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Gillard calls August 21 election

Australians will go to the polls on August 21.                                                    

Prime Minister Julia Gillard this morning visited Governor General Quentin Bryce and set the date.

Speaking to reporters, Ms Gillard set the theme that Labor will hammer over the coming weeks – moving forward.

“Today I seek a mandate to move Australia forward,” she said.

“This election I believe presents Australians with a very clear choice. This election is about the choice as to whether we move Australia forward or go back.”

Earlier Ms Gillard had spent the night at her Altona home in Melbourne and woke up to the sight of dozens of journalists camped out across the street.

She arrived in Canberra just before 7am Perth time, and was driven to her office at Parliament House.

Ms Gillard made the short trip to Government House at 8.30am, where hundreds of Canberrans lined the roads in near freezing temperature to see history being made with the first female PM visiting on the first female Governor-General to call an election.

Two protesters were also at the gates of Government House holding up a banner stating “Where’s Kev? The people’s PM”. It is unclear whether they were Liberal Party supporters.

Ms Gillard said moving forward required conviction and confidence. It also required a willingness to embrace new ways of thinking, acceptance of new challenges, listening and learning, and to embrace new solutions.

“Moving forward with confidence also requires a strong set of convictions and a clear set of values,” she said.

Ms Gillard said she had been driven through her adult life by a clear set of values. “And over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to share those values with the nation,”she said.

“I believe in hard work. I believe in the benefits and dignity of work. I believe in what comes as an individual when you do your best and you earn your keep.”

Ms Gillard said there was no challenge Australia could not conquer if the country worked together.

“So in this, the forthcoming election campaign, I’ll be asking the Australian people for their trust,” she said.

“I’ll be asking Australians for their trust so that we can move forward together.”

She said moving forward meant plans to build a sustainable Australia, “not a big Australia”.

“Moving forward means making record investments in solar power and other renewable energies to help us combat climate change and protect our quality of life,” she said.

Ms Gillard said budget surpluses and a stronger economy would offer Australians the chance “to get a job, keep a job, learn new skills, get a better job and start your own business”.

Ms Gillard said she would protect the budget’s return to surplus in 2013 during the campaign by not going on an “election spendathon”.

“By making sure that any promise we make to spend money is offset by a promise to save money,” she said.

“By making sure that the budget bottom line doesn’t change by one cent during the election campaign.”

The Prime Minister said that “moving forward” also meant stronger protection for the nation’s borders.
“And a strong plan, a real plan that takes away from people smugglers the product that they sell.”

Ms Gillard noted that Labor had increased expenditure on hospitals by 50 per cent in its first term.

Moving forward on health meant training 3000 nurses and 1300 GPs during the next three years “all the while as we expand our GP super clinics and implement our health reforms”.

Ms Gillard reiterated her pledge to move Australia forward during her leadership.

“We’ll move forward together with a sustainable Australia, a stronger economy, budgets in surplus and world-class health and education services and other essential services that hard working Australians and their families rely on,” she said.

Ms Gillard said the Opposition’s economic approach was backward looking, citing the coalition’s stance against the stimulus package.

Failing to provide the stimulus would have sent the economy downwards into a spiral of lower incomes, lost jobs and reduced services.

“That is the spiral they would have recommended for this country but the wrong thing for Australians. It would have taken us backwards,” she said.

Ms Gillard accused Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of remaining committed to Work Choices, no matter what words he sought to use as camouflage.

“In terms of the words he seeks to disguise his intent with, we have heard all of that before,” he said.

Ms Gillard said she believed the Labor government had been a good one, but acknowledged there had been “some problems”.

“Yes there has been some lessons learned and I’ve acknowledged that we’ve learned some lessons along the way.”

Mr Abbott represented a threat to the nation’s future and return to policies of the past, Ms Gillard said.

“We’ve come too far as a country and we’ve evolved too much as a society to risk that kind of backwards looking leadership.”

Australians had an opportunity to elect a government that would see the nation become stronger.

“The choice is very, very clear. And I look forward to presenting our case for judgment to the Australian people over the weeks ahead.”

Ms Gillard committed Labor to offsetting every dollar of new promises with spending cuts.

“We will make a modest set of commitments to the Australian people and we will honour those commitments,” she said.

Ms Gillard said she anticipated – and welcomed – a robust election campaign.

“I think Australians believe that election campaigns should test their leaders,” she said.

“I believe we will all be tested in this election campaign.”

When Ms Gillard became prime minister, she said the Government had ‘lost its way”.

Asked what had changed in the weeks intervening, she said the Government under her leadership had taken several new directions.

She had committed to a sustainable population, announced plans for a regional asylum seeker processing centre, and resolved the mining tax stand-off.

“Through doing those things I’ve demonstrated to the Australian people the kind of way I which I will lead the nation,” Ms Gillard said.

“Talking to people, working with people, making decisions, moving forward, embracing new solutions and changing.”

Ms Gillard said she was determined to implement any promises made during the campaign, but Australians understood some might be broken if circumstances changed.

She cited the example of the collapse of ABC Learning and Labor’s subsequent backdown on its promise to build new childcare centres.

“I believe that Australians understand that there are sometimes where objective circumstances change,” she said.

“But obviously, in giving commitments in this election campaign, I will be giving commitment that we will implement, that I will want to implement, intend to implement, that I will be determined to implement.”

Ms Gillard will reveal Labor’s climate change policy during the election campaign.

“They will be policies coming from a person who believes climate change is real, who believes it’s caused by human activity and who has never equivocated in that belief,” she said.

Asked if she thought she had sorted out a number of issues she identified as problematic for the government since she was installed as prime minister, Ms Gillard pointed to the minerals resource rent tax.

Labor had made some big strides forward with the mining tax, she said.

“We’ve obviously been able to enter a breakthrough agreement with some of the biggest miners in the country,” she said.

“An agreement that’s given them certainty, that’s given mining communities certainty.”

Australians would be saying to themselves “haven’t we heard all this before” following Mr Abbott’s promise to leave Labor’s workplace relations scheme in place for the first term of a coalition government.

Mr Abbott had always promoted the previous Howard government’s Work Choices industrial relations regime, Ms Gillard said.

“I always thought Work Choices was wrong. Mr Abbott has always thought Work Choices was right.”

Australians will have until 6pm on Monday to register to vote with Ms Gillard confirming writs for the election will be issued at 6pm on the same day.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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It may be 50 minutes out of Perth but Rockingham beach has been awarded the state’s cleanest beach for 2010.

Its dive trails and interaction with its naval history made it a popular spot for visitors, while installation of big underground filter tanks helped protect the ocean from storm water pollutants, according to environment minister Donna Faragher.

“In addition to this, rehabilitation works have been integrated into the dune system to protect the foreshore against the heavy storm surges that occur in winter,” ” Ms Faragher said.

Rockingham Beach also won the Resource Management and Friendly Beach awards for making use of its assets and hosting community festivals.

Port Hedland’s Pretty Pool and Cemetery beaches picked up the Community Action award for the efforts of local business and residents to reduce litter and for a turtle monitoring program.

Gnaraloo Station, north of Carnarvon, earned the Environment Protection award for its efforts in looking after Gnaraloo Beach and its flora and fauna, including loggerhead and green turtles.

The Litter Prevention award went to Bill’s Bay at the Ningaloo Marine Park.

Rockingham Beach will represent WA in the 2011 national Clean Beaches Awards to be held in Perth in March next year.

Source  :  www.watoday.com.au

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The professional association representing migration agents, the Migration Institute of Australia, is concerned about allegations raised on tonight’s Four Corners program on migration and education scams.

“Unfortunately, hearing reports about international students and visa applicants falling prey to unscrupulous operators is not a new issue”, says Maurene Horder, CEO of the Migration Institute of Australia.

In May 2008, the MIA reported 60 rogue agents from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and is unaware if any of these were prosecuted.

Any unethical or illegal behaviour by registered migration agents is not tolerated by the Institute and should be cracked down on by the Department.

“We’ve been asking government to sort out problems with education agents and illegal or unscrupulous operators for an extended period of time. The announcement that education agents will have a register is a first step but doesn’t go far enough in reforming the sector,” says Ms Horder.

A recent independent report, entitled Changing Together, confirms the nature of some of the problems which affects the profession – that the bad behaviour of a minority of unscrupulous operators’ impacts negatively on the entire migration advice profession.

“Following the report’s release, the MIA is acting on a comprehensive range of reforms to strengthen standards and ethics of migration agents.” says Ms Horder. These include:

• Comprehensive reform to the education and training of agents
• Requiring current Registered Migration Agents to requalify to a higher standard of English language and professional competence
• Introduce a tiered system of registration to protect consumers
• Formation of an independent complaints body with the power to review fees

Responsibility for change should be shared by education providers, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

“I wait with interest to see tonight’s Four Corners episode and hope that it will provide an added impetus for the key stakeholders to come together and develop appropriate policies to meet Australia’s educational and immigration interests without anyone being exploited.”

  • Source  :  www.mia.org.au
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    Two more swine flu cases in WA, Scotch College student ill

    NEARLY 100 staff and students at WA’s exclusive Scotch College are being tested for swine flu after an 11-year-old boy fell ill with the virus.

    Eleven-year-old Scotch College student, Harry, who returned from Melbourne on June 1, has tested positive for the H1N1 virus.

    A 23-year-old woman, who returned from Melbourne on June 3, was also confirmed to have it.

    Harry had flown to Melbourne with a youth football team and on returning to Perth went on a school music camp before developing symptoms.

    He did not return to school after the camp because he was feeling sick.

    “I had a really burning temperature,” Harry said yesterday from home quarantine.

    “It was really hot. I was sweating.”

    Harry’s mother, Jennifer, said: “It was a really big shock. If there was no talk of swine flu and no Melbourne issue I would have just thought it was the same old cold or flu he has had before.”

    Eighty-nine students and 10 staff also on the Scotch College camp are being tested for the virus and anyone with flu-like symptoms is being urged to stay home.

    Four teammates suffering “flu symptoms’

    It is believed four other boys in Harry’s football team are suffering from flu-like symptoms.

    Scotch College acting principal Peter Freitag said there were no immediate plans to close the school down.

    “It would be very difficult to close the school,” he said.

    “It’s a boarding school, we have 170 boarders.

    “We wouldn’t want to close the school unless we have to.

    “At this stage we’re not anywhere near that.”

    However, Health Department’s communicable disease control director Paul Effler did not rule out temporarily closing the school if students on the music camp tested positive to swine flu and had since been to school.

    WA flu tally reaches four

    The Health Department confirmed that WA’s swine flu tally had reached four.

    “We are contacting the students, parents and teachers who participated in these events with the young boy and the close contacts of the young woman,” Dr Effler said.

    “The close contacts of the cases have been asked to remain in home quarantine and have been provided with anti-viral medication as a precaution.

    “The school has been very co-operative in helping us reach students, families and staff in a timely manner.”

    More than 1000 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Australia, with the most in the eastern states.

    On Thursday the Health Department issued a statement extending its voluntary quarantine policy for children who have recently travelled to areas affected by swine flu, including Victoria.

    Dr Effler said there was no need for the public to panic because in most instances the swine-flu virus appeared to cause a relatively mild illness.

    “I would encourage people to make sure they cover their nose and mouth if sneezing or coughing, to wash their hands frequently (and) most importantly, stay home if you are sick to limit the spread of the viruses in our community,” he said.

    Dr Effler said people should continue to get their annual influenza vaccine, particularly people in vulnerable groups, including those aged over 65 and under five.

    While the influenza vaccine won’t protect against the new strain of swine influenza, it will protect against serious illness caused by seasonal influenza.

    If you think you have swine flu phone your doctor or call healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222. For more information on swine flu visit 

    Department of Health website  www.health.wa.gov.au

    Source  www.news.com.au

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    carpenter-full
    THE federal Government has cut the skilled migration intake by a further 6900 people to help protect local jobs during the economic crisis.

    But it will increase the number of people allowed to migrate to Australia for family reunions, the Government said yesterday as part of Budget 2009.

    In March, the Government shed 18,500 skilled migration places in response to growing unemployment, which is forecast to hit 8.25 per cent in 2009-10.

    The latest cut, the second to be made this year, brings the program down to 108,100 places in 2009-10.

    Overall, the Government has slashed previous planning levels by close to 20 per cent.

    Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the cuts would not be made to professions on the critical skills shortage list such as IT.

    The migration intake in the coming year reflects the economic climate while ensuring employers can gain access to skilled professionals in industries still experiencing skills shortages,” Senator Evans said in a statement. The Government will provide more opportunities for family reunions by increasing the family component of the migration program by 3800 places to a total of 60,300 in 2009-10.

    “This boost … will benefit Australians who seek to have their parents, partners or children join them to live here permanently,” Senator Evans said.

    Overall, the migration program will total 168,700 for 2009-10.

    www.news.com.au

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