Scheme could fail if rushed.
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The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC), whose five foundation members are Veolia, JJ Richards, Cleanaway, Remondis and Suez, last week voted to lobby the NSW government to delay the NSW scheme. The NWRIC says the proposed state-wide network of more than 450 collection points that the government has asked network operators to set up is incomplete. The network could face further delays as some collection points need development applications and work on safety and traffic management. The industry group argues that the scheme is not yet ready to be rolled out as scheduled by the NSW government on December 1 and says that pushing ahead with it this year could end in tears. NWRIC CEO Max Spedding said there were several issues yet to be properly thrashed out and the rules around the scheme had been released only six months ago. “The industry feels that the scheme is under done and a bit rushed. We’re concerned that there are still these unknowns that would like to see resolved earlier rather than later,” Mr Spedding said. The issues included: awarding tenders; negotiations between local councils and industry about the ownership of deposit containers; achieving clarity around payment for containers (especially because of new regulations specifying that scrap steel trading must be cashless) and a final decision on which containers are eligible for refunds. “The scheme may commence with sub-standard collection infrastructure and poorly implemented systems. Fraud may occur. This could undermine public confidence in this scheme and the industry more broadly,” he warned. He said operators could pull out if the CDS did not work for them, especially if there was a lack of collection points that made the scheme unviable. Another concern is that by starting the NSW container deposit scheme earlier than Queensland containers are stockpiled or transported across the border to NSW. “This is always a risk where there are cross-jurisdictional market distortions,” Mr Spedding said. “It is industry’s experience that where money can be made by transporting waste, businesses are set up. More than half a million tonnes currently moves between NSW and Queensland to avoid levies.” NWRIC Chairman Phil Richards said regulators were already working to harmonise the rules of both the NSW and Queensland container deposit schemes, so it seemed natural to harmonise their start dates. “By delaying the start date of the NSW CDS by only seven months - to July 1, 2018 - both NSW and Queensland can prevent cross border transport of beverage containers and stockpiling issues,” Mr Richards said. “CDS programs are complex, so it is also important that adequate time is given to network operators to establish collection and administration systems. These systems are needed to reduce disruption and deliver a high quality service to the public.” But Mr Spedding said the NSW Environmental Protection Authority was adamant that the scheme would start by December at a meeting last week with major players, operators and processors, despite their protestations. Boomerang Alliance Jeff Angel shares Mr Spedding’s concerns and agrees the scheme is unlikely to be postponed. “There has already been one extension and it looks extremely unlikely will be granted,” he said. “There will always be problems with any start date and while NSW has left a relatively short period for the roll-out of the infrastructure [collection points and depots] I think all the stakeholders have to work as fast and as constructively as possible.” Mr Angel said the Alliance still had concerns over whether there would be enough collection points and depots to ensure it was convenient for people to take part in the scheme. Under the NSW CDS people can hand in most empty drink containers of between 150 millilitres to 3 litres and receive a 10c refund at a collection depot or reverse vending machine. Exceptions include milk and flavoured milk containers, casks, juice containers and glass containers for wines and spirits. [post_title] => NSW and QLD container deposit schemes should both start in 2018, says waste industry [post_excerpt] => Scheme could fail if rushed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-qld-container-deposit-schemes-start-2018-says-waste-industry [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-20 10:19:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-20 00:19:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27440 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27429 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-19 12:45:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-19 02:45:11 [post_content] => A senior public official from Victoria’s Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB) executed an elaborate deception to employ her two sons by encouraging them to change their names and falsify their CVs. The Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass’ report into the scam, released today [Monday], uncovered a case of naked nepotism within the metropolitan Melbourne fire service that she said had cost the public more than $400,000 over a number of years. The MFB’s Chief Information Officer, Mary Powderly-Hughes, hid her relationship to her son, David Hewson, when she hired him in July 2014. She employed her other son, Barry Robinson, two years’ later to backfill Mr Hewson’s position after she handing him a permanent role as the Manager of IT Administration, Finance, Procurement and Projects. Leaving nothing to chance, Ms Powderly-Hughes typed her sons CVs, faked their employment history and told them the interview questions beforehand. She also pretended to carry out reference checks after interviewing them. To make doubly sure her second son got over the line for a procurement manager role, Mrs Powderly-Hughes ‘interviewed’ Mr Robinson at her home and drilled him in IT finance packages, despite him being woefully underqualified for the role and ordinarily working as a motor mechanic. The three were sprung after a whistleblower reported their concerns to the Ombudsman. “I have my suspicions that Mary Powderly Hughes has hired her son, or family member, or someone with a very close connection and I think she’s manipulated things to make sure he got the job when it became permanent. When he was a contractor he quickly got a rate rise, which is quite rare for most people,” the manager told Ms Glass. The Ombudsman investigated the tangled web the trio had weaved using social media and official records. Officers matched Mr Hewson’s mobile phone number listed on his MFB emails with his role as Treasurer of the local cricket club. They then matched his personal email address with a Facebook account for a Mr Hughes, which revealed the suburb he lived in, the same as the cricket club. The Victorian Electoral roll listed a David Patrick Powderly-Hughes in the same suburb. Mr Hughes Facebook account also showed he had previously worked for Parks Victoria, which Mrs Powderly Hughes had also listed in her past jobs on her LinkedIn account. A search of the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages showed that the men were her sons and had both changed their names a few weeks’ before starting work at MFB. Ms Glass said the case was an egregious example of self-interest. “Some cases I have investigated over the years seem so unlikely you could not make them up. Except, as in this case, they did,” Ms Glass said. “The facts of the case are that a senior public official at the Metropolitan Fire Brigade hired her son, not declaring the relationship, having falsified his CV and coached him prior to interview, three weeks after he changed his name to conceal the relationship. “After giving him a pay rise and moving him into a permanent role, she then hired her second son, also falsifying his CV and “interviewing” him at her home after he, too, had changed his name to conceal the relationship,” said Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass. Ms Glass said she had rarely come across such blatant and calculated behaviour. “Often the cases are minor, although wrong. Not this time, this was a case of deception where the family nest was feathered, plain and simple.” Unsurprisingly, all three have left MFB since the investigation blew up. Ms Powderly-Hughes resigned on the day of her interview with the Ombudsman and both of her sons have since been sacked. Ms Glass said cases were often difficult to detect and she underlined the importance of colleagues raising the alarm if they saw anything suspicious going on at work. “The case also serves as a salient reminder of the importance of disclosers acting on suspicion that something is awry in their workplace. More often than not, as the saying goes, where there is smoke, there is fire.” She said that while the agency could not be held responsible for the deception perpetrated upon it in this case it needed to beef up its conflict of interest policies. [post_title] => Senior public official secretly employs sons after name changes and doctored CVs [post_excerpt] => Pretend reference checks and pay rises for the family. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => senior-public-official-secretly-employs-sons-change-names-falsify-cvs [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-19 14:22:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-19 04:22:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27429 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27369 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-06-16 12:00:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-16 02:00:08 [post_content] => By Charles Pauka CASE builds the machines for the long haul. And as councils typically keep their plant and equipment for 8+ years, they can rest assured knowing that their CASE machine will not only perform for its first life with Council, but continue to perform through its 2nd and 3rd lives once replaced and sold to a new owner. For performance, reliability and resale value, councils around Australia continue to place their trust in CASE equipment – again and again. Founded in 1842, CASE Construction Equipment has over the last 175 years built a reputation as a leading and respected global manufacturer of construction equipment. Today, CASE offers a full line of equipment with over 90 different models around the world, including heavy excavators, wheel loaders, crawler dozers, skid-steer loaders, mini excavators, and backhoe loaders. CASE equipment and technologies deliver productivity, efficiency, fuel economy and cost-effectiveness to the benefit of its customers’ bottom line. CASE innovates to design equipment that is intuitive and straightforward to use so that operators maximise their productivity. GovernmentNews.com.au would like to congratulate CASE Construction Equipment on its 175 years of building productivity, and to celebrate, you can view a comprehensive and informative guide to CASE’s history, products and capabilities by clicking on this link. Government agencies and contractors need access to a full line of equipment, including heavy excavators, wheel loaders, crawler dozers, skid-steer loaders, mini excavators, and backhoe loaders, for maximum productivity and fast results. Read on to find out where to get your hands on the best equipment and back-up in Australia today. Full report here. [post_title] => Governments trust CASE [post_excerpt] => Machines built for the long haul. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27369 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-20 10:47:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-20 00:47:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27369 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27284 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-02 11:24:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-02 01:24:51 [post_content] => NSW councils tentative on housing affordability package Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has welcomed NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s ‘promising ideas’ in the state’s new housing affordability package but said the reforms were ‘somewhat light on detail’. The reforms include stamp duty concessions for first home buyers, changes to the first home buyer’s grant, higher taxes on foreign investors and accelerating council-led rezonings and development application approvals. "LGNSW congratulates the government on its efforts to do what it can to support housing affordability, and there's nothing we'd like more to do than to come out and praise their efforts,” LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said. "Unfortunately until there is more detailed information available it really seems to be a case of the devil will lie in the detail." Mr Rhoades said the sector welcomed many components of the package, including the ‘very positive’ move to lift the cap on development contributions to ensure new homes had the necessary infrastructure to support them, like footpaths, roads and parks. He also cautiously welcomed the announcement of funding of up to $2.5 million for ‘growth priority councils’ to help councils update their Local Environment Plans quicker. "It's great news that these ten to 15 councils will be supported to plan for future growth, but we are a little concerned at the suggestion that councils should accelerate the rezoning of land," Mr Rhoades said. "Rezoning needs good strategic planning at a local level, and it's important that we don't give this up in the pursuit of speed at all costs.” He said it was unclear whether the government’s new guidelines around protecting the local character of communities would have much force. However, Mr Rhoades said councils were pleased the government had not moved straight to mandatory independent planning panels for deciding larger development applications. "These panels work very effectively for some councils, but other councils don't see the need for them - it really needs to be a matter of local choice.” Digital marketplace for smart cities Local councils can now use the Digital Transformation Agency’s (DTA) Digital Marketplace platform to collaborate on smart city projects, including smart lighting, rubbish collection and infrastructure modelling. The new functionality, which is expected to become permanent, was introduced to help councils find suppliers for the innovative products and services they need to deliver smart city ideas. “There is a great appetite for innovation within local councils, who are at the forefront of smart city initiatives,” Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said. “Already 25 per cent of registered buyers on the Digital Marketplace are local government and there are more than 400 sellers who can provide the digital expertise they need to transform their communities.” There are already some exciting projects up on the Digital Marketplace, such as Sunshine Coast’s underground waste collection project and Ipswich Council’s 5D data modelling, which brings together streams of data to build a five-dimensional view of the city’s infrastructure. The Marketplace is supporting the federal government’s Smart Cities Plan and complements the $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. Applications for the first round of the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program close on 30 June 2017. Eight Sydney councils will offer residents free energy advice Eight Sydney councils will offer free energy advice to residents through the Our Energy Future partnership, going live on World Environment Day, Monday 5 June. Eight councils are working with Our Energy Future: Inner West, Bayside, City of Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown City, Georges River, City of Parramatta, Randwick City, and City of Sydney. Our Energy Future (formerly Our Solar Future) will involve an energy advice website, phone line and free, no-obligation quotes on solar and assessment services. Users can find information such as trusted solar and storage battery retailers and installers and tips on improving the energy efficiency of their homes and workplaces. For a discounted rate, Our Energy Future experts can also conduct comprehensive energy assessments to offer more tailored advice. Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) President Councillor Sally Betts said she was excited about the launch. “We’re delighted that Our Energy Future and SSROC have been able to come together with eight councils to deliver financial savings to our local residents,” she said. Our Energy Future is coordinated by Positive Charge, a not-for-profit social enterprise. “Our organisation has its foundations in working with local government to reduce emissions and increase the use of renewable and energy efficiency technologies,” said Manager Positive Charge Kate Nicolazzo. “We are thrilled to be partnering with SSROC to bring this award-winning service to Sydney-region residents,” she said. SSROC General Manager Namoi Dougall said, “Our Energy Future is a key element of SSROC’s Renewable Energy Master Plan, and will be run by Positive Charge for a 15-month pilot.” [post_title] => Around the councils: Digital Marketplace open for smart cities; Response to NSW housing reforms [post_excerpt] => And eight Sydney council's energy efficiency push. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => around-councils-digital-marketplace-open-smart-cities-response-nsw-housing-reforms [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-02 11:32:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-02 01:32:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27284 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27216 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-25 05:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-24 19:00:00 [post_content] => Bendigo Council's Presentation and Assets Director Craig Lloyd with Clean Cube. Pic: supplied. A solar waste compactor that functions with an ordinary household wheelie bin will be trialled by a Victorian council keen to increase bin capacity, cut costs and reduce the number of rubbish collections the council makes. The City of Greater Bendigo Council is currently trialling Clean Cube, a smart waste compactor which runs on renewable solar energy and tells you when it is full. The Clean Cube was developed by Korean start-up company Ecube and it can hold a 120 or 240 litre bin. Bendigo Council’s Australian supplier is Smart City Solutions. City of Greater Bendigo Presentation and Assets Director Craig Lloyd said it could help reduce the cost of waste collection. “By reducing the frequency of collections there is the potential to reduce the costs and labour associated with providing waste collection services to public areas by up to 80 per cent,” Mr Lloyd said. “It’s important to look at the new technology that exists to see if it’s viable for our community.” He said the Clean Cube used smart technology and multiple sensors to measure the bin’s fill level in real time. “The sensors trigger the automatic compaction of waste inside the bin and by doing this the capacity of the bin is increased by up to eight times meaning it doesn’t have to be emptied as often,” Mr Lloyd said. “However when it is full, the Clean Cube electronically notifies the city’s waste collection staff that it needs to be emptied.” Mr Lloyd said the compactor’s smart technology also included safety features that could detect sudden temperature rises, such as a fire in the bin. Using the compactor bins at events would also reduce overflowing and litter. Ecube Labs’ online marketing manager, Matti Juutinen, told IoTAustralia in June last year that the cube can hold up to eight times more rubbish than traditional bins. “We are the only company in the industry to offer an ultrasonic fill-level sensor (with 10 years battery life) and a smart solar-powered waste compacting bin on a single real-time monitoring platform that generates optimised schedules and routes based on fill-level forecasting,” Mr Juutinen said. He said the compactor could go for two to three weeks without sunlight once fully charged. Charging it takes three to four days if there has been at least four hours of sunlight on each day. The Clean Cube is being trialled at Lake Weeroona, the city’s most popular recreation area, until June 13. [post_title] => Korean solar waste compactor could slash councils' rubbish collection costs [post_excerpt] => Victorian council trials Clean Cube. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => vic-council-trials-korean-solar-waste-compactor-slash-rubbish-collection-costs [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-25 16:23:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-25 06:23:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27216 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27187 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-23 11:05:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-23 01:05:39 [post_content] => The Department of Health has said 22,000 home care packages have been released under the new system and it will release detailed data in July on how it’s performing. Bonnie Carter says her 84-year-old mother has been waiting for a high-level home care package for more than 70 days. Ms Carter says that since an Aged Care Assessment Team assessed her mother as needing the package, “nothing has happened.” “There’s been no contact other than me calling My Aged Care several times to see where she is in the queue and how long she might have to wait,” Ms Carter says. “Apparently no one can tell anyone anything about this mythical queue until the end of this year,” she adds. Under the latest aged care reforms that came into force on 27 February, the Department of Health has created a new centralised process for allocating home care packages directly to consumers. As part of the new system a “national prioritisation process” has been created: after a senior is assessed as needing a home care package they join a new national queue where they wait to be allocated a package. How long a senior waits on the queue is based on various factors – such as their level of need, how long they’ve been waiting and how quickly a package at their level of need becomes available (the number of packages is increasing but remains capped by government). It’s a complex new system and, in the absence of transparency around how it is working, confusion is mounting among providers and consumers. Read more here. This story first appeared in Australian Ageing Agenda. [post_title] => Confusion reigns over Health's new aged care queue [post_excerpt] => My Aged Care under fire. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => confusion-reigns-healths-new-aged-care-queue [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-23 12:44:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-23 02:44:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27187 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27042 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-05-04 10:27:37 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-05-04 00:27:37 [post_content] => Cumberland Council will press ahead with a controversial plan to outsource kerbside waste and recycling before September’s local government elections. The Western Sydney suburbs council, born out of a forced merger between Holroyd and Auburn Councils and part of Parramatta in May 2016, has put the council’s waste and recycling services out to tender with a deadline of May 26. Up for grabs are services include kerbside garbage; recyclables; organics and garden waste; council clean ups and picking up dumped rubbish and this covers around 70,000 housesholds. This translates annually into dealing with around 60,000 tonnes of garbage; 14,000 tonnes of recycling and 5,500 tonnes of organic and green waste, as well as two to four council clean ups a year and collecting dumped rubbish within 24 hours of it being reported. Government News understands that new contractors could take over from as early as August. They will manage the transition to a new service and begin a four-year contract from January 2019 with the option to extend this by three years. Council Administrator Viv May commissioned reviews into council services, including garbage collection and council swimming pools, after taking over last year. The waste review, written by council officers, showed a marked preference towards outsourcing services to the private sector and argued that the council could cut its costs by 20 per cent through bigger contracts and reduced operating costs. Most of the council’s waste and recycling services are currently delivered by council garbos, apart from waste services in Woodville Ward, which used to come under Parramatta Council, and the recyclables collection in the former Holroyd Council area. Mr May has copped flak from former Holroyd Mayor Greg Cummings, as well as resistance from the United Services Union (USU), which represents local government workers in NSW. Mr Cummings said Mr May was ‘overstepping his responsibilities’ and driving changes through before the council went into caretaker mode in early August. “This is done at break-neck speed to make sure it’s done before an elected council can review it,” Mr Cummings said. “By all means collect the information and get a report but it should be there ready for the democratically elected council to review.” Mr Cummings said Mr May was known to be an enthusiastic advocate of outsourcing and had a track record in that area. Mr May spent 27 years as Mosman Council’s General Manager where he outsourced the council’s outdoor work and reduced council employed outdoor workers from more than 100 to six. Mr Cummings also criticised the council for omitting diversion to landfill in the tender. He said that the former Holroyd Council had managed to divert 62 per cent of green waste from landfill using UR-3R alternative waste treatment plant in Eastern Creek. But Cumberland Council’s Group Manager, Roads and Waste Peter Fitzgerald defended the decision to go out to competitive tender. He said the council’s review estimated it would yield more than $16 million in savings and ensure a more consistent service. It would also finally give Woodville ward residents a green waste bin so they would no longer have to trek to the council’s depot. “Given that the existing contract for waste services in the Woodville ward expires in November this year council could not wait any longer to make a decision about the provision of waste services,” Mr Fitzgerald said. “Council must provide a consistent service to all residents irrespective of which part of the council area they live in.” He said around 34 council staff would be affected by decision. “All affected council staff have been assured that if they want a job with council they will still have a job with council, regardless of the decision to call tenders for these services,” Mr Fitzgerald said. Mr May told Government News in October last year that Administrators had the same powers as mayors and councillors and would make decisions accordingly. The USU is not convinced and has come out against the outsourcing plans, arguing that service levels will drop and rates will rise. It led a public rally against Cumberland Council outsourcing in February. The USU website says of the tender: “We all know that private waste collection companies don’t care about ratepayers or the local community, they only care about one thin: delivering profit margins to their shareholders. “The contractors won’t have time to do missed services or go the extra mile by taking your bin in if you can’t. Yes, that’s what the hard working council garbos do for the community.” But disentangling the legacy of three different councils’ waste and recycling services will not be easy. The council will have to pay out staff redundancies and long service leave along with paying penalties on any contracts which are terminated early, some of which do not expire until 2020. The United Services Union has been contacted for comment. More to follow. [post_title] => Merged NSW council outsources rubbish and recycling before councillors elected [post_excerpt] => Union and ex-mayor enter fray. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27042 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-05-04 10:27:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-05-04 00:27:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27042 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26990 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-28 11:36:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-28 01:36:28 [post_content] => By Charles Pauka To misquote Mark Twain ‘reports of the death of developments in the international trade agenda have been greatly exaggerated’ with the recent announcement that Australia has successfully concluded negotiations with New Zealand and 12 Pacific Island countries in Brisbane to implement the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus). Australia was a party to the original PACER for some time but the development of PACER Plus has taken longer than anticipated and most recently a prospective date for completion of negotiations of June 2016 did not come to fruition. However, these types of negotiations rarely run to an exact timetable and the announcement comes at a welcome time, even though the deal has been struck without Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Fiji who had earlier withdrawn from the negotiations due to their reservations on what economic benefits would actually be delivered to them. It is not clear whether the deal would allow for PNG and Fiji to join before the final agreement is entered into. Interestingly the absence of PNG and Fiji from the deal does not appear in the press release by our Trade Minister. The specific details of the agreement have yet to be released ahead of signing in Tonga in June. However, according to the press release from the Minister of Trade: “PACER Plus is a landmark agreement covering goods, services and investment. It will remove barriers to trade, including tariffs, increasing the flow of goods and investment in the region, generating growth, jobs and raising living standards. This agreement will drive economic growth and raise living standards in our region.” Read more here. This story first appeared in Transport and Logistics News. [post_title] => PACER Plus: a ray of sunshine in a gloomy trade world [post_excerpt] => PNG and Fiji's position unclear. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 26990 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-28 12:16:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-28 02:16:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26990 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26984 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-28 11:24:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-28 01:24:55 [post_content] => Will Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce succeed in herding public servants out of Canberra? The recent controversy surrounding the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) away from Canberra to Armidale and the National’s push to force government departments to justify why they should remain in Canberra has helped reignite debate around regional development. So too has intensifying anxiety around house prices in Sydney and Melbourne and the rising despair of first home buyers and renters, which federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has indicated will be a cornerstone of his May Budget. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, whose New England electorate takes in Armidale, and National’s Deputy Leader Fiona Nash have led the charge to eject cadres of Canberra’s public servants into the regions, despite the APVMA relocation failing the government’s own cost-benefit analysis and being fiercely opposed by most of its workers and the National Farmers’ Federation. More than 80 per cent of APVMA staff, many of whom are highly specialised scientists, have refused to up sticks for Armidale. APVMA’s chief Kareena Arthy quit the agricultural chemicals agency one week ago for a job as Deputy Director-General of Enterprise Canberra, rather than move. But Nash and Joyce won’t let go. Ms Nash has said that regional Australians “have just as much right to a government career as Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra residents”. “The fact is most moves of government departments to the regions will save money on rent and rates. It’s also fact the vast majority of employees in government departments don’t need to visit the Minister’s office in Parliament House,” Ms Nash said. “Indeed two thirds of Australian government jobs are already outside Canberra, many of them in Melbourne and Sydney.” Sydney University Emeritus Professor Frank Stilwell, a political economist who has written widely on regional development, says targeting public sector jobs in Canberra is a furphy when Sydney and Melbourne are the most overheated. Prof Stilwell says Canberra’s creation back in the early 1900s as the nation’s independent capital city, was designed to decentralise economic activity away from Sydney and Melbourne. “It was a counter magnet for the overdevelopment of the eastern seaboard. Frankly [moving jobs out of Canberra] just doesn’t make sense to me,” he says. Creating Canberra was “socially legitimate and long-term and did not involve politicians pork barrelling for their own electorate”. The critical mass of public servants in Canberra allows for interactions between agencies, knowledge clusters and greater staff mobility. Australian National University Emeritus Professor of political science John Warhurst agrees that Canberra is the wrong target for decentralisation. “It is actually the best Australian example of decentralisation to the bush that there is. It is a bush capital. The Nationals should be proud of this national achievement rather than try to undermine it,” he wrote, in a piece for Fairfax yesterday (Thursday). “Furthermore, Canberra is still quite a small city, dependent on public service employment.” Prof Stilwell says APVMA’s relocation looks especially ill-advised since it is not backed up by the Ernst and Young cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the government and foisting the move on staff was unlikely to be popular. “It is very disruptive for anybody. Many people have already invested in homes and have kids in schools. Not that Armidale is a backwater. It’s great for education and affordable real estate prices that are much more attractive than our overstressed capital cities. “If this [move] can’t work, maybe there is something wrong with the process. Shifting around the federal public service is just not really addressing the problem.” Prof Stilwell says that what is needed is a coherent strategy backed by all three tiers of government with state government leading the way to address the overcentralisation in Sydney and Melbourne, “that’s where the action needs to be”, he says. While he won’t be drawn on which state government departments or agencies should go bush, he says he would target relatively autonomous, footloose agencies that were not linked into a political cluster where staff needed to interact. There has already been some decentralisation, such as moving the ATO to Gosford. But he says it takes political will to plan decentralise jobs and growth and this kind of co-operation and nation building has not happened since Whitlam’s national regional strategy in the 1970s, which bit the bullet after three years when Malcolm Fraser was elected. “It’s not pie in the sky, it just hasn’t happened for a long, long time in Australia. It needs to have cross-party support or it will get switched on and off when the government changes.” He says this vision has never been reinstated, other than the Building Better Cities program under the Hawke government and led by Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe. A national strategy would need to be underpinned by research to investigate long-term, sustainable policy options alongside a willingness to invest in rural and regional infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, public housing and roads. “State governments have to be the leading agencies but they’re not going to do it unless there’s a national plan because otherwise they are in competition with each other.” The government should also focus on enticing private businesses to the regions, not just the public sector. For example by offering preferential payroll tax rates, developing industrial parks, building public housing and other infrastructure such as fast rail links between state capitals, with stops on the way to develop two or three regional centres in each state. “It’s a complex process. They just need time to get everyone used to the idea, get everyone committed so that eventually it develops its own inevitable momentum. While it’s a [political] football and controversial it’s not going to tick any of the boxes of economic viability,” Prof Stilwell says. Regional development has received further attention with the transplantation of the UK City Deals program to Australia, where capital investment is funnelled into particular regions around cities with targets for infrastructure and growth. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull known to be a fan of the project and early Australian cities deals have already been signed for Townsville, Launceston and Western Sydney. Regional development must be addressed because the consequences of not pursuing it are high: unequal distribution of jobs, wealth and growth and loss of social connection in regional areas on the one hand; congestion, inflated house prices and environmental degradation for city dwellers on the other. “It’s a win-win, when it is done well,” Prof Stilwell adds. The Productivity Commission’s initial report Transitioning Regional Economies says that regional development should be pursued in the light of the end of the mining boom, the slow growth of agriculture jobs due to technology and rising productivity and manufacturing sector shrinkage to make regional areas and their people more resilient. [post_title] => Target Sydney and Melbourne public sector jobs, not Canberra [post_excerpt] => APVMA debate rages on. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => target-sydney-melbourne-public-sector-jobs-not-canberra [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-28 11:24:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-28 01:24:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26984 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26972 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-04-27 16:35:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-27 06:35:24 [post_content] => Can Health exorcise the ghosts of failed past government IT projects? There is a graveyard bigger than Rookwood Cemetery filled with the cadavers of failed government IT projects and haunted by the ghosts of scope creep, budget blowouts, frustrating delays and second rate outcomes. It is a fate the Department of Health (DOH) will be dearly hoping it can avoid as it pushes ahead to completely reimagine its 30-year-old IT payments system, a system which underpins Medicare, aged care and veterans’ payments and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The project is still in its early stages. The Request for Information (RFI) went out in March this year as the government gathers as many ideas as it can from tech companies of varying sizes to design, deliver and integrate its digital payments platform, a project that will have multiple phases over the next five years, while keeping its procurement options open. Vendors are likely to be salivating at the chance to score a lucrative, long-running contract which has about the highest public profile there is for a federal government IT project, perhaps surpassed only by the Department of Human Services’ $1 billion, seven-year Welfare Payments Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT), due for completion by 2022. But it will not be easy money. It is not a straight forward task to disentangle the current system, which has over 200 applications and 90 databases and supports more than 600 million payments worth approximately $50 billion every year. The Health Department cannot afford to slip up because if it does it will do so very publicly. The multi-million dollar transformation is an endeavour that will affect around 99 per cent of Australians who use the digital payments platform in one way or another. CEO of business management company Holocentric, Bruce Nixon, who has worked with government clients such as the ATO, NSW Transport Management Centre, Sydney Water and IP Australia, says now is the right time to do it, before the labyrinthine system gets even more complicated. “It’s pretty exciting and it is long overdue. It’s a good time to be doing it with new technology available,” Mr Nixon says. “It is very difficult to integrate everything into the application so there are more and more layers on top and they become more and more complex and unwieldy. “There does come a time where it makes sense to overhaul the system and replace it with something more modern that allows changes.” Time is also limited so DOH has little choice but to act. Gary Sterrenberg, CIO of the Department of Human Services, which manages health payments for DOH, has said in the past that the current system has only about three years left before it is totally cactus. There is no doubt that DOH needs to get on with it but it needs to do it well. Critical to the project’s success, says Mr Nixon, is building expertise and loyalty in-house, rather than shifting the burden and responsibility onto systems integrators, although he says external contractors will be needed and they will bring in fresh ideas. “You should bet on your own people. Open their knowledge. Bring them into the project as early as possible and keep them involved all the way through,” he says. “Be upfront about how it’s going to work in the future, the ramifications. It de-risks the project.” Doing this helps prevent cost overruns and scope creep, as well as skilling up staff, and ensures that the people who know and understand the processes the system is built for are more involved in the project. It makes it more likely that the system can incorporate any necessary changes to payments further down the track too. “There are always going to be policy changes and political influences. Transformation is ongoing and it is hard to change if you don’t have in-house skills and knowledge,” Mr Nixon says. It is the people at the coalface processing payments - not systems integrators - who have this knowledge. “You need to leverage these skills and engage these staff in the process, rather than relying on systems integrators,” he adds. Integrating the technical into the operational demands a thorough knowledge of current processes and assessing desirable outcomes, along with building in the flexibility to adjust systems to reflect future changes. It requires drilling down and looking at how payments are made, defining the tasks workers must do, the rules and obligations they are working under, and thinking about how these integrate into the IT system. Mr Nixon says it is important to examine what can be done better and the expectations Australians have of the system, for example, of being able to make mobile payments. “The Department should make sure it takes control of the whole transformation initiative. This is a very complex system that has been around for a long time with a huge amount of transactions that are very important to get right. “You need to start change management from the early days, not at the end, identify current processes, system capabilities and your future vision." He suggests building a model to simulate the processes and how things will work, “sort of like a business GPS”. Mr Nixon says there are lessons to be learned from other IT disasters, whether from Australia or overseas, cautionary tales worth heeding by governments before they blow billions and incur the wrath of ordinary Australians when the systems they rely upon seize up. “It’s worth being wary of past failures,” he says. Probably one of the most spectacular domestic IT failures occurred when Queensland Health set out to replace its ailing payroll system in 2006. When the system eventually went live in 2010 thousands of workers were underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all and Queensland taxpayers were left with a $1.2 billion bill for a project that was initially supposed to be a $6 million contract. The meltdown was primarily due to the organisation’s failure to clearly set out its business requirements or to spell out how it should be delivered and what outcomes were expected. Unrealistic deadlines exacerbated the sloppy planning. All this set the scene for massive scope creep and proved to be a headache for contractor IBM, which had to deal with multiple requests for changes. Another epic fail was the Victorian MyKi public transport smartcard, where costs ballooned to $1.5 billion and dragged on an extra seven years, taking nine years instead of two. The ensuing storm of complaints from the public over charges and refunds only amplified the damage done. The then Victorian Labor government underestimated the project’s complexity and failed to monitor the contract properly. DOH will be fervently praying that it does not enter the annals of similarly disastrous IT projects and instead gets it right. [post_title] => Health confronts ghosts of failed govt IT projects in Medicare payments rebuild [post_excerpt] => Engage staff early, integrate process with systems. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => health-confronts-ghosts-government-projects-medicare-payments-rebuild [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-28 11:44:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-28 01:44:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26972 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26963 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-21 11:03:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-21 01:03:16 [post_content] => UNSW-EC0, built by UNSW’s Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research and one of the three Australian satellites launched overnight. By Anthony Wallace Australia is back in the space race, following the launch of three miniature satellites. At 1am Sydney time on Tuesday 19 April 2017, three Australian research cubesats blasted off for space as part of a NASA mission to resupply the International Space Station. The event marked the first launch of an Australian-built satellite for 15 years. It is also the nation’s first foray into cubesats for a host of new applications, from scientific discovery to remote sensing and satellite navigation. The trio of Australian cubesats is part of the international QB50 mission, consisting of 36 small satellites known as ‘cubesats’. Each instrument weighs about 1.3 kg each and is about the size of a shoebox. The combined effort will carry out the most extensive measurements ever undertaken of the little-understood thermosphere, a region between 200-380 km above Earth. This usually inaccessible zone helps shield Earth from cosmic rays and solar radiation, and is vital for communications and weather formation. Twenty-eight of the QB50 satellites, including the three Australian cubesats, were aboard the Atlas 5 rocket when it launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida overnight. The three Australian cubesats are UNSW-EC0, built by UNSW’s Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER); INSPIRE-2, by the University of Sydney, UNSW and the Australian National University; and SuSAT, by the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia. Read more here. This story first appeared in Spatial Source. [post_title] => Launched: first Australian satellites in 15 years [post_excerpt] => Oz is back in the space race. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => satellite [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-21 13:41:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-21 03:41:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26963 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => 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 )  => 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
- 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
Pretend reference checks and pay rises for the family.
Machines built for the long haul.
And eight Sydney council’s energy efficiency push.
Victorian council trials Clean Cube.
My Aged Care under fire.
Union and ex-mayor enter fray.
PNG and Fiji’s position unclear.
APVMA debate rages on.
Engage staff early, integrate process with systems.
Oz is back in the space race.
Massive infrastructure boost or recipe for disaster?
Problem areas of network revealed.