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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_28625" align="alignnone" width="300"] It's near;y 20 years old - pull it down![/caption]

The NSW Government will demolish two large stadiums and replace them with two large stadiums, at a cost of over $2 billion.

The stadiums aren’t very old. Stadium Australia was built for the Sydney Olympics less than 20 years ago. It is now named after a major bank.

The Sydney Football Stadium, now named after an insurance company, is not much older. It was built in 1988.

Both stadiums work well. If they’re a little tired, they could easily be refurbished for a fraction of the cost of a knockdown and rebuild. Yet that is what the Government will do, even as it is cutting back on services in other areas in the name of economy.

To many people, including Government News, this is madness.  Stadiums are important, but not so important that billions of dollars are wasted on slightly better versions of what already exists.

Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore puts it down to a powerplay by the influential SCG Trust and NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres. The SCG Trust, which administers the Sydney Football Stadium and the Sydney Cricket Ground is dominated by on old boy’s club of influential businessmen and retired sports stars.

“The public interest is being steamrolled by an all-powerful SCG Trust and an ambitious sports minister who wants to play with the big boys – and a premier who's lost control,” she wrote in an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald.

The announcement has attracted criticism from many quarters as an unnecessary extravagance. “Thankfully, NSW also has flawless transport, a surplus of schools, extravagantly equipped hospitals, more parkland than it needs, a housing market that caters to all of us, and a vocational training system groaning with resources,” said Fairfax columnist Jacob Saulwick, employing just a little sarcasm.

The decision comes after years of wrangling over the location and usage of Sydney’s major sporting arenas.

Rugby league, rugby union, soccer, Australian Rules football and cricket are the major sports competing for the use of Sydney’s stadiums (with occasional concerts and promotion events such as US Major League Baseball and American Football).

All these sporting group are also run by an interlocking group of backroom influencers. The public, who pay for all this, are but pawns in the game.

The biggest argument against the new stadiums is the fact that the existing models are underutilised and rarely reach capacity. The new ones will not be any bigger.

The replacement for the existing Stadium Australia will actually be smaller – a capacity of 80,000,  compared to well over 100,000 when it hosted the Sydney Olympics and around 85,000 today. And it will have a rectangular field, meaning it will not be able to host Australian Rules.

Why is this happening? Can anyone give a good reason?
                    [post_title] => Stadium mania in NSW - Opinion
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The NSW Government will introduce free vehicle registration for the owners of private vehicles who spend more than $1300 a year on Sydney toll roads. Sydney’s growing motorway system is heavily tolled, with the revenue going to private operators to offset the price they have paid to buy and operate the infrastructure. There has been growing controversy over the extent of the tolls and the total costs for regular users. There is already a Cashback system for heavy users of the M5 motorway in Sydney’s southwest, introduced by then then Labor Government in 1995 after it broke an election promise to abolish tolls completely. That scheme, which costs around $90 million a year, will remain in existence. It is estimated the new scheme will cost a similar amount. The new scheme will come into effect on 1 July 2018, but the measure of toll costs spent will be backdated to 1 July 2017 to determine eligibility. Government registration fees will be waived for vehicles weighing less than 2795kg, and which have incurred an average of $25 a week over the previous 12 month period. “The majority of eligible motorists will save $358 a year on registration costs, with potential savings of up to $715 a year,” said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. “The Government’s strong budget position allows us to give back to toll users. “The NSW Government has made it a priority to drive down the cost of owning a vehicle with big savings being delivered through reforms to CTP Green Slips and the introduction of a FuelCheck app.” Registration costs in NSW are based on vehicle weight. Motorcycle registration is $127 a year, and small cars below 975 kg are $272 a year. Vehicles in the highest eligible weight category (2505-2794 kg) will save $715 a year. That means a driver spending $30 a week on tolls and driving a 2000 kg car will have their toll bill reduced by about one third. The scheme will apply to private drivers who use any existing toll roads and will apply to new toll roads in the future – of which there will be many. The expensive and controversial WestConnex tunnel system is currently under construction, with an extension to the airport and another Harbour Tunnel to the Northern Beaches planned. The Government is also considering an extension to the F6, which runs south to Wollongong. To help fund its expansion plans, the Government recently reintroduced tolls on the M4 in Sydney’s west, which were abolished in 2010. [post_title] => Free rego in NSW for heavy toll users [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => free-rego-nsw-heavy-toll-users [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-21 06:12:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-20 19:12:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28579 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28576 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-11-20 13:16:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-11-20 02:16:19 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_28577" align="alignnone" width="295"] Trouble in paradise[/caption] Norfolk Island is ‘on the brink of disaster’, says an independent report on the island’s economic situation. The report was commissioned by the island’s small community following the Australian Government’s abolition of self-government in July 2016 and the imposition of direct rule. Norfolk Island’s 1700 residents are now subject to the same laws – and taxation – as the rest of Australia, and is expected to pay its own way. The report, written by economist and scientist Dr Chris Nobbs says that the changes mean “spiralling costs and inappropriate regulation.” It is titled ‘On the Brink of Disaster: The Impact of the Australian Government Reforms on Norfolk Island Businesses’. Dr Nobbs says Norfolk Island is in crisis as the direct result of flaws in the intervention by the Australian Government in Norfolk Island's governance and economy. The report outlines the impact of substantial cost increases facing businesses, including “double-digit price rises for incoming freight, a 15 percent rise in telecommunications costs, a 12.7 percent rise in regional council fees, along with regulatory changes that will see wage costs jump more than 35 percent next year.” The report projects that Norfolk Island will suffer significant price rises, a steep downturn in tourism, a slump in business activity, a rise in unemployment, and widespread community distress. “By requiring both that Norfolk Island pay its own way and that Norfolk Islanders become like mainland Australians in terms of their obligations and expectations, the Australian Government is crushing the island's economy in a vice from which few groups will escape unscathed,” says Dr Nobbs. Critical factors the report singles out as responsible for the economic crisis include:
  • the widespread imposition of Commonwealth and NSW laws and regulatory regimes.
  • the planned introduction of Australia's industrial awards.
  • the failure of the Australian Government to take up the responsibilities previously held by the Norfolk Island Government, such as for the promotion of tourism.
  • the loss of direct passenger airline services between New Zealand and Norfolk Island.
  • restrictions placed on primary producers and agriculture
  • the removal of the general revenue raising powers of the Norfolk Island Government.
The makes a number of recommendations to the Australian Government, including the halting of further impositions on the island. It says the Productivity Commission should carry out research and conduct a public inquiry to determine the real financial capacity of Norfolk Island and how it can survive economically, socially and culturally at reasonable cost. Norfolk Island has a population of only 1750 and an area of 34.6 sq km, and a very chequered history of governance. It was part of the colony of NSW from its founding as a penal settlement in 1788, and was transferred to Van Diemen’s Land in 1844. Van Diemen’s Land was renamed Tasmania in 1856, and in the same year Norfolk Island became a distinct British territory with its own Governor. 1897 that office was abolished and administration returned to NSW, though the island remained a separate entity. It became a Territory of Australia in 1913, under an Administrator. Then, in 1979 Norfolk Island was granted limited self government, with a small Legislative Assembly running most internal affairs. Financial problems led to the islanders asking for special assistance from the Australian Government in 2010, which led to the recent changes. More than two thirds of the island’s voters rejected direct rule from Canberra at a referendum, but to no avail. Elections were held for a new Regional Council, a standard Australian Local Government Area, and Norfolk Island became an integral part of Australia on 1 July 2017. Islanders can now voe in Australian elections, where they are deemed to be part of the electorate of Canberra. But the natives are increasingly restless. “The Australian Government has given insufficient thought to the genuine requirements of a very small and marine-isolated economy such as Norfolk Island has. The ‘development’ model currently in place for Norfolk Island is grossly inappropriate. Dr Nobbs’ 34 page report is available here. [post_title] => Federal takeover a ‘disaster’ for Norfolk Island [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => federal-takeover-disaster-norfolk-island [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-21 06:04:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-20 19:04:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28576 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28397 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-31 09:47:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-30 22:47:26 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_28398" align="alignnone" width="270"] Adrian Di Marco[/caption] Brisbane-based enterprise software company TechnologyOne has secured a shared services hub contract with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS). It is the second shared services hub contract the Government has signed with TechnologyOne – the first was with the Department of Treasury in November 2015. Like the Treasury deal, the contract is for the provision of TechnologyOne’s SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) cloud based enterprise software. TechnologyOne has redeveloped its entire software suite to be SaaS based, and has essentially bet the company on its success. The new deal brings to 40 the number of Government agencies using TechnologyOne SaaS software. The Government embarked on a shared services strategy in 2014, initially with a centralised model, but a 2016 Audit Office report criticised the strategy’s inefficiencies and high costs. The last Federal Budget outlined a new strategy under which agencies would “consolidate their core transactional corporate services (financial and human resources) and associated back office IT systems into one of six corporate service hubs.” Two of these now use TechnologyOne software. In May the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) took over responsibility for the Government’s IT procurement, including SaaS based enterprise software. TechnologyOne’s Executive Chairman Adrian Di Marco says that TechnologyOne “is the only enterprise vendor to offer a true enterprise wide SaaS solution across the entire enterprise including financials, supply chain, HRP, analytics, customer relationship management and asset management for medium- to large-scale organisations.” Chief Financial Officer of DIIS, Brad Medland, said TechnologyOne met the department’s needs. “We went to market seeking a flexible ERP solution that would enable us to provide Shared Service capabilities to other federal government agencies,” he said. Two weeks ago the DTA also announced a whole-of-government purchasing arrangement with TechnologyOne rival SAP, a major German software multinational. Mr Di Marco told Government News that deal did not worry him. “Unlike SAP’s hosted approach ours is a true SaaS offering and is again unlike SAP IRAP certified.” IRAP (Information Security Registered Assessors Program) is a security assessment run by the Australian Signal’s Directorate. TechnologyOne has become Australia’s largest software company, with over 1,000 customers globally. It has long been strong in the tertiary education and local government markets, and is targeting state and federal governments as areas of expansion. Its revenues are now more than $300 million, which means it is knocking on the door of the ASX100.  

Disclosure

Graeme Philipson is author of TechnologyOne’s corporate history Story of a Software Powerhouse. [post_title] => TechnolgyOne gets another Shared Services hub [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => technolgyone-gets-another-shared-services-hub [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-03 07:56:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-02 20:56:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28397 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28380 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-28 09:43:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-27 22:43:42 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_28382" align="alignnone" width="215"] The ringleader - Dominic Perrottet[/caption] The Treasurers of Australia’s states and territories have formed a new Board of Treasurers, which pointedly excludes Federal Government Treasurer Scott Morrison. The new body is an initiative of NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, who said that the states and territories need to derive substantially more value than they are currently getting from the existing Council on Federal Financial Relations (CFFR). “Unless we come together at the state and territory level, our chances of resolving issues by relying on the current processes are slim. There is naturally frustration amongst the states about issues in which we feel we require greater autonomy for the good of our communities and of the nation.” He listed GST redistribution as a prime example of a critical issue where the states might meet separately without the Commonwealth to “address and coordinate improvements.” All state and territory Treasurers supported Mr Perrottet’s initiative when they met at the CFFR in Sydney on 27 October. "I want to see a federation where states and territories are setting the national agenda, helping one another achieve their full potential, and making the whole nation stronger,” Mr Perrottet said. “This is a great step for collaborative federalism. Under this agreement we will work together on issues of common interest, advancing national reform priorities from a state and territory perspective, including but not limited to an agenda-setting role in federal affairs.” He said the Board will meet for the first time before the end of 2017, with NSW “progressing the administration of the new body.” In comments to News Limited media Treasurer Scott Morrison professed not to be concerned by the new Board of Treasurers. “"I think it is a useful idea. I am not shy about working closely with the states and territories," he said. "Dominic Perrottet and I have worked closely for many years and I am pleased that he is going to play a role in ensuring closer co-ordination between states and territories and the Commonwealth." Many of the states are known to be angry as what they see as unilateral behaviour by the Commonwealth. The same day the new Board was announced Scott Morrison released details of a new National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, which was developed without state and territory involvement.

Comment

Commonwealth-state relations in Australia are not improving. The problems that have dogged Australia since Federation continue. The states deliver essential services such as health, transport and education, but it is the Commonwealth that collects most of the money that pays for them. It is a recipe for conflict, which is just what we have. It is hard to believe Scott Morrison when he says he welcomes this new Board of Treasurers. A united stand by the state and territories on key issues such as GST redistribution will make his job much more difficult. Whether it improves the standard of intergovernmental relations in Australia or not remains to be seen. [post_title] => New State Treasurers club to confront Feds [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-state-treasurers-club-confront-feds [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-31 10:05:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-30 23:05:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28380 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28369 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-27 09:07:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-26 22:07:59 [post_content] =>

The NSW Audit Office, in its annual 'Report on State Finances', has generally given the state a clean bill of health. But much of NSW’s sound financial position is because of its continued sale of government assets, which it has paid consultants hundreds of millions of dollars to facilitate. Revenues, assets, and net worth are up. Liabilities, including unfunded superannuation, are down. The state’s revenues in 2016-2017 were $83.5 billion, up $5.3 billion (6.3 percent) on the previous year. Expenditure was $79.4 billion, up $3.9 billion, giving a surplus of $4.1 billion. Wages and salaries accounted for $30 billion (37.8 percent) of this. The fastest growing area of expenditure is transport and communication – spending has grown 68 percent since 2012-13. It is now just behind education, which remains the second largest area of expenditure after health. Financial assets are up by 88 percent, largely through the sale of public assets and businesses. To help with these sales, the state has spent $298 million over the last five years on financial and legal advice. That includes $175 million on consultants for the electricity network and generator transactions alone. Other significant consulting costs include: ports transactions ($71.6 million), disability and customer care services transfers ($31.1 million),  land and property information ($14.8 million), and the sale of the Pillar superannuation business ($5.5 million). The state ALP Opposition has called these consultancy fees obscene and a “feeding frenzy at the top end of town.” It gives examples:
  • A firm of accountants paid $17 million for accounting and tax advice on the sale of electricity poles and wires.
  • An investment bank paid $14.9 million for financial advice on the sale of Ports Botany and Kembla.
  • A firm of lawyers paid $11.5 million for legal advice on the ports sale.
The Chair of the Opposition’s Watchdog Committee Dr Hugh McDermott said the figures demonstrated “just how warped this government’s priorities are, when it had presided over cuts to the family and community services budget and regional disability services. “The money should have been spent on upgrading schools and hospitals and employing more teachers, nurses and police. “Most people would be shocked and angry at this level of waste when many families are really struggling under the high cost of living.” The Report on State Finances is available here. [post_title] => NSW asset sales expensive [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-asset-sales-expensive [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-31 10:09:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-30 23:09:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28369 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28352 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-24 16:23:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-24 05:23:03 [post_content] =>

The Productivity Commission has released its first ever five-year productivity review, called ‘Shifting the Dial’. It was released in conjunction with the Commission’s annual report. It is “a look out across the landscape of factors and influences that may affect Australia's economic performance over the medium term, in order to offer advice on where our priorities should lie if we are to enhance national welfare.” The report has a chapter on ‘More effective governments’, which offers a critique of how government works in Australia and how it can be improved. “The effectiveness of government functioning is critical for continuously improving living standards,” says the report. “Governments set and re-set the legal and commercial rules of the game that give greater certainty to investors, and standards to protect employees and consumers. “Governments choose our service levels — in defence and trade, as well as the more obvious health and education — and they set incentives and provide information for the development of natural resources, and rules to protect the environment. “They fund infrastructure, and collect and reallocate tax revenue to reduce inequities in opportunity and outcomes. Above all, they manage the complex interaction of all these, across three levels of government, a task that often only comes to notice when it fails badly.” The Productivity Commission says that, while Australians’ trust in governments and their institutions is falling, there are practical things that can be done to make governments work better. It might be too much to ask, given the increasingly rancorous nature of political debate in Australia. Still, the Commission is to be commended for trying. Many of its observations, and its suggested fixes, seem spot-on. One key area of reform, says the commission, should be in intergovernmental relations. It says COAG is “currently not an effective reform vehicle. “A key will be that COAG chooses to restore its role as a vehicle for economic and social reform. The scope for the vital big reforms will require commitment to a joint reform agenda by all jurisdictions.” It also says that revenue-sharing is not working well and that governments “commit to tax changes that would improve revenue-sharing arrangements as an essential part of the agenda.” It says that budget constraints are weak, particularly at the federal level, and that there is insufficient cross-government understanding of long-term national spending pressures. It calls for strengthened accountability mechanisms. The report is accompanied by 16 supporting papers, including one specifically addressing local government. It is critical of the way many state governments have “delegated functions to councils without clear policy frameworks or well‑designed support. “In principle, meaningful information on how well local government services match the requirements of their communities and state governments, and their efficiency over time and against peers, should reduce the need for restrictions on revenue raising (by improving the accountability of local government to residents and taxpayers).” The wide-ranging report also examines the health system, skills and the future of work, the functionality of towns and cities, and improving the efficiency of markets. And it recommends a price on carbon. “Mediocrity beckons if we let it. In the future, we cannot rely on high commodity prices or, given an ageing Australia, labour participation rates, to drive national income. We might try to invest more to add to growth, but capital must be paid for, and investment to GDP rates are already at historically high levels, so there may not be much room to move. “That means that innovation and learning — doing things better — is the key for prosperity. Yet this has languished in Australia (and many other countries) for a decade.” The Productivity Commission has outlined the problems, and recommended some solutions. It is an excellent report, but the Government does not exactly have a good track record on taking the advice of experts – even (or especially) its own. The report is available here. [post_title] => Productivity Commission recipe for effective government [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => productivity-commission-recipe-effective-government [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-24 16:51:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-24 05:51:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28352 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28292 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-16 14:29:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-16 03:29:52 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_28293" align="alignnone" width="300"] Muru CEO Mitchell Ross[/caption] On 7 September the Federal Government implemented a new Stationery and Office Supplies (SOS II) Panel. Last year sales through the previous SOS Panel were worth $38 million. One supplier says the new contract unfairly favours foreign-owned companies over Australian suppliers, because the only manufacturer of Australian made indigenous paper refuses to supply the only Australian owned company on the Panel. “Instead of creating fairness for Australian businesses, the SOS Panel II has unknowingly created a system where the Government is favouring two foreign owned companies over Australian owned businesses,” says Mitchell Ross, CEO of Muru Group, a Sydney based and Australian owned stationery business. The Panel makes it mandatory for all non-corporate Commonwealth entities to make all future purchases with the two SOS II panellists – Complete Office Supplies (COS) and Winc. COS is Australian owned, and Winc (formerly known as Staples) is US owned. COS supplies paper from Muru. The problem, Mr Ross, told Government News, is in the sourcing of paper. “What the Government did not realise is that the Japanese owned Australian Paper Mills (APM) holds a monopoly on all paper produced in Australia. “While APM has been producing paper for Winc, it has repeatedly declined requests to produce the Muru brand for Australian owned COS. That means COS and Muru cannot supply Australian-made paper. “Through clever marketing APM has convinced the Government that buying Australian produced paper is beneficial to Australia and will save the Government money, but what about Australian businesses who truly support Australian workers and the community? “If APM refuses to supply us Australian made paper, we must source our paper from overseas. But we are Australian owned and we’re doing more for Australia.” He says that Muru supports Australian jobs and contributes 15 percent of its profits to ‘closing the gap’ initiatives for Indigenous communities. “These initiatives include the support of an early childhood education program in far north Queensland for Indigenous pre-school children, as well as donating computers to Indigenous community organisations across Australia to create a positive legacy for future generations.” Mr Ross says that Government agencies should think more deeply about their procurement decisions, and that buying Australian product does not mean you are supporting Australians. “Australian businesses want to produce product in Australia, to see more jobs go to Australian workers, and to benefit our economy. Both COS and Muru Group rigorously and continually request to engage in services with APM, but with no success.”   [post_title] => ‘Buy local’ purchasing plan backfires [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => buy-local-purchasing-plan-backfires [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-20 02:49:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-19 15:49:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28292 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28222 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-09 11:16:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-09 00:16:09 [post_content] => The Productivity Commission (PC) has delivered its draft report on Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation to Treasurer, Scott Morrison. It highlights many shortcomings in the current system and recommends a complete overhaul. Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation (HFE) is the term given to the sharing of GST revenues to the states to even out their fiscal capabilities. In practice it means the wealthy states like Western Australia subsidise poorer states like Tasmania. This has led to many arguments and remains a serious point of issue in Commonwealth-State relations in Australia. The Productivity Commission report is not likely to make things any easier, at least in the short term. The report, which can be downloaded here, does not beat around the bush. It is very clearly written and makes strong recommendations. It says that while HFE has broad support, it is under significant strain and changes are needed. Its strongest recommendations are that the formula be simplified and made more transparent, and that distortions caused by such events as Western Australia’s mining boom be given less importance when assessing equalisation criteria. “The practice of HFE has evolved over time, and now embodies an undeliverable ideal: to give states the same fiscal capacity,” says the report. “In other words, all states are brought up to the fiscal capacity of the fiscally strongest state (currently Western Australia). “Notwithstanding anomalies, the current system of HFE has good points. It achieves an almost complete degree of equalisation — unique among OECD countries “It has well‑established processes that involve consultation and regular methodology reviews. And HFE does not result in significant distortions to interstate migration or economic growth.” But, says the report waxing lyrical, “the pure may be the enemy of the good.” It says the current HFE system is struggling with extreme circumstances, and this is corroding confidence in the system. “Equalising comprehensively and to the fiscally strongest state means that the redistribution task is too great for any jurisdiction to bear; and is volatile at times of significant cyclical and structural change. “There is scope for it to discourage desirable mineral and energy resources policies (royalties and development) and state policy for major tax reform (a costly first‑mover disadvantage).” The system is beyond comprehension by the public, it says, and poorly understood by most within government. “This leads to a myriad of myths and confused accountability.” The report says the Government should articulate a revised objective for HFE.” While equity should remain at the heart of HFE, it should aim to provide the states with the fiscal capacity to provide a reasonable level of services. “Equalisation should no longer be to the highest state, but instead the average or the second highest state — still providing states a high level of fiscal capacity, but not distorted by the extreme swings of one state.” The report points out that changes to the system will most likely lead to a significant redistribution of the GST. “Timing and careful transition are paramount, especially to ensure the fiscally weaker states are not significantly disadvantaged.” It also recommends the Government should simplify the assessment process, even if it results in less precise equalisation. “Reforming HFE will deliver benefits to the Australian community. But ultimately, greater benefits will only come from more fundamental reforms to Australia’s federal financial relations: namely, to spending and revenue raising responsibilities and accountabilities.” That is the nub. It is not just about redistributing GST. It is about the wider issue of Commonwealth State relations, how revenue is raised, and who is responsible for expenditure. That is a much larger can of worms. In any case, nothing will happen for a while. This is just a draft report, with written submissions invited until 10 November, and hearing held in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney later in November. The Productivity Commission intends to hand down its final report on 31 January 2018. [post_title] => GST sharing needs a fix, says Productivity Commission [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 28222 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-10 11:09:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-10 00:09:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28222 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28215 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-09 06:13:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-08 19:13:28 [post_content] => The Federal Government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), announced with great fanfare 18 months ago, has yet to invest in single project. “This facility will provide financing to build the transport, energy, water and communications infrastructure needed in our north,” said Josh Frydenberg, the Minister for Industry Innovation and Science, when he announced the fund in May 2016. “This will create jobs, enhance investment, and unlock the full potential of this vibrant region to grow the northern Australian economy.” Fine words, but there appears to be little urgency to putting them into action. The NAIF came into existence on 1 July 2016. Costs so far include over $1 million for wages, $630,000 for directors’ fees, $100,000 for travel, and $13,000 for functions. CEO Laurie Walker, a banker and lawyer who has worked at a senior level for both ANZ and CBA, receives a $410,000 salary. The agency’s website shows that she has given many presentations at conferences, but she has yet to sign off on a single investment, after more than a year on the job. So far there is nothing to show for the agency’s establishment, and the natives are getting restless. Two weeks ago the Government said the first project would be announced that week, but still nothing has happened. It is widely believed that the first investment is intended to be a low interest $1 billion loan to Indian coal company Adani for a rail line to its controversial giant Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. But that announcement seems to be on hold as disquiet grows about the government’s energy policy and about Adani itself. On 2 October the ABCs Four Corners TV program exposed the Indian company’s sometimes dodgy business practices, and community resistance to the mine culminated in major demonstrations across Australia last weekend. Some have blamed NAIF’s inaction on political uncertainty. Resources Minister Matt Canavan had responsibility for the agency, but resigned from Cabinet after doubts were raised about his citizenship. Responsibility now lives with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who is also under a cloud. Mr Joyce says this is not a problem, and that NAIF is a statutory body that can make its own investment decisions. But the fact that it has not yet made any, well over a year after it was formed, has called into question why it is needed at all. Even Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited, normally supportive of the government, is critical of the inaction. “$5 billion North Australia fund yet to approve a single project,” screamed a headline in the Courier-Mail last month. “Still waiting for NAIF,” said the Townsville Bulletin. Predictably, the Opposition is not happy. Bill Shorten told the NT News, another Murdoch outlet, in a prominently displayed article, that the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund was a “poster child for inaction. “Its dealings are opaque ... nothing has happened,” he was quoted as saying. “Some of its directors are faced with allegations of conflict of interest. It is like a high rollers club and you don’t get in without $100 million.” The same article gave examples of investors in the Kimberley region of Western Australia laying off staff because of NAIF’s inaction. NAIF has also been criticised for blocking freedom of information requests about information as basic as the dates and locations of its board meeting. It says it is keeping this information secret  because of concerns over protests and “media interest.” It is not a good look. Nor is it likely to get much better. If NAIF approves the Adani loan, it is likely to face a High Court challenge because of Adani’s past behaviour and the project’s proven environmental challenges. If it does not, its continued inability to make any investment decision at all will also cause it problems. NAIF, uncapitalised, is a word from the French which means an innocent person who doesn’t know what’s happening. It seems an appropriate acronym. [post_title] => $5 billion fund has done nothing [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 5-billion-fund-done-nothing [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-10 11:10:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-10 00:10:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28215 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28208 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-07 16:28:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-07 05:28:46 [post_content] => Service NSW, the NSW Government’s ‘one stop shop’ program, is proving popular with the public. But it has been expensive, and will take more than three years longer to recoup its investment than what the Government said. Both the NSW Opposition and Fairfax Media have obtained copies of an unreleased KPMG report into Service NSW’s costs. The report was commissioned by the Government after the state’s Auditor General found last February that there were shortcomings in accountability and in monitoring the benefits of the program. “Agencies involved in the initiative have not adopted an effective benefits realisation approach for the initiative. This means that no one is currently monitoring whole-of-government benefits and savings, and there is insufficient data available to fully value or identify individual agency and whole-of-government savings and benefits,” said the Auditor General. Service NSW is part of a total revamp of the way NSW government agencies deliver their services. The strategy was initiated by Premier Barry O’Farrell after his massive victory at the 2011 state election, and has continued under his successors Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian. A centrepiece to the strategy has been a consolidation of all data processing by the state’s agencies into just two data centres, from the hundred plus that had previously operated. A GovDC marketplace serves as a central clearing house for all IT services. From the citizen’s viewpoint, the main effects of the Service NSW initiative have been the disappearance of motor registries and other stand-alone service centres and their replacement with multipurpose shopfronts. Many transactions that previously required a visit to an agency can now be done online. More than 40 motor registries and 15 Fair Trading offices were closed, and replaced with multi-agency shopfronts and pop-up kiosks in shopping centres and libraries. Even the critics of Service NSW’s costs admit that these initiatives are popular, but they are worried about the cost and the lack of oversight. The Auditor-General said the Government was overstating the benefits and understating the complexity of the Service NSW rollout. ”Service NSW has blown out by more than $100 million in its first two years of operation,” said the ALP’s Shadow Minister for Finance, Services and Property Clayton Barr. “The Berejiklian Government was told in February that Service NSW had blown its budget,” he said, referring to the Auditor-General’s findings. Now he has obtained a copy of the subsequent KPMG report. That report shows that the business case for the rollout of Service NSW, also known as the Accelerated Distribution Strategy (ADS), outlined a total budget in 2015-16 of $346 million – $278 million for operational expenditure and $68 million for capital expenditure. The report reveals that $450 million was actually spent  - $329 million for operational expenditure and $121 million for capital expenditure – a blowout of $104 million. It also shows that, while the business case predicted a payback period of seven years, KPMG now says it will now be ‘over ten years’. “The KPMG report shows taxpayers will now be waiting more than a decade to reap the full benefits of the Service NSW initiative,” said Mr Barr. “The report blames bungled planning processes, delays and mispricing for the cost explosion. “The Government’s secret report says the Service NSW rollout is off rails. Taxpayers will be footing the bill for more than a decade. “This blowout explains why Service NSW hiked over 300 fees and charges for customers across NSW. My worry is if the fee hikes are not enough to plug the budget blackhole, they’ll take money from NSW schools and hospitals. “With all parties committed to better customer service, it is sad to see customers having to dip into their pockets to pay for the Government’s mistakes.” [post_title] => Service NSW – Popular, but expensive [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => service-nsw-popular-expensive [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-10 11:10:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-10 00:10:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28208 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28194 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-06 10:12:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-05 23:12:55 [post_content] => Millions of dollars will be stripped from the operating budgets of NSW’s government-owned transport agencies, Fairfax Media is reporting. Quoting ‘a briefing note to staff obtained by Fairfax Media’ from Transport for NSW secretary Tim Reardon, the department’s deputy secretaries have been told that operating budgets for all the state’s transport divisions have been cut by 15 percent for this financial year. "Over the last six years in Transport for NSW we have made savings to meet our requirements, however our [operating expenditure] costs have increased," the note is quoted as saying. One result of this is an immediate freeze on hiring casual staff or creating any new permanent positions. Transport for NSW would seem to be a victim of its own success. Sydney Trains have reported a 15 percent increase in patronage over the last 12 months, leading to severe overcrowding on some lines. Buses and ferries also have more passengers. The state’s transport budget is under strain with the cost of Sydney’s new Metro line and upgrades to existing train and bus services. Predictably, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) is not happy. The union’s NSW Secretary, Alex Claassens, issued an immediate statement that said the cuts will result in a serious decline in services. “Revelations today that the NSW Government is stripping hundreds of millions from transport agencies prove the NSW Government has no interest at all in improving public transport in the state,” Claassens said. “This is just another example of Transport Minister, Andrew Constance’s complete incompetence. On top of all of the horrendous transport decisions he’s made lately, now he’s shown that he can’t manage his budget either. “The people of NSW deserve a world-class transport system. They’re not going to get it while this Minister is in charge. How the Minister thinks you can strip millions of dollars out of an operation and expect it to continue working as usual is beyond me.” There has been no official announcement of the cuts from the NSW Government. [post_title] => NSW transport 'hiring freeze' [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nsw-transport-hiring-freeze [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-06 19:29:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-06 08:29:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28194 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28155 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-10-02 22:38:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-02 11:38:38 [post_content] => The Australian National Audit Office has examined the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s pre-construction preparations for the Inland Rail and found that the ARTC must be better prepared when spending the government's $8.4bn. The Inland Rail program is to construct a rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane, covering a total distance of approximately 1,700 kilometres. In 2014, the Australian Government provided $300 million for pre-construction work on the proposed rail line, and in 2017 committed $8.4 billion to build it. The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC, a wholly government owned business enterprise) is undertaking the pre-construction work, and has been selected by government to deliver the full program of works over the next seven years, 2017–18 to 2024–25. In managing the pre-construction phase of the Inland Rail program, the ANAO found that the ARTC could have had a greater focus on achieving value for money in procurement activities. The ARTC identified the need to improve existing business functions and procurement practices throughout the pre-construction phase, and commenced initiatives to strengthen administration. These initiatives need to be fully implemented to support the ARTC in effectively managing the full Inland Rail program in coming years and delivering value for money. Testing of a sample of 54 procurements for the Inland Rail program found a lack of consideration given to competition in the early phase of the program, where a considerable proportion of procurements (17 per cent of the sample) were sole sourced. Procurement activities improved during the sampling period, as new systems, processes and practices were implemented. The ARTC’s established Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems and procurement and document management processes and practices were well short of the needs of the Inland Rail program. The ARTC is further reviewing its procurement policies and procedures and supporting business functions for the full construction of Inland Rail. Governance arrangements oversighting the pre-construction phase of the Inland Rail program were appropriate, in so far as they adapted to the different stages of the implementation of the program, and considered the Australian Government’s interests with regard to longer term decisions about the delivery of the complete Inland Rail. There was no evidence, however, that due consideration had been given to matters raised about the skills and status of committee members, specifically in relation to departmental representation. There could also have been more emphasis on achieving value for money in procurement and contracting activities. Grant funding was appropriately managed for each of the four funding packages provided for the pre-construction phase of the Inland Rail program. However, high-level deliverables, outcomes and reporting arrangements were not developed through the Minister’s required funding agreement for the pre-construction phase, which could have supported greater emphasis on obtaining value for money in procurement activities associated with the milestone deliverables identified in the grant funding submissions. Procurement The ARTC did not have appropriate ICT systems to support procurement for the pre-construction phase of the Inland Rail program. There was a heavy reliance on manual processes, paper-based approvals and non-standardised records management procedures. As at July 2017, specifically for the Inland Rail program, the ARTC has upgraded the Contracts module and implemented a Tenders management module in the corporate Financials & Supply Chain system, and is at an early stage in deploying a system for records management. These improvements, if fully bedded down, with intended functionality being utilised and supported by updated procedural documentation, would strengthen the Inland Rail program’s procurement processes and records management, and could have application more broadly across the ARTC. The ARTC did not have appropriate policies and procedures to support procurement for the pre-construction phase of the Inland Rail program. Established procurement policies and procedures were not sufficiently robust for the administration of the Inland Rail program. Testing of a sample of procurements undertaken between 29 April 2014 and October 2016 for the pre-construction phase of the Inland Rail program found shortcomings in providing value for money. There could have been greater consideration of competition in the selection processes, although the use of non–competitive procurement methods was concentrated in those procurements undertaken prior to July 2015. In the sampled procurements conducted after that date, there were improvements in the levels of competitive procurements and documentation. Evidence of the importance of probity in procurement is shown through ARTC’s contracting procedure, but testing identified insufficient documentation of the reasons for or against using a probity advisor. The testing also showed many variations to contract values that were not sufficiently explained, and work commencing prior to contract execution. These issues had been identified in ARTC internal audits. A review of the documentation for four later procurements showed improvement in the procurement process, consistent with the upgrade in the systems and newly developed policies and procedures supporting procurement for the Inland Rail program. The ARTC’s response As a general observation, ARTC considers the findings do not adequately reflect the uncertainty and lack of clarity associated with the initial funding, longevity and responsibilities for the program during the period when decisions were being made as to the future of the Inland Rail project. Indeed, it was only in May 2016 that ARTC was confirmed as the delivery agency and in the May 2017 Budget that the funding commitment was confirmed. This imposed constraints on ARTC’s approach to procurement, contract management and the project’s risk management approach. Notwithstanding this high level of uncertainty, 45 out of 54 tested procurements were competitively sourced through tenders, standing offers and quotes. Within this context, ARTC was also focused on achieving value for money. Even though, as observed, ARTC is not obliged to follow the Commonwealth Government Procurement Guidelines, subsequently, ARTC has sharpened its approach to Inland Rail’s procurement and contract management. In addition, monthly management reporting is being enhanced. [post_title] => $8.4bn to spend? Improve procurement [post_excerpt] => The ANAO has found that the ARTC must be better prepared when spending the $8.4bn. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => want-spend-8-4bn-improve-procurement [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-06 10:28:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-05 23:28:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=28155 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28135 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-29 09:59:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-28 23:59:44 [post_content] => The Public Health Association Australia (PHAA) and several other leading health organisations have written an open letter calling for an urgent focus on the deteriorating health and well-being of South Australians in addition to clear, state-wide strategies to address the problem.  PHAA joined a consortium of health organisations including the South Australian Council of Social Service, Australian Health Promotion Association, Anti-Poverty Network SA, and People’s Health Movement Australia to express serious concern over the soaring rates of non-communicable disease in South Australia, particularly among lower socioeconomic groups. President of the Public Health Association SA Branch Kate Kameniar said: “We’re calling for urgent action to be taken by a strong leadership with a visible commitment to improving public health. We need the Chief Public Health Officer elevated to lead the focus on prevention and health promotion, as well as significant investment in the health sector and the Health in All Policies initiative.” “We want to see an evidence-based plan of action that supports all public institutions and places as health-promoting environments. Changing the settings in which we work, live and play can make an enormous difference; whether it’s through increasing physical activity by installing better cycleways and walking paths, encouraging healthier food choices, or creating more smoke-free public zones,” Ms Kameniar said. CEO of the South Australian Council of Social Service Ross Womersley said: “Recent cuts to funding have reduced the health and community services workforce capacity to an all-time low, and there is now less focus and resources to address preventable causes of illness in the population. “Chronic diseases caused by obesity, poor nutrition and smoking are severely impacting the health of South Australians, along with inadequate access to health care due to spiralling costs. These problems most affect people who are experiencing higher levels of poverty, who generally have fewer educational qualifications and employment prospects. These are the social determinants of health and it’s why we need a health in all policies approach. “Given the current financial climate we simply cannot afford to wait, and we urge the state government, the opposition and indeed all political parties, to prioritise the long-term needs of South Australians in their policies as well as reduce ingrained social and health inequalities. This can’t go ignored any longer,” Ms Kameniar said.   [post_title] => SA must spend more on health [post_excerpt] => An urgent focus on the deteriorating health and well-being of South Australians is needed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => sa-must-spend-health [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-06 10:30:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-05 23:30:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=28135 [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] => 28623 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-11-24 09:42:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-11-23 22:42:42 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_28625" align="alignnone" width="300"] It's near;y 20 years old - pull it down![/caption] The NSW Government will demolish two large stadiums and replace them with two large stadiums, at a cost of over $2 billion. The stadiums aren’t very old. Stadium Australia was built for the Sydney Olympics less than 20 years ago. It is now named after a major bank. The Sydney Football Stadium, now named after an insurance company, is not much older. It was built in 1988. Both stadiums work well. If they’re a little tired, they could easily be refurbished for a fraction of the cost of a knockdown and rebuild. Yet that is what the Government will do, even as it is cutting back on services in other areas in the name of economy. To many people, including Government News, this is madness.  Stadiums are important, but not so important that billions of dollars are wasted on slightly better versions of what already exists. Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore puts it down to a powerplay by the influential SCG Trust and NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres. The SCG Trust, which administers the Sydney Football Stadium and the Sydney Cricket Ground is dominated by on old boy’s club of influential businessmen and retired sports stars. “The public interest is being steamrolled by an all-powerful SCG Trust and an ambitious sports minister who wants to play with the big boys – and a premier who's lost control,” she wrote in an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald. The announcement has attracted criticism from many quarters as an unnecessary extravagance. “Thankfully, NSW also has flawless transport, a surplus of schools, extravagantly equipped hospitals, more parkland than it needs, a housing market that caters to all of us, and a vocational training system groaning with resources,” said Fairfax columnist Jacob Saulwick, employing just a little sarcasm. The decision comes after years of wrangling over the location and usage of Sydney’s major sporting arenas. Rugby league, rugby union, soccer, Australian Rules football and cricket are the major sports competing for the use of Sydney’s stadiums (with occasional concerts and promotion events such as US Major League Baseball and American Football). All these sporting group are also run by an interlocking group of backroom influencers. The public, who pay for all this, are but pawns in the game. The biggest argument against the new stadiums is the fact that the existing models are underutilised and rarely reach capacity. The new ones will not be any bigger. The replacement for the existing Stadium Australia will actually be smaller – a capacity of 80,000,  compared to well over 100,000 when it hosted the Sydney Olympics and around 85,000 today. And it will have a rectangular field, meaning it will not be able to host Australian Rules. Why is this happening? Can anyone give a good reason? 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Finance

WestConnex

Free rego in NSW for heavy toll users

The NSW Government will introduce free vehicle registration for the owners of private vehicles who spend more than $1300 a year on Sydney toll roads. Sydney’s growing motorway system is heavily tolled, with the revenue going to private operators to offset the price they have paid to buy and operate the infrastructure. There has been […]

Norfolk Island

Federal takeover a ‘disaster’ for Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island is ‘on the brink of disaster’, says an independent report on the island’s economic situation. The report was commissioned by the island’s small community following the Australian Government’s abolition of self-government in July 2016 and the imposition of direct rule. Norfolk Island’s 1700 residents are now subject to the same laws – and […]

Adrian Di Marco

TechnolgyOne gets another Shared Services hub

Brisbane-based enterprise software company TechnologyOne has secured a shared services hub contract with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS). It is the second shared services hub contract the Government has signed with TechnologyOne – the first was with the Department of Treasury in November 2015. Like the Treasury deal, the contract is for […]

Perrottet

New State Treasurers club to confront Feds

The Treasurers of Australia’s states and territories have formed a new Board of Treasurers, which pointedly excludes Federal Government Treasurer Scott Morrison. The new body is an initiative of NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, who said that the states and territories need to derive substantially more value than they are currently getting from the existing Council […]

NSW auditor

NSW asset sales expensive

The NSW Audit Office, in its annual ‘Report on State Finances’, has generally given the state a clean bill of health. But much of NSW’s sound financial position is because of its continued sale of government assets, which it has paid consultants hundreds of millions of dollars to facilitate. Revenues, assets, and net worth are […]

PC Shift review

Productivity Commission recipe for effective government

The Productivity Commission has released its first ever five-year productivity review, called ‘Shifting the Dial’. It was released in conjunction with the Commission’s annual report. It is “a look out across the landscape of factors and influences that may affect Australia’s economic performance over the medium term, in order to offer advice on where our […]

Mitchell Ross

‘Buy local’ purchasing plan backfires

On 7 September the Federal Government implemented a new Stationery and Office Supplies (SOS II) Panel. Last year sales through the previous SOS Panel were worth $38 million. One supplier says the new contract unfairly favours foreign-owned companies over Australian suppliers, because the only manufacturer of Australian made indigenous paper refuses to supply the only […]

HFE

GST sharing needs a fix, says Productivity Commission

The Productivity Commission (PC) has delivered its draft report on Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation to Treasurer, Scott Morrison. It highlights many shortcomings in the current system and recommends a complete overhaul. Horizontal Fiscal Equalisation (HFE) is the term given to the sharing of GST revenues to the states to even out their fiscal capabilities. In practice […]

NAIF

$5 billion fund has done nothing

The Federal Government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), announced with great fanfare 18 months ago, has yet to invest in single project. “This facility will provide financing to build the transport, energy, water and communications infrastructure needed in our north,” said Josh Frydenberg, the Minister for Industry Innovation and Science, when he announced the fund […]

Service NSW

Service NSW – Popular, but expensive

Service NSW, the NSW Government’s ‘one stop shop’ program, is proving popular with the public. But it has been expensive, and will take more than three years longer to recoup its investment than what the Government said. Both the NSW Opposition and Fairfax Media have obtained copies of an unreleased KPMG report into Service NSW’s costs. […]

nsw train

NSW transport ‘hiring freeze’

Millions of dollars will be stripped from the operating budgets of NSW’s government-owned transport agencies, Fairfax Media is reporting. Quoting ‘a briefing note to staff obtained by Fairfax Media’ from Transport for NSW secretary Tim Reardon, the department’s deputy secretaries have been told that operating budgets for all the state’s transport divisions have been cut […]