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Peter McDonald,  Director of the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute at the Australian National University, has said that specific immigration policies are shaping the nation’s size.

Answering points raised in the McCrindle report – which said Australia’s population is set to hit 22 million before the end of the year- Professor McDonald talked about how migration to Australia is bringing about colossal social and demographic change.

“Migration to Australia has changed. You know people think about migrants coming to Australia as those coming on the classic government permanent residents program. That’s the skilled migration, family reunion, refugees,” he said.

“Only 30 per cent of the population increase through migration comes through those sources, the rest of it is from people coming in on temporary visas to Australia and the biggest group is the overseas students and overseas students coming in.

“We’re desperately trying to keep them coming at the moment in case they get frightened away because it is a big export earner for Australia.”

Professor McDonald says as the population ages, the birth rate will fall, and Australia’s population growth in 20 years will entirely rely on migration.

You can find out more about migrating to Australia at our Down Under Live show – coming to Birmingham on the 19th & 20th September.

Source  :  www.australiamagazine.co.uk

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STAMP duty on housing loans could be abolished after the Henry tax review, which is likely to recommend states be given a share of income tax to make up the difference.

The most likely path to do this would be for the Commonwealth to give the states the ability to impose their own surcharge on income tax, which would be collected for them by the Australian Tax Office.

 The Henry review has been inundated with submissions calling for the end of stamp duty.

Tax economists argue that the tax on moving house, although easy to collect, leads to poor use of the housing stock and poor labour mobility, The Australian reports.Having to pay stamp duty not only discourages elderly people from moving to more appropriate accommodation, it also deters people from moving house to a better jobs market. 

At a conference conducted by the Henry tax review at the Melbourne Institute last week, both international and Australian tax economists said stamp duty should go, with Melbourne University professor John Freebairn describing the tax as “a piece of garbage”.

The review panel is being influenced by state submissions arguing that replacing stamp duty by extending other state taxes, such as payroll tax or land tax, would be too difficult to implement nationally.

Tasmanian Treasury secretary Don Challen, who is close to the inquiry’s head, federal Treasury secretary Ken Henry, told last week’s conference that reform of state taxes would succeed only with leadership from the national government.                                                                                                                                                      stamp duty

“If you want to achieve a difficult reform, you’ve got to make it a national one,” Mr Challen said.

He said it would be too hard to win political consensus to extend land or payroll taxes.

“It requires eight lots of political commitment and eight lots of legislation and that path is doomed to failure,” he said.

However, he said he believed states would be willing to act on stamp duty if the commonwealth provided an avenue for alternative revenue.

The idea of giving states a cut of income tax was pressed two years ago by the OECD, which suggested the states “piggy-back” on income tax. The OECD also urged states to drop stamp duty.

One of the world’s leading experts on federal taxes, Canada’s Richard Bird, said the states were heading for a financial crisis because they did not have a sufficient tax base to support their burgeoning health and education costs, which were all rising much faster than the consumer price index.

One of the problems with stamp duty for the states is that it is vulnerable to the state of property markets.

Stamp duty usually raises about $14 billion a year for the states, but the recent state budgets showed big falls of more than $1bn each in NSW and Queensland, in 2008-09, for example.

“In Australia, it should certainly be feasible to permit states to impose a surcharge on the federal personal income tax base,” Professor Bird said.

He said that, ideally, Australia would follow the Scandinavian practice of allowing states to have a flat tax surcharge on income, rather than mirroring the commonwealth’s progressive taxation.

The states would be allowed to set their own level, making states more responsible for their own finances.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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WA’s only confirmed case of swine flu has been cleared after a week in quarantine, Ten News has reported, while the nation’s swine flu tally has passed 400.

The  man, who tested positive last week after going to hospital with mild flu symptoms, was in home quarantine with his wife and their eight children.

Australia’s Eastern States has been particularly hard-hit by the flu and Victoria has recorded a massive surge in cases, most of them children.
 
By this afternoon the number of confirmed cases in the State had risen to 306, a rise of 94 in 24 hours.

Most of the new cases in Victoria also involved young people aged five to 18, prompting a twelfth Victorian school to be closed today.
 
According to Federal Health Department figures, there were 64 confirmed cases in NSW, 18 in Queensland, six in South Australia, four in the ACT, and one each in Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
 
However, Queensland Health officials say the State now has 22 confirmed cases, the latest being teenage girls.
 
Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the Government was assessing whether to elevate the nation’s response to the disease from the contain to the sustain phase.
 
Victoria is already preparing to move into the sustain phase, under which quarantining is limited to those who share a home with a confirmed swine flu patient.
In the contain phase, anyone who has had contact with a swine flu patient is quarantined voluntarily and given antiviral drugs for a week.
 
The nation’s chief medical officer, Professor Jim Bishop, said the advice to people with flu-like symptoms may change as swine flu evolved.
 
At present, people who come down with flu-like symptoms, especially if they have recently travelled to an affected country, are being advised to seek medical advice.
 
Professor Bishop said in the future, fit and healthy people may be told to stay at home and only those in at-risk groups, including those with seek medical advice and asthma, will be advised to visit their GP.
 
“A lot of people that have these sorts of symptoms of course will, as this thing progresses, stay at home and not necessarily seek medical advice if in their own case it is a at-risk groups— and that we expect to see more of,” he said.
 
“As we move along in this marathon race, what we will need to do is obviously identify those people that we’re concerned about.
 
“If there is large numbers involved, we want to make sure the system is looking after people we most want to look after.”
 
The swine flu-affected ship Pacific Dawn docked in Sydney this morning after NSW Health authorities gave it the all-clear.
 

The P&O ship was forced to cut short its trip to the Barrier Reef last week when three crew tested positive for the virus.
 
A senior NSW Health doctor and 25 nurses boarded the ship in Brisbane on Saturday, testing all 2500 people on board during the two-day voyage to Sydney.
 
While disappointed the cruise didn’t go to plan, passengers said they still enjoyed the journey.
 
David Geers, from Brisbane, joked it was the perfect place to be quarantined for seven days.

 “If you had to be quarantined somewhere I couldn’t have thought of a better place … because we got fed, the drinks tasted the same and the staff were fantastic,” he told reporters at Darling Harbour.
 
More than 15,000 people in 53 countries have tested positive to swine flu, with deaths totalling 99.

Source www.thewest.com.au

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A SET of ancient Aboriginal remains found during a clearout of a house in northern England are soon to be returned to Australia.
Workers stumbled across the two femurs, three skulls and an assortment of other bones while sorting through the Cheshire home of university professor John Kempster, a former Aboriginal Rights Association president, after he moved to New Zealand in 2008.

He had instructed auction house Andrew, Hilditch and Son to clear out his home and sell anything they thought valuable.

“After the removalists finished the clear-out they found a small wooden crate and jokingly said to me they were the dog’s bones in there,” auctioneer Tom Andrew said.

“I said ‘Let’s open it and see what’s inside’ and we found three skulls and one or two other pieces.

“I also found in another briefcase two femurs wrapped in newspaper.”

Not realising that Britain had an agreement with Australia to return indigenous remains, the bones and a selection of weapons given to Prof Kempster while he lived in South Australia in the early 1960s were put up for auction in November 2008.

But after about 20 minutes of frantic bidding, the remains were dramatically pulled from sale after the Australian High Commission telephoned to stop the auction.

A scientist was sent to examine the bones, which were confirmed as being of Australian indigenous origin.

They will be handed over on Thursday to two Ngarrindjeri elders who flew from South Australia to London to collect 16 individual remains held by three museums and the auction house.

Mr Andrew said he was happy to know the remains would soon be on their way to the National Museum of Australia, which will try to determine which indigenous community they came from.

“I’ll certainly be on the look out for more,” he said. “I think there are more around than we think.”

The Liverpool museum has two more sets of remains it plans to return to Australia at a later date.

Further south, the Brighton & Hove City Council has agreed to return two skulls and two femurs for further study in Australia.

However, it is still debating whether to give back a skull modified to be used as a water vessel and which has been stored at the museum since 1925.

www.news.com.au

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