or at least hold plebiscites. And the ones that wanted to merge? Hornsby Shire Council welcomed its proposed merger with Ku-ring-gai, which involved it ceding lucrative rate areas in Epping to Parramatta Council. Parramatta Council happily took these areas while Ku-ring-gai decided to fight, leaving Hornsby in the lurch. [post_title] => Councils: first the clarity, now for the confusion [post_excerpt] => While most councils are rejoicing, the future is still uncertain. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => councils-first-clarity-now-confusion [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-28 12:16:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-28 02:16:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27724 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27685 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-24 20:05:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-24 10:05:44 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27686" align="alignnone" width="300"] This box is filled with 200,000 cigarette butts displayed to highlight the impact that littering has on streets and waterways.[/caption] The City of Melbourne has become one of only two councils in Australia to run a citywide initiative to recycle millions of cigarette butts into industrial products. “We collect more than 200,000 cigarette butts each week from 367 cigarette butt bins across the city: litter that may otherwise end up being washed down drains and into the Yarra River,” Lord Mayor Robert Doyle AC said. “Cigarette butts are not biodegradable and break down slowly. As part of this project, we will recycle binned cigarette butts into practical items such as shipping pallets and plastic furniture. “We have collected 1.2 million butts from around Melbourne’s universities and hospitals and busy CBD locations that can be recycled.” The City of Melbourne has partnered with Enviropoles, which collects the cigarette waste, and TerraCycle, which converts the butts into plastic products. The project is funded through the Victorian Government’s Litter Hotspots program. Studies have shown that of the four disposal routes (recycling, litter, landfill, and incineration), recycling the cigarette butts has the lowest global warming impact. The City of Melbourne has placed a perspex box filled with 200,000 cigarette butts on the banks of the Yarra River to highlight the impact that littering has on the city’s streets and waterways. Chairwoman of the City of Melbourne’s Environment portfolio Councillor Cathy Oke said the project has been completed in Vancouver and New Orleans before, but Melbourne is leading the charge in Victoria to tackle recycling cigarette waste. “Cities around the world are looking for new ways to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill, and Melbourne is leading the way,” Cr Oke said “Cigarette butts are the most littered item in Australia. Butts are commonly mistaken for food by marine life and have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, sea turtles and other marine creatures.” The Perspex box full of cigarette butts was placed in Queensbridge Square, where three solar compaction litter bins are located. Cr Oke said the City of Melbourne is installing more than 360 smart bins in the CBD following a successful trial of 17 bins last year. “We collect around nine million butts in our litter bins every year. We hope this project will motivate smokers to place their cigarette butts in one of the butt bins located around the CBD.” Previous surveys have found that around 10,500 cigarette butts from the central city are being deposited on the ground every day. The City of Melbourne spends approximately $13 million on waste services each year (collection and disposal).   [post_title] => Butts into better things [post_excerpt] => Melbourne is recycling cigarette butts into plastic industrial products. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => we-want-your-butt [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-25 12:21:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-25 02:21:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27685 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27671 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-21 11:16:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-21 01:16:24 [post_content] => Australians are selective about when they support sharing personal data with government agencies and commercial organisations via the Internet of Things, according to the 2017 Unisys Security Index. The vast majority of Australians, 82 per cent, support using a button on their phone or smartwatch to alert police to their location during emergencies. Yet only 35 per cent support police being able to monitor fitness tracker data anytime to determine their location at a certain time. The findings indicate that Australians will embrace IoT where they see a compelling reason such as personal safety and medical emergencies, but concerns about privacy and data security mean they want to be able to control which organisations can access their data. Most Australians support (75 per cent of respondents) medical devices such as pacemakers or blood sugar sensors automatically transmitting significant changes to a patient’s doctor, and sensors in luggage to advise passengers if their luggage has been unloaded and what carousel it will be on (65 per cent). Yet less than one in three people support using a smartwatch app to make payments (29 per cent), or a health insurer accessing fitness tracker data to determine a premium or reward customers for good behaviour (26 per cent). The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to devices, sensors or computer systems that can connect and exchange information with each other using the internet. Unisys examined consumer reaction to the trend as part of a global study that gauges the attitudes of consumers on a wide range of security issues. The study polled 1,002 adults in Australia during April 2017. “These findings highlight that when it comes to personal data there is a very delicate balance between privacy, security and convenience – even for organisations generally trusted by the public,” said John Kendall, director of border and national security programs at Unisys. “For example, people are happy to use their smartwatch to alert police to their location when they need help, but they don’t want police to freely access that data at any time – they want to control when they share their data.” What are the barriers to IoT? Privacy and security concerns are key reasons Australians do not support IoT. In particular, if they do not feel it is a compelling enough reason to share their data or if they do not want an organisation to have such data about them. Data security is the biggest barrier cited for not supporting a smartwatch payment app. Richard Parker, vice president financial services at Unisys Asia Pacific said: “To address consumer concern around data security of smartwatch payment channels, banks need a multi-pronged approach that spans technology and policies to secure the data, as well as reassuring customers by communicating the steps taken by the bank to protect them – a fine line in delivering a frictionless customer experience whilst making sure they are secure.” Devices on government agency personnel are supported Wearable biometrics are part of the IoT phenomenon: wearable technology that analyses human characteristics to confirm an identity or monitor critical medical data. There is strong support, three in four Australians, for police or border security staff wearing facial recognition body cameras to identify criminals or terrorists who are on watch lists; and medical sensors transmitting any significant changes to a patient’s doctor. Fingerprint scans on smartwatches could address the security concerns around smartwatch payment apps. “Approximately half of consumers support a fingerprint scan to control access to data on a smartwatch (52 per cent) or to authorise a payment from the smartwatch (48 per cent). This is a clear signal to banks that biometrics could help alleviate consumer concerns about smartwatch payment channels,” said Mr Parker. While 50 per cent of Australians support airline staff wearing facial recognition glasses to verify the identity of passengers boarding aircraft at airports, only 29 per cent support the same glasses being used to identify VIP customers for special treatment. John Kendall said: “Respondents see it as a trade-off: is it a compelling enough reason for that organisation to capture this information about me? The findings reveal law enforcement, national security and serious medical conditions are considered acceptable justification, but customer loyalty programs and employee tracking are not – the impact on privacy outweighs the personal benefit.” Support for data analytics varies Support for analysis of data collected from a range of sources also varies – even among different government agencies. Fifty-seven per cent of Australians support border security officers analysing the travel history of passengers, and whom they are travelling with, to determine if they are eligible for fast-track border clearance. Yet only 40 per cent support welfare agencies accessing personal spending data from credit card records and insurance policies to verify if benefit claims are legitimate, and even less (32 per cent) support the tax office using the same data to verify income tax returns. Furthermore, the majority of Australians do not support data analytics being used to sell goods and services to them. Sixty-two per cent do not support banks monitoring individual customer spending behaviour to offer related products such as insurance for items they have purchased. Richard Parker said the use of data analytics must be sensitive to customer concerns. “Customers expect businesses to know them based on the history of their relationship. In a world where interactions may be across a range of channels and not just in person, many organisations are turning to data analytics to provide extra insight. Ironically, while they may be trying to improve the customer experience, if businesses cross the line and appear to invade their privacy by revealing that they know more about them than what the customer has knowingly shared, it just turns the customer off. Technology alone is not enough; it must be used in the context of understanding human nature and cultural norms.”   [post_title] => Privacy is paramount [post_excerpt] => People want control over when they share personal data via Internet of Things and data analytics. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => privacy-is-paramount [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-21 11:16:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-21 01:16:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27671 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => 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 ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27608 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-13 22:10:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-13 12:10:05 [post_content] => Hornsby Shire Council has voted to submit a proposal to the NSW Government seeking the return of territory that was lost last year. In May 2016, the NSW Government removed the land south of the M2 Motorway from Hornsby Shire and gave it to the City of Parramatta Council. “We didn’t agree with the loss of that territory,” Hornsby Shire Mayor Steve Russell said. “The government’s declared purpose of its local government reform was to create larger and more financially secure councils, a proposition we agree with in the 21st Century with increasing need for bigger and better facilities." The loss of Epping and other suburbs south of the M2 Motorway has had a severe negative impact on council’s budget, with a reduction of more than $9 million in the recurrent budget surplus. “This is very frustrating, particularly when Hornsby Shire Council was one of the most efficient councils in NSW and an active supporter of the government’s plans for reform. “With Ku-ring-gai Council’s win in court, it is not clear what the government’s position is in regard to continuing with the amalgamation of Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai councils. “We are asking the government to return our lost territory if the amalgamation does not proceed.” An olive branch At this week’s meeting, council also resolved to prepare a second submission that would see a redrawing of the Shire’s southern boundary. It is a compromise proposal that would allow Carlingford to remain in the City of Parramatta and consolidate the Epping town centre in Hornsby Shire. “This proposal would give council added financial security, whilst it would also avoid returning to the situation of having significant town centres managed by multiple councils,” Mayor Russell said. A rebuke of major proportions The Greens, who have been fighting council amalgamations from the outset, see the Liberal-dominated Hornsby Council’s frustrations as the final nail in the coffin of the merger idea. The coalition has lost its last ally in local government, as Hornsby Council delivers a 'stinging rebuke' to the Berejiklian forced amalgamation mess, the Greens said. Liberal-dominated Hornsby Council is the last remaining elected council that supported the Coalition's forced amalgamations. Greens MP and local government spokesperson David Shoebridge said: "Every rat is leaving the Coalition's forced council amalgamations ship and it's well and truly time that Captain Berejiklian scuttled the whole affair. "The Liberal-dominated Hornsby Council had been one of the few elected councils that supported the Coalition's forced amalgamations because they thought they would gobble up Ku-ring-gai. "Now its planned take-over of Ku-ring-gai Council has fallen over, Hornsby Council has turned against the Berejiklian government and is demanding its high-rating land back. "The decision to hand over parts of Epping and Carlingford to Parramatta Council was never about the best interests of those residents, it was designed to deliver money and Liberal votes for a super-sized Parramatta Council. "Treating residents as pawns in the Coalition's politicised boundary changes and forced amalgamations is a very low form of politics that the Greens fundamentally reject. "While there are good democratic and financial reasons to see Hornsby Council restored, it is deeply troubling that the Liberal Council says it wants the decision reversed to get back 'developable assets in the Epping area worth between $50 million to $100 million'" "No Council should be eying off public land solely as a development opportunity. The Greens support restoring Hornsby Council to its former boundaries, but it must be with a promise to keep scarce public land in public hands," Mr Shoebridge said. The council report states: "Council's view is that our ratepayers are likely to judge both the council and the government harshly if council seeks a rate variation to recover a significant portion of the lost revenue.  "The NSW Government's execution of its local government reform agenda has to date comprehensively failed the residents and ratepayers of Hornsby Shire.  "The matter has been made worse by the NSW Government's subsequent inaction and apparent indecisions.  "The council is not even able to carry out something as fundamental as the appointment of a permanent general manager, and has now appointed it's third acting general manager since August 2015.  "No other council in NSW has been subjected to such a significant loss of territory, on top of an amalgamation. The situation is worsened by the fact that the NSW Government never signalled its intention to transfer the area south of the M2 Motorway to Parramatta.  "Since the areas south of the M2 Motorway were removed from Hornsby Shire Council, there have been no formal surveys or other research into the opinions among the local community.  "By the government's action and inaction, it's strongest supporter of local government reform has been left weaker with less scale and capacity than before. And it is the only local government where this has occurred." [post_title] => Give us our land back [post_excerpt] => Hornsby Council resolves to seek the return of its lost territory. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => give-us-land-back [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-13 22:19:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-13 12:19:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27608 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => 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 ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27561 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-06 20:33:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-06 10:33:29 [post_content] => The NSW Government has declared the first section of the ‘WestConnex New M4’ ready and open to traffic, but the organisation of Western Sydney councils WSROC is doubtful motorists will get their money’s worth when the toll charges begin on 15 August. The opening gambit For the first time, drivers can now enjoy four lanes in each direction with new access points and smoother road surfaces on the widened section of the New M4, between Parramatta and Homebush, the government said. Minister for WestConnex Stuart Ayres thanked people for their patience during construction of this first section of WestConnex that, he said, will deliver faster, safer and more reliable trips for Western Sydney motorists. “In just over two years, we’ve delivered the first stage of this once-in-a-generation game changing infrastructure which Western Sydney has been crying out for,” Mr Ayres said. “Crews are continuing to work around the clock and all lanes are now open. “The first section of the New M4 project has been a massive undertaking with 4.3 million people hours worked, more than 40,000 cubic metres of concrete poured and 50,000 tonnes of asphalt laid. “We’ve made great progress but there’s plenty more to do with our ‘New M4’ tunnels now more than halfway complete, over one kilometre of the ‘New M5’ tunnels excavated and the M4-M5 Link scheduled to start next year. “This project is driving an economic boom across Western Sydney with the first stage of the New M4 alone supporting 2,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout construction and more than 1,600 businesses signing contracts exceeding $1.6 billion.” A distance-based toll of between $1.77 and $4.56 will be implemented on the widened section of the M4 between Parramatta and Homebush from 15 August 2017. “Tell us what you think about the M4 toll”: WSROC WSROC will monitor the performance of the widened M4 over the coming month to ensure commuters feel they will get value for money from the $4.56 toll. WSROC president Cr Bali said: “Both the Australian and NSW Governments have promised Western Sydney commuters significant time savings from WestConnex, and as paying customers we expect to see results. “Premier Berejiklian has promised that the benefits of the widened M4 will outweigh the cost of using it. I sincerely hope so, but will be relying on user feedback to determine whether this is the case,” he said. “I encourage all M4 users to share their experience of the widened upgrade with WSROC by sending their complaints or compliments to M4toll@wsroc.com.au. “Alternatively, commuters can tweet #M4toll or post to the M4toll Facebook page,” he said. “Driver feedback will contribute significantly to WSROC’s assessment of the M4 to see if actual travel time savings are achieved. If not, WSROC will be making strong representations to the NSW Government,” said Cr Bali. “We understand the necessity of tolls for funding public infrastructure, but do not believe road users should pay before they benefit. WSROC believes that east-bound travel will not be improved at all until the next section of the M4 East is opened in 2019, and therefore city-bound road users should not be paying any tolls until then.  “$4.56 is a significant amount, particularly when you compound this with other tolls paid by long distance commuters across the motorway network,” he said.   [post_title] => ‘New M4’ is ready – but what will you get for your money? [post_excerpt] => The NSW Government has declared ‘WestConnex New M4’ ready and open to traffic. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-m4-ready-will-get-money [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-06 20:39:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-06 10:39:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27561 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => 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 ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27860 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-18 09:53:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-17 23:53:31 [post_content] => The Auditor-General for New South Wales Margaret Crawford has released her report, in which she finds that NSW Health’s approach to planning and evaluating palliative care is not effectively coordinated. There is no overall policy framework for palliative and end-of-life care, nor is there comprehensive monitoring and reporting on services and outcomes. “NSW Health has a limited understanding of the quantity and quality of palliative care services across the state, which reduces its ability to plan for future demand and the workforce needed to deliver it,” said the Auditor-General. “At the district level, planning is sometimes ad hoc and accountability for performance is unclear.” Local Health Districts’ ability to plan, deliver and improve their services is hindered by:
  • Multiple disjointed information systems and manual data collection.
  • Not universally using a program that collects data on patient outcomes for benchmarking and quality improvement.
NSW Health should create an integrated policy framework that clearly defines interfaces between palliative and end-of-life care, articulates priorities and objectives and is supported by a performance and reporting framework. NSW Health should improve the collection and use of outcomes data and improve information systems to support palliative care services and provide comprehensive data for service planning. The  Auditor-General made four recommendations that called for the development of an integrated palliative and end-of-life care policy framework; proper data collection on patient outcomes; a state-wide review of systems and reporting for end of life management; and improved stakeholder engagement. Some improvements evident Over the last two years, NSW Health has taken steps to improve its planning and support for Local Health Districts. The NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation has produced an online resource that will assist districts to construct their own, localised models of care. And eHealth, which coordinates information communication technology for the state’s healthcare, aims to integrate and improve information systems. These initiatives should help to address many of the issues now inhibiting integrated service delivery, reporting on activity and outcomes, and planning for the future. NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord welcomed the report, saying it provided a roadmap for the State Government to improve end-of-life care in NSW. “As a prosperous nation, Australia and NSW have the means to ensure that the final years, months and days of elderly people and those with terminal diseases are lived in dignity,” Mr Secord said. “In my view our prosperity brings an obligation to do no less. “We have to recognise that palliative care is a field that will only grow as Australians now have the longest life expectancy in the English-speaking world. “Accordingly, we need a government response that embraces helping people to remain independent in their homes by finding ways to expand home and community care,” Mr Secord said. A full copy of the report is on the Audit Office website.   [post_title] => Palliative care: NSW Health must improve [post_excerpt] => NSW Health has a limited understanding of the quantity and quality of palliative care services across the state. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => palliative-care-nsw-health-must-improve [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-18 10:28:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-18 00:28:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://governmentnews.com.au/?p=27860 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 249 [max_num_pages] => 18 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => 1 [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 0f6a756e3330e13cdef02ada383c83f1 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1 [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )

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