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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_date] => 2017-04-18 16:21:39
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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. 
                    [post_title] => Turnbull abolishes 457 visas
                    [post_excerpt] => Temporary visas come in. 
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                    [post_content] =>  


Opposition to forced NSW council mergers has been intense. Pic: Facebook. 




 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has dumped pending regional council mergers but told Sydney councils they’ll have to win in court to stop their amalgamations from going ahead and the 20 completed mergers will stand.

Ms Berejiklian and her Cabinet made the decision in an extraordinary Cabinet meeting this week.

Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro – who was installed late last year after a disastrous Orange by-election result for Nationals leader Troy Grant, partly due to council mergers – called for a selective halting of regional council mergers in January.

But while Mr Barilaro was keen for some amalgamations to be shelved – namely, Blayney Shire, Cabonne and Orange; Dungog and Maitland; Bathurst and Oberon; Uralla and Walcha- he was silent on other regional council mergers.

The Cabinet’s decision means that mergers such as Shellharbour and Wollongong and Newcastle and Port Stephens will also be abandoned.

The outcome is a massive blow to merger opponents in Sydney.

There will be no plebiscites for those 19 councils who were merged in May last year [and the new Bayside Council in September], while Sydney councils still battling their mergers in court will have to win their cases or merge.

Regional councils can now drop their expensive legal battles but the five metropolitan councils currently in the courts will need to win theirs to halt mergers, with another round of appeals likely to be heard in the NSW Supreme Court later this month.

This includes councils such as Mosman, Woollahra, Strathfield, Hunters Hill and Ku-ring-gai.

Premier is taking a significant political gamble in refusing to wind back mergers or hold plebiscites. 

Two Sydney by-elections are looming where voters may punish the State government at the ballot box for forced amalgamations.

Former Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s North Shore seat is up for grabs, which includes the local government areas of Lane Cove, Mosman and North Sydney - all of which are the subjects of merger proposals.

Former NSW Premier Mike Baird’s Manly seat will also spark a political contest. Northern Beaches Council was formed in May 2016 from Manly, Warringah and Pittwater Councils, a move vociferously opposed by some locals, who vowed to punish the government at the earliest opportunity.

Both seats have been hotbeds of resistance to council mergers and are vulnerable to incursions by independent candidates.

Council mergers may also have some influence on another imminent by-election.  

The resignation today (Tuesday) of Labor Gosford MP Kathy Smith due to ill health means a by-election in a marginal seat: Ms Jackson won Gosford by 200 votes in 2015 and Gosford City and Wyong Shire Councils merged to become Central Coast Council in May last year. 

More to follow.
                    [post_title] => Regional council mergers halted; Sydney mergers stand
                    [post_excerpt] => No plebiscites. 
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                    [post_date] => 2016-12-21 09:42:21
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-12-20 22:42:21
                    [post_content] => 
emu-plains-correctional-centre-supplied
Emu Plains Correctional Centre. 

 

The Baird government has backed down on building a pop-up prison for maximum security inmates in Western Sydney, after strong local opposition to the plans.

NSW Corrections Minister David Elliott announced today (Wednesday) that the new quick-build prison for 400 inmates, which was to be built next to the 200-bed women’s prison at Emu Plains Correctional Centre, would not be going ahead.

The NSW prison population is at record levels and the government is scrambling to deal with the crisis.

A spokesperson for Mr Elliott said the NSW government had received a hydrologist’s report which indicated that the site, which is on a flood plain, was at risk of flooding.

Mr Elliott said: “I have heard community concerns about the proposed expansion and updated flood modelling provided to Justice Infrastructure shows that the flooding risk with the proposed increase in capacity could not be fully addressed at the site.

“We are continuing to look at additional sites to increase capacity in the NSW correctional system.”

He said Emu Plains was chosen for expansion because it was a large open site within the Sydney metropolitan region and would have brought more than 400 new jobs to the local economy.

Mr Elliott said the NSW Government would invest $3.8 billion over four years to provide about 7,000 additional beds across the state to cope with NSW’s increasing prisoner population.

Shadow Minister for Corrections Guy Zangari said the government had been forced into an “embarrassing backflip” because it had failed to consult properly with residents or with its own planning department.

Mr Zangari said the prison would have been built close to an area surrounded by houses, schools and a train station.

“The community is outraged that they were never consulted about this pop-up prison. Now Minister Elliott has been forced into back-flipping on a flimsy plan that lacked detail about keeping nearby residents safe,” Mr Zangari said.

“It took a community backlash to make the minister see sense and ditch this idea. It just goes to show how out of touch he is.”

Mr Zangari blamed the Baird Government for creating “the worst prison bed crisis” in the state's history. He said 1700 inmates were expected to come into prison corrections next year but only 900 new beds.  
                    [post_title] => NSW government shelves pop-up prison after community backlash
                    [post_excerpt] => Emu Plains site a no-go.
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                    [post_date] => 2016-09-30 00:03:18
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-29 14:03:18
                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_25135" align="alignnone" width="287"]Adjunct Professor Trent Victor, working as the senior specialist in safety analysis and human factors at Volvo, in a Volvo XC90. This was said to be the first Australian driverless car trip. Adjunct Professor Trent Victor, working as the senior specialist in safety analysis and human factors at Volvo. This was said to be the first Australian driverless car trip.[/caption]

Australia could unlock $95 billion a year in economic value and generate 16,000 new jobs by taking a more proactive approach to the introduction of autonomous vehicles in Australia, according to an economic analysis by Australia’s peak driverless vehicle organisation.

The report, authored by economist Brian Haratsis, executive chairman of the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative’s (ADVI) program partner MacroPlanDimasi, argues a coordinated industry- and government-led approach is needed to mitigate the risks of rapid uncontrolled autonomous vehicle adoption from 2020.

“This country is in need of a clear government-mandated roadmap for the rollout of automated vehicle technology to ensure we maximise the social, environmental and economic benefits automation can bring," Mr Haratsis said.

“We have the high-tech research, design, testing and manufacturing capabilities to make us a leading exporter of mobility services and technology across the APAC region. By taking first-mover advantage in this emerging global industry, we can not only mitigate the forecast 40,000 jobs to be lost in car manufacturing, but create a new specialised high-tech export market.”

“If the average $2 billion in assistance to car manufacturers between 1997 and 2012 were invested in intelligent mobility, direct employment could be doubled from 7,500 to 15,000. Add that to the estimated baseline $80 billion economic saving from improved road safety and congestion thanks to autonomous vehicle technology, and the incentives for swift and decisive action are clear.”

The report found growing Australia’s stake in the global intelligent mobility sector from 0.25% to 1% would inject $15 billion into the economy and create 7,500 direct jobs and an additional 8,500 indirect jobs. Mr Haratsis said a prime example of the sector’s growth potential was the more than 75 ADVI partner organisations collaborating on driverless technology, many of which were already leading the world in research and deployment.

ADVI is advocating for the development of a five-year funding and incentive package focused on research, development, demonstration and deployment similar to the UK’s £100m (AUD $177m) Intelligent Mobility Fund, which is predicted to fast-track £900b (AUD$1.6 trillion) in productivity benefits.

The report cites research predicting shared autonomous vehicles will account for 10% of vehicle sales by 2030 and 30% of all kilometres travelled, with each shared vehicle replacing around eleven conventional vehicles.

“Transitioning from a society of car ownership to car sharing will have significant benefits for road congestion and the environment,” Mr Haratsis said. “It’s also the much needed catalyst for changes to outdated funding mechanisms, including fuel excises, registration and licensing fees.”

“The research shows our cities will see a 15-20% increase in land use efficiency through car park and road infrastructure reductions so it’s important that town planners, designers and engineers understand the implications automation will bring so they can start preparing now.”

“For example, we need to ensure driverless vehicles integrate with our public transport options for ‘last mile journeys’ and we still encourage active people-powered travel within our cities so we don’t cause a congestion spike from autonomous vehicles shuttling commuters around in high volume environments.”

In summary

The ADVI believes that the Commonwealth Government should prepare and explore mechanisms to fund and manage the introduction of autonomous vehicles on the following basis:
  • To maximise employment outcomes targeting 20,000 new jobs by 2025.
  • To maximise the social and economic benefits of introducing AV’s in Australia.
  • To maximise the technology spin-off industries in Australia.
  • To put Australia in a competitive position to export mobility services expertise.
  • To maximise the productivity of existing transport infrastructure.
  • Create a new funding mechanism to replace the outdated system of shadow taxes, including fuel excises, registration, licensing fees etc.
  • To create the opportunity to develop a new industry based on the delivery of a best of breed ‘mobility ecosystem.
  • Assess whether Australia should own or invest in AV system control to collect, filter and interpret data and to make ethical decisions in emergency situations.
  • To encourage vehicles to become electric, connected and automated.
The key concept is an AV ‘rollout’ program off-budget similar to NBN with an institutional structure similar to NBN in order:
  • To manage the operational characteristics, ownership funding and maintenance of the AV operating system.
  • To ensure that patents required to develop the AV operating system are developed and owned in Australia.
[post_title] => How to create 16,000 jobs in the car industry [post_excerpt] => Not driving them, building them. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => create-30000-jobs-car-industry [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-09-30 10:49:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-09-30 00:49:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25133 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25142 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2016-09-29 17:12:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-29 07:12:49 [post_content] => mgxry22 By Kira Clarke, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. This story first appeared in Pursuit. Read the original article. New research shows training course providers are ill-equipped to meet complex social and learning issues facing students. Young early school leavers are increasingly enrolling in private Vocational and Education Training (VET) providers, but new research reveals these organisations are often ill-equipped to respond to the needs of this emerging cohort, many of whom are disadvantaged. This influx comes after several years of federal, state and territory governments promoting a competitive, market-based training system, resulting in private VET providers capturing a larger share of the training market. The research, released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) and developed in partnership between researchers at the University of Melbourne, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Victoria Institute, examined the role private VET providers play for early school leavers. Looking beyond the funding and quality assurance debates, the focus was on practice and delivery at the provider level. The researchers wanted to know how private VET providers are responding to the needs of disadvantaged early school leaver learners. For students without a Year 12 certificate, a VET course is one way they can continue their education and training. For students without a Year 12 certificate, a VET course is one way they can continue their education and training. The early school leaver cohort in VET More than 140,000 early school leavers were undertaking a VET qualification in 2015. With Australia’s average year 12 completion rate at 83%, for young people without a Year 12 or school completion certificate, the VET sector is one of the main ways in which they can continue and complete their initial education and training. The research found that early school leavers represent a growing cohort within private VET providers. More than half (59%) of the private VET providers surveyed for our research indicated they had experienced an increase in enrolments of early school leavers in the last five years. While the market share of private VET providers varies across Australia, growth has been particularly significant in Victoria (36.2% market share of 15-19-year-old early school leaver learners), Queensland (35.3%) and South Australia (23.3.%). Role of private VET providers for early school leavers School leavers are more likely to be low achieving and socioeconomically disadvantaged learners. Our research found private VET providers are generally ill-equipped to address complex personal and social barriers to learning that are common amongst early school leavers. Providers described a range of challenges facing early school leaver learners, including low literacy and numeracy skills, a lack of family support and limited clarity around career goals. Several providers also noted that welfare payment requirements were playing a coercive role in directing some early school leavers into VET programs. Australia's school dropouts: why we need to intervene Private providers also expressed concerns about early school leavers having low employability skills. This was seen as particularly problematic for young people who had exited school before completing Year 11. These provider concerns were reiterated by employer feedback that early school leavers often lacked the social skills needed in the workplace. In response to these learner needs, support offered within private VET providers was often limited to study spaces with computers and some academic skills support. While remedial literacy and numeracy programs were available in many providers, accessibility to support was inconsistent across the private VET providers consulted. Low levels of literacy and numeracy amongst early school leavers was described by providers as placing significant pressure on VET trainers. How can the role of private VET providers be strengthened? Dubious practices amongst private VET providers and accusations of poor provision have featured regularly in recent media reporting. Private VET providers faced intense criticism during the period in which this research was undertaken. Private VET providers participating in this research expressed frustration with blanket negative perceptions of private providers within the VET sector. Given this ongoing community and political focus on private VET provision, there are several policy implications that emerge from the research. Setting vocational training free Private VET providers should be regarded by governments and youth referral agencies as partners in systemic efforts to re-engage early school leavers. To support their role, changes are needed to address the limitations of private VET providers in addressing the complex needs facing these learners. The private VET providers who participated in this research considered their small-scale and relatively informal learning settings as a distinct advantage in catering to disadvantaged learners. While small and informal learning settings can work well for disadvantaged learners, there are limitations as smaller providers often lack the infrastructure and economies of scale of large TAFE institutions. In order to successfully target support where it is needed, enrolment processes need to include the gathering of data that relates to student wellbeing, and more holistic understanding of the educational and employability needs of young people. This article is drawn from research funded by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) and led by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, in partnership with the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and Victoria Institute. [post_title] => Private VET providers corner share of booming market [post_excerpt] => Education is more than a course. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => private-vet-providers-corner-share-booming-market [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-09-29 17:16:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-09-29 07:16:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25142 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25139 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2016-09-29 16:34:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-29 06:34:44 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_25140" align="alignnone" width="300"]One of several collapsed electricity pylons near Melrose in South Australia's Mid North. ABC News / Tom Fedorowytsch photo. One of several collapsed electricity pylons near Melrose in South Australia's Mid North. ABC News / Tom Fedorowytsch photo.[/caption] Following the long and widespread electricity blackout in South Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took a swipe at Labor governments for their renewable targets, South Australia’s reliance on renewable electricity was widely defended, while NSW electricians are worried about it happening in that state. The Prime Minister Mr Turnbull said, reported in The Conversation, that there was no doubt that heavy reliance on intermittent renewables “does place very different strains and pressures on a grid than reliance on traditional base load power”. “Energy security should always be the key priority,” he said. “Now, I regret to say that a number of the state Labor governments have over the years set priorities and renewable targets that are extremely aggressive, extremely unrealistic, and have paid little or no attention to energy security.” He said this was not just SA but the same observation could be made about Queensland and Victoria. Queensland to the rescue The Queensland Government-owned transmission company, Powerlink Queensland, has offered assistance to South Australia to restore its electricity supplies, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. Ms Palaszczuk said Powerlink had offered to assist ElectraNet with recovery efforts after storms severely damaged its electricity transmission network. Powerlink, on behalf of the Queensland Government, owned a minority stake in ElectraNet until December 2012. “Powerlink is uniquely placed to assist ElectraNet,” the Premier said. “Powerlink has contacted their colleagues at ElectraNet to let them know that Powerlink is here to help as required.” Powerlink Queensland chief executive Merryn York said Powerlink was mobilising special temporary tower structures that can replace damaged towers in the short term and help restore electricity supply in the safest possible manner. “Our expert design team can also provide rapid design solutions to help rebuild damaged infrastructure,” she said. “Powerlink can also provide on-the-ground crews to travel to South Australia and assist with restoration efforts.” It’s not the wind power It was reported by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) that the cause of the outages was the high winds bringing down powerlines, which would have caused the same outages regardless of the nature of generation. The Greens called Mr Turnbull’s attack on renewables reprehensible and reactionary. “The storms in South Australia show we need more renewable energy to tackle climate change, not less,” said the Greens’ energy & climate change spokesperson, Adam Bandt. “Using a severe storm to attack renewables is a reprehensible act from a Prime Minister who should know better. “Climate change is threatening our way of life and driving storms like the ones that we’ve seen in South Australia. “The storms and power outage in South Australia are a wake-up call, showing the country what will happen if we don’t get off fossil fuels and on to renewables. The Climate Council has called South Australia’s storm ‘a disturbing preview of what’s likely to come if Australia fails to act on climate change’, ‘occurring in a warmer and wetter atmosphere’. Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth Australia said the South Australian storm was a wake-up call to act on climate change and disaster preparedness. “As emergency workers assist South Australians with the fallout from a historic storm that knocked down multiple power lines, causing a blackout across the state, national environment organisation Friends of the Earth say the storm is a wake-up call to act on climate change and disaster preparedness. “Playing politics while South Australians deal with an unprecedented natural disaster is dangerous and the community expects better. The facts are that climate change is set to increase the number of extreme weather events, yet ideologues have wasted no time in blaming renewables for the state-wide blackout,” said Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth's campaigns coordinator. “Analysis of the National Electricity Market shows wind generators were providing reliable renewable energy at the time the storm hit and were ordered to shut down alongside all other generators.” The professionals agree… The leader of the body representing electrical professionals in South Australia has hit back at claims by political figures that South Australia’s commitment to renewable energy was the cause of last night’s state-wide blackout, saying that they were ill-informed and malicious. “The people making these claims don’t know what they’re talking about,” Communication Electrical and Plumbing Union South Australia secretary John Adley said. “The outage is simply being used by friends of the coal industry to bash renewables. “It doesn’t matter how you generate your electricity, when 22 transmission towers blow over in an extreme weather event, the power goes off.” Mr Adley said that, if anything, renewable energy sources had the potential to create a more secure electricity supply system. “When you have widespread use of distributed generation technologies like PV solar in homes, the network is actually less vulnerable to events like this, because your supply is not purely linear,” he said. “But an event of this magnitude that was capable of tripping out the interconnector with Victoria is going to cause havoc on an electricity grid without regard to the type of technology used to generate the power.” … and are worried The axing of more than 2,600 front-line power workers since 2012 has left NSW at risk of falling victim to similar chaos to that experienced in South Australia during the past 24 hours, the Electrical Trades Union has warned. The union said cuts, overseen by the state and federal governments over the past four years, had drastically reduced the number of skilled workers available to respond to major incidents, natural disasters and wild weather, leaving the public at risk of lengthy power outages. ETU assistant secretary Dave McKinley said the number of front-line power workers across NSW had shrunk by a quarter since 2012, leaving the state increasingly vulnerable to the kind of extreme weather event that struck South Australia. “What has occurred in South Australia could easily happen in NSW,” Mr McKinley said. “Whilst it is impossible to prevent network damage caused by wild winds and extreme weather, the ability to restore power for consumers is dependent on having the skilled workers available to respond. “In NSW, we have seen more than a quarter of the entire workforce slashed in the last four years, including 1,385 workers at Ausgrid, 446 from Endeavour Energy, and 800 from Essential Energy. “When the next disaster inevitably hits, this loss of skilled workers will have a devastating effect on response times and the speed at which power can be reconnected, particularly in the event of a state-wide natural disaster. “The situation had been exacerbated by the NSW Government’s decision to respond to a recent ruling by the Federal Government’s energy regulator by further slashing the number of front-line power workers. “We are urging [the power companies] to take a good hard look at the resources they have available moving forward, so they can ensure they have the skilled workers and specialist equipment needed to respond to similar events when they occur in NSW.”   [post_title] => SA power cuts: Queensland offers help, NSW worries, renewables defended [post_excerpt] => Power blame continues. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 25139 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-09-29 17:19:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-09-29 07:19:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25139 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25128 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2016-09-29 13:46:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-29 03:46:07 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_25129" align="alignnone" width="300"]balmain-leagues-club-6-8-north-elevation-bl2 North elevation of the council's preferred 6 and 8-storey development versions.[/caption] Inner West Council has won a long battle against what it says is overdevelopment of the Balmain Leagues Club Site, with an appeal by developer Rozelle Village dismissed on all grounds by the NSW Land and Environment Court. More importantly, it found that the development failed to promote the long-term viability of the Balmain Leagues Club on the site for the benefit of the local community. Interim General Manager Rik Hart said that Council had fought to deliver a better outcome for the community and the club for years. “Council’s top priority was always the return of the Balmain Leagues Club to Rozelle,” he said. “A new home for the Club was one of the cornerstones of the rezoning of the site, first approved in 2008. “Council tendered Court documents raising concerns about the ability of Balmain Leagues Club to enter into the lease with the owner given its financial position. It owes $11 million to the owner. “Council fought for the Tigers to be offered a home at an affordable rent, however, the developer insisted on holding them to a commercial lease with a lower floor space than was permitted by the planning controls.” Mr Hart said the Court would not normally concern itself with the user (Balmain Leagues Club) of a development proposal. “But in this case it did, because of the way the planning controls were prepared and the requirement to promote the long-term viability of the Balmain Leagues Club on the site,” he said. “The developer has constantly attempted to make Council responsible for the future of the Leagues Club. “However, when it came down to it they did not provide the required security for the Club.” The Court was not satisfied that the proposal complied with the objectives in site specific local environment plan, urban design, amenity, integration, and transition with existing development and street activation, economic impacts, traffic impacts, adequacy of solar access and cross ventilation. The proponent now has an option to lodge a new application for the site. Developer blames the Greens In a response entitled “Balmain Tigers site needs resolution not Greens Party scaremongering”, developer lobby group the Urban Taskforce has put the blame squarely on the Greens’ shoulders. The Land and Environment Court decision against the proposed development of two mid-rise towers on the site of the Balmain Tigers has been misused by the Greens Party to condemn urban development in inner city sites in Sydney, said the Urban Taskforce. “The Land and Environment Court Commissioner agreed that the proposed redevelopment of the Balmain Tigers Leagues Club in Rozelle complied with height and massing requirements of the Leichhardt Local Environmental Plan 2000, but there were some design issues that could be improved,” Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson said. “Despite the building height complying with the development controls of 12 and 8 storeys, Greens local member of parliament Jaime Parker said: ‘The decision sends a strong message to the developer that Rozelle doesn’t need skyscrapers.’ “It is important that projects of medium height at transport nodes and town centres are supported particularly if they comply with the relevant development controls. For the Greens Party to claim that the decision sends a message against skyscrapers is just scaremongering. “The Greens often raise concerns about housing affordability in Sydney but do not seem to understand that stopping new housing developments will only increase the cost of housing in Sydney. It also seems ironic that the Greens are out campaigning to keep the 12 storey Sirius building in the Rocks but do not want buildings of this height in their own backyard. “Sydney is a city in transition. Well designed, medium- and high-rise residential development in well-serviced locations, such as Rozelle, should be encouraged. Political leadership is needed to manage Sydney’s future growth particularly following the recent release of population projections showing stronger growth that earlier forecasts. “The sad story of the Balmain Tigers Leagues Club site and the potential for an integrated, mixed use development that provided much needed housing, new club facilities and new retail outlets, is the sign of a dysfunctional planning system. Everyone loses, including the community, in the failure to achieve an acceptable solution for this site. Surely if height and massing fitted the planning rules, then the various parties could have negotiated suitable design outcomes to resolve years of indecision.” [post_title] => Council 1, developer 0: Balmain Leagues Club site knocked back [post_excerpt] => Up and up no go in Balmain. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => council-1-developer-0-balmain-leagues-club-site-knocked-back [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-09-29 17:18:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-09-29 07:18:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25128 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25121 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2016-09-26 23:27:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-26 13:27:33 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_25122" align="alignnone" width="300"]emu-plains-nsw-correctional-centre-prison The current Emu Plains Correctional Centre.[/caption] Western Sydney will house the latest ‘rapid build’ prison in Emu Plains, which the government says will stimulate the area’s economy and provide local jobs. This is the third of four dormitory-style facilities to be approved for construction by the NSW Government. The expansion is part of the $3.8 billion plan in response to the rising prison population as well as to better manage and reform inmates. Minister for Correctives David Elliott said the ‘rapid build’ prison will be on the same site as the Emu Plains Correctional Centre, but act as a separate facility. “This new prison can hold 400 maximum security inmates and will create 220 jobs,” Mr Elliott said. “The benefit of a ‘rapid built’ prison is its ability to allow the government to quickly respond to the rising prison population while being an investment in community safety.” ‘Rapid build’ prisons have four wings each with four pods of 25 inmates. Some of the prison’s key features include first-floor corridors with operable windows overlooking the pods and infra-red cameras for night monitoring. An Immediate Action Team are based in the facility to provide a 24/7 response to incidents. Wellington and Cessnock will also have similar facilities while a fourth site is yet to be determined. Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) Commissioner Peter Severin said these centres allow inmates to complete programs vital to their rehabilitation. “There is a library and a computer room in each dormitory and inmates will be engaged in activities for up to 12 hours a day,” Commissioner Severin said. “The programs are geared toward reducing reoffending and gaining job based skills.” The NSW Government approved the Emu Plains ‘rapid build’ last week. A construction contract will soon be awarded to build the prison.   [post_title] => New Western Sydney prison to create 220 jobs [post_excerpt] => 220 new jobs to mind 400 prisoners. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-western-sydney-prison-create-220-jobs [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-09-26 23:27:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-09-26 13:27:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25121 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25114 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2016-09-26 22:48:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-26 12:48:35 [post_content] => melbourne-airport   As foreshadowed in Government News earlier this month, Department of Immigration and Border Protection staff at sites including international airports, cruise ship terminals and cargo facilities have commenced two weeks of protected industrial action, with further action planned as required to resolve the three-year-old remuneration disagreement. The CPSU has notified two weeks of rolling stoppages across the country from 26 September to 9 October with strikes in 30 minute blocks available to CPSU members all day, every day. Strikes may occur at any airport, cruise ship terminal or cargo facility at any time during the day or night. The union says this constitutes the most intense and widespread strike action undertaken by CPSU members and applies throughout all DIBP operations. Multiple short strikes are expected to cause disruption and delays to passengers, cargo freight operations and other services. More than 50 exemptions remain in place to ensure national security and the safety of the general public during all industrial action. CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said taking this level of protected industrial action was necessary because it was the only way workers had to force the Government and the Department to offer a real solution to the impasse. “Our overwhelming preference remains to sit down and find a fair and sensible resolution, but the Turnbull Government has shown it is unwilling to do so,” she said. "Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has allowed Minister Michaelia Cash to continue the public sector workplace relations war started by Eric Abetz three years ago for far too long. “The Government is using nasty 'starve them out' tactics refusing to talk and keeping these workers on a three-year pay freeze. “For almost three years, all Immigration and Border Force staff have seen is proposals to cut their existing rights and conditions, and even cut some officers’ current take home pay, Ms Flood said.” More than 80 per cent of DIBP staff voted in March against an agreement that would have seen rights and conditions stripped away in exchange for a pay rise of just one per cent per year. The union says the Tourism and Transport Forum has backed calls for the Turnbull Government to sit down and negotiate a resolution with the CPSU to end the dispute and ensure travellers are not disrupted. Ms Flood said the CPSU was always willing to talk but ready to argue for termination of the bargaining process should the Commonwealth apply to have industrial action suspended in the Fair Work Commission. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection said it had contingency arrangements in place to minimise the impact of stoppages on business operations, but urged passengers departing on international flights get to the airport early, and advised that those arriving should expect some delays. [post_title] => Airport strikes have begun, to go on for two weeks [post_excerpt] => The strikes roll on. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => airport-strikes-begun-go-two-weeks [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-09-26 22:55:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-09-26 12:55:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25114 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25108 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2016-09-26 21:48:34 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-26 11:48:34 [post_content] => centrelink-medicare Following an article in The Daily Telegraph on Sunday 25 September, in which the paper claimed that “leaked Medicare documents have revealed patients face long delays for cash claims after the Turnbull government outsourced processing to new centres and closed Medicare shopfronts,” Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King MP, and Acting Shadow Minister for Human Services Senator The Hon Doug Cameron, said face-to-face Medicare claims processing will completely cease in Centrelink offices and Australians will be forced onto already over-stressed postal and online claim queues. The article reports that “whistle-blower public servants have come forward to warn that patients can expect an end to face-to-face claims and to claim they have been banned from telling patients that their Medicare claims will be sent off-site for processing.” But the government insists only 20 per cent of claims not lodged online face longer waiting periods, with the overwhelming majority of patients now claiming online. In response to the claims, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said services for people who are unable to use digital services will remain the same. He said 82 per cent of claims lodged manually at a service centre are processed within 10 days. “There has been a huge reduction in demand for face-to-face claiming so we are consolidating ‘back of house’ processing work to ensure we provide high quality, consistent services. “Nationally, 96 per cent of all Medicare claims are lodged electronically — this is saving time for millions of Australians who no longer have to visit a service centre to claim.’’ But Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King MP expressed concern for those on the edges of society: “These are barriers our health system cannot afford – as a recent study showed, many people with chronic health conditions are already being forced to forgo treatment because of the costs of medications and appointments,” she said. The Australian Department of Human Services currently lists a number of options available for claiming Medicare reimbursement, one of which is the printed Medicare form that may be lodged at Medicare shopfronts, either in person to a staff member or deposited in a drop box at a service centre. It is the loss of these two options, often used by elderly pensioners and those less familiar with, or unable to access, digital services, that are quoted in the Telegraph article as being at greatest risk. “We were told yesterday in a team huddle that by December there will no longer be any face-to-face Medicare services, customers will only the able to claim digitally or through the service provider,’’ a source is quoted as saying. “Apparently, we won’t even have a Medicare drop box, the little old ladies will have to fill in a form and post it and we know how much mail already goes missing. Who knows if they’ll get their forms through?’’ The Medicare Public Branch confirmed in an email to staff that the changes will include an end to on-site processing and trained Medicare staff being asked to field Centrelink questions on welfare.   Service NSW hours to be cut back From Monday 26 September Service NSW outlets across the state have had their opening hours cut, expectedly making it much harder for people to access them outside work hours. In an effort to cut costs, Premier Mike Baird is winding back the hours Service NSW centres will open, creating serious fears that staff lay-offs will occur. In June, the NSW Budget revealed Service NSW is already understaffed by 112 full-time employees – despite raking in $91 million for the government, according to Clayton Barr MP, the NSW Shadow Minister for Finance, Services and Property. At the time of the establishment of the Service NSW network, the NSW Government in July 2013 said: “The new centres will be open from 7am to 7pm during the week and from 9am to 3pm on Saturday – making it easier for people to do their business with the government at a time that suits them.” Following this announcement, around half of all the motor registry sites across NSW closed down. But from Monday 26 September 2016, just one Service NSW centre will stay open until 7pm on weeknights at Wynyard in Sydney’s CBD. Five others will stay open until 7pm on Thursday nights, and some will stop opening on Saturdays altogether. Interestingly, the Service NSW website currently contains confusing information, showing the contradictory old and new times for some registries, on the very same web page. The Services Minister has provided little to no communication on the new opening hours for the other 58 Service NSW centres, leaving many in the community confused about when they can access them, according to Clayton Barr MP. [post_title] => More services facing cutbacks: Medicare, Service NSW [post_excerpt] => Online or in your work hours. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 25108 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-09-26 21:55:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-09-26 11:55:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25108 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23429 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2016-03-23 11:38:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-03-23 00:38:40 [post_content] => IMG_1952   International airport strikes by staff from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) over the Easter long weekend have been postponed after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull directly appealed to the Department’s union members not to strike in the wake of yesterday’s terror attacks in Brussels, some of which occurred at an airport. At least 31 people died in a series of explosions in Brussels and around 200 were injured. The first two blasts occurred at the city’s Zaventem Airport in the north-east of the city centre, leaving 11 people dead and about 92 injured. Islamic State has already claimed responsibility for the attacks. Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) National Secretary Nadine Flood held a press conference this morning (Wednesday) to discuss the postponement of the 24-hour strikes, which were due to begin tomorrow, affecting all eight international airports in Australia and causing havoc for Easter holidaymakers. Ms Flood said this morning: "We have agreed to Prime Minister Turnbull's request to postpone these strikes in good faith and conscious of the understandable concern of travellers in the wake of the Brussels attacks. I should note that our members would never take industrial action that compromises Australia's national security at this time or at any time." Ms Flood said DIBP officers working in counter terrorism, national security and intelligence roles had been exempt from industrial action over the two-year long campaign, adding: "we've worked closely with the department on that matter." The strikes are in response to the glacially slow process to get public sector enterprise bargaining agreements signed. The row over pay and conditions remains intense and the Union has estimated that around 80 per cent of Commonwealth public servants or 130,000 people are still without an agreement after almost two years. She said the Prime Minister had refused to talk to the Union since last October and the government's bargaining policy framework was forcing department's to cut workers' rights. "The Prime Minister has said that Immigration and Border Force officers should pursue their concerns over their rights through other means from going on strike." Ms Flood said. "The problem here is they don't have another options. These officers are deeply angry and disappointed that after six months the Prime Minister has still given them no-one in government to talk to, no avenue to actually pursue these concerns, and they still face attacks on their rights and for a number of officers, cuts to their take home pay. "That's why they're going on strike. That's why this dispute needs to be resolved." Strike action by staff at the Department of Agriculture and those working in biosecurity at major airports  was also suspended. If Mr Turnbull refuses to make concessions it appears likely the strikes will be back on after the Easter detente and the Union may press ahead with its plans for rolling stoppages at airports over the Easter school holidays. Ms Flood said: "Border Force and Immigration workers will not strike on Easter Thursday or over the Easter weekend. We will consider whether to take further industrial action next week - and in coming weeks - in the light of the Department's and the government's response in the coming days." Ms Flood said DIBP officers were "angry and frustrated" with the government but they recognised the importance of reassuring travellers and the Australian public was important, as was freeing up the Department to deal with issues arising from the Brussels attacks. Staff from Human Services, Defence and the Tax Office, and a number of other departments, went on strike  on Monday this week but Ms Flood said no further industrial action was planned by union members working in these areas at this point. DIBP staff comprehensively rejected the government's 6 per cent pay offer over three years earlier this month, with 81 per cent of voters saying "no." Officers went on strike in June, July and September last year. [post_title] => Australia’s Easter airport strikes cancelled after Brussels terror attack [post_excerpt] => Airport strikes postponed until after Easter long weekend. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => australias-easter-airport-strikes-cancelled-after-brussels-terror-attack [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-03-23 14:15:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-03-23 03:15:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23429 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21652 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-10-06 06:06:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-05 19:06:24 [post_content] => Keith Rhoades A minor row has erupted over the funding for the re-election of Keith Rhoades as President of Local Government NSW. The ballot, to be held during the LGNSW annual conference at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney on Monday 12 October, is being contested by Mr Rhoades and three other candidates, including Sydney City Council’s Christine Forster. Ms Forster, a Liberal councillor who is best known as former PM Tony Abbott’s sister, has been quoted by the Daily Telegraph as saying that rural and regional councillors would be “shocked” to learn that Ms Moore was funding his re-election campaign. Mr Rhoades told Government News that the article was a beat-up. “Read it all the way through. The headline says she is funding my campaign, but at the end of the article it says that the extent of her financial involvement is less than $200, and even that amount is not from council funds. “I am an independent councillor and I am supported by many other independents. I also receive support from many Liberal councillors opposed to the government’s amalgamation plans.” Ms Forster is a fierce opponent of both Ms Moore and Mr Rhoades. She stood against Mr Rhoades at the last LGNSW election, losing by just 14 votes, and she is a prime mover in attempts to reduce the size of Sydney City Council’s area, and to increase the value of non-resident ratepayer votes, to unseat the popular Ms Moore. Mr Rhoades said that Ms Forster’s real agenda is to unseat Ms Moore and become Lord Mayor of Sydney herself. Ms Forster says a reduction in the City’s boundaries would give more attention to the city’s priority of competing for investment and jobs against other regional cities. She gives Brisbane, Shanghai and Singapore as examples – despite all these cities having large metropolitan councils. The Daily Telegraph has been running an ongoing campaign against Ms Moore, who is disparagingly referred to in the article as the “self-proclaimed queen of inner city politics” (a Google search finds no such self-proclamation, though former Prime Minister Paul Keating did once call her the “queen of grog” for favouring relaxed licensing laws). The Daily Telegraph, well known for its partisanship, has also run articles critical of Mr Rhoades. Its biggest criticism of him is that he receives six separate incomes from his various local government activities, even though his total income from all these sources (just over $260,000) is published in the LGNSW annual report. Mr Rhoades, a former fireman, was mayor of Coffs Harbour from 2004 to 2012, and is a former President of Local Government Association of NSW. He has been President of Local Government NSW since it was formed in 2013 by the amalgamation of the Local Government Association of NSW and the Shires Association of NSW. LGNSW represents all 152 local government areas in NSW, the Aboriginal Land Council of NSW, and 12 special purpose councils, mostly county councils responsible for such matters as weed control. Votes for the President and board of LGNSW are apportioned half to metropolitan councils and half to rural and regional councils. Within each area, votes are weighted by the population of the local government area, with all councils receiving at least one vote. The system, a condition of the 2013 merger, heavily favours representation from rural and regional councils, Mr Rhoades’ power base. He is strongly against forced council amalgamations, and is campaigning on that basis. The NSW Government’s report on council amalgamations will be delivered on 16 October, just after the LGNSW annual meeting, but will not be made public until it has been considered by cabinet. It is expected to recommend a number of council amalgamations, based on the government’s ‘Fit for the Future’ guidelines.   [post_title] => Stoush over Clover Moore’s support of Keith Rhoades [post_excerpt] => Complaint over $200 worth of funding [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => stoush-over-clover-moores-support-of-keith-rhoades [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-10-06 10:22:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-05 23:22:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21652 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21612 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-09-30 15:52:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-30 05:52:37 [post_content] =>   BoM Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has made near real-time weather imagery of Australia from Japan’s Himawari-8 satellite available to the public, via a new web viewer. BoM CEO Dr Rob Vertessy says Himawari-8 is the most advanced dedicated weather satellite in the world and that the benefits of the imagery to BoM and the Australian public are enormous. “Himawari-8 is one giant leap in satellite meteorology: it’s like switching from black and white TV to high definition colour in one jump,” he said, announcing the new web viewer. “Or you could compare it to switching from the grainy images of the silent era to IMAX. You can see unfolding weather in detail we’ve only dreamed of in the past. “But it’s more than just eye-candy for our forecasters. Himawari-8 generates about 50 times more data than the previous satellite. Our forecasters now have access to 16 observation wavebands that capture important detail from many layers of the atmosphere. “Previously we received a satellite image just once every hour, now we get a detailed scan of our part of the globe every 10 minutes. It brings the conditions on earth to life. Combined with the coming upgrade to our supercomputer, Himawari-8 is a game changer. Weather computer models ingest data and extrapolate to provide a forecast. The better the data we put in, the better the forecast that comes out. “Our forecasters are now starting to make use of the vast quantity of new data. One of the most immediate benefits is the ability to see storms as they develop. We expect to see continual growth in our use of the data over the coming years,” Dr Vertessy said. New Minister for Cities and the Built Environment, Jamie Briggs, attended the launch on behalf of the Australian community. Japan's Ambassador to Australia, Sumio Kusaka, attended as Japan's representative. Dr Vertessy expressed gratitude to the Japan Meteorological Agency for making the data from Himawari-8 freely available to Australia. “There is a wonderful tradition of global cooperation in meteorology. The Japan Meteorological Agency is making a big investment in Himawari-8, close to a billion Australian dollars, and the Australian community can share the benefits. We are extremely grateful for the excellent relationship we have with our counterparts in Japan,” he said. The public can view Himawari-8's images via the new BoM web viewer, which Dr Vertessy will go through a period of testing, feedback and improvement after the initial release today. The viewer can be found on the Bureau’s website: www.bom.gov.au/australia/satellite “This is a great day for the Bureau of Meteorology and all Australians who have an interest in weather. Now everyone can benefit, both by seeing the weather as it unfolds in fantastic detail and through the improved services it will enable,” Dr Vertessy said. The 3.5 tonne Himawari-8 was launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre, located off the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, in October 2014. ‘Himawari’ is the Japanese word for ‘sunflower’. It uses a 16 channel multispectral imager to capture infrared and visible light images of the entire Asia-Pacific region from its geostationary orbit just north of the West Papuan capital of Jayapura.   [post_title] => Australia from space – new hi-res images made public [post_excerpt] => The Bureau of Meteorology has released a new public web viewer [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => australia-from-space-new-hi-res-images-made-public [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-10-06 10:21:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-05 23:21:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21612 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26941 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-19 13:25:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-19 03:25:40 [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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