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                    [post_content] => 

Congestion charges should be introduced in Sydney and Melbourne, according to a new Grattan Institute report that provides a uniquely detailed look at road congestion in Australia’s major cities.

Stuck in traffic? Road congestion in Sydney and Melbourne warns that, with their populations growing strongly, both cities could face traffic gridlock in future unless decisive action is taken to manage congestion.

The findings are based on an examination of 3.5 million Google Maps trip-time estimates across more than 350 routes over six months of this year.

In the middle and outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, most drivers have a pretty smooth run most of the time. But commuting to the CBD can take more than twice as long as the same trips would take in the middle of the night.

In Sydney, CBD commuters from Balgowlah in the north and Hurstville in the south can expect delays of about 15 minutes on an average morning, far longer than commuters from other parts of the city.

In Melbourne, the worst delays are for people commuting from north-eastern suburbs, including Heidelberg, Kew and Doncaster. Drivers who have to use the Eastern Freeway and Hoddle Street in the morning peak are often delayed for more than 20 minutes, and the length of the delay can vary greatly from day to day.

The report recommends congestion charges in the most congested central areas of each city. Key bottlenecks in Sydney include The Spit Bridge and the trip to the CBD from Drummoyne via Balmain.

Melbourne should introduce a ‘CBD cordon’ congestion charge, similar to London’s. The cordon could cover Hoddle Street to the east, Royal Parade to the west, City Road and Olympic Boulevard to the south, and Alexandra Parade to the north, with motorists charged when they drive across the cordon into the city during peak periods.

People who pay the charge would get a quicker and more reliable trip, because there would be fewer cars on the road at peak times. People who can travel outside of the peaks would not have to pay, because there would be no congestion charge when the roads are not congested.

To make clear that the new charges are to help manage traffic flows rather than boost revenue, the money raised should be used to fund a discount on vehicle registration fees and improvements to the train, tram, ferry and bus networks.

Melbourne’s CBD parking levy should be doubled, to match Sydney’s and to further discourage city commuters from driving to work.

And public transport fares in both cities should be cut during off-peak periods, to encourage people to shift their travel to times when the trains, trams and buses are not overcrowded.

The report dismisses the idea that new city freeways are the answer to road congestion.

New roads are important for areas of new growth or substantial redevelopment, but close to the city centres it is often more effective and always cheaper to invest in smaller-scale engineering and technology improvements such as traffic-light coordination, smarter intersection design, variable speed limits and better road surfaces and gradients.

“Don’t listen to the politicians who tell you big new roads will be ‘congestion busters’,” says Grattan Institute transport program director Marion Terrill.

“You can’t build your way out of congestion.

“We need more sophisticated solutions. Some of the great cities of the world have successful congestion pricing schemes, including London, Stockholm and Singapore.

“For Sydney and Melbourne, congestion pricing would deliver city-wide benefits: not only reducing the amount of time we spend stuck in traffic, but also funding better public transport and a cut to car registration fees.”

 
                    [post_title] => Fight congestion with fees
                    [post_excerpt] => Congestion charges should be introduced in Sydney and Melbourne: Grattan.
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                    [post_date] => 2017-09-11 14:47:14
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                    [post_content] =>  



Australia should start work immediately on a new way to ensure reliable electricity supplies, according to a new Grattan Institute report.

Next Generation: the long-term future of the National Electricity Market calls for preparatory work on a ‘capacity mechanism’ to encourage investment in new electricity generation and reduce the threat of shortages and blackouts.

The report warns, however, that the costs of such peace of mind would ultimately fall on consumers through higher electricity prices. So a capacity mechanism should be introduced only if all other market reforms have been exhausted and supply is still under threat.

Through a capacity mechanism, generators would be paid not only for the electricity they produce to meet current demand, but for committing to provide power for years into the future. The market operator or retailers could contract for sufficient electricity to meet future demand, to ensure new generation and storage is built in time.

“Australians have endured a decade of toxic political debates about climate change policy, South Australians suffered a state-wide blackout last year, consumers across the country are screaming about skyrocketing electricity bills, and energy companies are shutting down big coal-fired power stations,” said Grattan Institute Energy program director Tony Wood.

“It is understandable that governments feel the need to ‘do something’. But the danger is they will rush in and make things worse. What Australia needs now is perspective, not panic.”

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) last week called for a ‘longer-term approach’ to ensure electricity supplies. The Grattan report identifies a capacity obligation on retailers as the most effective and lowest-cost approach.

The report calls for a three-step policy. First, the Federal Government should implement all recommendations of the June 2017 Finkel Review, including a Clean Energy Target or a similar mechanism to price greenhouse gas emissions.

Second, alongside the Australian Energy Market Commission’s work on the market’s reliability framework, AEMO’s annual assessment of future supply and demand should be extended to include a more comprehensive assessment of the future adequacy of generation supply.

And third, if the newly created Energy Security Board concludes that projected shortfalls are unlikely to be met under the current market design, AEMO should introduce a capacity mechanism.

“This pragmatic, planned approach offers the best prospect of affordable, reliable, secure and sustainable power for Australians,” Mr Wood said.
                    [post_title] => Grattan report calls for a capacity mechanism in electricity
                    [post_excerpt] => How to make sure Australia has enough electricity in the future: Grattan Institute report.
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                    [post_date] => 2017-08-03 19:42:31
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-03 09:42:31
                    [post_content] => 

The popular idea that the economic divide between Australia’s cities and regions is getting bigger is a misconception, according to new Grattan Institute research.

The working paper Regional patterns of Australia’s economy and population shows that beneath the oft-told ‘tale of two Australias’ is a more nuanced story.

Income growth and employment rates are not obviously worse in regional areas.

Cities and regions both have pockets of disadvantage, as well as areas with healthy income growth and low unemployment.

And while cities have higher average incomes, the gap in incomes between the cities and the regions is not getting wider.

Grattan Institute CEO John Daley said the research casts doubt on the idea that regional Australians are increasingly voting for minor parties because the regions are getting a raw deal compared to the cities.

“Given that people in regions have generally fared as well as those in cities over the past decade, major parties may need to look beyond income and employment to discover why dissatisfaction among regional voters is increasing,” he says.

The paper shows that the highest taxable incomes in Australia are in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, followed by Cottesloe in Perth and Stonnington in eastern Melbourne. The lowest taxable incomes are in Tasmania and the regions of the east-coast states, especially the far north coast of NSW, central Victoria and southern Queensland.

But income growth in the regions has kept pace with income growth in the cities over the past decade. The lowest income growth was typically in suburban areas of major cities.

While unemployment varies between regions, it is not noticeably worse in the regions overall. Some of the biggest increases in unemployment over the past five years were along transport ‘spines’ in cities, such as the Ipswich to Carole Park corridor in Brisbane and the Dandenong to Pakenham corridor in Melbourne.

The biggest difference between regions and cities is that inland regional populations are generally growing slower – particularly in non-mining states. Cities are attracting many more migrants, particularly from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The east coast ‘sea change’ towns are also getting larger, but unemployment is relatively high.

The research will contribute to a forthcoming Grattan Institute report examining why the vote for minor parties has risen rapidly over the past decade, particularly in regional electorates.

Read the full report here.

 
                    [post_title] => City-country divide: not as wide as you may think
                    [post_excerpt] => That the economic divide between Australia’s cities and regions is getting bigger is a misconception.
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This article first appeared in Government News in the February/March 2014 edition.

By Rod Cooke

Take note Australia: an economic warning has been sounded.

Thanks to the National Commission of Audit, the nation is set to have the conversation it ‘needs to have’ about the increased health care costs associated with our ageing population and expected level of future health care services. It’s directed the spotlight onto our current health system and associated expenditure. And, as planned, the Abbott government will soon re-examine its health care costs, make compromises and hopefully, also make informed choices about how to best to spend the tax payer dollar to deliver a healthy and equitable Australia.

The first 2014 sitting date of federal parliament is only a few weeks away and there’s no time to waste. We believe Australians need to start talking about the realities of the healthcare system, how it is delivered and who delivers it. And the government needs to ramp up community-wide discussion about what will happen if we don’t act now to examine how the health care dollar can be better spent in order to preserve the standard of living to which we have grown accustomed.

According to our federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey, last month’s Mid-Year Economic Financial Outlook (MYEFO) showed that Australia’s living standards will be “at risk if action is not taken now” because our spending outweighs economic growth by 1.5 per cent in real terms.

A Grattan Institute report from April 2013 also estimates that over 40 per cent of Australia’s total budget is spent on direct health and welfare payments. Add to that the national cost of providing aged care, disability care and community services and it’s estimated that the national total will come to 50 per cent of the total annual budget spend.

Budgetary pressures associated with an ageing population, increasing demand for our quality community and health services, and a shrinking tax-base due to demographic imbalances and underemployment are all having an impact on the sustainability of delivering quality health care and community services.

Let’s not forget the community services and health workforce is also ageing. By 2030, 65 per cent of all current community services and health workers will have reached retirement age. And by 2050, these workers will become high-need aged care clients. No other industry faces the challenge of having its workforce add to its service demands.

We need to start a national conversation about what is really happening in terms of costs and expenditure; evaluate the risk of doing nothing and keeping the current status quo; look at how we can better spend existing funds and alternative community services and health workforce models; and consider the cost savings if funding was redirected into preventative health care.

Re-examining investment flows and workforce models in the future of community services and health industry is not only the right thing for a government to do; it is the only thing it can do to reduce expected budgetary costs associated with welfare, unemployment, aged and health care blow-outs. The responsibility of action falls not only on governments. It falls on the community to and on industry to rethink workforce solutions and consider achievable productivity increases. It is also the responsibility of industry and community to petition governments and to raise awareness of the issues nation-wide.

What does action look like?
It’s estimated that a five per cent improvement in health service productivity, nationally, could generate close to $3 billion in resources for the federal government which could be redirected into client care annually. CS&HISC believes that Australia needs to develop a new innovative holistic community services and health workforce model that not only looks at doctors and nurses, but the assistant VET-qualified workforce.

That’s because it is the assistant worker which makes up the bulk of the community services and health workforce. We need to identify how many vocationally educated and trained workers will be needed to implement this model. If as a country we don’t know what the workforce shortages are and the skills required, then we won’t be able to forge ahead.

We need an evidenced-based understanding of what productivity actually means and looks like in a social and health care and support context, where ‘caring’ skills are commonly undervalued and under-priced. And, we need to know how to measure it. Employers must ensure that workers have or are able to achieve the right qualifications (whether it is a VET or university qualification) and skills for the right job that exists because it is demanded by Australians.

There should also be clear VET and higher education pathways for students to progress and encourage productivity in the community services and health sector. And finally, industry and government needs to band together to run an awareness and recruitment campaign to attract qualified workers to the community services and health assistant sector who will stick around for the long-haul. Too often the focus is on the negatives (low wages, unglamorous surroundings, physically and emotionally taxing work).

But what if the focus was on the positive side to this work? What if the upside was showcased? What if the benefits of flexible working hours, opportunity to work close to home, the ability to literally change someone’s life, were reported? Workforce growth could also be achieved by creating opportunities for under-employed and skilled unemployed adults suited to working in the care and support industry.

It’s time to act
It’s time to act. We thank Mr Hockey for his MYEFO comment and agree with him wholeheartedly: our living standards – predominantly the current quality of our health and community services – will be at risk if action is not taken now. We’ve been saying this for a while. It was in fact the premise of our key 2013 call to action document Time for Action is Now. But what needs to be determined and supported by industry, media, government and community is what form ‘action’ should take. And hopefully, CS&HISC, Mr Hockey, the current government and Opposition will all agree on the desired ‘action’s’ look and feel. T

he cost of inaction will mean you will no longer be able to access aged care accommodation because the waiting list is triple today’s length, child care costs will be unaffordable to all but the elite, and allied health care costs will exceed beyond control. We urge you to make your 2014 commitment one that matters to the nation and to each individual’s future sense of community, family and wellbeing.

Rod Cooke is CEO of the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council.
                    [post_title] => Health care: was 2014 the year of action?
                    [post_excerpt] => An ageing population presents real challenges.
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            [post_content] => 

Congestion charges should be introduced in Sydney and Melbourne, according to a new Grattan Institute report that provides a uniquely detailed look at road congestion in Australia’s major cities.

Stuck in traffic? Road congestion in Sydney and Melbourne warns that, with their populations growing strongly, both cities could face traffic gridlock in future unless decisive action is taken to manage congestion.

The findings are based on an examination of 3.5 million Google Maps trip-time estimates across more than 350 routes over six months of this year.

In the middle and outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, most drivers have a pretty smooth run most of the time. But commuting to the CBD can take more than twice as long as the same trips would take in the middle of the night.

In Sydney, CBD commuters from Balgowlah in the north and Hurstville in the south can expect delays of about 15 minutes on an average morning, far longer than commuters from other parts of the city.

In Melbourne, the worst delays are for people commuting from north-eastern suburbs, including Heidelberg, Kew and Doncaster. Drivers who have to use the Eastern Freeway and Hoddle Street in the morning peak are often delayed for more than 20 minutes, and the length of the delay can vary greatly from day to day.

The report recommends congestion charges in the most congested central areas of each city. Key bottlenecks in Sydney include The Spit Bridge and the trip to the CBD from Drummoyne via Balmain.

Melbourne should introduce a ‘CBD cordon’ congestion charge, similar to London’s. The cordon could cover Hoddle Street to the east, Royal Parade to the west, City Road and Olympic Boulevard to the south, and Alexandra Parade to the north, with motorists charged when they drive across the cordon into the city during peak periods.

People who pay the charge would get a quicker and more reliable trip, because there would be fewer cars on the road at peak times. People who can travel outside of the peaks would not have to pay, because there would be no congestion charge when the roads are not congested.

To make clear that the new charges are to help manage traffic flows rather than boost revenue, the money raised should be used to fund a discount on vehicle registration fees and improvements to the train, tram, ferry and bus networks.

Melbourne’s CBD parking levy should be doubled, to match Sydney’s and to further discourage city commuters from driving to work.

And public transport fares in both cities should be cut during off-peak periods, to encourage people to shift their travel to times when the trains, trams and buses are not overcrowded.

The report dismisses the idea that new city freeways are the answer to road congestion.

New roads are important for areas of new growth or substantial redevelopment, but close to the city centres it is often more effective and always cheaper to invest in smaller-scale engineering and technology improvements such as traffic-light coordination, smarter intersection design, variable speed limits and better road surfaces and gradients.

“Don’t listen to the politicians who tell you big new roads will be ‘congestion busters’,” says Grattan Institute transport program director Marion Terrill.

“You can’t build your way out of congestion.

“We need more sophisticated solutions. Some of the great cities of the world have successful congestion pricing schemes, including London, Stockholm and Singapore.

“For Sydney and Melbourne, congestion pricing would deliver city-wide benefits: not only reducing the amount of time we spend stuck in traffic, but also funding better public transport and a cut to car registration fees.”

 
            [post_title] => Fight congestion with fees
            [post_excerpt] => Congestion charges should be introduced in Sydney and Melbourne: Grattan.
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