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MUM and dad investors will receive generous concessions to park their savings with banks and building societies as part of sweeping tax reforms.

The Rudd Government is preparing to unveil a new savings scheme offering tax breaks similar to superannuation’s discount rate of 15 per cent, The Daily Telegraph reports.

It will encourage investors to deposit savings with the four major banks and other respected financial institutions.

But investors will have to “lock up” their savings — perhaps for between five and 10 years — to qualify for the special rate.

The new savings deal will be announced as part of the Government’s much-anticipated response to the Henry tax review.

It will be part of a suite of measures aimed at building a new savings culture in Australia.

But it is also hoped it will generate billions of dollars in bank deposits, cutting the need for finance houses to borrow from overseas.

The Government expects it will be popular with voters who currently face punishing tax rates on savings. Some taxpayers can pay up to 50 per cent on interest earned from their bank deposits.

Australia is one of the few countries in the world to tax bank savings at the full rate.

Among key reforms, taxpayers will be able to lodge their annual tax returns with a few clicks of a mouse.

And Australia’s antiquated tax system — containing 125 different taxes — will be streamlined to simplify arrangements.

It is understood the Reserve Bank and other financial authorities have raised concerns about the steady decline in deposits.

Bank CEOs have been lobbying Canberra for changes to taxation on ordinary bank deposits, claiming the superannuation industry gets a huge advantage.

And they have a strong ally in Treasury boss Dr Ken Henry, who has also raised concerns over the punitive rates faced by those who save with banks.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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IMMIGRATION officials are preparing a 50-year migration plan to ensure that intakes consider a range of long-term issues such as climate change, water needs and national security.

The Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Andrew Metcalfe, said yesterday the department was conducting a review of the nation’s migration needs to ensure a more rounded and visionary approach.

”In terms of the future, we are trying to lift ourselves away from year-to-year decisions to a 50-year vision,” he told the Australian and New Zealand School of Government conference in Canberra.

”We are trying to move away from an immigration department that is responsive to one that can help the government achieve long-term objectives … A long-term planning framework … is something whose time has come.”

Mr Metcalfe said a well-planned skilled migration program could contribute to Australia’s long-term economic, demographic and environmental goals.

”We want to ensure our skilled migration programs are responding to longer-term skill needs which cannot be addressed through domestic training and skills development,” he said.

”The question then is how we can best address shorter-term labour market requirements … It will be important that the skilled migrants we choose are not only young and healthy but also have a high level of education, language proficiency and other skills. This will ensure that skilled migration contributes both to labour force growth and to the productivity of our labour force.”

Mr Metcalfe said the review will include an examination of the points system used to select skilled migrants, known as the Migration Occupations in Demand List.

”The MODL is not as flexible as we would like to address a rapidly changing and uncertain global environment. In my view, one of themes of this century will be the increased mobility of people around the globe, and we need to manage this adroitly.”

But the Government has denied it has adopted a new policy towards asylum seekers in the wake of a decision this week to process a group of 10 Afghan children on the mainland rather than on Christmas Island.

”These are 10 unaccompanied minors and therefore what’s happened is that they’ve been transferred from Christmas Island to the mainland on September 2,” he said

Asked whether there had been a change of policy, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said: ”Absolutely not.”

He told 3AW yesterday the group of 10 children had been transferred to the mainland because unaccompanied minors were given priority in processing.

”That’s what’s happening in the case of these minors,” he said. ”That’s why they’re treated separately.”

Source  :  www.smh.com.au

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A new report has found Australia’s migration program is more effectively meeting the needs of employers with a 60 per cent increase in the number of employer-sponsored skilled migrants to Australia in 2008-09 compared with the previous year.

The Report on Migration Program 2008-09 shows that the Rudd Government’s targeted approach to overseas workers is helping to fill critical skills gaps in the healthcare, engineering, financial services and IT sectors.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said that changes introduced in January including the Critical Skills List (CSL) of high value occupations and prioritising employer-sponsored or state/territory-sponsored skilled migration visa grants were having a significant impact.

Overseas workers who were sponsored by employers comprised 33 per cent of the 2008-09 skill stream compared to 22 per cent in 2007-08 and 17 per cent in 2006-07.
“A properly targeted migration program will ensure we have the right sized and appropriately skilled labour force to meet Australia’s needs now and into the future as our economy recovers and grows.”

The Government cut the 2008-09 permanent skilled migration intake in March 2009 by 14 per cent from 133 500 to 115 000 and reduced planning levels for the permanent skilled migrant intake in the overall 2009-10 migration program to 108 100 places.

“This is in direct response to the economic slowdown and represents an overall drop of almost 20 per cent on previous planning levels,” Senator Evans said.

“The migration intake in the coming year reflects the economic conditions while ensuring employers can gain access to skilled professionals in industries still experiencing skills shortages such as healthcare and engineering. “The reduction is being achieved through a cutback in places in independent skilled migration rather than in the high-demand employer-sponsored category or in areas in which Australia has critical skills shortages.”

Across all permanent skilled visa categories, the top three occupations for successful applicants were accountancy (6238), computing professionals (3879) and registered nurses (3355) while the top three countries of citizenship under the skill stream were the United Kingdom (23 178), India (20 105) and China (13 927).

“Australia’s migration program is better targeting the needs of Australian employers who are still experiencing skill shortages,” Senator Evans said.

Source  :  www.manmonthly.com.au

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THE Federal Government is trying to confirm the identities of three Australians believed to have been killed in the Indonesian terrorist hotel blasts.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told a press conference tonight that he had grave concerns for one embassy official and two other Australians in Jakarta.

Perth businessman Nathan Verity is believed to be one of the Australians killed in the bombings, which Mr Rudd described as “appalling”.

Jim Truscott, a personal friend, said Mr Verity had run a human resources and recruitment business out of Jakarta, but lived in Perth with his wife Vanessa and five-year-old son.

“He only lived in Jakarta for work. He would spend a couple of weeks in Jakarta and couple of weeks in Perth,” Mr Truscott told Fairfax Radio.

More Information  :  www.news.com.au

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The Rudd Government’s partnership with business and community leaders to Keep Australia Working has secured more than 1000 jobs in its first week, Minister for Employment Participation, Senator Mark Arbib, announced today.

Senator Arbib today joined Local Jobs Champions Bill Kelty and Lindsay Fox at the third Keep Australia Working Forum at Casula, where he announced 240 jobs in Canterbury Bankstown and South Western Sydney Employment Priority Area.

The Australian Government is providing $3.7 million from the $650 million Jobs Fund for three Western Sydney Projects.

The 240 jobs in Western Sydney bring to more than 500 the positions funded through the Jobs Fund and come on top of the 250 jobs in South Eastern Melbourne and 23 jobs in Northern Tasmania announced at jobs forums earlier this week.

The private sector is also playing a significant role in boosting employment with Lindsay Fox announcing this week he would employ an extra 450 staff over the next two years at Linfox and Woolworths announcing 60 jobs for its new logistics centre in Launceston.

“The Rudd Government is doing everything possible to keep Australians working,” Senator Arbib said. 

“This week by working together – the Government and industry – we’ve managed to create or protect more than 1000 jobs.

“Not every week will be as successful as this week in keeping people in work. There will be ups and downs, because the global recession is far from over.

“But this week has shown what can be achieved by working together.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Employment Jason Clare said community leaders, business representatives and job service providers would today join Government to develop a regional employment strategy for Canterbury Bankstown and South Western Sydney.

“The Keep Australia Working forums allow the community to maximise the benefits of the Government’s Economic Stimulus Plan and Jobs Fund and develop localised responses to the impact of the global recession.

“We want to find job opportunities for local businesses and workers, particularly in areas like Western Sydney where unemployment is a growing problem.”

Mr Clare said Local Jobs Champions, Lindsay Fox and Bill Kelty, would bring their considerable experience and wisdom to the table.

“The Local Jobs Champions will help forum participants identify local skill and labour needs and develop directions for the future,” Mr Clare said.

“It’s great to have Lindsay Fox and Bill Kelty on board. Few people understand the Australian economy better than these blokes, they’ve been through it before. They’re travelling with us around the country helping areas hit hardest by the global recession.”

Today’s forum is the third in a series being rolled out in employment priority areas across Australia as recommended in the Keep Australia Working interim report presented last week to Deputy Prime Minister Gillard by Senator Arbib and Mr Clare.

There are now 20 employment priority areas around the country:

  • Canterbury Bankstown and South Western Sydney (New South Wales)
  • Illawarra (New South Wales)
  • Richmond Tweed and Clarence Valley (New South Wales)
  • Mid North Coast (New South Wales)
  • Sydney West and Blue Mountains (New South Wales)
  • Central Coast Hunter (New South Wales)
  • South Eastern Melbourne (Victoria)
  • North Western Melbourne (Victoria)
  • Ballarat Bendigo (Central Victoria)
  • North Eastern Victoria
  • Ipswich Logan (Queensland)
  • Cairns (Queensland)
  • Townsville Thuringowa (Queensland)
  • Caboolture Sunshine Coast (Queensland)
  • Southern Wide Bay Burnett (Queensland)
  • Bundaberg Hervey Bay (Queensland)
  • Northern and Western Adelaide (South Australia)
  • Port Augusta Whyalla Port Pirie (South Australia)
  • South West Perth (Western Australia)
  • North West/Northern Tasmania.

For more information on Keep Australia Working, visit http://www.deewr.gov.au/Employment/KeepAustraliaWorking/Pages/home.aspx

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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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