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Posts Tagged ‘state’s’

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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Two of Perth’s western suburbs are all that stood between a total eastern states domination of Australia’s premium property markets last year.

Figures released by property analysts RP Data show Nedlands and Cottesloe as the only two non-Sydney or Melbourne suburbs to make the top 20 areas for $1 million-plus house sales last year.

The recovery from the global financial crisis showed in the figures.

There were 122 such sales in Nedlands, placing it 10th nationally, while Cottesloe (15th) clocked up 106 settlements.

The number of sales in Nedlands was a record for the suburb, six higher than in 2007 and almost double that of 2008.

But Cottesloe, while recording an almost 50 per cent increase on the previous year, was 15 short of its 2007 record.

Meanwhile, the seemingly never-ending building of apartment buildings in Earth Perth saw it top the state for sales of $1m-plus units.

The suburb shared the honour with South Perth. Both had 33 sales, placing them 17th nationally.

The number of East Perth sales was also a record for the suburb, beating the previous best of 32, in 2007.

That year, there were a record 52 $1m-plus unit sales in South Perth.

The inner-city Sydney suburb of Pyrmont topped the list, with 95 units sold, while just a few kilometres north, Mosman led the country for house sales, with 271 recorded.

RP Data national research director Tim Lawless said premium property markets generally provided stronger capital gains, mainly due to “inherently tight supply”.

However, they could be tricky for investors because rental yields were much lower, leading to cash flow issues.

Source  :  www.watoday.com.au

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WA will be able to handpick permanent migrants to service the booming resources sector and other areas of critical need under a massive overhaul of the skilled migration program to be unveiled today.

Under the changes, Immigration Minister Chris Evans will revoke and refund 20,000 applications from would-be skilled migrants and instead give top priority to those who are sponsored by employers and States for high-level jobs.

The overhaul is geared towards making Australia’s skilled migration super-responsive to urgent shortfalls in qualified mining and health sector workers, while also tightening permanent visa criteria for overseas students studying courses in low skill occupations.

Senator Evans will immediately abolish the Migration Occupations in Demand List, which gazettes 106 areas of preferred workers, replacing it by April with a more targeted Skilled Occupations List drawn up by the independent Federal authority Skills Australia in consultation with the States and business.

It means doctors, nurses, engineers and high-value professions and trades will have priority over low-skilled workers such as hairdressers and chefs.

In WA, as yesterday’s Olivier Jobs Index showed, the most sought after workers are in engineering, trades and services, and building.

In a marked departure from the existing skilled migration scheme, States will be asked to draw up their own migration plans to allow fast-tracking of applications for migrants sponsored by States or companies for specific jobs.

The bar will be raised for unsponsored skilled migration applicants, with criteria such as proficiency in the English language, work experience and overseas qualifications to be made tougher.

The overall annual skilled migration intake will remain unchanged at 108,100 people.

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar overseas student market where hundreds of thousands of foreign students have come to Australia to undergo trades training, enticed by the prospect of permanent residency.

The Government believes such courses are skewing the migration program, leaving new permanent residents with poor English and little prospect of finding work in their nominated field of expertise.

Foreign students in Australia studying in areas dumped from the new skilled occupation hit list will be given 18 months after completion of their studies to find sponsorship from an employer or sent home.

The Government believes the new regime will help the clampdown on unscrupulous migration agents, many of whom are Indian-based, who con students into believing completion of an Australian course gives automatic entitlement to permanent residence. 

The bar will be raised for unsponsored skilled migration applicants, with criteria such as proficiency in the English language, work experience and overseas qualifications to be made tougher.

The overall annual skilled migration intake will remain unchanged at 108,100 people.

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar overseas student market where hundreds of thousands of foreign students have come to Australia to undergo trades training, enticed by the prospect of permanent residency.

The Government believes such courses are skewing the migration program, leaving new permanent residents with poor English and little prospect of finding work in their nominated field of expertise.

Foreign students in Australia studying in areas dumped from the new skilled occupation hit list will be given 18 months after completion of their studies to find sponsorship from an employer or sent home.

The Government believes the new regime will help the clampdown on unscrupulous migration agents, many of whom are Indian-based, who con students into believing completion of an Australian course gives automatic entitlement to permanent residence.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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THE days of scraping car rego stickers off windows are over in Western Australia, which tomorrow becomes the first state to abolish them.

Cutting-edge technology being used by West Australian police has made the stickers redundant, saving millions of dollars.

Police superintendent Lance Martin said hand-held computers were now providing officers with instant advice on registration expiries — as well as an extraordinary amount of other data — simply by tapping in a request.

A car’s owner, previous owners, registration status, even the engine number, were all available within seconds to officers on the beat.

“We can also do detailed searches on people, we can access the criminal records of every person in Australia, we can bring up their mugshots,” he said.

“I can even have an officer carrying one of these hand-held devices in the middle of Broome (1660km from Perth) and pull up an electronic mapping system to track where that officer is in real time, accurate to about five metres. It’s amazing.”

Western Australia is the only state with the hand-held TADIS-lite computers, which have revolutionised life for officers on foot patrol, horseback, pushbikes and motorbikes.

They were rolled out over the past few months.

Superintendent Martin said the expanded access to computers was “the tipping point” for getting rid of car stickers and motorbike tags. Previously, if police spotted an expired registration tag, they had to radio through to base and then wait for someone to run the registration on the land-based computer system.

“It was a very time-consuming approach,” he said.

“Today they just type in a registration number (from their hand-held computer) and within seconds they’ll have all of the information associated with that vehicle.”

The innovation had made the visible stickers irrelevant.

The West Australian technology is fast becoming the envy of forces across the nation, many of whom have sent delegations to Perth to examine it.

It began with larger TADIS computers fitted to police cars, reportedly the most advanced in Australia, and progressed this year to the unique hand-held version.

“Other states are particularly interested in the hand-held units,” Superintendent Martin said.

“This is far bigger than the registration stickers.

“Just in the metropolitan area now with our mobile data devises, we can do over six million enquiries a year. It’s massive.”

The West Australian Department of Transport, which administers vehicle registrations, confirmed it also had been approached by other states about the decision to phase out registration tags.

To ensure drivers were comfortable with the change, they can now phone a hotline or check online to clarify the status of their registration.

Source  :  www.theaustralian.com.au

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WA’s peak parent group has slammed a plan to test pre-primary students next year as a waste of money, saying it’s “ridiculous” to assess children as young as four.

As part of its strategy to improve literacy and numeracy across WA, the Education Department will start to roll out the 30-minute assessments in the first term in public schools. The Sunday Times can reveal some of the sample questions likely to be used in the so-called “on entry assessments”, which are aimed at picking up early problems.

Pre-primary students in public schools will be asked to: Speak about a certain topic, such as friends or favourite games, for two to three minutes. Estimate how many teddy bears are in a cup. Put objects, from smallest to tallest, in order. Count backwards. Match dots with a number on a page.

WA Council of State School Organisations president Rob Fry attacked the $2 million plan, saying he expected parents to be angered by the “ineffective” results.

“I just find this truly remarkable when you’re dealing with children of such a young age,” he said.

“If you get an exceptionally shy child, you’re asking a four-year-old to talk on a subject for two minutes and some of them won’t want to say anything at that age. Does that mean they’ve got a literacy problem? No, they might be shy.

“It’s ineffective and you are going to get such diverse responses between a child coming from an indigenous community to a child living in a Perth suburb with a highly socially active family.”

School Support Programs executive director David Axworthy said the Education Department based its tests on the Victorian model because it was the “best tool to meet the needs of WA children”. It would also enable shared resources between the states.

“It will leave WA well placed for the introduction of the national curriculum when it is produced in 2011,” he said.

WA Primary Principals Association president Steve Breen supported the plan because it would allow teachers to set benchmarks and adapt their programs to suit children’s needs.

Education Minister Liz Constable said children at risk of falling behind would be identified earlier, allowing urgent action to be taken.

Under the plan, students in 50 schools will be tested in term one before all public schools will have access to the assessments in the final term. From 2011, each pre-primary student will be tested at the start of the year.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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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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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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