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Archive for the ‘Political News’ Category

The Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett has officially launched a $100 million research centre in Perth, which has been set up to help Australia win a massive radio astronomy project.

Western Australia and South Africa are the front runners to secure the $2.5 billion Square Kilometre Array project, with the decision expected in 2012.

To strengthen WA’s bid, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia have set up the International Centre for Astronomy Research with extra funding from the State Government.

The International Director for the S.K.A project Richard Schilizzi says the centre will enhance Australia’s chances.

“It shows that the infrastructure for radio astronomy in Australia is very strong and that means that the ability to exploit the telescope role will be ensured,” he said.

Source  :  www.abc.net.au

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Initial work at the Chevron-led Gorgon gas project could begin before Christmas if final investment is approved by the three joint venture partners.

The proposed development, which was given final environmental approval today, will create as many as 10,000 jobs at its peak and underpin a major expansion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) production across Australia.

Chevron greater Gorgon area general manager Colin Beckett said a few other formal approvals were needed before a final investment decision was made.

He said he did not want to pre-empt the decision, which should be made “fairly soon”.

But Chevron was committed to the project, he said.

“We now need to just turn our attention to finalising a few other formal approvals which will be of much lower profile,” Mr Beckett said.

Once those are out of the way we will be able to finalise our final investment decision.”

Mr Beckett said that once a decision had been made the next step would be to place purchase orders and contracts for project construction.

He said the company had already committed to $2 billion of contracts.

“By Christmas we would be starting to do some of the initial work on Barrow Island while in other places we complete our design and get on with the procurement activity,” he said.

“So we’ll be making early strides there and by the end of next year we’ll be working pretty flat out on Barrow Island itself.”

Accommodation for 3,300 fly-in, fly-out workers will be included in the construction phase, which is expected to create 7,000 jobs for people working on the project and a further 3,000 in spin-off employment.

Mr Beckett said the project would draw labour from across Australia.

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The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) left interest rates on hold at 3 percent as predicted.                                                 reserve_bank_400

A  survey by AAP had expected the RBA to leave the cash rate at the lowest since 1960.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said last weekend that it was obvious that rates will rise, while Minister for Financial Services, Chris Bowen, warned yesterday that rates can’t stay low forever.

Some economists believe the first rate rise could come this year, but the general view is that rates will remain on hold until the middle of next year.

In a statement released after the announcement, governor Glenn Stevens said the risk of “severe contraction” in the Australian economy had abated.

“Economic conditions in Australia have been stronger than expected a few months ago, with both consumer spending and exports notable for their resilience,” the statement says.

“Measures of confidence have recovered a good deal of ground.”

The statement adds: “The board’s judgment is that the present accommodative setting of monetary policy is appropriate given the economy’s circumstances.

“The board will continue to monitor how economic and financial conditions unfold and how they impinge on prospects for sustainable growth in economic activity and achieving the inflation target.”

 

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Adult criminals sentenced to outdoor community work will from today wear bright yellow vests emblazoned with “Repay WA” as part of a Government repay wacampaign to increase public confidence in community service as a punishment.
   
Corrective Services Minister Christian Porter claimed community work had not been used as a sentencing option as often as it could be because there was a perception among the public, and sometimes the courts, that it was becoming “a joke”.
   
“For the public to view community work as an appropriate sentencing tool, they need to see the work carried out as ordered by the courts,” Mr Porter said.
   
The State Government has adopted the tougher stance after statistics showed more than 40 per cent of offenders sentenced to community work in 2007-08 did not finish their programs.
  
WA’s completion rate of 56 per cent, 14 per cent below the national average, confirmed it as the worstperforming jurisdiction in Australia.   
   
Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan had suggested the vests after seeing them used in Britain this year.
   
“These vests will go a long way towards providing reassurance to the community that justice is in fact being done with these sorts of offenders,” Mr O’Callaghan said. 
 
Mr Porter said a crackdown on breaches had resulted in 55 per cent of offenders complying with their orders by attending work sessions, up from 40 per cent in June last year.
   
The rules will be tightened further in the next year, with offenders hauled back to court if they miss work on any two occasions. The existing scheme allows for three consecutive breaches before action is taken.

Australian Lawyers Alliance WA president Tom Percy said in February he was appalled by the idea. He said it was designed to humiliate offenders.

But Corrective Services community and juvenile justice deputy commissioner Heather Harker said yesterday she did not think offenders would be taunted or abused. “Many people out working in the community wear high-visibility vests and in many respects this is no different,” she said.
   
The vests will be worn by adult offenders working outside — such as in maintenance, repairs and gardening.
   
Juveniles will not be forced to wear the vests, which have been printed by inmates at Casuarina Prison.
   
More than 5500 adults and 770 juveniles are completing community justice orders of between 10 and 240 hours with punishments such as cleaning, gardening, administration, recycling, kitchen duties or sorting donated clothes for charity.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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Australians will have access to universal dental health care under reforms suggested by a federal government health commission.

The commonwealth will take over responsibility for all primary health care outside of hospitals and fund all outpatient services in hospitals.

The National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission has stopped short of calling for a full federal takeover of hospitals, but left open the option of the commonwealth funding 100 per cent of hospital admissions further down the track.

The annual cost of the reforms is estimated to be between $2.8 and $5.7 billion.

In addition, capital investment over five years of up to $7.3 billion is needed.

But the report says the changes could save $4 billion a year by 2032-33.

Of the 123 recommendations, one that could be most welcomed is the suggestion that commonwealth fund a new Denticare Australia.

The commission’s final report, released publicly on Monday, says there are more than 650,000 people currently on public dental waiting lists and the dental health of children is worsening.

‘To address these problems we are recommending a new universal scheme for access to basic dental services – Denticare Australia,’ the report says.

It will cost an estimated $3.6 billion a year. Under the scheme every Australian will have access to basic dental services ‘regardless of people’s ability to pay’.

It will be funded through an increase in the Medicare levy of 0.75 per cent of an individual’s taxable income.

source  :  www.bigpondnews.com

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A PLAN to help up to 124,000 retrenched workers has united the states but drawn criticism in Canberra.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed a deal with the states and territories to give intensive help to unemployed people aged over 25.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) conference in Darwin agreed to give the jobless access to government-subsidised vocational training.

Labor says the “compact with retrenched workers” will help up to 124,000 people.

“Workers who have been retrenched as a consequence of this global recession have lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Mr Rudd said.

“Acting to support young Australians who are finding it hard to enter the labour market … represents an important intervention by government.”

Under the agreement, the Federal Government’s new employment agency Job Services Australia matches retrenched workers, aged over 25, with a path to a qualification.

The state and territories would set aside training places.

The training is for people who have been out of work since January 2009 and who are registered with a Job Services Australia provider.

The entitlement is available from now until the end of 2011.

It follows an “earn or learn” COAG agreement reached in April to make youths aged 15 to 19 undertake training and guarantee places for 20-24 year-olds in skills development.

The Rudd Government says it has invested $300 million in programs to help retrenched workers, but it did not provide a cost for the latest one.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said COAG’s new scheme would prepare Australia for economic recovery.

“We know only too well how quickly this country can find itself in a situation of serious skills shortage.”

But Opposition employment participation spokesman Andrew Southcott said training programs for the unemployed had failed when Labor last took that approach in the mid-1990s.

“Training for training’s sake, without a job at the end of it, is cruel to the unemployed,” Mr Southcott said.

“The experience around the world is that a skills-first approach for the unemployed tends to be very expensive and you have poor outcomes.”

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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