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Archive for May 12th, 2009

80 yr old treeKings Park arboricultural experts and specialist tree contractors have transplanted what is believed to be one of the original Centennial plantings of Red Flowering Gum trees along Fraser Avenue.

Arborist Jeremy Thomas said he believed the transplanting was a world first.

An 80 tonne crane lifted the tree and passed it to a 25 tonne Franna crane that “walked” the tree along Fraser Avenue to its new location. Earth anchors will be attached to the tree for stability while the tree develops new roots.

“I believe this is the first time such a tree of this species, size and age has ever been transplanted. We are quietly confident that this effort to conserve the Corymbia ficifolia which is around 80 years old will be a success,” new location. Earth anchors will be attached to the tree for stability while the tree develops new roots.

The tree stands 13 metres high, has a trunk diameter of almost one metre and a canopy spanning 11 metres in width.

Work to prepare the tree for transplant began a year ago with careful excavation around the root ball to assess root structure and prepare it for relocation.

The tree’s has been moved from the corner Fraser Avenue and the main carpark access road to a location near The Lodge just off the entry to Kings Park.

Last June, the Kings Park team successfully transplanted a 750 year old Boab tree 3200 kilometres from the Kimberley to Kings Park. It is envisaged that following an initial 12 month re-establishment period, this Red Flowering Gum will begin to regain its former splendour.

PERTH www.thewest.com.au

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The Economy
Deficit $57.593 billion
Unemployment 8.25 per cent
Economic Growth -0.5 per cent of GDP
Inflation 1.75 per cent
First Home Owners Boost continued for six months
Small Business and General Tax Break increased to 50 per cent for order this calendar year

Infrastructure spending

A total of $22 billion including $8.5 billion for road, rail and port.
$3.2b for West Werribee to Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station
$40m towards design of Melbourne’s East-West rail tunnel
$365m for light rail corridor for the Gold Coast
$20m for planning new corridors in Brisbane
$294m to upgrade Adelaide’s Gawler line
$291m to extend Noarlunga to Seaford line
$61m to extend O-Bahn track in Adelaide
$236m towards central city section of Perth to Fremantle line
$91m for design work on Sydney West metro from Central to Westmead Road ($3.4b)
$1.5b for Hunter Expressway linking the F3 and New England Highway in NSW
$618m towards dual carriageway bypass of Kempsey on the Pacific Highway, NSW
$488m to replace 25km of Bruce Highway between Cooroy and Curra in Qld
$844m to upgrade Ipswich Motorway, Qld Ports ($389m)
$50m for Port of Darwin’s East Arm
$339m for development of common facilities at Port of Oakajee in

WA energy

$4.5b on new clean energy initiative

Education

$5.3b on tertiary education, research and innovation
$934m for 11 teaching, eight research and 12 vocational training projects
$901m for 21 research projects in space, marine, climate and nuclear science
$750m for future funding rounds of the Education Investment Fund
$491m to uncap number of university places from 2012
$437m over four years to provide university education for the disadvantaged
$500m to encourage research, development and commercialisation of ideas
$512m to help universities fund research

Health

$2.5b over five years to drive hospital and health workforce reform
$3.2b from Health and Hospitals Fund to modernise hospitals and improve cancer facilities
$121m over four years to relieve pressure on maternity services
$134m on rural health workforce strategy
Private health insurance rebate reduced for higher income earners
Medicare Levy Surcharge increased
Families

$731m over five years for paid parental leave scheme

Superannuation

Halving of salary sacrifice into super to $25,000 a year for those under 50 and to $50,000 a year for those over 50.

Cut in Government super contribution from $1,500 to $1,000 for those earning less than $60,000 a year

Aged

Pension age increased progressively to 67 years by 2023
Rate at which the pension is withdrawn with private income increased to 50 cents in the dollar
Single Pensioners to get extra $32.49 per week
Couple pensioners to get extra $10.14 per week
New $600 a year Carer Supplement for all Carer Payment recipients, on top of an increase in their pension
Carer allowance recipients to get extra $600 a year for each person in their care

Immigration

Skilled migrant intake slashed by 20 per cent
Extra $650m in funding for border protection

Public broadcasting

ABC to get extra $150m in funding over next three years
SBS to get extra $20m over next three years

www.sbs.com.au

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fhog%20imageFirst home buyers now comprise a record proportion of the residential housing market after responding to low interest rates and the government’s revamped assistance package, economists say.

First home buyers made up 27.5 per cent of all home loans in March, a record since the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) began the data series in 1991, and compared with 26.5 per cent of the total market in February.

The ABS data also showed that the housing market has recovered to its February 2008 levels, when interest rates were still being raised by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) before a series of monthly cuts since September to a 49-year low last month.

The number of home loans for owner-occupied housing jumped to a 13-month high of 59,793 in March.

The 4.9 per cent rise in March was even sunnier than economists’ forecasts of a 4.5 per cent increase.

“The housing industry is one of the more interest rate sensitive sectors and its a positive that the response has so far been rapid,” ICAP senior economist Adam Carr said.

“The result clearly ads weight to the argument that the Reserve Bank of Australia has done enough.

“It’s lost on many that other central banks around the world are cutting aggressively to counteract a breakdown in the transmission mechanism. This isn’t the case here.”

Between September and March, the central bank cut official interest rates by 400 basis points to 3.25 per cent in a bid to stimulate a flagging economy.

In early April, the RBA cut the cash rate by a further 25 basis points to a 49-year low of three per cent.

The ABS data found that total housing finance by value rose by 6.7 per cent in March, seasonally adjusted, to $20.688 billion, while loans to investors rose by 4.7 per cent from a year earlier.

“It’s particularly positive that investors are coming back into the market from low levels,” Mr Carr said.

Housing construction rose 13.9 per cent, or 5,565, year on year.

Lending for new dwellings climbed 2,610, or 8.8 per cent, while lending to buy established homes climbed 51,619, or 3.8 per cent, since March last year.

JP Morgan economist Helen Kevans said the boost to the federal government’s first home buyers grant has lifted demand for housing, particularly for new homes.

“As expected, demand for home loans again was underpinned by first home buyers, owing to the attractive grant and improved housing affordability, stemming from lower interest rates and falling house prices,” Ms Kevans said.

“The bigger grant for new building largely explains the solid 8.8 per cent rise in loans issued for the purchase of new dwellings in March.

“In coming months, we believe grants will continue to underpin demand for home loans, particularly during the June quarter given expectations that the expanded grant will end on June 30, as originally planned,” she said.

The government’s first $10.4 billion stimulus package, unveiled in October, doubled the first home buyer grant for established homes to $14,000, and tripled it to $21,000 for newly-constructed dwellings.

There is speculation the grant for brand new housing will be maintained in this year’s budget while the subsidy increase for established homes is scrapped.

Ms Kevans expects the RBA to cut the cash rate by 50 basis points to 2.5 per cent in the second half of 2009.

www.thewest.com.au

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assylum boat

Immigration Minister Chris Evans has hinted the budget will contain additional money to fight people smuggling.

The Rudd government has been criticised for relaxing Howard-era border protection measures.

The opposition says the recent influx of vessels is evidence of Labor’s failed policy.

Since the government abolished temporary protection visas last August, 19 boats carrying suspected asylum seekers have been intercepted in Australian waters.

“We are absolutely committed to maintaining strong border security measures and doing everything we can to attack the people smugglers and disrupt their operations,” Senator Evans told parliament on Tuesday.

The government’s commitment was absolute, he said.

“And that commitment will be reinforced again in tonight’s budget.”

Labor had already taken on additional measures since coming to government to strengthen border security and “more will be done,” Senator Evans said.

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pensioners

Bet and Bob Poole, Coogee

Healthcare and getting by are key concerns for Bet and Bob Poole, who are war veteran pensioners courtesy of Bob’s service as a merchant marine in World War II.

The retired, married couple receives $957.80 a fortnight in pension payments from the Federal Government.

“We’ve been married for 62 years – you don’t get that for murder – and I’ve felt like murdering him a few times,” Bet quips.

“If we have a banana, we’ve got to share it, because we can’t afford two.

“Because you get about $75 extra each if you’re a single pensioner, we know a few of them who are living together and saying they’re separated, which is all well and good as long as you don’t get caught.”

Bet has a heart condition that needs four prescriptions costing $21.20 per month to treat. Bob relies on two prescriptions for another ailment, which cost him $10.60. The couple’s income includes a combined monthly rebate of $10 for prescriptions.
Bet and Bob say any decrease in their combined $11.20 prescription gap would be most welcome.

The couple has private health insurance, which they say they will have to surrender if Treasurer Wayne Swan cuts the 30 per cent private health insurance subsidy.

“If the Government wipes that 30 per cent, I won’t be able to be in it,” Bet says.

“Sooner or later, I am going to have to have my main (heart) valve replaced, and even if I have got private insurance that will cost thousands and thousands to replace.”

Bet says a push by the Pensioners’ League for an extra $30 per week income for single pensioners would not help her or Bob.

“We’re not going to get anything because we’re married, so if I divorce him, I’ll get $30,” she says.

Regardless, she resents that a pay rise for pensioners is even in question when federal politicians have just received one.

“They’re going to give themselves $90 per week and they’re trying to lower that $30 right down to nothing, and that stinks,” Bet says.

Electricity, gas and water prices are going through the roof.

“If we don’t get something in the budget, it means a lot of the pensioners are not going to eat.”

Bob says there should be greater health support for his former comrades injured in war.
www.watoday.com.au

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single motherSarah MacPherson has a 19-year-old daughter living at home.

“I think people should be realistic that we’re in unusual economic times and that the government might need to hand down an unusual budget to respond,” she said.

“I really hope the Government looks after the most vulnerable in society, the pensioners, the carers, single parents.

“I’m happy for them to increase taxes on cigarettes and alcopops, because the youngsters with the alcopops and cigarettes are just a horror, aren’t they?”

After a long period as a PAYE worker Sarah’s career is in transition as she looks to start up a technology-based business

She says that in the current economic climate, where people may be losing their jobs, the Government needs to provide
stimulus packages for small startup companies.

On the broader economy, Sarah says first homeowners are the only segment of the housing market keeping the “crucial” building industry afloat right now.

“I would look at them to continue the first home owners grant to stimulate the economy via house sales,” she says.

“I do have quite a few friends with kids older than (my daughter) and they’re all trying to get in before the end of June, because the Government has only promised the boosted grant until then.”

Sarah believes Treasurer Wayne Swan’s mooted investment in primary school infrastructure will provide economic stimulus in the short term, and benefit society in the long term.

She also says the GST charged on sanitary products should be dropped immediately.

“That’s an absolute necessity for women.”

http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/budget

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budget 09TONIGHT’S Federal Budget will be about three things – jobs, nation building and a path back to surplus.

That was the message from Treasurer Wayne Swan this morning as he again repeated the Government’s mantra that there would be “difficult decisions” and “no easy answers”.

Just hours from delivering a in Budget ravaged by a $200 billion writedown revenue, Mr Swan said he was working in the “most difficult set of circumstances in 75 years”.

But he dodged questions about the likely impact on Labor in the polls, saying: “What we have to do is the right thing in the nation’s long-term economic interests”.

Wealthy retirees emerged as the latest group to pay the price for that stance today.

The Daily Telegraph reported they could have their pensions cut to help fund a $30-a week increase for almost one million single age pensioners.

The Government is expected to tighten the taper rate on the age pension, a method by which it claws back the welfare payment from retirees with an independent income.

It is just one of a number of cutbacks the Government is expected to outline as it tries to rein in an expected almost $60 billion Budget deficit.

The 30 per cent tax rebate for private health insurance coverage will be means tested, payouts for obstetric and IVF services under the Medicare Safety Net will be cut back and the increase in the first-home owners grant will be wound back.

Wealthy Australians will have their tax break on superannuation contributions cut in half and government superannuation co-contributions for low income earners will be slashed from $1500 to $1000 a year.

The “sin taxes” on alcohol and cigarettes could be increased.

But the Budget will announce an 18-week paid maternity leave scheme.

And it is expected to include a big-spending jobs package to combat an expected increase in unemployment to 8.5 per cent as a result of the global financial crisis.

The Opposition said the Budget cutbacks were made necessary by the Government’s irresponsible big-spending stimulus packages in response to the global financial crisis.

The $30-a-week rise in the pension will go only to single age pensioners and will see the weekly pension rate rise from $284.90 to $315 a week.

It will answer criticism that the payment left in poverty those who relied solely on the pension.

The rise is also expected to be extended to single veterans and disability pensioners but will not go to single mothers.

The pension rise will cost more than $3 billion, and to help pay for it, the Government is expected to tighten means testing of pensions.

Currently, single pensioners can earn up to $41,000 and still receive a small pension payment.

They also qualify for a range of concessions on medicines, council rates, electricity bills and telephone allowances worth up to $10,000 a year.

Couples can earn up to $68,000 and still get access to these valuable concessions.

http://www.news.com.au

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