Australia’s states, and in particular South Australia, are leading a battery and energy storage boom which will transform the way energy is used and distributed in Australia. The Climate Council has released a new report on the technology: ‘Fully Charged: Renewals and Storage Powering Australia’. The report says Australia is on the cusp of an […]
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The Climate Council has released a new report on the technology: ‘Fully Charged: Renewals and Storage Powering Australia’. The report says Australia is on the cusp of an energy storage boom driven by supportive policies by state governments and falling costs. It is not all about batteries. Energy storage includes pumped hydro, such as the Federal Government’s proposed Snowy 2.0 scheme. Storage technology will go a long way toward making renewable energy a viable option to carbon-based fuels because they will be able to smooth out the peaks and troughs in renewable electricity generation. “Energy storage technologies, like batteries, solar thermal and pumped hydro, can be used to build greater reliability and flexibility into Australia’s electricity grid,” says the report. “They can store wind and solar power to provide electricity 24/7.” It gives the example of South Australia’s ’s well-known ‘world’s most powerful battery’, implemented by leading technologist and entrepreneur Elon Musk's Tesla. South Australia is often singled out in the report for the sophistication of its renewable energy strategy. “South Australia is … already benefiting the power grid by helping meet peak demand, and responding rapidly to coal plant outages. By 2020 the state will also have a 150MW solar thermal plant with heat storage.” It notes that the Victorian, Queensland and the Northern Territory governments are also investing in grid scale battery storage technology, while the Federal, Queensland and Tasmanian governments are considering developing large pumped hydro projects. NSW is a laggard. The boom is being driven by falling costs. “The cost of lithium-ion batteries has fallen by 80 percent since 2010. Costs may halve again by 2025. The cost of energy storage technologies is rapidly falling and becoming competitive with peaking gas plants, particularly in light of the trebling of the domestic gas price over the last five years.” While the report talks a lot about batteries, it says that pumped hydro powered by renewables is the cheapest form of large-scale energy storage. “However, the Climate Council has significant concerns about the Federal Government’s Snowy 2.0 mega-project, as the project is not accompanied by new investment in renewables.” The battery boom is also happening at the domestic level. There were 6,750 new household battery installations in Australia in 2016, a number the Climate Council believes tripled in 2017 as prices have fallen an awareness of the technology has increased. The Climate Council believes energy storage technology is critical for building a reliable Australian electricity grid for the 21st century. “Energy storage technologies are ideally suited to the needs of a modern, smart grid providing electricity when and where it is needed. “Energy storage can complement high levels of wind and solar power in the electricity grid by storing excess renewable energy. Countries such as Germany, Spain, Ireland and Denmark together with major economies like California have all successfully integrated much higher levels of wind and solar (20 percent to over 50 percent) into their electricity grids without compromising reliability. ”The Australian electricity grid and old fossil fuelled power stations are increasingly vulnerable to worsening extreme weather events, particularly as these power stations age. Over half of Australia’s coal fleet will be over 40 years old by 2030. Having a variety of storage technologies will improve the flexibility and resilience of the power system.” The report highlights the importance of the use of renewable energy and energy storage as key technologies for reducing carbon emissions and helping Australia meet its Paris Climate Accord commitments. It does not even mention the Federal Government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG), which relies strongly on coal and gas as energy sources. But the involvement of the states in renewable energy and storage will ensure that the technologies will be high on the agenda at the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council, to held in April after the last meeting in November 2017 deferred any decision on adopting the NEG plan. The Climate Council report can be found here. [post_title] => States leading the way on energy storage [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => states-leading-way-energy-storage [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-20 08:25:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-19 21:25:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29194 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29184 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-02-19 12:37:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-19 01:37:16 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_28382" align="alignnone" width="215"] Dominic Perrottet - too much regulation in NSW[/caption] NSW will establish its own state-based Productivity Commission to “drive micro-economic reform and tackle burdensome regulation." The plan was announced by NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, who said the Commission will aim to expand the state’s economic prosperity. “We have laid the foundations for reform with our state-building infrastructure agenda, but now it’s time for a new wave of growth, to lift the fortunes of our state and its people,” He said, announcing the Commission at an event at the NSW Business Chamber. “We need ongoing reform to continue to fuel our state’s economy and improve living standards for everyone who lives and works here. The Productivity Commission will advocate for micro-economic reform to drive productivity and regulatory improvements and identify regulations that hold us back.” The NSW Business Chamber has estimated businesses spend over $10 billion each year complying with regulations across all levels of government. Mr Perrottet said the Commission, led by a yet to be appointed NSW Productivity Commissioner, will spearhead a reform agenda, focused on four core themes:
- Making it easier to do business
- Lowering the cost of living
- Making housing more affordable
- Making NSW the easiest state to move to
GigCity Adelaide has announced a major expansion of its 1 Gigabit/sec fibre optic network. There will be 16 additional innovation precincts added to the $7.6 million network. The new precincts are located across Adelaide’s metropolitan area, including seven in the north, six in the CBD and one each in the west and south of Adelaide. Tenants including cultural institutions, corporates, small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups within these precincts will be connected to high-speed Iinternet. The South Australian Broadband Research and Education Network (SABRENet) will connect the selected precincts to its fibre optic network from February 2018. Pricing plans start from $50 a month. SABRENet extends over 250km and connects more than 190 education, research and innovation locations across South Australia, including university campuses, research precincts, teaching hospitals, TAFEs and schools. It is a not-for-profit company jointly owned by the University of Adelaide, Flinders University, University of South Australia and the South Australian Government. The GigCity network is separate to, but complementary with, the City of Adelaide funded ‘Ten Gigabit Adelaide’ strategy, announced in 2016. Ten Gigabit Adelaide is specifically designed for businesses and organisations located in the City of Adelaide, giving City and North Adelaide based businesses a distinct competitive advantage. This in turn will help to retain and attract new businesses to the City of Adelaide, create jobs, drive innovation and investment, and generate huge economic, social and financial returns for the City and the local community. In December telecom TPG was announced as the network’s builder and operator The additional GigCity precincts were selected as part of a competitive process opened in October 2017. More than 50 applications were received. Locations to be added:
- Waite Research Precinct
- Noarlunga Innovation Centre
- Microsoft Innovation Centre
- North Terrace Cultural Precinct Innovation Hub
- TechStars Adelaide
- Allianz Centre Adelaide
- Lion Arts Centre
- The Foundry
- Prospect Road Innovation Precinct
- Modbury Precinct
- Gawler Business Innovation Precinct
- The Innovation Grid
- Playford Creative Industries Precinct
- Northern Adelaide Food Park
- Australian Advanced Materials Manufacturing Precinct
- Hendon Innovation Precinct
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its first detailed analysis of Australian energy market in five years. It is not complimentary. Australia’s energy policy, it says, is uncoordinated and falling behind the rest of the world on many measures. The IEA is not given to overstatement. It is an OECD agency established in 1974 to help its 29 member countries deliver reliable and affordable energy. In recent years has also focused on clean energy and sustainability as essential parts of the mix to help address climate change. The IEA report was developed at the Government’s request. They may wish they had not asked. “Australia has been relying on the paradigm of deregulated and liberalised energy markets,” says the report. “Despite ongoing reforms, the signs of stress in the Australian energy system have grown. “Since the last IEA in-depth review, energy prices have remained continuously high against low levels of competition in gas and electricity markets and low consumer choice, pointing to structural challenges. Concerns have been raised that gas supplies may reach a shortage in the east coast market as LNG exports ramp up to 2022, further pushing up power prices. “The resilience of the electricity system is being tested at a time of system transformation with old coal plants retiring and more variable renewables entering the system, but unevenly distributed across the common market, the National Electricity Market (NEM).” The report points out that there is significant duplication of resources between the many energy bodies in Australia: the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) ,the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the Australian competition and consumer commission (ACCC), the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) and the Climate Change Authority (CCA). “Energy policy governance in Australia is very complex and fragmented. It suffers from frequent changes of policy direction and institutions at Commonwealth level.” The IEA criticises Australia’s state based radial electricity distribution system, and many other aspects of Australia’s energy system. But its harshest criticism is reserved for Australia’s climate change policy, or a lack of it. “Despite stated ambitions of the Paris pledge, the Commonwealth government has not yet come forward with durable climate change policies after 2020 or a long-term emissions reduction goal for 2050, pending a climate policy review in 2017. A stable and longer-term framework is critical to guarantee visibility for investors and consumers alike.” It says Australia had a higher proportion of fossil fuels in its energy mix than any other OECD country. “The CO2 intensity of Australia’s electricity generation remains the highest among all IEA member countries and almost twice as high as the IEA average. “The country is not subject to any effective carbon constraint or rate under the Emissions Reduction Fund and its safeguard mechanism. Current energy efficiency measures and climate mitigation policies are not sufficient. To meet its 2030 target, domestic efforts need to increase.” The report is a damning indictment of the inadequacies of Australia’s energy and climate policy. It makes a number of recommendations to the Government, which it says should:
- Design an energy and climate policy framework for 2030 and develop a mid-century low emission development strategy based on the Finkel review.
- Improve governance through enhanced collaboration and clarified roles with states and territories through the COAG Energy Council and with market bodies of the NEM.
- Guide the energy transition through an emissions reduction goal for the power sector and provide a market signal to retire older and less efficient generation.
- Continue to foster well-functioning wholesale and retail electricity markets through the COAG Energy Council.
- Develop competitive, liquid and adequate domestic gas supplies and transportation capacity by swiftly completing the gas market reforms. Support the sustainable development of domestic oil/gas reserves by addressing community concerns.
- Regularly update the National Energy Security Assessment, in order to identify energy security risks across the energy system, and design measures to reduce or eliminate these risks in a timely and comprehensive manner.
- Foster data reporting and monitoring across all energy sectors and continue to develop data-sharing arrangements across government and agencies to improve energy data quality for analysis, policy development and the deployment of emergency measures.
The current standoff over water allocations in the Murray Darlin Basin is as good an example as you could ever find of how Australia’s federal system is broken. The Murray Darling Basin Plan was supposed to be the epitome of how Australia’s states and territories could work with each other and the Federal Government for the good of all Australians. Instead it has descended into the infantile bickering and name-calling that seems to be the norm in public debate in Australia in the 21st century. Instead of evidence-based analysis and rational argument, we have partisan posturing and cherry picked facts. There is a real danger that the whole Murray Darling Basin rescue strategy will come crashing down, and that Australia’s agricultural heartland will be ruined. The issue is pretty simple, though many try to complicate it. At the bottom of the problem is the inescapable fact that there is a finite amount of water to go around, and that it must be allocated in such a way to satisfy as many stakeholders as possible, who unfortunately have competing and incompatible aims. Everybody wants as much water as they can get, but it is a zero sum game. Even with increase efficiencies (which is happening) and total transparency of usage (which is most definitely not happening), there would be problems. As it is, greed and stupidity and short-sightedness are winning out. Efforts to redress the balance and come up with a water allocation system that will disappoint the smallest number of people are failing. So, what are the facts? Fact: There is a finite amount of water. Efficiencies in its use are increasing, but rainfall will always be variable and climate change will probably make things more difficult. Fact: The river system needs a certain amount of water flowing through it to the sea top remain viable. There comes a point at which insufficient water causes silting, salination, the loss of animal’s habitats, and in extreme cases the drying up of the river altogether. Fact: Upstream users are taking more than they should. The big cotton growers in Queensland are simply selfish and greedy and don’t care about people downstream. They call any attempt to reduce even their legal allocation ‘extreme environmentalism’. Fact: The NSW Government has actively colluded in the theft of unmetered water by rogue farmers. A seniotr bureaucrat lost his job, but a continuing inquiry is turning into an exercise in obfuscation. Fact: The former Federal Water Minister and current Deputy Prime Minister, lately in the news for other reasons, told NSW farmers not to worry about the agreement, and that he would make sure they got aa much water as they wanted. This week in Federal Parliament the ALP voted for a Greens amendment to prevent the Federal Government reducing the amount of water being left in the river. By any measure it is the minimum need to keep the river healthy. The Government and the upriver farmers are crying foul – even though it is they who are trying to change the rules. Meanwhile the NSW Government has announced it will build a pipeline from the river to Broken Hill, bypassing that city’s natural water supply of the Menindee Lakes. It refuses to offer any business case, or to even meet with the city’s mayor and civic fathers to discuss the project. It is a god-awful mess. If ever anything in Australia was worthy of a Royal Commission, this is it. A couple of years ago I was involved in writing a book about Australia’s agricultural potential. I interviewed the head of the Murray Darlin Basin Authority and I did some research on the area’s importance to the country. This is what I wrote: “The Murray-Darling Basin is one of the largest river basins in the world. It covers just over a million square kilometres, or 14 per cent of Australia’s land area. That is around the same area as Spain and France combined. It is home to more than two million people. “Total river length is 77,000 km, including Australia’s three longest rivers. It includes virtually all of inland NSW and the entire northern half of Victoria. It takes in the Darling Downs and the Warrego in Queensland, and South Australia’s Riverland. At its eastern end is Canberra – Lake Burley Griffin is formed by the dammed Molonglo River, which flows into the Murrumbidgee, the Murray’s greatest tributary. “The Basin produces one third of Australia’s food supply. It contains 40 percent of Australia’s farms and 70 percent of its irrigated farmland. It produces almost all of Australia’s rice and cotton and two thirds of its grapes. More than half Australia’s fruit is grown in the Basin, and it is home to most of the country’s sheep.” And now it is all at risk. But don’t worry. The Government will fix it all. [post_title] => Opinion – Murray Darling debacle shows the failure of federalism [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => opinion-murray-darling-debacle-shows-failure-federalism [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-16 08:06:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-15 21:06:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29161 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29155 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-02-15 14:37:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-15 03:37:39 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29157" align="alignnone" width="300"] Walter van der Merwe - Electoral Commissioner no longer[/caption] Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) head Walter van der Merwe has resigned, two days after being suspended for allegations of serious misconduct. Current ECQ Assistant Electoral Commissioner Dermot Tiernan will be Acting Electoral Commissioner. In a short statement, Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said Mr van der Merwe “has delivered his resignation to the Governor this morning … Acting Electoral Commissioner arrangements are already in place and a recruitment process will begin shortly. In the meantime, the allegations against Mr van der Merwe will be investigated to finalise the issues raised.” Mr van der Merwe was suspended from duties by the Queensland Government on 13 February after Ms D’Ath said there were “serious allegations” against him “which could amount to misbehaviour under Section 25 of the Electoral Act 1992.” She was not any more specific than that, other than to say that they did not amount to inappropriate interference in the outcome of elections. In 2017 Mr van der Merwe was the first witness to be called before the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission’s (CCC) Operation Belcarra, initiated after serious concerns about corruption in the 2016 Queensland local government elections. He said then that there were a significantly higher number of complaints about that election than in previous elections, but that he did not know why that was the case. He said the ECQ lacked the resources to properly investigate all allegations. A Parliamentary Inquiry into the elections, chaired by former Brisbane Lord Mayor Jim Soorley, handed down a report in June 2017 which was extremely critical of the ECQ. “Throughout the inquiry’s process of reviewing the ECQ’s conduct, and during many staff interviews, it became apparent the management style within the ECQ is authoritarian and lacks consultation, consensus and integration. The culture is one of insecurity and avoidance, with poor staff engagement and communication.” Report recommended many changes to the ECQ’s culture and structure. Mr Soorley, in an interview with the ABC after the release of the report, was even more scathing. He said the ECQ's own internal review "glossed over many issues and problems within the organisation.” “Senior management staff often did not attend, or would leave early from, important meetings regarding election issues and planning. “The review panel was unable to meet with electoral commissioner Walter van der Merwe on his own, as he was always accompanied by the assistant commissioner who took the lead on responding to most issues. Their interactions and behaviour had the semblance of 'good cop, bad cop' management style.” Mr van der Merwe was appointed to the $300,00 job by the former Newman Government in 2014. A native of Zimbabwe and a graduate from South Africa’s University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal). He migrated to Australia in 1989 and had a quick rise in the Queensland public service, serving as Executive Director of Corporate Capability with the Department of Premier and Cabinet from 1993 to 2010. [post_title] => Operation Belcarra claims Queensland electoral commissioner [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => opoperation-belcarra-claims-queensland-electoral-commissioner [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-20 08:37:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-19 21:37:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29155 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29152 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-02-15 13:08:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-15 02:08:55 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_29153" align="alignnone" width="183"] Adrian Renouf - "Australia needs the Academy model"[/caption] Management consultancy PPB Advisory will next week launch the Australasian Transformation Academy (ATA), a new venture which it says will help government agencies “transform how public services are delivered.” The ATA is a joint initiative of PPB Advisory and the UK based Public Service Transformation Academy (PSTA), a social enterprise that has designed and delivered development programs for all levels of the UK public service. Unlike the PSTA, the ATA will operate as a commercial venture on a fee-for-service basis with participants paying to attend its Academy programs. These programs will leverage the PSTA’s experience, Academy model and case studies, but will be designed and adapted specifically to the Australian context . The new venture will be launched in Sydney and Melbourne at industry events to be attended by an invitation-only group of government and non-government agencies. “The Academy will deliver a range of programs designed to help leaders involved in managing and delivering public services to explore new approaches and address they key issues and challenges they face with implementing them,” said ATA Managing Director Adrian Renouf, who is also PPB Advisory’s government and markets leader. “The ATA will support those organisations at the coalface of delivering public service. We will help them build their capacity to lead and manage change, and to improve outcomes for citizens and communities. “As governments increasingly seek new ways to deliver greater public value with diminishing resources and rising community expectations, there has been a shift from large centralised bureaucratic service delivery models towards greater customer-centricity, localisation and personalisation. Many public services are now also delivered via an extended network of government and non-government service providers. “Most challenges facing public service providers have an underlying level of complexity, and the ATA has been established to support leaders and organisations to solve issues that require alternative thinking and approaches, including greater collaboration between agencies and with the non-government sector.” The PSTA was founded in the UK in 2016 by public sector transformation consultancy RedQuadrant, in association with the Whitehall & Industry Group (non-profit NGO and government consultancy), OPM (research consultancy), NCVO (voluntary sector consultancy), Browne Jacobson (lawyers), E3M (public service innovation consultancy), The Social Innovation Partnership (social impact advisors), the Alliance for Useful Evidence (social research consultancy), Local Gov Digital (local government digital consultancy), Collaborate (cross-sector collaboration research centre), Numbers for Good (finance for social and environmental programs), and Basis (public sector analysis consultancy). Mr Renouf told Government News that the ATA would look to establish relationships with similar organisations in Australia. It would draw upon the knowledge and experience of the PSTA and its members, and build a network in Australia of like-minded organisations. “The PSTA’s program in the UK was largely driven by the austerity measures most government agencies have been facing there in the last few years,” said Mr Renouf. “Australia is a luckier country, but governments at all levels still need to deliver their services more efficiently. “There has been a significant amount of devolution of government services in the UK. The same thing is also happening in Australia, with more and more services been devolved to state and local governments and the private sector. That’s an area we believe we will be doing a lot of work in. “There are many other complex changes taking place in the delivery of government services, and in innovation and digitisation. There’s a lot happening. Many people in government struggle for the space and the time to change things. We believe oour academy model will help them.” Mr Renouf said that the PSTA has delivered programs to over 1500 UK government agencies in the two years since it was formed, with a significant alumni group now in operation. [post_title] => New public sector training academy launches in Australia [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-public-sector-training-academy-launches-australia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-15 15:40:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-15 04:40:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29152 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29148 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-02-15 11:22:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-15 00:22:43 [post_content] =>
NSW Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton has moved to suspend Blue Mountains City Council, after doubts have being raised about the independence of its investigation into asbestos management. Ms Upton has issued a Notice of Intention to Suspend the council for three months and appoint an administrator. It has issued a previous Notice in December, which at the time the council responded to by saying that it did not relate directly to its elected members. The decision to issue a new Notice to Suspend comes after questions over a serious conflict of interest in the council’s supposedly independent investigation. A separate investigation has been launched by Safework NSW. “In November last year the council commissioned independent investigations into asbestos management and staff recruitment practices after serious allegations were made against it,” Ms Upton said. “It has now emerged that an independent investigator engaged to oversee the investigation into asbestos management appears to have had links to one of the council’s senior staff members subject to investigation. “This independent investigation is critical to addressing the serious issues facing this council. However, it seems that the relationship between the independent investigator and the senior staff member was not just professional, they were friends. “This relationship would be a serious conflict of interest and brings into question the council’s governance and due diligence practices. I have also been informed that the council has now ended its contract with the senior staff member. “The council’s poor record on asbestos management, failure to protect its community and the serious questions on the broader operation of the council are deeply concerning.” The ‘senior staff member’ referred to is former acting General Manager Stuart Liddell, who stood down in November over the issue. The asbestos management drama has also been the subject of attention by radio shock jock Ray Hadley, who drew attention to Mt Lidell’s activities. The asbestos issue has been a festering sore for Blue Mountains City Council. It surfaced in late 2016, when asbestos was found in the Mechanics Institute carpark in the Blue Mountains town of Lawson and transferred to to the Lawson Council Depot, where it was illegally used by the Council for training purposes. Then a year later a confidential council document was leaked to the local Blue Mountains Gazette newspaper. The May 2017 document said there were asbestos issues in 19 council-owned buildings. Also in November 2017, council workers briefly black banned 33 council vehicles that they said were suspected of being contaminated by asbestos. The incidents led to the council investigation that has now itself become the subject of controversy for not being impartial. Under the NSW Local Government Act the Minister is required to provide the council with the opportunity to make any submissions before making a final decision. The council has seven days to respond to the notice – the deadline is Thursday 22 February. [post_title] => Blue Mountains City Council faces suspension - again [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => blue-mountains-city-council-faces-suspension [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-15 11:22:43 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-15 00:22:43 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29148 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29138 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-02-13 10:23:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-12 23:23:55 [post_content] =>
Australia’s states and territories are building more and more prisons, trying to outdo each other on law and order. Crime rates across Australia are falling , but incarceration rates have never been higher. So are the costs of locking up so many people. Australianj ails are becoming increasingly overcrowded, with many at breaking point. They also don’t work. Recidivism rates are very high, with released prisoners more likely to return to jail than not. Yet all this is happening as crime rates, in most jurisdictions and for most offences, are falling. Something just doesn’t add up. Recent numbers from the Justice chapter of Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services (RoGS show that in 2016-17, an average of 40, 059 people per day were held in Australian prisons, of which 8.1 percent were female and 27.6 percent were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The numbers are up from 35,000 in 2015 and 25,000 in 2005. Another 68,110 offenders per day were serving community corrections orders, of which 19.1 percent were female and 20.1 percent were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander offenders. Nationally, state and territory corrective services agencies operated 114 prisons at 30 June 2017 (not counting police station lockups). Total expenditure across Australia was $4.1 billion, a real increase of 7.2 percent from the previous year. Imprisonment rates are increasing, in every jurisdiction. The report pays special attention to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. The national imprisonment rate per 100,000 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 2,411.5 in 2016‑17, compared with a rate of 156.6 for the non-indigenous population. In other words, you are more than ten times more likely to be imprisoned if you are indigenous than if you are not. Imprisonment rates the Northern Territory, which has a much higher proportion of indigenous people, were much higher than the rest of the country. Indigenous prisoners are also much younger than the national average. Yet crime rates are decreasing. Statistics are notoriously out of date, but by most measures most crimes are decreasing. Some people argue that this is because more criminals are locked up, but this is fallacious reasoning – the rates were dripping long before the jail numbers went up. Public perceptions that crime is increasing are at odds with the statistics. Politicians of all persuasion and sensationalist media exaggerate the numbers for their own ends. It’s much easier to lock people up and be seen to be doing something than to tackle the causes of crime. The Productivity Commission report also looked at reoffence rates across Australia – measured by the proportion of people back in jail within two years of leaving it. In 2016-17, 44.8 percent of prisoners released in 2014-15 returned to prison within two years and 53.4 percent returned to corrective services (prison or community corrections). Nationally, these rates have increased over the last five years. This would seem to indicate that prison is not an effective deterrent, or at least that Corrective Services do not ‘correct’. But the report points out that it also been an effect of higher policing rates. Because the time period measured is comparatively small, and many more people may reoffend beyond the two-year limit. So, the number of jails and the number of prisoners just keep on increasing. In 2016 the NSW Government announced a$3.8 billion plan over four years to create 7000 extra beds in the state’s jails. A new ‘pop-up’ jail to deal with rampant overcrowding was opened in the Hunter Valley city of Cessnock in January, following another at Wellington in the state’s Central West. The inmates are housed in dormitory style accommodation, rather than cells. In January Victoria announced a major new prison at Lara near Geelong, to help “keep Victorians safe.” The Opposition has criticised the Government for not building more jails. Queensland suffers from chronic prisoner overcrowding. Assaults on guards and prisoners are increasing. Tasmania will get a new jail, no matter who wins the election in March. Australia has an incarceration rate of 168 prisoners per 100,000 population. It is lower than New Zealand’s 202, but higher than the UK’s 140. The major countries of Western Europe are all much lower: Germany, 78, Spain 131, Netherlands 69, France 103, Italy 89. The US is the outlier amongst western democracies. The Land of the Free locks up its population at alarming rates – 693 prisoners per 100,000 population. Australia has a long way to go before we reach those obscene numbers, but we are trying hard. Even on current numbers, the overcrowding, the recidivism rate, and the eagerness of governments to jump on the law and order bandwagon is a national disgrace. [post_title] => Opinion – Australia’s jails a national disgrace [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => opinion-australias-jails-national-disgrace [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-16 08:05:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-15 21:05:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29138 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29134 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-02-13 09:50:47 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-12 22:50:47 [post_content] =>
A UK computer consultant has discovered that thousands of websites around the world have been hacked by ‘miscreants unknown’ and put to work mining the Monero cryptocurrency. Those infected include many government sites in Australia. UK security researcher Scott Helme discovered the hack and went to UK computer publication The Register, which broadcast the incident and published a list of over 4,000 infected sites. Australian sites infected include qcat.qld.gov.au, casey.vic.gov.au, bayswater.wa.gov.au, parliament.vic.gov.au, and legislation.qld.gov.au. Major sites affected internationally include the UK’s National Heath Service and the US court information system. The sites were affected through their use of Browsealoud, a utility which translates text to sound for the vision impaired. Sites in the UK Government, a big user of Browsealoud, were particularly affected. The hacker did not have to break into every site, only Browsealoud, which then infected any site it was associated with. Many websites use ‘plug-ins’ like Browsealound – third party apps which perform a specific task and save the trouble of writing code from scratch. The software hack altered Browsealoud’s source code to include software from a company called Coin Hive, which has developed an app to ‘mine’ – search websites for – the Monero cryptocurrency. Coin Hive was conceived as a way to help users gain a little extra income – ‘mining’ uses computer power to validate cryptocurrency transactions, for which the miner is given a small amount of the currency. Mining takes a lot of computer power for a very small return, so successful miners often use other computers’ processing power. That is what this latest hack attempted. “Third parties like this are absolutely a prime target and have been for some time,” Helme told The Register. “There's a technology called SRI (Sub-Resource Integrity) designed to fix exactly this problem, and unfortunately it seems that none of the affected sites were using it. “If you want to load a crypto miner on a thousand websites you don't attack them all, you attack the one website they all load content from.” Coin Hive has been blocked by many malware detection companies, such as Malwarebytes. The hack exposed the increasingly nefarious nature of the cryptocurrency world. Bitcoin is the best known, but there are dozens more, and the methods used to propagate them are often shady. Leading Browsealoud reseller Texthelp said the hack was a criminal act. “In light of other recent cyber attacks all over the world, we have been preparing for such an incident for the last year,” said Chief Technical Officer Martin McKay. “Our data security action plan was actioned straight away and was effective, the risk was mitigated for all customers within a period of four hours. “Texthelp has in place continuous automated security tests for Browsealoud. These tests detected the modified file and as a result the product was taken offline. This removed Browsealoud from all our customer sites immediately, addressing the security risk without our customers having to take any action.” “The attacker did not attempt to extort or ransom money from our customers. The company has examined the affected file thoroughly and can confirm that no customer data has been accessed or lost. The file used the computer’s CPUs only to attempt to generate cryptocurrency.” [post_title] => Thousands of government websites hacked [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => thousands-government-websites-hacked [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-02-16 08:04:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-02-15 21:04:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=29134 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )  => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 29129 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2018-02-13 08:12:34 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-12 21:12:34 [post_content] =>
Australian governments at all levels are strongly pushing the digital delivery of their services. But new research shows that their efforts have yet to make a major impact on most citizens, many of whom still regard governments as digital laggards. A report from digital transaction company DocuSign has found that many Australian consumers are unaware of or unimpressed with government digital initiatives. The report is based on a survey of 1000 consumers and more than 100 senior decision makers in government and the private sector. “The Australian government has gone on record to state its commitment to transforming the effectiveness of public services through the introduction of new technology,” says the report. “On the face of it, this appears to be a positive digital outlook for the public sector, and Australians are very decided about the benefits that technology can bring, including faster engagement. Most, though, are still in the dark when it comes to the government’s digital plans.” The survey found that half (51 percent) of Australians are unclear on how the government is spending tax payers’ money on digitisation. Only 11 percent have noticed new digital services from government affecting their personal or working lives to date. “In contrast, 61 percent of people are still compelled to print, scan and post documents when transacting with government organisations.” The lack of perceived impact is particularly prevalent for the older people, with those over the age of 45 significantly more likely to have little idea about how the government is investing in digital. “Even more concerning, 54 percent of senior business decision makers feel the Australian government can do more with the money it has committed to digital initiatives. And 62 percent of those in senior business roles believe government should think like a business to enhance the services provides.” The report says its findings indicate that there is a major opportunity for governments to align with the Australian public and better communicate the benefits of the government digital innovation. It says the data means Australian governments have an opportunity to clarify their digital strategies. “From department to department, at organisations operating in every industry and in government, the motivation behind making digital changes is the same - to deliver a superior customer service. As part of this intense race to stay ahead of the competition, inevitably, individual teams within an organisation will be keen to take matters into their own hands and find solutions to the specific challenges that they face. How organisations manage the responsibility for making digital changes will be central to their success. “These results are not to suggest progress has not been made. Instead, they demonstrate a voracious appetite for more convenient digital services and the urgency at which consumers want them delivered. They also illustrate an opportunity for government to clarify its strategy and communicate the impending benefits of its transformation agenda.” Some other findings from the report, not specific to government:
- Given the opportunity, 55 percent of consumers would rather communicate with a business or government agency digitally. Only 13 percent would prefer to stick with paper.
- The great majority (85 percent) of consumers want organisations to offer digital methods of signing agreements and purchasing products and services
- Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of customers have experienced problems in completing a transaction over the last 12 months because of issues linked to paper and manual processes.
- Nearly all (94 percent) business decision makers feel their organisation could be doing more with digital.
NSW will establish its own state-based Productivity Commission to “drive micro-economic reform and tackle burdensome regulation.” The plan was announced by NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, who said the Commission will aim to expand the state’s economic prosperity. “We have laid the foundations for reform with our state-building infrastructure agenda, but now it’s time for a […]
GigCity Adelaide has announced a major expansion of its 1 Gigabit/sec fibre optic network. There will be 16 additional innovation precincts added to the $7.6 million network. The new precincts are located across Adelaide’s metropolitan area, including seven in the north, six in the CBD and one each in the west and south of Adelaide. […]
They’re mad as hell down Tumbarumba way. The Snowy Mountains town best known for John O’Brien’s wonderful poem ‘Up at Tumba-bloody-rumba shootin’ kanga-bloody-roos’ has become the touchstone for renewed opposition to the NSW Government’s disastrous forced council amalgamation strategy. In May 2016 the local council was merged with neighbouring Tumut Shure to form Snowy Valleys […]
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its first detailed analysis of Australian energy market in five years. It is not complimentary. Australia’s energy policy, it says, is uncoordinated and falling behind the rest of the world on many measures. The IEA is not given to overstatement. It is an OECD agency established in 1974 […]
The current standoff over water allocations in the Murray Darlin Basin is as good an example as you could ever find of how Australia’s federal system is broken. The Murray Darling Basin Plan was supposed to be the epitome of how Australia’s states and territories could work with each other and the Federal Government for […]
Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) head Walter van der Merwe has resigned, two days after being suspended for allegations of serious misconduct. Current ECQ Assistant Electoral Commissioner Dermot Tiernan will be Acting Electoral Commissioner. In a short statement, Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said Mr van der Merwe “has delivered his resignation to the Governor this […]
Management consultancy PPB Advisory will next week launch the Australasian Transformation Academy (ATA), a new venture which it says will help government agencies “transform how public services are delivered.” The ATA is a joint initiative of PPB Advisory and the UK based Public Service Transformation Academy (PSTA), a social enterprise that has designed and delivered […]
NSW Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton has moved to suspend Blue Mountains City Council, after doubts have being raised about the independence of its investigation into asbestos management. Ms Upton has issued a Notice of Intention to Suspend the council for three months and appoint an administrator. It has issued a previous Notice in December, […]
Australia’s states and territories are building more and more prisons, trying to outdo each other on law and order. Crime rates across Australia are falling , but incarceration rates have never been higher. So are the costs of locking up so many people. Australianj ails are becoming increasingly overcrowded, with many at breaking point. They […]
A UK computer consultant has discovered that thousands of websites around the world have been hacked by ‘miscreants unknown’ and put to work mining the Monero cryptocurrency. Those infected include many government sites in Australia. UK security researcher Scott Helme discovered the hack and went to UK computer publication The Register, which broadcast the incident […]
Australian governments at all levels are strongly pushing the digital delivery of their services. But new research shows that their efforts have yet to make a major impact on most citizens, many of whom still regard governments as digital laggards. A report from digital transaction company DocuSign has found that many Australian consumers are unaware […]
Logan City Council has sacked its CEO Sharon Kelsey, who was appointed only in June 2017 after an intensive nationwide search. The council has refused to give any reasons for her termination, and Ms Kelsey herself has said she cannot comment for legal reasons. The Council meeting that decided on the move ended in uproar […]
Service NSW is one of the flagship agencies in the digital transformation across government. In four years Service NSW has revolutionised the delivery of government services in NSW, changing the way that customers and government interact. Customers and businesses can now access over a thousand transaction types from 40 government agencies at one location. The […]