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                    [post_content] =>  
A scene from the new smartphone app Magical Park.

 
Local councils in Australia and New Zealand and an NZ games developer have hit upon a brilliant way to use mobile phones to draw children to play in urban parks again.

A new free smartphone app has unleashed the augmented reality game Magical Park, targeted at kids aged six to 11, which encourages children and their families to explore a magical fantasy world in their local park.

In the game children can interact with fairies, dragons, kittens, dinosaurs and aliens and complete missions, like finding dinosaur eggs, using their phone or tablet camera.

The game is positioned in a selected large, flat park space in the shape of a virtual circle, which holds the game content kids can play.

The idea was born during last month’s Parks Week celebrations, where 47 Australian councils and 19 NZ councils put their heads together to find a way to kick kids off the sofa and into the great outdoors, interacting with their families at the same time.



The project is a partnership between The Parks and Leisure Australia, the New Zealand Recreation Association and Kiwi game developer Geo AR Games.

Magical Park attracted over 24,000 park visitors during Parks Week, with an average of 1069 number of game sessions played per day and participants running an average of 1.45km per game.

Families across Australia and New Zealand spent more than 1,200 hours playing Magical Park together.

Councils pay a subscription fee for the app, which is geo-located to a specific park. The app will only open in a designated park area. The families find out about the app via the council or through signs put up in the park by their council.

The hotspots for gaming activity were Heywood Park in Unley, Perth; the Wilson Botanic Garden in the City of Casey, Melbourne and Westward Park in Clarence Valley Council in NSW.

Teresa Turner, New Plymouth District Council’s Recreation and Culture Manager, praised the app.

“I think what really appealed was that families could do this together – parents and kids both could hunt for dinosaurs and fairies and swap stories about their experiences after.”

GEO AR Games CEO Melanie Langlotz said: “Augmented reality is a powerful tool to get kids engaged and we have had a lot of queries from schools, who would like us to develop educational content.

“We have another product on our road map, which will eventually allow kids to upload their own 3D models and build their own worlds and games to share with their friends in their local park.”

Brian Eales, Principal from the Clive Primary School in New Zealand voted the trial a success.

“Magical Park opens up a whole new dimension for children linking the engaging world of devices and the great outdoors.

“It allows for the creative use of devices and mathematical concepts while maintaining physical activity. It can strengthen the tuakana teina relationship when older students work with young students.”

 



 

Sue Wilson, Assistant Principal from the Pomaria Primary School in Henderson, Auckland agreed it had had a positive effect on children’s learning, increasing in both writing and oral language skills.

While some councils are looking at bringing Magical Park back for the school holidays, permanent Magical Parks are set up in Heywood Park in the City of Unley and Rhodes Park in Kwinana.

Magical Park is the second augmented reality app from Geo AR Games. The company also developed Sharks in the Park, which brought an underwater world to kids in parks across New Zealand in 2016.

For more information visit www.magicalpark.net

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                    [post_title] => Move over Pokemon, new app draws kids to urban parks
                    [post_excerpt] => Local councils use Magical Park.
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_26950" align="alignnone" width="350"] Is the party over for Airbnb in NSW before it even began? NSW government says slow down. [/caption]

 

 

After three public hearings, 212 submissions and a parliamentary report the NSW government has announced it is not yet ready to make a decision about how to regulate short-term holiday letting through online booking services like Airbnb and Stayz.

Instead, the NSW government will conduct a ‘broad consultation’ with the public and the short-term accommodation industry, including bed and breakfasts and hotels, before publishing an options paper next month.

The options paper, which the Departments of Planning and Environment and Fair Trading will also contribute to, will explore land use and planning issues and strata management concerns, including the impact on the lives and safety of existing residents.

This morning’s announcement (Thursday) was in response to an October 2016 report by the NSW Parliamentary Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment on the best way to regulate the explosion of short-term accommodation letting and the continued rise of Airbnb in the state.

The report recommended the government make it easier for homeowners to rent out a whole or part of their house and for it to adopt a light regulatory touch.

This approach included relaxing state planning laws so that local councils could class short-term letting as exempt development, providing it did not have excessive impact on other residents.

But the government offered only ‘qualified support’ to the committee’s recommendations, stating they needed further consideration and more public consultation.

It has been slow going. After submissions closed in November 2015 there were three public hearings between March and May 2016 followed by the final report on October 19, 2016 and the government’s response six months later.

NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said it was too complicated and divisive an issue to rush.

“It’s no surprise that NSW and Sydney are highly sought after destinations for international and domestic visitors, however, we must find a balance between providing options for accommodation and residents being able to go about their daily lives. This will support the best environment for residents and visitors so that it is a great destination,” Mr Roberts said. 

“The inquiry recommendations make sense, but the regulation of short-term letting needs broader engagement with the industry and the community to establish a model that enables it to continue to flourish and innovate whilst ensuring the amenity and safety of users and the wider community are protected.  

“It's sensible to take time on a complex issue like this, which is why we are releasing an options paper next month.”

The government supported the report’s recommendations around communicating with councils and residents any changes and that councils take the lead on informing landowners about their rights and duties.

Also supported was giving owners’ corporations more powers to respond to any negative consequences of short-term lets in their buildings, through amending strata regulations.

NSW Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said the government would concentrate on finding common ground to address the concerns of everyone involved.

“We need to find what will work best for the people of NSW, which is why we’re issuing an options paper for discussion with relevant stakeholders,” Mr Kean said. 

“We don’t want a holiday accommodation market that’s so over-regulated it puts people off coming here but the rights of residents who live near these properties must be considered too.   

“While short-term holiday letting, if properly managed and respected by all parties, can be a boost to the local economy, the need to protect people’s rights to the quiet enjoyment of their own homes is equally important.”    

Meanwhile, Airbnb Australia Country Manager Sam McDonagh called the government's response a 'strong, positive step towards ensuring fair and progressive rules and regulation for residents and visitors to NSW'.

“We appreciate that these things take time and that it’s important to get the balance right," Mr McDonagh said. "We’re confident that Premier Berejiklian and the NSW government will join the state governments in Tasmania and South Australia, in embracing home sharing, and introduce fair regulations that allow more people in NSW to share their extra space.”

 

Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.        
                    [post_title] => NSW government delays Airbnb decision
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_26943" align="alignnone" width="522"] Will the NSW government wind back recommendations allowing Airbnb?[/caption]

 

 

NSW Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean is gearing up to present the state government’s response to the hot button issue of short-term holiday letting on online platforms like Airbnb and Stayz.

Mr Kean’s announcement, with some details expected by 5pm today (Wednesday), will form the government’s response to a NSW Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment and Planning report into short-term holiday letting,  released in October 2016.

The report recommended the NSW government adopt a light regulatory touch to short-term rentals and said restrictions should be eased so that home owners could rent out a room – or their entire house – without being fined by local councils for failing to lodge a development application for change of use.

The report, which examined how the sector should be legally regulated, split home owners and renters, cheered retailers and restaurateurs and horrified hoteliers, owner corporations and strata residents.

Local councils will also be closely scrutinising the NSW government’s position and hoping for clarity and guidance on how they should regulate the sharing economy through the planning policies they apply in their own backyards.

This came up in last year’s committee report, which recommended a concrete definition of short-term rental accommodation (STRA) to help local government, for example specifying the number of bedrooms that could be occupied or the number of days a property was rented in one year.

The committee also recommended giving NSW councils more detail around planning regulations and how to apply these to STRA.

Another suggestion was that the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) on exempt and complying development be amended to permit STRA and make the process quicker and easier.

Local councils has responded quite differently to Airbnb depending on their location.

Some NSW coastal councils, such as Gosford, Pittwater, Shoalhaven and Kiama have welcomed Airbnb but others like Byron Shire Council have battled with an onslaught of partygoers, while rising house prices lock locals out of the market.

Meanwhile, many metropolitan Sydney councils, such as City of Sydney and Randwick have demanded planning permission for short-term accommodation as complaints from residents grow. 

Although the inquiry recommended greenlighting Airbnb and sweeping away penalties, Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA), the peak body for the hotel industry, is tentatively predicting that the Minister will be more circumspect.

A TAA spokesman said that while the NSW government was unlikely to follow the lead of cities like New York, Berlin or San Francisco and ban Airbnb lets that were not owner-occupied, it was hopeful that some safeguards would be in place to protect residents from city apartment blocks being turned into 'quasi hotels'.

“It has been hard to ignore the millions of dollars that Airbnb has poured into ads and MP’s ‘advocacy’ over the past few months but we are confident the NSW government will be able to differentiate between genuine 'sharing' and the commercial exploitation of the new online platforms,” he said.

There is a possibility that the government will establish a committee  to examine the more contentious aspects of short-term rentals. 

TAA CEO Carol Giuseppi said in her response to the original inquiry that TAA did not oppose genuine sharing, where the owner was present during the stay, but that figures from Inside Airbnb had shown this was not the majority of cases.

Inside Airbnb reported that 61 per cent of Sydney listings were for whole houses or apartments and that 39 per cent of these were available for 365 days a year, a sign they were effectively functioning as commercial businesses. Almost one-third were listings for multiple properties.

“Our biggest concern is that city apartments will be turned into quasi-hotels, which has already taken place though in a number of cases residents have gone to court to force commercial operators out,” said the spokesman.

“The concern is the NSW government could make it harder for residents to keep Airbnb out, thereby wrecking their community and going against all the rules that were originally in place to keep the apartments for residents only.”

Instead, the TAA wants to outlaw those short-term lets that are obviously commercial and for councils to be given stringent powers to enforce the rules. It is also hoping that the state government will limit the number of days accommodation can be let out in a year.

The TAA believes that operators like Airbnb should be accountable for properties being compliant, in order to protect the safety of renters and other residents from nuisance. 
                    [post_title] => NSW government’s response to Airbnb report imminent
                    [post_excerpt] => Tourism accommodation body predicts a climb down.
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                    [post_content] => 
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces the end of 457 visas. Pic: YouTube.

 

By Madeline Woolway

 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced today that his government would abolish 457 visas, replacing them with a new temporary visa.

“We’ll no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians,” Turnbull said via a Facebook video.

“However, it is important businesses still get access to the skills they need to grow and invest, so the 457 visa will be replaced by a new temporary visa to recruit the best and the brightest in the national interest.”

Mr Turnbull said the 457 visa scheme had "lost its credibility". 

The new visa will require workers to have previous work experience, a police check, better English language proficiency and labour market testing. The government will also establish a new training fund with the aim of filling skills gaps.  

It is understood that there will be two types of visa: a two-year visa, with a 'substantially reduced' number of skills that qualify or a four-year visa, where better English skills will be demanded. 

 



 

In March 2017, the government cancelled fast tracked 457 visas for the fast food industry.

Writing for Hospitality after Trump's election, Justin Browne said the 457 visa program was at its lowest level of approvals in five years, outlining the merits of utilising overseas talent under the program.

With the hospitality industry in the midst of a skills shortage, a number of chefs have taken to social media to air their thoughts on the decision. 

On Bishop Sessa's Facebook page a message read: 

"Good luck Australia! Good luck finding Australians willing to work and be trained.

"Who genuinely thinks we prefer to employee foreigners?

"Who imagines investing time, money and effort in an employee with a finite future in our business is our preferred business model?

"Who really believes that given an option between an Australian resident and a visa holder with the same experience/qualifications we would choose the visa holder?

Eau De Vie's Sven Almenning said: 

"This has the potential of being absolutely devastating for the hospitality industry. Chefs in particular are in high demand with a very limited local 'supply' of trained chefs. As someone who sponsors a number of people I can testify to always looking for Australian residents first (sponsorships are both expensive and risky for us), but often there simply are not enough locals with the skill level or experience that we need that apply for these jobs. Personally I am quite concerned about what this populist election move will mean for our industry."

 

This story first appeared in Hospitality Magazine. 
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Local Government Excellence Awards

Local Government Professionals NSW revealed the winners of its Oscars for local councils earlier this month. Full list below.

 President LG Professionals, NSW Barry Smith said the awards recognised and showcased the pinnacle of excellence in the local government sector in NSW and significant achievements by NSW councils over the past year as well as the outstanding professional development achievements of our members.

“Local government works hard for the communities in New South Wales, and we were thrilled that the Deputy Premier and Local Government Minister joined us in acknowledging the sector’s professionalism and dedication," Mr Smith said. 

 

Excellence in Innovative Leadership and Management

Recognising the use of superior management and leadership skills to achieve outstanding benefits for the organisation and/or for the community.   Winner: Tweed Shire Council Highly Commended: Lachlan Shire Council, City of Ryde Council Community Partnerships and Collaboration Recognising genuine and effective partnerships and collaborations that have resulted in better outcomes for council, as well as initiatives that demonstrate a commitment to working with and/or in the community to achieve positive outcomes.   Population over 15,000 Winner: Port Stephens Council Highly Commended: Blacktown City Council, Lake Macquarie City Council   Population under 15,000 Winner: Warrumbungle Shire Council Excellence in Local Economic Contribution Recognising innovation in leadership and management for a project/initiative that has enhanced the economic wellbeing of their local government area and increased the value proposition to ratepayers and residents, in parts or all, of their city, town, district or region.   Winner: Liverpool City Council Highly Commended: Lake Macquarie City Council Excellence in Environmental Leadership and Sustainability Recognising dedication to sustainability as evidenced by the implementation of corporate process improvements, projects or initiatives that demonstrate significant real or potential benefit to the environment.   Population over 100,000 Winner: Campbelltown City Council Highly Commended: Canterbury-Bankstown Council, Central Coast Council   Population under 100,000 Winner: City of Canada Bay Council Highly Commended: Byron Shire Council  

Special Project Initiative

Recognising leadership where an individual, team or council has developed a concept or practice that significantly improves the business in which they work, development of processes or practices that has had a major impact on the organisation or its customers. Population over 15,000 Winner: Lake Macquarie City Council Highly Commended: Central Coast Council, North Sydney Council   Population under 15,000 Winner: Hunter’s Hill Council  

Excellence in Community Development and Services

Recognising leadership in community services as evidenced by way of corporate process improvements, a particular project initiative, innovation in management and leadership practices or demonstrated practicality and resourcefulness. Winner: Canterbury-Bankstown Council Highly Commended: Cumberland Council

Excellence in Asset Management and Infrastructure Initiatives

Recognising excellence in Asset Management as evidenced by the implementation of corporate process improvements, projects or initiatives that demonstrate significant real or potential benefit in asset management. Winner: Campbelltown City Council Highly Commended: Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, Wentworth Shire council

Excellence in Risk Management

Recognising the community and/or Council benefits (strategic, operational or financial) delivered through the identification, control and mitigation of risks within a council’s unique risk profile. Winner: Wollongong City Council Highly Commended: City of Canada Bay Council

Excellence in Creative Communities

Recognising excellence in bring together communities through art and cultural creative projects. Population over 15,000 Winner: Campbelltown City Council Highly Commended: Bega Valley Shire Council, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council   Population under 15,000 Winner: Narrabri Shire Council  

Excellence in Operational and Management Effectiveness

The Excellence in Operational and Management Effectiveness Award is open to all NSW councils who have participated in the Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program. Winner: Willoughby City Council Dux of the Governance Intensive Course The Governance in Local Government Intensive Course has been developed to enhance the governance knowledge and skills of professionals working in the local government sector. Dux: Christine Priest, Wagga Wagga City Council Dux of the Finance Intensive Course Covering all aspects of local government finance this one week intensive residential course will benefit new finance managers, senior accounting and accounting officers or anyone with a financial background wishing to expand their knowledge of local government finance. Dux: Tracy Wilde, Sutherland Shire Council     NSW Environmental Excellence Awards Nominations are open for the NSW Environmental Excellence Awards, which celebrate councils and council staff who have done outstanding environmental work in the state. Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades said local government was the closest level of government to communities and had the most direct influence on local environments. "But what is often forgotten is that local government is one of the biggest sectors in the NSW economy,” Mr Rhoades said. "Councils are responsible for maintaining and upgrading $142 billion in infrastructure and land assets, including parks, reserves, roads, community facilities and water and sewerage systems. He said the sector employed more than 50,000 people and injected $11 billion into the state's economy every year. "Combine that economic power with a commitment to environmental sustainability and best practice, and you have a sector making a very real contribution to the environment in NSW." There are 15 award categories, including the prestigious Local Sustainability Award for overall council performance and the Louise Petchell Memorial Award for Individual Sustainability awarded to an individual. They will be announced on October 11 at the University of Technology Sydney and they cover projects and programs from January 2016 to May 2017. The prize for overall winner of the Local Sustainability Award is an overseas study tour or a professional development program for staff, valued at $10,000.  Individual councils, county councils and regional council groupings are all eligible to enter, and compete against similarly sized councils in one of three levels: populations of less than 30,000; between 30,000 and 70,000; and more than 70,000.  Nomination applications close on 31 May, with further details available on LGNSW's website National Reconciliation Week funding Councils have until the end of this week to apply for federal government funding to support celebrations for National Reconciliation Week, which runs from May 27 to June 3. Celebrations are particularly poignant this year with the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Mabo High Court decision. The funding round closes on Friday 21 April 2017. President of the Australian Local Government Association, David O’Loughlin said councils can use the funding to partner with a local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community organisation to mark these two historic events through activities that honour and respect their significance to all Australians. “It is a great compliment to the sector that the Turnbull Government has chosen local councils as partners in celebrating this national milestone,” Mr O’Loughlin said. “I would hate to see any council miss out so I urge all councils to submit applications for this funding via the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.” Bill Shorten to address local councils Labor leader Bill Shorten will address this year’s National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA) on Tuesday 20 June in Canberra. This week, the Opposition came out in support of ALGA’s call to end the freeze on Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) indexation agreeing that local government funding has been under pressure following the 2014-15 freeze. The party called on the Government to rule out any extension of the FAGs indexation freeze beyond 30 June 2017.   The NGA is the peak annual event for local government, attracting in excess of 800 Mayors and Councillors each year. Themed Building Tomorrow’s Communities, this year’s NGA will be held from 18 - 21 June. [post_title] => Around the councils [post_excerpt] => Full list of NSW Local Government Excellence Award winners. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => around-the-councils [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-18 14:07:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-18 04:07:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26910 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26899 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-12 15:11:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-12 05:11:22 [post_content] =>     The 35-year lease to run the NSW's profitable  land titles registry has been sold to a consortium led by First State Super and Hastings Fund Management for $2.6 billion, in a move heralded by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as a ‘massive infrastructure boost’ and by almost everyone else as a bad idea. The only profitable part of the state’s Land and Property Information (LPI), the land titles registry, which currently makes about $130 million in net profit annually, was bought by Australian Registry Investments (ARI), a consortium made up of 80 per cent Australian institutional investors. Investors include First State Super, investment funds from Hastings Funds Management and a 20 per cent stake held by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group’s pension fund, also managed by Hastings. The winners beat off competition from three other consortiums: Borealis and Computershare; the Carlyle Group and Macquarie’s MIRA and Link Group. The NSW government called it a 'phenomenal result' for NSW. “Once again today's result has significantly exceeded expectations,” Ms Berejiklian said. “It means even more funding for the schools, hospitals, public transport and roads that people depend on every day.” The government will drop $1 billion of the sale proceeds on upgrading Parramatta and ANZ Stadiums and refurbishing Allianz Stadium, while the remaining $1.6 billion will be invested into other infrastructure projects under its Restart NSW fund, which often funds roads and public transport projects. The Premier has promised that at least 30 per cent of the total proceeds will be spent in regional NSW. But while the government has argued that selling the lease to operate the land titles registry to the private sector would spur ICT investment and speed up the system, scores of real estate agents, surveyors, lawyers, unions and community groups have slammed the sell-off and called it a disaster. They have argued that it will imperil the quality and reliability of the service, make it more expensive for ordinary people and push skilled staff out the door.  Opposition to the sell-off spilled over into a public rally in Sydney’s CBD in March. Land titles  defines the legal ownership and boundaries of land parcels and is integral to buying and selling property, as well as taking out and paying off mortgages, leasing and inheriting property. Despite the majority of people being blissfully unaware of the system until they need it, land titles underpins billions of dollars spent in the NSW economy and a $1.2 trillion real estate market.  The Public Service Association (PSA) called it a 'a recipe for disaster for millions of property owners across NSW'. “It is hands down, the most appalling fire sale decision yet by a Government with a strong track record in that area”, said PSA General Secretary, Stewart Little. “The government trumpets its efforts on ‘life-changing projects’ but what could be more life changing for millions of people across NSW than to lose the security on their own property? “Just as the PSA feared all along, ultimately the personal property records of the people in NSW will be held offshore given a portion of the successful consortium is based in London.” But NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet defended the lease arrangement and said it had ‘rigorous legislative and contractual safeguards’ in place to ensure the continued security of property rights and data. He said any increases in price were capped at CPI for the entire length of the lease and the government would continue to guarantee title, with the Torrens Assurance Fund compensating landowners who lost out due to fraud or error on the register, as happens now. A new external regulator has been established – the Registrar General – to monitor ARI’s performance and resume control, if necessary. Mr Perrottet praised ARI and said the company had prepared ‘a technology roadmap’ as part of its bid, helped by Advara, the private company that runs Western Australia’s land titles service. He said Advara had introduced ‘world-leading titling and registry technology’ to WA and added that the Registrar General would review and approve any major changes to LPI’s IT system in NSW. “This is an industry on the cusp of huge technological advances, and today we have partnered with some of Australia’s most reputable investors who will make sure the people of NSW get the benefit of those advances,” Mr Perrottet said. “Combined with the tight regulatory framework we have established, the investment, innovation and experience ARI will bring mean citizens can expect a better experience.” He said the ARI consortium had received approval from Commonwealth regulators including the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Foreign Investment Review Board and the transition to the new operator was likely to be finalised over the coming months. LPI staff have a four-year job guarantee as they transition to the new operator. More to come.   [post_title] => NSW land titles lease sold to consortium for $2.6 billion [post_excerpt] => Massive infrastructure boost or recipe for disaster? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => land-titles-lease-sold-consortium-2-6-billion [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-18 11:05:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-18 01:05:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26899 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26894 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-12 12:19:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-12 02:19:26 [post_content] =>   Trains in NSW will struggle to arrive on time and be blighted by overcrowding unless the capacity of the rail network is ‘increased significantly’ by 2019, says a report by the NSW Auditor-General. The audit of passenger rail services and rail punctuality in Sydney and regional areas, services overseen by Transport for NSW and contracted out to Sydney Trains and NSW Trains, found that the rail agencies were ‘well placed’ to manage the forecasted increase in passengers up to 2019 but would battle to stay on time beyond this date. But Auditor-General Margaret Crawford warned that this needed to be tackled. “Based on forecast patronage increases, the rail agencies will find it hard to maintain punctuality after 2019 unless the capacity of the network to carry trains and people is increased significantly,” Ms Crawford said. “If recent higher than forecast patronage growth continues, the network may struggle to maintain punctuality before 2019.” The NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan predicts there will be a 26 per cent increase in passengers between 2012 and 2031 and that passenger numbers may well overtake this figure. Forecasts have underestimated passenger numbers in the past, particularly in the morning peak. There has been an annual growth of 6.6 per cent since May 2014, twice as much as was predicted by the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan. More passengers usually mean more delays as trains wait longer at stations for passengers to get on and off. Ms Crawford said Transport or NSW had been making progress but was not close to submitting a costed plan to the government to address these challenges. “If patronage continues to increase at a faster rate than forecast, particularly during the morning peak, the network will struggle to cope before 2019," she said. “There is a significant risk that investments will not be made soon enough to handle future patronage levels. Ideally planning and investment decisions should have been made already.” While the audit found that system-wide punctuality was good overall, it pinpointed poor punctuality in some areas of the network. Problem areas
  • Snarl ups around North Sydney affecting afternoon peak services out to Western Sydney and Hornsby via Strathfield
  • East Hills express trains in the afternoon peak performed ‘well below target’
  • Intercity trains were less punctual than suburban trains with declining punctuality between 2011 and 2014
But the Auditor-General was relatively sanguine about how these problems were being tackled, noting that Transport for NSW and Sydney Trains were ‘well advanced’ with strategies to address the North Sydney blockage with improved infrastructure, more staff training, new timetables  and fewer speed restrictions. Train timetable changes should correct the East Hills delays within three years, she said. Replacing old intercity trains and ensuring good staff training would ease intercity delays but MS Crawford said improvements to contracts would also help, given that Sydney Trains was responsible for train, track and signal maintenance and managing trains on the rail network. She said that Transport for NSW, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains were now working collaboratively to make improvements to the contracts. Recommendations
  • Transport for NSW should submit plans to address passenger growth over the next five to ten years to the government as soon as possible
  • Sydney Trains and Transport for NSW should: a) oversee and resource all plans to address passenger increases b) adjust strategies for any patronage growth above projections
  • Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and Transport for NSW should publish customer delay results by June 2018
  • Transport for NSW, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains should agree by December 2017: a) specific performance targets for intercity train, track and signal availability and reliability b) guidelines for train priorities during disruptions and indicators of control centre performance when implementing these guidelines
  • Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and Transport for NSW should by June 2018: a) improve the accuracy of measuring passenger numbers and develop a better understanding of growth trends b) address small errors in the adjustment factors used to determine a train’s punctuality c) improve their understanding of the factors impacting on intercity punctuality
  • Transport for NSW should, commencing June 2017, explore the potential to use behavioural insights to encourage more passengers to travel outside the height of the morning peak between 8 am and 9 am
Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => NSW trains will struggle with delays and overcrowding by 2019, says audit   [post_excerpt] => Problem areas of network revealed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26894 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-18 11:05:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-18 01:05:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26894 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26875 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-11 10:29:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-11 00:29:17 [post_content] =>   Election result reprieve for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Pic: YouTube.    The NSW Liberals held onto Manly and North Shore in the state by-elections, despite serious swings against it, while Paralympian basketball player Liesl Tesch won Gosford and extended Labor’s lead to become the state’s first MP in a wheelchair. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will be relieved that she has made it through her first election test since former Premier Mike Baird quit in January and comforted that her party was able to hold on to what were previously considered safe seats. Ms Berejiklian would have been haunted by fears of a repeat of the Orange by-election upset last November when the Shooters and Fishers toppled the Nationals candidate but in the end she was spared the indignity. The Premier had admitted she was braced for 'huge swings' against the government but added that sometimes voted just needed to vent.   Liberal James Griffin retained Mike Baird’s old seat of Manly, albeit with a primary vote swing of 24.7 per cent swing against him, while Felicity Wilson took ex-NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s former North Shore seat, where the swing was 15.4 per cent against the government. Some pundits had been predicting that North Shore could fall to Independent Carolyn Corrigan and cause Ms Berejiklian a major embarrassment but it was never transpired. Pressure had been mounting on the Liberals in the weeks leading up to the by-elections, with Mr Griffin and Ms Wilson both mired in controversy. A company Mr Griffin co-founded was accused of trading while insolvent and Ms Wilson was caught exaggerating how long she had lived on the North on her statutory declaration and nomination form. She later slipped up on social media, claiming that she had cast her first ever vote for John Howard in Bennelong in 2001. Fairfax countered her claim by saying she lived in Marrickville at the time, in the Grayndler electorate, and could not have done so. Ms Berejiklian would have been expected a backlash against her government, at least partly made up of those disaffected by transport problems, overcrowded schools, forced council mergers, greyhound racing and NSW hospital scandals. The Premier will be preparing in earnest for the next state elections in 2019 when voters may be more eager to punish the incumbent government after eight years in office.  It was good news for Labor in the Central Coast seat of Gosford as Liesl Tesch and widened the party’s margin in what had been the state’s most precarious seat with a 14 per cent swing. Labor MP Kathy Smith, who retired due to ill health earlier this year, beat Liberal state MP Chris Holstein in the 2015 Gosford election by only 203 votes. NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley said Ms Berejiklian should take responsibility for the major swings against the Liberals, which he said were more than 25 per cent in some polling booths. “In November the voters in three seats said the Government should change – it changed Premier but it didn’t change direction. Today voters in three different seats told the Government again it needs to change direction – it is time for Ms Berejiklian to start listening," Mr Foley said.  He praised Ms Tesch and said she had fought a strong campaign. “This is a great victory for the Central Coast. Liesl is a fighter. She has been a success at everything she has attempted in life and I know she will be a great representative for the people of the Central Coast when she takes up her position in the State Parliament.” [post_title] => Relief for Berejiklian in state by-elections despite serious swings [post_excerpt] => Labor keeps Gosford, increases margin. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => relief-berejiklian-state-elections-despite-serious-swings-government [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-11 11:03:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-11 01:03:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26875 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26860 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-10 16:51:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-10 06:51:12 [post_content] => Commonwealth Ombudsman investigation into the Centrelink Robodebt fiasco has found the Department of Human Services (DHS) guilty of poor service delivery and inadequate planning but it has stopped short of condemning the automated debt collection push, saying it was no more inaccurate or unfair than the manual process. Acting Commonwealth Ombudsman Richard Glenn said that the online compliance intervention (OCI), which DHS launched in July 2016 and was expected to clawback up to $4 billion, could have been delivered and planned for better but that it was not fundamentally flawed. The OCI matched Tax Office employment data with Centrelink data and sent debt notices out when discrepancies were flagged.  What went wrong The Ombudsman’s report said poor service delivery was ‘a recurring theme’ in many complaints he had received. “Customers had problems getting a clear explanation about the debt decision and the reasoning behind it,” Mr Glenn said in the report. He noted that the compliance helpline number was not included on the initial debt letters and was difficult to find online, resulting in  long wait times because customers flooded general customer service lines instead. Once customers were through to a human being the response was not always helpful. “Service centre staff did not always have sufficient knowledge about how the OCI system works, highlighting a deficiency in DHS’ communication and training to staff.” The investigation concluded that DHS should have done better preparation before the scheme was rolled out and expanded, including speaking to staff and Centrelink customers. “The OCI is a complex automated system that was rolled out on a large scale within a relatively short timeframe. There will inevitably be problems with the rollout of a system of this scale," the report said.  “In our view, many of the OCI’s implementation problems could have been mitigated through better project planning and risk management at the outset. This includes more rigorous user testing with customers and service delivery staff, a more incremental rollout, and better communication to staff and stakeholders.” Mr Glenn said DHS’ did not consult all the relevant external stakeholders during key project planning stages and after the full rollout of the OCI, which he said was reflected “by the extent of confusion and inaccuracy in public statements made by key non-government stakeholders, journalists and individuals”. Mr Glenn said there should have been more manual support available to customers when they had questions, once the OCI was in motion, particularly for those most vulnerable. “A key lesson for agencies and policy makers when proposing to rollout large scale measures which require people to engage in a new way with new digital channels, is for agencies to engage with stakeholders and provide resources for adequate manual support during transition periods.  “Good public administration requires a transparent and open decision making process that clearly sets out the issues the person needs to address to challenge a decision and the findings of fact on which the decision is based. This principle continues to apply when decision making is automated.” The Ombudsman was also squeamish about the DHS automatically charging a ten per cent debt recovery fee to customers who had a debt and did not have a reasonable excuse for it. While acknowledging this practice was legal, Mr Glenn raised concerns for those customers who may not have had an adequate opportunity to provide a reasonable excuse, for example if they did not receive the initial letter, or did not understand the connection between having reasonable excuse and being charged a recovery fee. DHS no longer applies the fee automatically where there is no contact from the customer, or the customer says personal factors affected them and the fee is suspended while a review is under way. Letters are now sent by registered post. “[DHS] now provides clearer information and further invitation to provide a reasonable excuse in debt notification letters. We have recommended that, in certain cases, DHS review those debts where the recovery fee was previously applied," the report added.  But although the Ombudsman said the process could have been easier to navigate, more transparent and decisions made easier to challenge he did not attack the reasoning behind the program. Mr Glenn said that although one-fifth of Centrelink Robodebts were later challenged successfully by clients after they supplied extra information, this should not be called an ‘error rate’. He said this figure was consistent with that associated with manual debt investigation and the data matching process was not at fault. Neither did he criticise the ATO practice of averaging income out over a person’s employment period, which could result in some people’s income being overstated and debt notices being issue by Centrelink, although he said this should be explained to Centrelink customers.  “We are also satisfied that if the customer can collect their employment income information and enter it properly into the system, or provide it to DHS to enter, the OCI can accurately calculate the debt. “After examination of the business rules underpinning the system, we are satisfied the debts raised by the OCI are accurate, based on the information which is available to DHS at the time the decision is made.” [post_title] => Centrelink Robodebt: Human Services off the hook? [post_excerpt] => But Commonwealth Ombudsman’s report cites poor service delivery. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26860 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-10 16:51:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-10 06:51:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26860 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26847 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-07 10:22:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-07 00:22:17 [post_content] =>   If the bookies are right, Independent candidate Carolyn Corrigan could cause a huge upset in tomorrow’s (Saturday) North Shore by-election and topple the Liberals right where it hurts: in its leafy Sydney heartland. As the contest hots up in former NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s North Shore seat, online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au has revealed that a flurry of late bets on Ms Corrigan’s chances have made the Libs look wobbly in a seat they hold by a 30.4 per cent margin. Will Byrne from Sportsbet.com.au said there was strong support for Ms Corrigan, whose odds had shortened significantly in the run-up to the election from $4.00 into $2.50, suggesting that Saturday’s state  by-election will be a close run thing. “The Liberals looked safe in North Shore but there’s been some money in the past few days to suggest the race is not run there yet,” Mr Byrne said. The North Shore electorate takes in the local government areas of Mosman and North Sydney and both councils have stridently resisted the state government’s attempts to merge them with their neighbours. Ms Corrigan is a former president of anti-forced council amalgamation community group Save Our Councils and she will be hoping the community’s rebellious sentiment continues to the ballot box. Independent candidate Carolyn Corrigan   But all is not lost for Liberal candidate Felicity Wilson, a former president of the NSW Liberal Women's Council, and she is still odds on to win at $1.50. Ms Wilson came under fire earlier this week when Fairfax published a story rubbishing her claims that she had lived in the lower North Shore electorate – in Neutral Bay, Waverton and Wollstonecraft - for more than a decade. Electoral records showed she had lived in several addresses outside the electorate at various points during five of those twelve years. Ms Wilson later apologised, calling it an ‘unintentional error’. She was also criticised for claiming that the first ever vote she cast was for John Howard in Bennelong in 2001. Fairfax countered her claim by saying she lived in Marrickville, in the Grayndler electorate, at the time and could not have done so. She later admitted she had made a mistake. But whether this controversy is serious enough to cruel Ms Wilson’s chances is another matter. North Shore has been considered a very safe blue ribbon Liberal seat since 1991, although it has fallen to independents in the past, most notably to Independent North Sydney Mayor Ted Mack. Interestingly, it is not a two horse race. In fact, the Greens have outpolled Labor to come second in the last three state elections. However, Sportsbet has Greens candidate Justin Alick at $34, with a Donald Trump-style shock needed for a payout. Liberal candidate Felicity Wilson with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian Sportsbet will be hoping it makes a better fist of predicting the North Shore result than it did when Donald Trump scored a shock victory in the US election in November last year when the company reportedly paid out $11 million to 25,000 punters who picked Trump for POTUS. This weekend also sees two other NSW by-elections, former NSW Premier Mike Baird’s seat of Manly and Gosford, which was vacated by Labor MP Kathy Smith when she retired due to ill health earlier this year. The bookies have both seats as clear wins: one for Labor and one for the Liberals. Manly is tipped to go to the Liberals ($1.10) and Gosford to Labor ($1.05), despite Gosford being the state’s most marginal seat and held by Labor by only 0.2 per cent. Ms Smith narrowly beat Liberal state MP Chris Holstein in 2015 by only 203 votes. Gosford is another seat where council mergers could affect the result and the forced amalgamation between Gosford City and Wyong Shire Councils could tip the balance against the Liberals. Labor’s candidate for Gosford is Liesl Tesch, an Australian wheelchair basketball player and sailor, while the Liberals are fielding organ donation campaigner and office manager Jilly Pilon.   What are the odds? North Shore by-election $1.50   Liberal             $2.50   Independent (Carolyn Corrigan) $16      Independent (Ian Mutton)      $16      Independent (Harry Fine)       $34      Green $51      Animal Justice Party $51      Voluntary Euthanasia $101    Christian Democrats   Gosford by-election $1.05   Labor   $8.50   Liberal $16      Shooters, Fishers and Farmers $51      Animal Justice Party    $51      Christian Democrats $101    Green   Manly by-election $1.10   Liberal   $7.50   Independent (Ron Delezio) $9.00   Independent (Kathryn Ridge) $11      Green $21      Independent (running for One Nation)          $21      Independent (John Cook) $21      Independent (Haris Jackman)             $26      Independent (Brian Clare)      $26      Independent (Victor Waterson) $51      Voluntary Euthanasia (Kerry Bromson)          $51      Animal Justice (Ellie Robertson)         $51      Christian Democrats $51      Independent (James Mathison) [post_title] => Bookies shorten odds for independent to win North Shore by-election [post_excerpt] => Will the Libs topple in leafy la-la land? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => bookies-shorten-odds-independent-win-north-shore-election [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-12 08:41:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-11 22:41:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26847 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26832 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-06 14:50:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-06 04:50:22 [post_content] =>   Exasperated staff at Human Services will intensify strikes at Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support from Thursday next week in an attempt to break the three-year deadlock with the federal government over pay and conditions and sign a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA). Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members begin two weeks of industrial action from Thursday April 13 until April 26 with longer strikes between 7am and 8.30pm, except for April 13. These are rolling strikes, which means strikers can chose to strike for as little as half an hour or for their entire shift. Recent strikes have involved shorter periods of time, from 1.30pm to 8.30pm or 12.30pm to 8.30pm. Human Services and the CPSU appear to be no closer to a resolution and a new agreement than they were last year, despite the Fair Work Commission overseeing the discussions. DHS staff have already voted down agreements three times: by 83 per cent in September 2015; 80 per cent in February 2016 and 74 per cent in November 2016. CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said a fortnight of strikes in Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support showed how frustrated workers were. “We’re talking about thousands of people with bills to pay, many of them part-time working mums on around $40,000 a year,” Ms Flood said. “DHS workers really aren’t asking for much. All they want to do is hold on to rights and conditions that have been in place for many years and allow them to balance their working and family lives. She said ‘slow but steady’ progress made by other Commonwealth agencies but talks with DHS had achieved little. “Our team has worked tirelessly trying to negotiate through this mess with DHS management. Those talks are ongoing and are currently being overseen by the Fair Work Commission, but there’s been no movement from DHS’s bosses or in fact any sign whatsoever that they actually want to resolve this.” She said the strikes came at a period of high demand for DHS services and were expected to cause ‘significant disruption’ to the department and its clients. It is not known whether the strike will affect DHS’ Mobile Services, which are helping people get emergency help in flood-hit areas of Queensland. In the past, the Department has requested the union grant exemptions to strikes on the grounds they could cause unnecessary hardship to claimants and the CPSU said they had always agreed to these requests. A CPSU spokesperson said it was difficult to predict the effects of the two-week strike because it depended on DHS’ contingency plans as to where the impact would be felt. DHS General Manager Hank Jongen said that the strike action, which includes Easter and Anzac Day, was designed to disrupt DHS' face-to-face and telephone services. He said it was an attempt by the union to make it 'even harder' for people who used its services but that it would not succeed, predicting that the impact of the industrial action would be 'minimal' and there would no disruption to existing payments. "Our priority is ensuring that the those most vulnerable or with urgent queries get the support they need," Mr Jongen said. "People can also access services through myGov and the Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support mobile apps – these will not be affected by any stoppages." He said the union's actions would not change the department’s bargaining position around the new Enterprise Agreement. "The department and the CPSU are currently making progress in bargaining before the Fair Work CommissionWe are disappointed the union is initiating more industrial action while we continue to bargain in good faith. "In our most recent offer we committed to maintaining virtually all existing staff entitlements, including all our family friendly entitlements. We are also offering staff a pay rise that is both affordable and in line with community standards."   [post_title] => Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support staff step up strikes [post_excerpt] => DHS says bargaining position won't change. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26832 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-07 10:24:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-07 00:24:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26832 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26822 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-05 13:01:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-05 03:01:25 [post_content] => Former NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli goes back to uni. Pic: YouTube   Adrian Piccoli – the dumped NSW Education Minister who famously made a stand against his own party by championing Gonski needs-based school funding – will work with the University of NSW on its programs for disadvantaged students and schools. Mr Piccoli was controversially dumped as the state's Education Minister during NSW Premier Gladys Berejikilian's Cabinet reshuffle in January and replaced with NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes. Now the former minister has been appointed an Honorary Professor of Practice by UNSW, which will see him working with the School of Education and Arts and Social Sciences and giving guest lectures on politics and public policy while helping with the university’s suite of education initiatives, particularly those around rural and remote education. These include:
  • Boosting the number of trainee teaching placements in rural areas
  • A partnership between UNSW and Matraville High School where undergraduate teachers run educational and fun after school workshops and support students academically while gaining valuable teaching experience.
  • ASPIRE, a program that aims to boost the numbers of children going to university in schools where numbers are low
UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said Mr Piccoli had shown great commitment to public education, particularly around improving literacy and numeracy in rural and remote communities, and welcomed him on board. “His expertise fits perfectly with the focus of our UNSW 2025 Strategy on educational excellence and social engagement. His contribution will be of great value in our efforts to provide the highest quality education, accessible to all parts of society,” Prof Jacobs said. “I am delighted that Adrian is joining our team at UNSW and I look forward immensely to his input.” Dean of UNSW Arts and Social Sciences Professor Susan Dodds said UNSW would draw on Mr Piccoli’s practical policy knowledge and longstanding commitment to rural and remote education in the university’s research and teaching. “We have plans to continue to expand our work with policy makers, schools and communities, and his appointment will help to focus those developments. In addition, Mr Piccoli has agreed to offer some guest lectures to students in courses on politics and public policy, informed by his experience as an MP,” Prof Dodds said. Mr Piccoli said he was committed to improving the outcomes for students across NSW and Australia. “This is a great opportunity to continue making a contribution to education in conjunction with one of the finest universities in the country,” he said.   [post_title] => Piccoli takes on uni role to help disadvantaged students [post_excerpt] => Remote and rural areas focus. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => piccoli-takes-uni-role-help-disadvantaged-students [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-07 10:25:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-07 00:25:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26822 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26810 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-05 10:37:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-05 00:37:27 [post_content] =>   Chief Secretary's Building, which houses the NSW Industrial Relations Commission. Pic: Supplied.    Barrister Peter Kite SC has been appointed as the NSW Industrial Relations Commission‘s (IRC) first Chief Commissioner after the Supreme Court swallowed up the Commission’s judicial functions last year.   The IRC was pitched into controversy late last year after the state government decided to move its judicial functions from the Industrial Court to the Common Law Division of the Supreme Court, justifying it by saying the Industrial Court’s workload had fallen dramatically in the past decade from 766 matters in 2005 to 35 matters in 2015. The government attributed the reduction in litigation to the introduction of the national workplace relations system and changes which saw work health and safety prosecutions transferred to the NSW District Court in 2010. The Industrial Relations Amendment (Industrial Court) Bill 2016, which brought the changes into effect in November 2016, created a new Chief Commissioner to lead the IRC, bringing the number of commissioners to five, and moved the sole judge of the IRC’s Industrial Court, Justice Michael J Walton, to the Supreme Court. The government maintained the changes would make the process more efficient and allow litigation to be presided over by a more diverse range of judges. ​But some criticised the Supreme Court move, saying it would make cases more expensive and more intimidating for plaintiffs. Unions NSW argued that the Supreme Court was more used to hearing commercial or criminal cases, not industrial. Greens MP and former barrister David Shoebridge said at the time that the integration was “killing a specialist industrial tribunal through death by a thousand cuts”. Peter Kite SC, New Chief Commissioner of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission. Pic: supplied.    The IRC has non-judicial functions like the arbitration of industrial disputes and setting wages and conditions of employment and judicial functions, such as determining unfair dismissal cases and underpayment of wages and superannuation appeals. It is an important body in NSW because it affects the employment pay and conditions of public servants like teachers, council workers, doctors in public hospitals, paramedics, nurses and police. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will be hoping that the government can put past controversies behind it with the appointment of Mr Kite, who started his new job this week. Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations Dominic Perrottet said Mr Kite brought a wealth of experience to the job. “Peter has been a senior industrial relations practitioner for more than three decades, and has served as Acting Deputy President of the IRC of New South Wales and Acting Judge of the Industrial Court of New South Wales,” Mr Perrottet said. “I have no doubt he will make a valuable contribution in leading the IRC here in NSW, and I wish him all the best in this role.” Mr Kite’s experience includes more than 30 years as a barrister specialising in industrial law and unfair contracts. He is also an accredited mediator with the NSW Bar Association. The Chief Commissioner will lead the IRC’s operations in resolving industrial disputes and settling employment conditions and remuneration for employees, primarily in the NSW public sector and local government. The role of Chief Commissioner replaces the former role of President of the IRC.                        [post_title] => NSW Industrial Relations Commission gets first Chief Commissioner [post_excerpt] => Supreme Court moves plays out. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26810 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-07 10:24:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-07 00:24:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26810 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26748 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-04 10:47:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-04 00:47:01 [post_content] =>     NSW largest council has rebranded itself with the help of more than 2,000 ratepayers and hit back at perceptions that it is boring. Canterbury-Bankstown Council, which was created in May last year from a merger between Canterbury City and Bankstown City Councils, launched its new logo and slogan: ‘where interesting happens’ yesterday (Monday) and released a video to accompany it. The south-western Sydney council is the state’s largest council area and has around 350,000 residents. The council’s administrator, Richard Colley, said that residents, community and sports groups and business leaders had all chipped in their thoughts on the rebranding and so had visitors, through workshops, interviews, surveys and roundtables. Mr Colley said the council involved the community from the outset so that they could 'own and be proud of' the rebranding, which reportedly cost $375,000. “It’s not every day you get to stop and think about what defines you as a place and community – we know we are multiculturally diverse, and that’s very important, but what really defines us and sets us apart from other areas and the pack,” Mr Colley said.  “It’s based on the idea “Where Interesting Happens” and will allow us to promote our fascinating stories, unique experiences and much more.” The council’s survey of ratepayers found they wanted the area to become a destination where people stopped, rather than drove through; they were proud of diversity and wanted to project a more confident image. Mr Colley said residents would see the new brand popping up in the area from this week on signs, council vehicles and PR material and that various related events would follow. “Our new city brand is about sharing what makes us special and uniting the two great cities of Canterbury and Bankstown.  It’s much more than just a logo, it’s a whole new destination marketing approach for everyone to join in, including residents, businesses, community groups, cultural institutions, sporting groups and visitors.” But the rebranding was not just about what people who live or work in the area thought.   Mr Colley said: “We also wanted to understand what people outside Canterbury-Bankstown think of us, so we can attract them to our many businesses, places and activities, and help grow our local economy.” Focus groups and online surveys of around 500 Sydneysiders from outside the Canterbury Bankstown area found that some of them had negative perceptions that there was not enough to do there. “The research showed some Sydneysiders don’t visit Canterbury-Bankstown because they think there’s not much to do here.  Well, that’s about to change! “Interestingly, we also heard, some people living in our City believe other Sydneysiders think Canterbury-Bankstown is unsafe.  We found this is not the case at all,” he said.  It’s early days but the reaction on social media have been mostly positive so far, apart from one or two digs at the council’s slogan and social media hashtag. One Facebook wag said the hashtag should be #whereoverdevelopmenthappens or #whereinfrastructureisneeded, while another criticised the slogan: “ ‘Where Interesting Happens’ isn't even a grammatically correct sentence! But then neither is ‘Think Different’ and that worked for Apple. Good luck with the new initiative.” CEO of Chess Engineering Steve Facer, who was involved in the consultation, said the process had “captured an honest and real feel of locals and non-residents”.  “They were unafraid to face whatever realities may present themselves and then have the courage to address them in an open-faced and positive way,” Mr Facer said.  “The new direction seems highly inclusive. It already has, and will continue to generate energy for a ‘can do’ area that may now start to evolve at an ever increasing rate.  I loved the bold simplicity of the package.”   What do you think of the rebranding? Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => Merged Sydney council rebrands itself as the place "where interesting happens” [post_excerpt] => Hits back at critics it’s boring. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26748 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-04 13:15:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-04 03:15:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26748 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26953 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-21 10:32:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-21 00:32:59 [post_content] =>   A scene from the new smartphone app Magical Park.   Local councils in Australia and New Zealand and an NZ games developer have hit upon a brilliant way to use mobile phones to draw children to play in urban parks again. A new free smartphone app has unleashed the augmented reality game Magical Park, targeted at kids aged six to 11, which encourages children and their families to explore a magical fantasy world in their local park. In the game children can interact with fairies, dragons, kittens, dinosaurs and aliens and complete missions, like finding dinosaur eggs, using their phone or tablet camera. The game is positioned in a selected large, flat park space in the shape of a virtual circle, which holds the game content kids can play. The idea was born during last month’s Parks Week celebrations, where 47 Australian councils and 19 NZ councils put their heads together to find a way to kick kids off the sofa and into the great outdoors, interacting with their families at the same time. The project is a partnership between The Parks and Leisure Australia, the New Zealand Recreation Association and Kiwi game developer Geo AR Games. Magical Park attracted over 24,000 park visitors during Parks Week, with an average of 1069 number of game sessions played per day and participants running an average of 1.45km per game. Families across Australia and New Zealand spent more than 1,200 hours playing Magical Park together. Councils pay a subscription fee for the app, which is geo-located to a specific park. The app will only open in a designated park area. The families find out about the app via the council or through signs put up in the park by their council. The hotspots for gaming activity were Heywood Park in Unley, Perth; the Wilson Botanic Garden in the City of Casey, Melbourne and Westward Park in Clarence Valley Council in NSW. Teresa Turner, New Plymouth District Council’s Recreation and Culture Manager, praised the app. “I think what really appealed was that families could do this together – parents and kids both could hunt for dinosaurs and fairies and swap stories about their experiences after.” GEO AR Games CEO Melanie Langlotz said: “Augmented reality is a powerful tool to get kids engaged and we have had a lot of queries from schools, who would like us to develop educational content. “We have another product on our road map, which will eventually allow kids to upload their own 3D models and build their own worlds and games to share with their friends in their local park.” Brian Eales, Principal from the Clive Primary School in New Zealand voted the trial a success. “Magical Park opens up a whole new dimension for children linking the engaging world of devices and the great outdoors. “It allows for the creative use of devices and mathematical concepts while maintaining physical activity. It can strengthen the tuakana teina relationship when older students work with young students.”     Sue Wilson, Assistant Principal from the Pomaria Primary School in Henderson, Auckland agreed it had had a positive effect on children’s learning, increasing in both writing and oral language skills. While some councils are looking at bringing Magical Park back for the school holidays, permanent Magical Parks are set up in Heywood Park in the City of Unley and Rhodes Park in Kwinana. Magical Park is the second augmented reality app from Geo AR Games. The company also developed Sharks in the Park, which brought an underwater world to kids in parks across New Zealand in 2016. For more information visit www.magicalpark.net Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter.         [post_title] => Move over Pokemon, new app draws kids to urban parks [post_excerpt] => Local councils use Magical Park. 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