NBN underpins growth in Australia’s data demand

2 December 2019 

The Morrison Government welcomes today’s release of NBN Co’s network insights, which show continued growth in data consumed by Australians on the National Broadband Network (NBN), and underlines its important role as the nation’s backbone for fast, reliable internet access.

 

NBN Co reports that Australia’s data consumption on the NBN has risen by almost 25 per cent in the last 12 months, with households and businesses across Australia averaging data downloads of 258 gigabytes (GB) per month, up from an average of 208GB per month in 2018.

 

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher, said the findings demonstrate the network’s strong capacity to meet the broadband needs of Australians now and into the future.

 

“NBN Co’s key insights show the NBN is supporting Australia’s growing appetite for data. The network is supporting an explosion in Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services with video streaming making up the largest share of data downloads on the NBN. Importantly, the ability of the network to support applications with high data requirements also enables services including distance education and telemedicine,” Minister Fletcher said.

 

Key insights include:

              

  • Monthly data consumption on the NBN has increased by 820 per cent between December 2012 and June 2019

  • In June this year Australians downloaded more than 1.35 billion GB of data

  • The split between metropolitan and regional areas was almost even with 52 per cent of data consumed in metropolitan areas and 48 per cent in regional areas.

  • Data downloads are highest during the January and April school holiday periods, while Wednesdays and Sundays see the largest downloads week-to-week.

  • Real time video streaming is the leading activity for data downloads, followed by web browsing.

 

 

“In regional Australia, the average monthly data is 246GBs, compared to 270GB in metropolitan areas. This indicates the faster, more reliable broadband delivered by the NBN is helping Australians access more data, wherever they live,” Minister Fletcher said.

 

Almost 90 per cent of Australians are now able to connect to NBN high-speed broadband, with the company remaining on track to complete its build phase next year.

 

Following network completion, all Australian households and businesses will have access to broadband speeds of at least 25 Mbps and 90 per cent of fixed line households will be able to receive 50 Mbps services.

 

For more information on the NBN rollout visit: www.nbnco.com.au

 

Stepping up Australia's response against foreign interference 

2 December 2019 

Our Government is strengthening Australia’s response to the threat of foreign interference with a new taskforce to disrupt and deter anyone attempting to undermine our national interests.

The number one priority of our Government is to keep Australians safe which is why we’re investing $87.8 million for a new Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce. It highlights our focus on stepping up our efforts as the threats to Australia evolve.

The Taskforce will work in to the National Counter Foreign Interference Coordinator that we established last year in the Department of Home Affairs and expand the resources the Coordinator has at their fingertips. It will be led by a senior ASIO officer and bring together a new team of Australian Federal Police investigators and representatives from AUSTRAC, the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organisation. The Office of National Intelligence will also support the Taskforce.

This is a boost to our ability to discover, track and disrupt foreign interference in Australia.

The increase in intelligence collection, assessment and law enforcement capabilities will help turn more intelligence assessments into operational disruptions to better protect Australians from foreign interference.

The new dedicated capability of the Taskforce will also increase the collaboration and streamline the decision-making between agencies, and strengthen Australia’s analysis of the sophisticated disinformation activities happening across the world, particularly against democratic processes and elections.

Importantly, this investment will deliver a new capability without detracting from agencies’ continued and necessary efforts on other security challenges.

Today’s announcement builds on the $38.8 million we’ve invested since 2018‑19 to counter foreign interference, which includes establishing a Foreign Interference Threat Assessment Centre in ASIO and funding to support criminal prosecutions under new foreign interference offences.

We have already taken significant steps to strengthen Australia’s capacity to defend against foreign interference, including through the package of legislation introduced in 2018.

 

We will continue to take strong action to deter acts of foreign interference as the threat evolves, defend against them when they occur, and uphold our laws.

 

 Submissions sought to build co-operative workplaces

2 December 2019 

The Morrison Government is committed to improving Australia’s industrial relations system to help boost jobs, wages, productivity and the overall strength of the economy.

 

As part of this process, a further discussion paper has been released today, seeking submissions from all interested stakeholders about ways to improve business productivity, grow wages and reduce industrial conflict through the promotion of harmonious and cooperative workplaces.

 

“Research shows that when employers and employees work together to improve the performance of a business, they jointly share in the benefits that flow from that collaboration, including improved productivity, higher wages, more innovation, greater job security and better prospects for career enhancement and skills development,” Attorney-General, Christian Porter, said.

 

“Yet employee engagement levels in Australia are low compared to other countries such as the US and Canada. Workplaces where engagement levels are low have also been shown to suffer from higher levels of conflict and industrial unrest.

 

“This suggests to me that there is a significant opportunity to turn this situation around in Australian workplaces and, in the process, deliver strong benefits for employers, employees and the national economy.

 

“Importantly, legislative reforms are not required to achieve these sorts of positive outcomes. Instead, what is needed is fresh thinking and better management cultures that view and treat workers as assets, rather than merely as a cost of production.”

 

Examples of ways to create cooperative and harmonious workplaces include:

 

             

  • giving workers a financial interest in the company through employee share schemes;

  • introducing reward and recognition systems such as performance based pay;

  • empowering employees by giving them a voice in the decision making process.

 

 

The aim of the discussion paper is to collect and collate examples of best practice from around Australia and the world, with a final report to be made publicly available as a tool to help businesses identify ways to improve their workplace cultures and practices.

 

 $100 million to increase clinical trial participation

30 November 2019 

The Morrison Government is investing $100 million to improve the health of Australians in rural, remote and regional areas through access to innovative clinical trials.

 

Australians in rural, regional and remote areas face barriers to taking part in clinical trials; including distance, cultural difference, geographical isolation and workforce capacity.

 

Clinical trials are a significant contributor to advancing new drugs, medical devices and treatments.

 

Almost a third of Australians live in rural, regional and remote areas, and rural and remote communities have significantly worse health outcomes, and shorter life expectancies.

 

People in rural, remote and regional areas should not be disadvantaged when it comes to accessing trials, purely because of where they live.

 

The Rural, Regional and Remote Clinical Trial Enabling Infrastructure Program will seek to remove barriers to participating in clinical trials by:

              

  • Improving facilities, equipment, services and systems in rural, regional and remote Australia.

  • Reducing the burden, costs and risks for patients and their families related to clinical trial participation.

  • Increasing research capacity.

This contestable program, funded under the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), is all about ensuring patients can access clinical trials where they live.

 

Grant opportunities for this program are now open.

 

Eligibility criteria, closing dates and any other relevant information will be published on business.gov.au and GrantConnect.

Consultation on Claims Handling Legislation

30 November 2019 

The Morrison Government has today released for consultation draft legislation and regulations to put an end to inappropriate insurance claims handling practices. The draft laws remove the current exclusion of claims handling and settlement from the definition of financial services and ensure insurance claims handling and settlement is subject to appropriate oversight by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

 

The draft legislation implements recommendation 4.8 in the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services and follows a consultation paper released by the Government earlier this year.

 

In our response to the Final Report, the Government recognised that inappropriate claims handling practices can cause significant consumer detriment as highlighted through the Royal Commission’s round six hearings into insurance.

 

In his Final Report, Commissioner Hayne recommended “that the Corporations Regulations be amended, so that the handling or settlement of insurance claims, or potential insurance claims, is no longer excluded from the definition of ‘financial service’”.

 

These changes will require claims handling and settlement services to be treated like any other financial services, needing to be provided efficiently, honestly and fairly. They will enhance consumer protection and encourage greater confidence in the value of insurance products.

 

Treating insurance claims handling as a financial service under the Corporations Act will allow ASIC to enforce a higher standard of behaviour in the industry and provide consumers with greater confidence that their insurance claims will be properly assessed.

 

The Government is taking action on all 76 recommendations contained in the Final Report of the Royal Commission. Restoring trust in Australia's financial system is part of the Morrison Government's plan for a stronger economy.

 

The exposure draft legislation and regulations are available on the Treasury website.

 

Australia signs new screen agreement with Malaysia

30 November 2019 

The heating and cooling sector’s transition to a low-emissions future is being supported by the Liberal National Government through the new Affordable Heating and Cooling Innovation Hub (iHub).

 

The Australian heating, ventilation, air-conditioning (HVAC) and refrigeration industry consumes around 22 percent of all electricity produced and uses up to 50 percent of the peak demand through the electricity grid.

 

By demonstrating innovative ways to optimise heating and cooling using on-site renewable energy generation, iHub will help the HVAC and refrigeration sector lower emissions.

 

Through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Liberal National Government is providing $6.5 million in funding to the three-year $18 million iHub project.

 

The iHub will be led by the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating in conjunction with CSIRO, Queensland University of Technology, the University of Melbourne and the University of Wollongong.

 

As part of the project, funding will be open to applications from industry participants with a focus on proposals that demonstrate how renewable energy technology can be optimally integrated with HVAC and refrigeration equipment.

 

Applicants will be able to submit proposals for consideration under three activity streams including Living Laboratories, Integrated Design Studios and a Buildings to Grid Data Clearing House.

 

The Living Laboratories program aims to test different HVAC technologies in real-life building applications. Four test sites, including aged care living, hospitals and schools will test energy efficiency, energy productivity and increasing integration of renewable energy technologies.

 

The Integrated Design Studios program will develop a standardised design methodology with industry, academia and students working collaboratively on project case studies. The program aims to engage industry in large-scale innovation, improve the integration of HVAC and refrigeration with renewable energy technology and increase the enablement of technologies in architectural design. In collaboration with the University of Melbourne the methodology will be tested across data centres, schools, hospitals, shopping centres and hotels.

 

The Buildings to Grid Data Clearing House will facilitate an open data platform for the operation of HVAC and refrigeration and renewable energy equipment. The program will reduce demand on local networks and support on-site solar generation by providing third party supervisory control of building’s HVAC and refrigeration equipment to improve energy performance and demand response in buildings. Fifty buildings are expected to be involved in this program to provide an estimated 100MW of demand response.

 

The Government is taking real and meaningful action to reduce global emissions and this project supports our commitment to deliver a healthy environment for future generations while keeping our economy strong.

Innovative solutions for the heating and cooling sector

30 November 2019 

The heating and cooling sector’s transition to a low-emissions future is being supported by the Liberal National Government through the new Affordable Heating and Cooling Innovation Hub (iHub).

 

The Australian heating, ventilation, air-conditioning (HVAC) and refrigeration industry consumes around 22 percent of all electricity produced and uses up to 50 percent of the peak demand through the electricity grid.

 

By demonstrating innovative ways to optimise heating and cooling using on-site renewable energy generation, iHub will help the HVAC and refrigeration sector lower emissions.

 

Through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Liberal National Government is providing $6.5 million in funding to the three-year $18 million iHub project.

 

The iHub will be led by the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating in conjunction with CSIRO, Queensland University of Technology, the University of Melbourne and the University of Wollongong.

 

As part of the project, funding will be open to applications from industry participants with a focus on proposals that demonstrate how renewable energy technology can be optimally integrated with HVAC and refrigeration equipment.

 

Applicants will be able to submit proposals for consideration under three activity streams including Living Laboratories, Integrated Design Studios and a Buildings to Grid Data Clearing House.

 

The Living Laboratories program aims to test different HVAC technologies in real-life building applications. Four test sites, including aged care living, hospitals and schools will test energy efficiency, energy productivity and increasing integration of renewable energy technologies.

 

The Integrated Design Studios program will develop a standardised design methodology with industry, academia and students working collaboratively on project case studies. The program aims to engage industry in large-scale innovation, improve the integration of HVAC and refrigeration with renewable energy technology and increase the enablement of technologies in architectural design. In collaboration with the University of Melbourne the methodology will be tested across data centres, schools, hospitals, shopping centres and hotels.

 

The Buildings to Grid Data Clearing House will facilitate an open data platform for the operation of HVAC and refrigeration and renewable energy equipment. The program will reduce demand on local networks and support on-site solar generation by providing third party supervisory control of building’s HVAC and refrigeration equipment to improve energy performance and demand response in buildings. Fifty buildings are expected to be involved in this program to provide an estimated 100MW of demand response.

 

The Government is taking real and meaningful action to reduce global emissions and this project supports our commitment to deliver a healthy environment for future generations while keeping our economy strong.

 

Pilot project to improve Cashless Debit Card technology

30 November 2019 

The Morrison Government is introducing new technology to allow cash registers at pubs, clubs and independent grocers to automatically reject items banned by the Cashless Debit Card.

 

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said a pilot project is being set up at eight businesses in trial sites selling a combination of restricted and unrestricted products which would otherwise require staff to personally identify the card before putting a sale through.

 

“If successful all Australian businesses will be able to accept the Cashless Debit Card, increasing consumer choice and eliminating criticism that the card creates stigma at the checkout,” Minister Ruston said.

 

“We want to make sure that for Australians using the card the experience is no different to anyone else going into any shop and paying using their bank or credit card."

 

While the card is automatically accepted at about 900,000 businesses across the country, those which also sell restricted products must be signed up to accept the card under an agreement that restricted products must not be sold to people paying with a Cashless Debit Card.

 

The pilot is aimed specifically at assisting small businesses. Major retailers such as Woolworths, Coles and Australia Post already automatically block purchases.

 

Known as product level blocking, the business’ PIN Pad would recognise when a Cashless Debit Card was being used and automatically decline the transaction if the shopping basket includes restricted products.

 

The customer would then be able to simply remove the items they know to be banned and the transaction would then go through as usual.

 

It will also allow the Government to crackdown on workarounds by providing a quick and simple process in which to block new restricted items when they come on to the market.

 

The Government is working with leading IT services company DXC Technology to develop product level blocking and is engaging with the banks to make changes to their PIN Pads.

 

The Cashless Debit Card quarantines 80 per cent* of welfare recipients’ payments so the money cannot be spent on alcohol, drugs or gambling or to withdraw as cash.

 

“It is a personal development, capacity and financial literacy tool aimed at reducing the social harm caused by welfare fuelled drug and alcohol misuse and problem gambling,” Minister Ruston said.

 

*Under the Bill currently before Parliament existing and new participants in the NT and Cape York will continue to have the same proportion of their welfare payments quarantined as under existing income management arrangements, which is generally 50 per cent.

 

Extra energy savings for drought-affected small businesses

30 November 2019 

Farms and small businesses in drought affected areas will receive much needed Government support to reduce their energy costs and improve energy efficiency as part of the Business Energy Advice Program (BEAP).

 

The Liberal National Government will extend the BEAP advisory service to small businesses with five or fewer employees that have been adversely affected by drought, including farm and non-farm businesses.

 

BEAP provides two free services: a personalised energy advice service, and an online tool to help business owners compare energy spend and understand their energy saving opportunities.

 

The personalised energy advice service is currently only available to small businesses with 6–20 employees.

 

Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie said the Government is taking real action to support farmers during this long and damaging drought.

 

“We know that drought means weaker economic conditions with less spending in the community, particularly in regional areas, that in turn can lead to employers having to let staff go. Expanding access to BEAP adds a little extra help to the drought relief package announced by the Government” Minister McKenzie said.

 

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said opening up BEAP to farms and family businesses affected by the drought will provide some relief in reduced energy costs and stress levels throughout this tough period.

 

“The changes to this program will help farmers and small businesses like bakers or butchers make practical changes to equipment and usage to improve energy efficiency and experience real energy savings. In times of drought, recognising savings where you can is extremely important,” Minister Taylor said.

 

Personalised BEAP energy consultations are delivered by the New South Wales Business Chamber, either face-to-face or over the phone.

 

They help small businesses understand how to save energy, choose the best energy plan for their business, and get tailored advice on energy efficiency opportunities best suited to their needs.

 

BEAP is already making a difference in regional communities. The Griffith branch of the Yenda Producers Co-Operative participated in the pilot. “I think this program is unique because it is a genuine way to get in contact with farming families and enable them to save on their electricity bills.” Peter Taprell, Branch Manager - Yenda Producers Co-Op Society Ltd.

 

BEAP launched on 31 July 2019 and has already seen over 1,450 businesses register for their free business energy advice consultation. Over 850 businesses have already received a consultation and started their saving journey.

 

BEAP has seen 115 drought affected businesses register and 67 have received BEAP consultations.

 

The BEAP online tool, the Small Business Energy Check, lets small businesses across Australia compare their energy spend to similar businesses in their industry and region, and shows whether they are paying too much for their energy. It can be used on its own or in conjunction with a Business Energy Advice consultation.

 

BEAP is an $11.7 million initiative as part of the Government’s commitment to make energy more affordable.

 

For more information about the program visit energy.gov.au/government-priorities/energy-programs/business-energy-advice-program.

Australia continues to play a key role on the International Maritime Organisation Council

30 November 2019 

Australia will continue to play a key role in a specialised United Nations agency responsible for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping.

 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the nation was successfully re-elected to Category B of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council in London last night.

 

“Our country’s re-election to Category B of the Organisation reflects on our standing as a significant player in the global maritime industry,” Mr McCormack said.

 

“Category B is made up of only 10 IMO Member States with the largest interest in global seaborne trade.

 

“Australia is the world’s largest bulk commodities exporter, with 99 per cent of our international trade by volume carried by sea and a search and rescue area which covers one-tenth of the Earth’s surface.

 

“Australia will continue its work with the IMO to build a more modern, innovative and responsive organisation able to address pressing maritime priorities and the rapid pace of technological change.”

 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said the re-election to Category B of the IMO Council would allow Australia to continue to build on decades of positive engagement with the international maritime community and to continue our hard work on reforming the Organisation’s Council.

 

“Australia has developed a reputation for working across the IMO to develop shipping standards which are fair, effective and sustainable,” Senator Payne said.

 

“Through our role on the IMO Council, the Federal Government will do our part to ensure international shipping is safe, reliable and efficient and protects the marine environment so all countries can share the benefits of a strong international shipping sector.”

 

Australia is a founding member of the IMO and has been an elected member of the Council since 1985.

 

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) led Australia’s campaign for re-election to Category B of IMO Council, supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

New Appointment for National Science Advisory Group

27 November 2019 

Former Australian of the Year Professor Fiona Wood AM has been appointed to the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) – Australia’s foremost science advisory body.

 

Professor Wood is Director of the Burns Service of Western Australia and co-founder of the Fiona Wood Foundation.

 

Announcing her four-year appointment today, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said Professor Wood’s background as a burns surgeon and researcher would complement the expertise of the NSTC.

 

“Professor Wood’s greatest contribution and enduring legacy is the development and commercialisation of the ‘spray-on skin’ technique, which greatly reduces permanent scarring in burns victims and is now used worldwide,” Minister Andrews said.

 

“Her experience as a medical practitioner, and in research and development will be an invaluable addition to the NSTC.

 

“The Prime Minister and I created the NSTC to seek the counsel, guidance and independent advice of our science community. It brings together members with a diverse set of specialised skills, knowledge and expertise to help us address challenges and take advantage of opportunities for Australia.”

 

Professor Wood said the National Science and Technology Council is a vitally important component of Australia’s science and technology sector, connecting the scientific community and government at the highest levels.

 

“I am exceptionally excited to be joining my colleagues on the Council to help address the big challenges facing Australia,” Professor Wood said.

 

Professor Wood replaces Professor Ian Frazer AC on the NSTC. Professor Frazer has served as a member of the NSTC and its precursor, the Commonwealth Science Council, since 2014.

 

“Professor Frazer has been a significant contributor to the mission of both the NSTC and former Commonwealth Science Council,” Minister Andrews said.

 

“He will continue shaping the future of science and technology in Australia through his work as Chair of the Medical Research Future Fund Advisory Board, as a member of the Council of the National Health and Medical Research Council, and through his world-leading research.”

 

The Morrison Government has invested over $10 billion into science, research and innovation this financial year, as part of our plan to improve the competitiveness of Australian businesses and create 1.25 million new jobs over the next five years.

 

Government will protect religious freedoms by getting the law right

27 November 2019 

After further considering the hundreds of submissions that have been made to the Exposure Draft of the Religious Discrimination Act (RDA), the Government decided earlier this week to issue a revised and further exposure draft of the RDA Bill to reflect the Government’s response to the consultation to date and provide further opportunity for engagement.

 

This second and final exposure draft will be released before the end of the year, and will take account of issues raised and provide the opportunity to respond to the revisions made and fine tune the Bill before it is introduced next year.

Our Government takes the issue of discrimination against Australians for their religious beliefs very seriously. We made a commitment to Australians to address this issue at the last election and we are keeping faith with that commitment in a calm and considered process. We’re about listening and getting this right.

Recent statements by Labor seem to be opportunistically trying to derail and discredit this highly consultative and patient process. This is disappointing and betrays a lack of genuine commitment by Labor to the principle that Australians who hold sincere religious beliefs in this country deserve the same legal protections that are rightly provided in other areas such as gender and race. During the election

 

Labor did not stand up for Australia’s many religious communities, and it seems nothing has changed.

Once the Bill is introduced to the Parliament there will also be the opportunity for further engagement through the normal parliamentary process.

Our Government will continue to proceed on the basis of good faith with a view to having a balanced and common sense Bill that protects the important religious freedoms that Australians can sadly no longer take for granted.

I would like to thank the Attorney General for leading this process, all parliamentary colleagues who have engaged sincerely in this process, especially my Government Members and Senators who represent a broad cross section of views, the many religious and non-religious bodies who have also engaged in this process, and Australians of faith and of no faith for the way they have raised issues in a constructive way that enables the Government to take this important agenda forward.

I thank everyone for their constructive patience on this issue and I am sure it will lead to a strong and enduring outcome.

Release of reports from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

27 November 2019 

Today the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released three independent reports into the health and wellbeing of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel:

 

              

1.    The National suicide monitoring of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel: 2019 update      

2.    Use of homelessness services by contemporary ex-serving ADF members: 2011–17        

3.    Medications dispensed to contemporary ex-serving Australian Defence Force members 2017–18.

 

 

These reports were commissioned by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to gain a better understanding of some of the challenges faced by the serving and ex-serving community.

 

While the three reports released are on separate issues, the update on suicide monitoring of serving and ex-serving personnel for 2017 shows 42 current and former ADF personnel took their lives that year.

 

These deaths are tragic and the only acceptable number is zero.

 

Over consecutive years, we’ve been delivering positive changes to the veterans’ support system focusing on mental health and wellbeing, from introducing free mental health care for anyone with one day’s service for any mental health condition, regardless of if it is service-related, to providing immediate payments to veterans who have a compensation claim for a mental health condition being assessed by DVA, and providing psychiatric assistance dogs to veterans to help them manage their post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

Importantly, we are changing the transition process to ensure anyone leaving the ADF has access to the support they need, including additional resources which are focused on personnel who are discharging for medical or administrative reasons.

 

We invest more than $11.5 billion a year to support our veterans and their families, including more than $230 million a year on veteran mental health — for which funding is uncapped and driven by demand.

 

Today, I am meeting with my Ministerial colleagues from the states and territories to consult with them on the new Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and Action Plan, and to discuss how we can work together on this important issue.

 

Since taking over the portfolio in March 2018, veteran mental health and improving the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs to put veterans and their families first has been my absolute priority.

 

There are improvements being made, to services, support, transition and employment. But I know more can be done to ensure we are supporting our veterans and their families now and into the future.

 

The findings from these reports help us better target our efforts to those most at risk as well as assist in shaping future programs and services offered by Defence and DVA to support veterans and their families.

 

Mental health and suicide prevention is everyone’s business. It is an issue that affects everyone in the community, and as a community we should all be focused on doing all we can. Check in on a mate, ask them if they are ok, have a conversation and help them get the support they need. Help is available.

 

I understand the content of these reports may cause distress to some in the ex-service community, and I would encourage any veteran or their families who do need additional support to contact Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling. They can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 011 046.

ADF supports Vietnam's second medical deployment to UN mission in South Sudan

27 November 2019 

Australia continues to boost regional peacekeeping capabilities in South East Asia, in support of Vietnam’s second deployment to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

 

From 19-28 November 2019, a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17 Globemaster provided strategic airlift support for Vietnamese military personnel and equipment on rotation to Level Two Field Hospital.

 

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said this peacekeeping engagement with Vietnam reflects the strength of our strategic partnership.

 

“The Australia-Vietnam defence relationship has grown since the signing of our bilateral Strategic Partnership in 2018 – in peacekeeping, maritime security and training,” Minister Reynolds said.

 

“The Royal Australian Air Force’s airlift support, including for Vietnam’s first deployment to UNMISS in 2018, exemplifies our growing partnership and shared interests in a stable, rules-based global order.

 

“The ADF is proud to continue its support for United Nations peacekeeping efforts, to build regional peacekeeping capacity, and to join with regional partners to contribute to global peace and security.”

 

Australian Defence Force assistance to Vietnam this year includes two RAAF air mobility missions – the deployment of personnel and equipment to South Sudan and the return of personnel from Vietnam’s first mission.

 

Additionally, Australia provides specialist peacekeeping and English language training as part of its Defence Cooperation Program with Vietnam.

 

Aussie businesses win in submarine program

27 November 2019 

The Morrison Government is backing Aussie workers and small business to deliver defence capability as part of our $50 billion investment in the Attack Class Submarine program.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC and Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Melissa Price MP today announced that Berendsen Fluid Power and H & H Machine Tools have been selected as the first Australian partners for major equipment design contracts that will support the build of the Attack Class submarine.

 

“The awarding of these contracts supports the Morrison Government’s objectives of providing sovereign support for the design, build, operations and sustainment of the fleet as well as maximising the involvement of Australian industry,” Minister Reynolds said.

 

Under the deal, Seven Hills-based Berendsen Fluid Power and Melbourne’s H & H Machine Tools will partner with Pinette Emidecau Industries and Starrag Group Holding AG to become the design authority and manage the local manufacture of medium capacity presses and a large-capacity milling machine.

 

“The value of work for local companies is estimated at $20 million, supporting more Aussie jobs and opportunities for small business,” Minister Price said.

 

“Our $50 billion investment in 12 future submarines will create thousands of Australian jobs and new opportunities for small businesses and these contracts are part of this commitment.”

 

Safe Places grants now open

27 November 2019 

The Morrison Government is today calling for organisations to apply for $60 million worth of grants to expand emergency accommodation across Australia under our record commitment to keep women and children safe.

 

Assistant Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services Luke Howarth said the funding would deliver up to 450 additional safe places for women and children experiencing domestic and family violence.

 

“Unfortunately we know that domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women. Specialist Homelessness Services reported supporting more than 121,000 clients who experienced domestic violence during 2017-18,” Assistant Minister Howarth said.

 

“We hope this increase in emergency accommodation will help at least 6,500 women and children each year across remote, regional and metropolitan Australia.

 

“Applicants who bring forward additional investment will be prioritised as this will mean even more safe places can be provided to women and children.”

 

The grants will help organisations construct, repurpose, renovate or purchase new buildings to create additional safe places.

 

The $78 million safe places package forms part of the $340 million Morrison Government investment in the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

 

Included in the package is $18 million in dedicated funding to continue implementing the Keeping Women Safe in Their Homes program. This program provides security upgrades and safety planning so women and children at risk of, or experiencing domestic and family violence can remain in their own home, if it is safe to do so.

 

Applications for Safe Places grant funding are now open to eligible organisations. Visit the GrantConnect website for more information. 

 

Grants open export doors to farmers

27 November 2019 

Australian farmers and agricultural producers may get help to tap into dynamic overseas markets through a $1.5 million grant opportunity supporting stronger trade relationships.

 

Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said the Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation (ATMAC) program extension was a government election commitment designed to break down trade barriers for agricultural exporters.

 

“The program will run over four years until 2023 and successful applicants for the 2020 round of competitive grants—opening today and worth a total this year of $1.5 million—will be announced in June,” Minister McKenzie said.

 

“Australia is one of the world’s top 10 agricultural exporting countries, but we have ambitions to build a $100 billion food and fibre sector by 2030 and reaching our target means grabbing hold of new export opportunities and improving existing ones.

 

“Our government started this program back in 2016, and this program will provide grants worth up to $440,000 for projects to help reduce technical trade hurdles for our agricultural exports.

 

“Successful grant recipients of the original 2016 program included the Winemakers Federation of Australia to improve access to the Chinese wine market allowing producers to claim a share of the $1.2 billion wine exports to China.

 

“It’s a way to help farmers extend their control down the value add chain to improve profits.

 

“Funding priorities will include projects that help our trading partners’ respond to foreign pest and disease incursions like African swine fever currently sweeping across Asia, as well as increasing their knowledge of Australia’s world-leading biosecurity, food safety and border compliance systems.

 

“Other priorities include projects that will help Australia realise market access opportunities under recently ratified free trade agreements secured by our government, as well as helping negotiations for new and improved market access.

 

“There are enormous opportunities for Australian agriculture with booming populations in our region and beyond.

 

“The ATMAC program is part of a $29.4 million investment by our government to deepen Australian access to new and existing markets, while supporting the global trading system’s operation and rules.”

 

ATMAC applications close on 31 January 2020. To apply visit the grant hub: https://www.grants.gov.au/

 

For more information on the ATMAC program visit: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ATMAC

 

 Assistance to victims of terrorist attacks in Christchurch, Nairobi and Karachi

27 November 2019 

The Australian Government has declared three terrorist attacks for the purposes of the Australian Victim of Terrorism Overseas Payment (AVTOP) scheme.

 

The 15 March 2019 attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand; the 15-16 January 2019 attack in Nairobi, Kenya; and the 8 May 2002 attack in Karachi, Pakistan, have been declared as ‘terrorist acts’ under the scheme.

 

On 15 March 2019, a single perpetrator conducted consecutive mass shootings at the al‑Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. The attack killed 51 people and another 49 people were injured.

 

From 15-16 January 2019, five perpetrators conducted a complex attack on the dusitD2 hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The attack killed 21 people and another 28 were injured.

 

On 8 May 2002, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device was detonated outside the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi, Pakistan. The attack killed 15 people and another 40 people were injured.

 

The Australian Government condemns the attacks and extends its deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those killed and injured, and to the Governments and people of New Zealand, Kenya and Pakistan.

 

The declaration of these attacks means that eligible Australians who were harmed, or lost a close family member, as a result of the attacks may seek a one-off payment of up to $75,000 in financial assistance.

 

The AVTOP scheme ensures Australian victims of terrorist events overseas have access to financial support. The declaration of these attacks brings the total number of overseas terrorist acts declared by the Australian Government for the purposes of the AVTOP scheme to 45.

 

Information on declared attacks and how to apply for financial assistance through the AVTOP scheme is available at: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/australian-victim-terrorism-overseas-payment or by calling 1800 040 226.

 

Crackdown on foreign bribery

27 November 2019 

The Morrison Government is strengthening Australia’s foreign bribery laws to help crackdown on corporations and employees that improperly influence foreign officials.

 

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combatting Corporate Crime) Bill 2019, to be tabled in the Senate today, brings Australia into line with many of our major trading partners such as the United States and Britain, which have already taken significant steps to stamp out foreign bribery.

 

Most significantly, the Bill creates a new offence for corporations of failing to prevent foreign bribery, carrying a maximum penalty of either $21 million, 10 per cent of annual turnover, or three times the benefit gained – whichever is greatest.

 

This measure holds companies directly liable for the foreign bribery activities of their employees, external contractors, agents and subsidiaries, unless the business can demonstrate that it had “adequate procedures” in place to minimise risks.

 

The Bill would apply to the activities of companies and employees overseas and in Australia where the activity involves an effort to improperly influence a foreign official.

 

Adequate procedures include maintaining effective and proportionate compliance and enforcement strategies, risk assessments and due diligence, whistle-blower reporting mechanisms, staff training and the promotion of a strong integrity culture at all levels, including company boardrooms.

 

To assist companies in creating these adequate procedures, the Government released draft guidance for public consultation, with submission sought by the end of February 2020.

 

The Bill also includes a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) scheme, which gives law enforcement agencies a new tool to uncover corporate misconduct. It also gives companies a strong incentive to cooperate with those authorities, including through self-reporting suspicious behaviour by their staff.

 

Under the scheme, organisations that pay an appropriate financial penalty and cooperate fully with the conditions of the DPA may not face prosecution themselves. The scheme will include appropriate safeguards to ensure DPAs are in the interests of justice.

 

Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Christian Porter, said foreign bribery needed to be stamped out as it helped to entrench corruption in developing countries and gave dishonest companies an unfair advantage over their competitors.

 

“Companies that view foreign bribery as simply the cost of doing business overseas are creating an uneven playing field which unfairly penalises businesses who do the right thing and play by the rules,” Mr Porter said.

 

“This Bill addresses gaps identified by prosecutors and law enforcement agencies in existing legislation and will make it easier to investigate bribery offences and secure convictions.

 

“The Bill also puts the onus squarely on corporations to get their own houses in order by encouraging them to put effective controls and safeguards in place to prevent bribery from happening in the first place.

 

“Companies that fail to take that action will pay a very high price if bribery offences are detected.”

 

Examples of significant penalties levied against major companies in other jurisdictions include:

              

  • Rolls Royce paid financial penalties of approximately $US 800 million following actions against them in the US, UK and Brazil.

  • In March 2019, MTS (the largest mobile telecommunications company in Russia) and its Uzbek subsidiary agreed to pay a combined total penalty of $US 850 million to the US.

  • In December 2017, Keppel Offshore Marine Ltd and its subsidiary agreed to pay a penalty of $US 422 million to the US, Singapore and Brazil for its involvement arising out of a decade-long scheme to pay millions of dollars in bribes to officials in Brazil.

 

Making the most of India's growing food and fibre demand

27 November 2019 

The burgeoning Indian market is too big to ignore and presents an enticing opportunity for Australia’s food and fibre producers, an industry roundtable heard today.

 

Australia’s Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said the Liberal and Nationals Government was focused on helping Australia build business-to-business relationships with partners in India to expand agribusiness trade.

 

“As the Agribusiness Sector Champion for the India Economic Strategy it’s exciting to have industry leaders with decades of experience working to formulate a strategy for closer economic relations with India,” Minister McKenzie said.

 

“There is no doubt that India is an agricultural power house in its own right and is projected to be the world’s third largest economy in the world by 2035 with 1.6 billion citizens.

 

“India’s sheer scale and shortfalls in their domestic production will provide significant opportunities for Australia’s premium products.

 

“The growing middle class in India will stimulate demand for fruits, vegetables, nuts and proteins like sheep meat, as well as value-added goods like wine and processed foods, as they look to source a more diverse diet.

 

“Having our business leaders come together to discuss the market is incredibly valuable as we look to promote our strong credentials – we’re counter seasonal providers, known internationally for our safe, clean and green produce, we’re close to India and we can export our know-how as well as our agricultural goods

 

“Today’s participants are exporters with experience of opening up new markets and they’re providing hard-headed advice about how business and Government can work together to expand Australia’s trade with India.

 

“Unlocking the opportunities presented by the Indian market requires long-term commitment and patience from both government as well as Australia’s agricultural industries.

 

“Our government is doing what we can to support industry efforts to improve trade and dialogue about trade with India.

 

“We’ve posted a second agricultural counsellor in April this year, we’ve been cooperating with India on training including for cold treatment options, and we’re working to improve Indian crop forecasting so Australian pulse farmers can make more informed decisions about what they plant each season.

 

“I plan to travel to India early next year to promote two way trade and to talk with my counterparts about ways we can reduce non-tariff barriers to trade so we’re all playing by the same rules.

 

“This Agribusiness Industry Roundtable is an important step in progressing our India Economic Strategy – which is a tangible tool to help the sector reach its $100 billion goal by 2030.”

Lesson Not Learnt -  Jason Clare commits Labor to failed tax policies

27 November 2019 

As reported in today’s Australian Financial Review, the Shadow Minister for Housing has declared Labor is set to revive their failed negative gearing and capital gains tax policies so resoundingly rejected by Australians at the election in May.

 

While Labor’s Shadow Treasurer, Shadow Minister for Finance, Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Housing may have changed, it is clear Labor’s addiction to taxing Australians more has not.

 

Labor has simply not learnt that when you target home owners and property investors by proposing to double Capital Gains Tax and abolish negative gearing, you make it harder for Australians to get into a home of their own.

 

Economic modelling commissioned by the Master Builders of Australia found that under Labor’s failed policies there would have been;

• Up to 42,000 less new dwellings built across Australia,

• Up to 32,000 less full time jobs,

• Up to $11.8 billion less building activity,

• Up to $210 million less renovation building activity, and

• Within five years of Labor’s property tax policy being implemented, the construction of new housing would have fallen in all states and territories, coupled with a fall of employment over the same period.

 

The Morrison Coalition Government believes that all Australians should be able to aspire to own their own home.

 

We understand that home owners work hard, and make sacrifices, in order to save for a deposit and pay their mortgage.

 

That is why we are delivering policies to make it easier for buyers to enter the property market sooner, such as the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and the First Home Super Saver Scheme.

 

If Labor Shadow Ministers want to understand why they lost the election they should start by examining their plan for $387 billion in higher taxes. A plan which would have made it harder and more expensive for first home buyers to get into the property market.

 

It seems Labor’s addiction to higher taxes is too hard to shake.

 

Boosting exports for Australia’s services sector

27 November 2019 

The Morrison Government will continue to focus on boosting Australia’s services exports, releasing its initial response to the first industry-led Services Exports Action Plan.

 

Developed in close partnership with industry, the Action Plan recommends key measures designed to strengthen the competitiveness of Australian services exporters.

 

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham welcomed the recommendations and said the Government’s response addresses three primary areas of focus; supporting business to go global, removing barriers facing exporters abroad, and simplifying regulation at home.

 

"Our services industries including education, telecommunications, and professional and financial services continue to enjoy strong growth, with services exports reaching record levels of $97 billion last financial year and growing at over 10 per cent per annum,” Minister Birmingham said.

 

“There is enormous potential for Australian businesses to build on the current momentum of growth particularly in high-growth industries such as defence and space.

 

"Our Government continues to provide more export opportunities for our services exporters through improved global market access. Our trade agreements, including with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru which passed through the Parliament this week, are major wins for our services exporters and will open up new doors including to the dynamic Asian region.

 

“Removing non-tariff barriers remains a focus as do our continuing red-tape initiatives that have delivered $5.8 billion in savings since 2013.

 

“Advancing services exports will best be achieved through a partnership with business, and we’ll continue to work with industry as they focus on boosting our economy and creating more jobs through commercial wins in the services sector internationally."

 

The Government’s response, and the industry-led Services Exports Action Plan, can be found at: Services Exports Action Plan.

 

FarmHub taking a step up against drought

15 November 2019 

  • New features include a training directory and regional climate guides

  • Thousands of farmers visit FarmHub for assistance as drought has worsened

  • Part of the $8 billion whole-of-government commitment to drought recovery, resilience and preparedness

 

 

Drought-hit farmers have better resources at their fingertips with important new features on FarmHub – the first national, single-site directory of farm support measures.

 

Minister for Drought David Littleproud said the site’s improvements came at a critical time.

 

“This puts even better drought support information at the fingertips of farmers,” Minister Littleproud said.

 

“FarmHub now contains tailored climate information for specific regions, developed by the Bureau of Meteorology so farmers can manage climate risk.

 

“It also has a Learning and Development Directory with more than 100 programs farmers can use to upskill.

 

“This is a straightforward way for farmers to get the support they need.

 

“We’ve invested $774,000 over three years in this portal which is being delivered by the National Farmers’ Federation so farmers can get the information they need.

 

“FarmHub is a one-stop-shop helping thousands of people find immediate assistance.

 

“It has the latest information to help farmers make decisions about sustaining their businesses through the drought.”

 

Visit FarmHub at: www.farmhub.org.au

Better Support for Australian App​rentices and Employers

15 November 2019 

The Morrison Government is making it easier than ever for employers to recruit, train and retain apprentices.

 

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, today announced the seven providers that have been chosen to deliver the expanded and improved Australian Apprenticeship Support Network services nationally.

 

"The Australian Apprenticeship Support Network is a key component of the Morrison Government’s investment in vocational education, training and apprenticeships, to support the skills needs of employers and industry,” Minister Cash said.

 

“We are improving the Support Network to help get even more apprentices enrolled and trained up for rewarding careers and to help meet employers’ skills needs.”

 

“I welcome the new arrangements that recognise the unique service requirements for the outer regional areas of my home state of Western Australia which will ensure that WA continues to have the skilled workforce it needs to grow and prosper into the future.”

 

The Support Network provides personalised advice and support services to employers and apprentices, from pre-commencement of an apprenticeship to completion, including targeted services for individuals who need extra support.

 

Following a review in 2018, improvements to the Support Network include:

 

              

  • Strengthened sign-up processes to better support apprentices in the critical first six months of training

  • An additional incentive for providers to attract new employers to take on apprentices

  • A re-designed Performance Management Framework to ensure improved outcomes and a greater focus on quality and consistency

  • Improved Gateway Services to help employers find the right apprentice for their business.

 

 

After a competitive tender process conducted by the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, seven successful providers have been chosen to provide services to employers and apprentices across 10 regions, from 1 February 2020.

 

Assistant Minister for Vocational Education, Training and Apprenticeships highlighted the selection of providers in rural and remote areas of the country.

 

“This will allow more Australians to engage with providers and will deliver on the Morrison Government’s commitment of training an additional 80,000 apprentices over the next five years,” Assistant Minister Irons said.

 

The successful organisations delivering these services are listed below.

 

For further information on the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network visit: www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au

Future proofing Australia from natural disaster

15 November 2019 

The Morrison Government is investing in research to improve Australia’s response to natural disasters.

 

Minister for Education Dan Tehan today announced $81.8 million would be provided for 200 research projects as part of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), including research projects tackling drought, cyclones and bushfires.

 

The Coalition Government is providing:

 

              

  • University of Tasmania $427,067 to research how plants survive in drought by restricting water loss. This research will identify the genes in plants that control responses to low air humidity and will lead to new targets for the breeding of drought-adapted plant varieties.

  • University of New South Wales $357,203 to improve forecasting of high impact droughts which will benefit decision-making in agriculture and other industries.

  • University of Sydney $426,343 to research how bushfires amplify the impacts of invasive predators, like feral cats and foxes, on native fauna. This project will generate new knowledge in wildlife conservation, fire ecology and invasive species management.

  • University of New South Wales $364,932 to research scientific support to improve knowledge of extreme rainfall following Australia’s tropical cyclone landfall and further to enhance weather forecasting and reduce the impact of cyclones.

  • Australian National University $408,490 to research how science and decision-making on water resource planning can be best aligned for sustainable and equitable water management.

 

 

“Our Government is investing in basic and applied research by our brightest early career researchers in key priority areas to grow our research and innovation capacity,” Mr Tehan said.

 

“This research will generate new knowledge, develop new technologies, and lead to new products and jobs. The research targeting natural disasters will make Australians safer and improve how we prepare for future challenges.”

 

Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the commitment showed the Commonwealth’s proactive approach to natural hazards.

 

“We’re investing in the smarts of the 21st century to make sure our communities are on the front-foot,” Mr Littleproud said.

 

“Whether it helps our communities prepare or recover faster, this will reduce the impact of disasters.

 

“Australia has some of the best scientists in the world and it makes sense to get behind them to help manage drought and disaster.”

 

A full list of the new 2020 DECRA recipients, including a snapshot of funding by state and territory and project summaries, is available from the ARC website.

 

Each DECRA recipient will receive salary and on-cost support for three years, and up to $40,000 in additional funding per year for other essential costs directly related to their project.

 

For more information about the ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award scheme, please visit the ARC website.

 

Pioneering research partnerships to benefit Australians

15 November 2019 

The Morrison Government is investing in research to create jobs and new business opportunities.

 

Minister for Education Dan Tehan today announced the Morrison Government was providing $4.5 million to fund eight research collaborations through the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects scheme.

 

The successful research projects awarded funding include:

 

              

  • $675,318 to improve safety and productivity in Australian mines by investigating rock and cable bolt failure due to stress corrosion cracking.

  • $313,304 to add commercial value to one of Australia’s largest legume crops – the lupin seed – by designing technology to create a natural product that helps control human blood glucose.

  • $450,000 to help safeguard Australians online by investigating privacy challenges for user data on cloud networks and identifying innovative solutions for full privacy protection.

 

“Our Government is providing investment to connect universities with business,” Mr Tehan said.

 

“Our funding is helping drive research that will create jobs and business opportunities, make work safer and lead to improved health outcomes.

 

“The ARC’s Linkage Projects scheme provides opportunities for internationally-competitive research projects to be conducted by higher education organisations in collaboration with industry organisations.

 

“Our Government is committed to working with universities and industry on taking our research and turning it into jobs, businesses and opportunities.”

 

More details about all Linkage Projects are available on the ARC website.

 

The ARC accepts applications under the Linkage Projects scheme on a continuous basis, with successful grants announced throughout the year.

 

US talks to strengthen trade in critical minerals

14 November 2019

 

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan will use high-level talks in the United States over the coming week to promote Australia as an emerging producer of critical minerals and a reliable global supplier of resources and energy.

 

Minister Canavan is travelling to the US for talks with senior members of the US Government and to meet executives of major mining, manufacturing and resources companies.

 

He will meet Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt to promote Australia’s emerging critical minerals sector and to push for international cooperation to help boost the global trade and diversified supply of critical minerals.

 

“Critical minerals and rare earths are crucial to the high-technology industries of the future and are essential components of batteries, wind turbines, LCD screens, solar panels, microchips and even mobile phones,” Minister Canavan said.

 

“The US has a need for critical minerals and Australia’s abundant supplies makes us a reliable and secure international supplier of a wide range of those including rare earth elements.

 

“Mining and resources have underpinned Australia’s economic growth and prosperity for more than 100 years, and the critical minerals sector provides an exciting opportunity to build on that foundation as a safe and reliable supplier to the world.”

 

The visit builds on the September agreement between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and President Donald Trump to develop a US-Australia Action Plan for Critical Minerals Cooperation to support investment, research and development, and diversity in critical minerals supply chains.

 

In March, Minister Canavan and Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Simon Birmingham launched Australia’s Critical Minerals Strategy 2019, which focuses on investment, innovation and infrastructure and identifies 24 critical minerals that Australia could potentially supply to key trading partners.

 

Australia is one of the top five producers of critical minerals such as antimony, manganese, rare earths, and ilmenite and rutile – two titanium minerals – and is the second largest producer of rare earths, with 13 per cent of global production.

 

Australia is also the world's largest producer of lithium, accounting for 47 per cent of global production, and has the world’s largest nickel reserves and second largest cobalt reserves, as well as abundant reserves of graphite.

 

While in the US, Minister Canavan will lead an Australian delegation on critical minerals including industry and state government representatives and will attend several roundtables with US business leaders and Government officials.

 

He will also hold talks with US Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, White House Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow, and meet with senior officials from the State Department.

Labour Force Figures for October

14 November 2019 

The Government notes that the labour force figures released today by the ABS show that the unemployment rate has risen from 5.2 per cent to 5.3 per cent.

 

Whilst jobs figures change from month to month, the change in unemployment follows the strong consecutive increases in job numbers that have been recorded over an extended period.

 

Over the year to October 2019, employment has risen by 251,800 (or 2.0 per cent), above the decade average growth rate of 1.8 per cent.

 

Seasonally adjusted full-time employment fell by 10,300 in October but is 135,700 (or 1.6 per cent) higher than it was a year ago.

 

Full-time employment has comprised 53.9 per cent of total employment growth over the last year.

 

Part-time employment fell by 8,700 in October but is 116,100 (or 2.9 per cent) higher than it was a year ago.

 

While the participation rate fell by 0.1 percentage points to 66.0 per cent in October 2019, it is 0.4 percentage points higher than it was a year ago.

 

The Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, noted that while the labour force figures can jump around from month-to-month, a total of 1,442,500 jobs had been created since the Government came to office, an increase of 12.6 per cent.

 

“The Morrison Government’s strong Budget position is facilitating a record infrastructure spend, which will help create tens of thousands of jobs across the country. In addition, the most significant tax cuts Australia has seen in more than two decades is putting an extra $20 billion into Australian taxpayers’ pockets and the Government also has a plan to create 80,000 apprenticeships,” Minister Cash said.

 

Today’s data continue to reflect a solid labour market and highlight the success of the Government’s efforts to stimulate ongoing, sustainable jobs growth, even in the face of significant global and domestic headwinds.

Australian Navy Ship Arrives in Vietnam

 

14 November 2019 

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) replenishment ship HMAS Sirius has arrived in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam as part of Navy’s second East Asia Deployment for 2019.

 

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the visit is representative of Defence’s strong and deepening ties with Vietnam.

 

“Our close cooperation in peacekeeping, maritime security and counter-terrorism is underpinned by our shared commitment to a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific,” Minister Reynolds said.

 

During her transit to Vietnam from Malaysia, the Sirius travelled with the RAN frigate HMAS Stuart and the United States Navy ship USS Montgomery, with the combined group of ships undertaking exercises and maritime security related training activities.

 

“The conduct of training on the high seas, and professional interactions between naval vessels, is an everyday feature for ships sailing through international waters,” Minister Reynolds said.

 

“Our Navy’s professional mariners regularly exercise with allies and partners at sea."

 

Stuart and Sirius are two of 11 vessels working in two Maritime Task Groups undertaking a four month maritime East Asia Deployment, highlighting the RAN’s ability to deploy concurrent Task Groups across our near region.

 

During the deployment, Task Groups and Task Elements will visit Guam, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore, participating in maritime exercises and commemorative activities with these nations, in addition to exercises with the United States.

 

New financing measures to help build critical minerals sector

14 November 2019 

Australia has world-leading deposits of rare earth and critical minerals representing a substantial commercial opportunity.  The Australian Government will secure the future of rare earth and critical mineral projects, including those strategically important to defence end-use, with new financial options and a dedicated project facilitation office within the Department of Industry.

 

Projects which boost our ability to extract and process critical minerals in Australia will be eligible for financial support through Export Finance Australia (EFA) including the Defence Export Facility. Changes will also be made to allow projects to access dual funding through the EFA as well as the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

 

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the new arrangements meant Australian companies would be able to maximise their access to existing government support to expedite new rare earth and critical mineral processing activities in Australia.

 

“We are determined to develop our rare earth and critical mineral assets for the benefit of Australia and our technology-driven industries. By allowing proponents to secure financing through both EFA and the NAIF, we are enhancing opportunities for our critical mineral sector.  This opens up new opportunities in trade and manufacturing, creating jobs of the future for thousands of Australians.

 

“To further facilitate the sector’s growth, a specialised new Critical Minerals Facilitation Office will be opened on 1 January 2020 to help proponents secure investment, financing and market access for critical mineral projects. The office will also support international cooperation to help diversify critical minerals supply chains.

 

“With the increasing global uptake of electric vehicles, smart phones and renewable energy, Australia is well placed to become an international powerhouse to supply critical minerals, and the Government is committed to developing world-leading projects which could help supply global markets.”

 

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said EFA would now place a greater focus on critical minerals projects and related infrastructure, including projects that supply defence end-use applications where funding can be made available under the Defence Export Facility.

 

“Australia has world-leading reserves of critical minerals that present commercial opportunities for our businesses, as well as job creation potential in regional Australia,” Minister Birmingham said.

 

“With critical minerals essential to much of the innovation and technological development in industries such as defence, space, energy and advanced manufacturing, there are real opportunities for Australia to play a bigger role.

 

“This intensive focus across government could provide many critical minerals projects with access to advice or opportunities that helps to kick-start their operations and create export outcomes.

 

“Austrade will work in conjunction with the critical minerals project facilitation office to continue its work seeking to promote investment in this sector to the world.”

 

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said critical minerals were essential inputs to defence capability and a wide range of advanced technology applications.

 

“These measures will play a vital role in supporting a secure, ethical and sustainable supply of critical minerals, and in doing that help deliver the capability that keeps Australians safe,” Minister Reynolds said.

 

The government will also commit $4.5 million to fund critical minerals research by key Commonwealth scientific agencies.

 

The creation of the critical minerals project facilitation office adds to the wealth of work already done by the Government to develop Australia’s critical minerals and rare earths industries, including:

  • Development of a National Resources Statement (February 2019);

  • Development of Australia’s Critical Minerals Strategy (March 2019);

  • Preparation of the Australian Critical Minerals Investment Prospectus (March 2019);

  •  An agreement between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and President Donald Trump to develop a US-Australia Action Plan for Critical Minerals Cooperation to support investment, research and development, and diversity in critical minerals supply chains (September 2019);  and

  • An upcoming week-long visit to the US by Minister Canavan to further discussions on a US-Australia Critical Mineral Action Plan.

 

Minister Canavan will depart for the United States today for meetings with counterparts to build further support for international collaboration on critical mineral supply chains.

 

Statement on Hong Kong

14 November 2019 

We are deeply concerned by the violence in Hong Kong and the increasing divide between the authorities and Hong Kong people.

 

We reiterate our view that it is crucial for all sides – police and protestors – to exercise restraint and take genuine steps to de-escalate tensions. It is essential that the police respond proportionately to protests.

 

Australia continues to urge genuine efforts by all parties to find an effective political solution that supports and upholds Hong Kong’s freedoms and advantages, an open and accountable law enforcement and the professional and unbiased application of justice.

 

A statement by the international expert panel providing advice to Hong Kong’s Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) has identified limitations in the capability of the IPCC to oversee the police. It suggested there should be further independent investigation into police responses to the protests. Australia encourages the Hong Kong authorities to address the panel’s recommendations.

 

These steps are essential for any meaningful dialogue and restoring the trust of Hong Kong’s people.

 

Our Consul-General in Hong Kong continues to raise our concerns with the Hong Kong authorities at the highest levels. Consulate staff are working closely with Australian business and community members in Hong Kong.

 

Australia has a substantial stake in Hong Kong’s success. The city is home to one of our biggest expatriate communities globally and our largest commercial presence in Asia.

 

New opportunities for unique Australian native foods

14 November 2019 

Australian researchers will help turn bush tucker into new jobs and business opportunities while also showcasing native Australian cuisine to the world.

 

The Morrison Government is providing $3.6 million to establish a new research training centre to develop selected native Australian crops, food and ingredients.

 

Member for Groom John McVeigh today launched the Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Uniquely Australian Foods at The University of Queensland’s Coopers Plains campus.

 

Research at the training centre will focus on seven promising native plant groups with the potential to become branded food products: Native Herbs and Spices, Native Fruits, Native Nuts, Kakadu Plum, Wattle Seeds, Native Honey and Native Seaweed.

 

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the Morrison Government was funding research to commercialise native food.

 

“This research will give Australians a better understanding of our unique native foods and their health benefits, leading to new products, new uses, new business opportunities and new jobs,” Mr Tehan said.

 

“The training centre will equip early career researchers with skills in sensory, nutritional and toxicological studies.

 

“The Morrison Government is funding research that fosters collaboration between Australian universities and industry to deliver outcomes that benefit everyone.”

 

Dr McVeigh said the training centre would have a heavy focus on Indigenous participation.

 

“The centre will have Indigenous partner organisations and an Indigenous governance group to help create sustainable business models and to oversee how we apply traditional knowledge to branded products,” Dr McVeigh said.

 

“By unlocking the potential of unique Australian native foods we will create new opportunities in the food, tourism and health sectors.”

 

The University of Queensland will administer the training centre in collaboration with five participating organisations across two countries that will contribute a total of $5.8 million in cash and in-kind support.

 

Collaborating participating organisations include: Australian Native Food and Botanicals; The trustee for Kindred Spirits Foundation; Karen Shelldon Catering; Beeinventive Pty Ltd; and Venus Shell Systems Pty Ltd.

 

For more information visit the ARC website.

 

Energy outlook highlights important role of Australia’s coal and gas exports

14 November 2019 

The latest World Energy Outlook has reinforced opportunities for Australia to strengthen its role as a growing, reliable and competitive supplier of high quality coal and gas to Asia, including the fast-growing Indian economy.

 

The World Energy Outlook 2019, released by the International Energy Agency in Paris, reports global energy demand increased by 2.3 per cent in 2018 – the largest rise since 2010 – with consumption of energy including coal and solar up on the previous year.

 

The Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the report highlighted the growth in demand for energy in India and developing countries in Asia, with ongoing demand for coal despite the rising use of renewable energy and a fall in coal demand from the United States and China.

 

“The latest World Energy Outlook underlines the important role coal plays in industrial development and as a major contributor to the global energy mix for the foreseeable future. Coal remains the largest source of electricity generated in Asia, and the lowest cost in many Asian energy markets,” Minister Canavan said.

 

“India is set to double its own coal production by 2040, however the increase will not be enough to meet growth in demand and India will overtake China as the world’s biggest coal importer by the mid-2020s. India still has nearly 170 million people who have no access to electricity.

 

“Australia is well placed to help India meet its growing demand for coal as it continues to develop and extend electricity supplies across the country. India has been identified as a hotspot for Australian thermal coal exports, with its potential demand creating up to 4,000 new jobs in regional Australia.

 

“In August this year, I released the Coal in India report, and visited India to promote Australia as a reliable supplier of LNG, thermal and metallurgical coal and to encourage investment in Australia’s resources sector.”

 

The World Energy Outlook highlights the importance of energy security and access, particularly given rapid urbanisation and rising energy demand in developing Asian and African nations.

 

By 2040, Australian net coal exports are forecast to have grown by 65 mtce (million tonnes of coal equivalent), or an 18 per cent increase. This reaffirms the important role Australia plays in supplying high quality resources, including coal, to our international trading partners.

 

On LNG, the World Energy Outlook 2019 said Australia had short-term challenges to maintain supplies for domestic consumption growth and exports. However, global natural gas demand is expected to increase by 40 per cent by 2040. Australia can play a key role in supplying this demand especially if states remove restrictions on gas development.

 

“The World Energy Outlook estimates that overall Australian natural gas production could double by 2040, requiring major new investment and also providing new opportunities for downstream industry and manufacturing right here in Australia.” 

 

Mr Canavan also noted the World Energy Outlook cautioned that an increasing number of lenders were placing restrictions on coal project funding, which could see some projects struggle and therefore open up opportunities for overseas producers (like Russia) to increase their market share.

 

“All I ask is that our financial institutions do their job - invest in projects in Australia that generate revenue for our nation and create jobs for our people.

 

“I want them to focus on those projects which stack up, and those projects which can provide economic benefits not just to themselves through lending but also to our nation.”

Boosting support for small and family businesses

14 November 2019 

The Morrison Government is making it easier for small and family businesses to find the services they need to grow, prosper and create new jobs, with a revamped and more user-focused business.gov.au website.

 

The updated website is a key recommendation of the Small Business Advisory Group’s report Unlocking the potential of business.gov.au.

 

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the review and subsequent improvements are part of the Government’s commitment to small business.

 

“We know that successful small businesses are essential to a strong and diverse economy, that’s why the Government is making it easier for businesses to get the information they need to get ahead, to expand and to create more jobs,” Minister Andrews said.

 

“Small business owners are often extremely time poor, so the Morrison Government is making sure they have easy access to practical information and the government support they need.

 

“With over 6.5 million users every year, it is important that business.gov.au continues to meet the needs of the business community so they can focus on growing their businesses and creating jobs for Australians.”

 

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash said small businesses make up about 99 per cent of Australian businesses and employ more than six million people.

 

“The Morrison Government is committed to getting the policy settings right to enable small businesses to explore new markets, expand their business and increase productivity,” Minister Cash said.

 

“We are building on our strong track record of supporting Australia’s small businesses to grow and prosper with most of the recommendations outlined in the report already in progress, or planned for future work.”

 

“Australians should never forget Labor’s direct attack on small business at the last election and their plan for higher taxes and their attack on trusts.”

 

The Government convened the Small Business Advisory Group in 2018 to make recommendations on the role of business.gov.au in supporting small and family businesses. The Advisory Group included some of the nation’s leading business people, with real world experience and expert knowledge.

 

The improvements the Advisory Group has recommended will complement the services already available on business.gov.au

 

To read the Advisory Group’s report visit industry.gov.au/SBAG-BGA-Report

 

World Diabetes Day - $6 million Initiative to be read for new school year

14 November 2019 

Today is World Diabetes Day—an important awareness raising initiative that this year focuses on the role family plays in managing, treating and identifying diabetes.

 

To mark the day, the Morrison Government has announced the Type 1 Diabetes Management in Schools program will commence in early 2020, in readiness for the new school year.

 

This $6 million initiative will support students with type 1 diabetes by providing a training and education program for staff at selected schools, to support students with the condition.

 

Staff at selected schools will be trained in glucose monitoring, insulin administration and recognition of hypoglycaemia.

 

In addition, a new online portal will be available to all parents, principals, school staff and health professionals.

 

The online portal will provide access to a range of tools, resources, information and support, to help schools better understand how to support students with type 1 diabetes while at school.

 

The Type 1 Diabetes Management in Schools program will give parents peace of mind that their children are supported in managing their condition while at school.

 

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that attacks a person’s ability to produce insulin.

It is vital that children and young people with the disease are monitored throughout the day.

 

This initiative builds on our investment of more than $300 million over four years for the Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Initiative through the National Diabetes Services Scheme.

 

The Scheme gives people access to affordable products and services to help them self-manage their condition.

 

The Type 1 Diabetes Management in Schools program aligns with the priority action identified in the Australian National Diabetes Strategy Implementation Plan, to promote awareness of Type 1 Diabetes symptoms and management in schools, other educational settings, workplaces and the community more broadly.

 

For more information about World Diabetes Day visit https://worlddiabetesday.org/

New funding round to support drought affected communities

14 November 2019 

The latest $200 million round of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) will be wholly and solely dedicated to helping the communities hardest hit by the crippling drought.

 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack announced this as part of the Federal Government’s latest package of assistance to combat the drought.

 

“Communities across the country are suffering from the effects of this prolonged dry-spell and this extra funding will help get local projects and infrastructure work under way to strengthen regional economies, keep tradies in work and money generating through local stores,” Mr McCormack said.

 

“This kind of support helps ease pressure on drought-affected communities in these difficult times.

 

“We are here for our regional and rural communities doing it tough through drought and we will continue to support them for as long as it takes through dedicated initiatives such as the BBRF.

 

“The BBRF is a core plank of our commitment to supporting stronger regions and supporting local jobs by investing in ‘shovel-ready’ projects across regional Australia.”

 

Minister for Drought David Littleproud said the projects would see new money flow into rural towns and businesses.

 

“The BBRF is about building large infrastructure projects that create new jobs and provide opportunities to build on and diversify these communities economic base,” Minister Littleproud said.

 

“This means more work for local tradies and businesses such as local hardware stores.”

 

Applications open on 14 November 2019 and close on 19 December 2019.

 

Successful applicants are expected to be announced in mid-2020. For further information on eligibility and how to lodge an application, visit www.business.gov.au/bbrf.

 

Trilateral Mine Counter Measure Exercise Begins

14 November 2019 

The Royal Australian Navy has deployed a Maritime Task Group to join the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and United States Navy off the coast of Japan for the trilateral mine counter measure, Exercise Hyuga Nada.

 

Hosted by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, the exercise will run from 14–24 November 2019 and will involve a Royal Australian Navy Command Task Group for the first time.

 

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the exercise demonstrates the shared commitment by Australia, Japan and the United States to increase interoperability and deepen the sophistication of trilateral exercises.

 

“Deploying mine hunters, HMA Ships Gascoyne and Diamantina, to Japan for the second consecutive year builds upon last year’s inaugural Exercise Hyuga Nada,” Minister Reynolds said.

 

“The trilateral relationship complements our strong and effective bilateral defence relationships with the United States and Japan, and maximises joint efforts to support our shared interest in the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.”

 

HMA Ships Gascoyne and Diamantina are deployed as part of the Maritime East Asia Deployment and are scheduled to return to Australia in December this year.

Voice Co-Design Underway

13 November 2019 

The first meeting of the Senior Advisory Group to guide the development of an Indigenous voice was held at Old Parliament House in Canberra today.

 

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, welcomed Co-Chairs Professor Marcia Langton AM and Professor Tom Calma AO and other Group members before reflecting on the historic significance of the meeting.

 

“We have a unique opportunity in front of us to enact meaningful, long-lasting change for not just Indigenous Australians, but for our entire nation. And along the way, everyone will get to have their say,” Minister Wyatt said.

 

“We may not agree all the time, and members of the Senior Advisory Group may not agree with each other, but the advice they will provide to me will be invaluable and appreciated.”

 

“It is important that we remain respectful of each other – we’re here to grasp hold of this opportunity to create lasting positive change for Indigenous Australians.”

 

The Senior Advisory Group has been established to advise Minister Wyatt on the co-design process to develop options and models for an Indigenous voice to government.

 

The Group agreed clear communication is critical so everyone has the opportunity to engage with, and understand the co-design process. The Group also recognises all the work to date, and the need to ensure we learn from current and past models.

 

The Members will now consider the membership of the Local/Regional Advisory Group and the National Advisory Group.

 

“It was clear from the meeting that there is enormous good will from those involved to see this process work, we share a common goal to ensure that the voices of Indigenous Australians are heard and their lives improved,” Minister Wyatt concluded.

 

Towards Zero Forum - Suicide Prevention

13 November 2019 

A landmark forum in Canberra today has moved Australia a step closer to a coordinated, national approach to suicide prevention.

 

The forum brought together people from diverse community organisations, the health and government sectors, and people with lived experience.

 

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, attended the forum, and said everyone provided valuable insights and ideas that will help the Government respond to the issue.

 

“More than 3000 Australians end their lives each year - about eight people a day. Each suicide impacts many Australians. The Morrison Government sees this forum as an important step towards zero suicides in Australia,” Minister Hunt said.

 

“Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy. It creates a ripple effect that flows through families, friendship groups, schools, workplaces and communities.

 

“Towards Zero is a total commitment to the value of each and every life, and recognises the equity of all lives, in all ages, and all groups.

 

“By working together, we can ensure all Australians know they are not alone, that they matter, and that help is available.

 

“Events like today that bring the right people to the table are essential in making this a reality.”

 

National Suicide Prevention Adviser Christine Morgan said the important discussions held today created a better understanding of where connections can be made in the delivery of suicide prevention services.

 

“This has added to what I have heard already from communities, service providers, government agencies and those impacted by suicide about what is needed to turn our collective concern into action,” Ms Morgan said.

 

“I appreciate the willingness of everyone to look at the issue of suicide, and work together to consider what a coordinated approach to suicide prevention might look like.”

 

If you or someone you know needs help please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

 

For more information on the Australian Government’s work on suicide prevention, visit:

 

https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-national-suicide-prevention-adviser

 

News Laws Are A Win For Energy Users

13 November 2019 

The Morrison Government’s new measures designed to deal with misconduct in the electricity sector and ensure Australian households, businesses and industries get a fair deal on energy has passed the Senate.

 

For too long, electricity retailers have in the words of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) “played a major role in poor outcomes for consumers”.

 

To address this, the ‘Big Stick’ legislation contains three new prohibitions designed to target specific misconduct in electricity retail, contract and wholesale markets.

 

The laws will ensure that electricity retailers pass on reductions in wholesale electricity prices to consumers and make it easier for smaller energy businesses and new entrants to compete with gentailers.

 

Where the ACCC identifies prohibited conduct through its ongoing electricity price monitoring inquiry, the new law makes available a graduated set of remedies and responses, including ACCC-issued public warning notices and infringement notices and court-ordered civil penalties.

 

For the most egregious breaches, the legislation makes available two additional significant remedies:

        

  • Treasurer-issued contracting orders that will require electricity companies to offer electricity financial contracts to third parties; and

  • Federal Court ordered divestiture orders relating to misconduct in the wholesale market.

 

 

These significant remedies are reserved as a last resort, where this would be proportionate and targeted to the conduct in question and, in the case of a divestiture order, where the order is considered to have a net public benefit. Importantly, these remedies are only available upon the recommendation of the ACCC, following a legislated process which provides the energy company with an opportunity to respond or remedy its conduct.

 

The new market manipulation laws will commence six months after Royal Assent, which will provide time for the ACCC to develop enforcement guidelines and for businesses to review their practices to ensure they are compliant. The legislation will sunset at 1 January 2026, following the conclusion of the ACCC’s inquiry into the National Electricity Market.

 

The measures in this legislation are part of the Government’s plan to deliver a fairer, more affordable and reliable energy system and a stronger economy for all Australians. This includes:

 

  • Introduction of the Government's Default Market Offer 'price safety net' on 1 July, leading to reductions in both standing offers and high-priced market offers. Saving customers who were on the highest standing offers before 1 July, up to $664 in NSW, $481 in SA and $663 in South East Qld.

  • Reform of gas pipeline regulation led through the COAG Energy Council and extension of the ACCC gas inquiry to 2025.

  • Extension of the Consumer Data Right to energy, to make it easier for consumers to switch energy providers to get a better deal.

  • Progression of the Underwriting New Generation Investments program to improve competition and reduce wholesale prices.

  • Establishing a new $1 billion Grid Reliability Fund, to support Government investment in new energy generation, storage and transmission infrastructure.

 

 

Our plan is already delivering results with an unprecedented three consecutive quarters of price reductions according to the ABS.

 

The Bill will now return to House of Representatives for final passage.

 

View the energy policy blueprint here: https://www.energy.gov.au/energy-policy-blueprint-fair-deal-energy.

 

Delivering vital Farm Household Allowance support to more farmers

13 November 2019 

The Liberals and Nationals in Government are delivering real improvements to the support payment that puts food on the table, petrol in the tank and pay household bills for farming families struggling with the ongoing drought.

 

Agriculture Minister, Bridget McKenzie, said the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) supports farmers in hardship whether it is caused by drought or is needed in the aftermath of the bushfires scorching much of the New South Wales and the Queensland coast.

 

“The successful passage of the Farm Household Support Amendment (Relief Measures) Bill makes this important support available to more farmers and more often,” Minister McKenzie said.

 

“The Farm Household Allowance will now be available four in every 10 years, because regrettably droughts happen all too frequently.

 

“The legislation also allows the responsible Minister to make lump sum payments available if and when needed.

 

“It means that those whose time on the payment expires this financial year can receive up to $13,000 a couple or $7500 a single person.

 

“These payments should be in eligible farmers’ pockets by Christmas.

 

“The off-farm income offset can be applied in more circumstances, such as agistment, and we’ve increased the upper limit so that farming families who have more debt than income can count that income, up to $100,000 against their on-farm business losses.

 

“For some, that means they can access the support payment because their earnings are appropriately counted as paying down debt.

 

“It’s the first tranche of radical simplification to FHA following the independent farmer-led review of the payment.

 

“The allowance provides breathing space to farmers so they can sort out their finances and plan for the future.

 

“For that reason it’s time limited, in line with findings of the independent farmer-led review and the National Farmers’ Federation national drought policy.

 

“What I want is to make sure that those farmers who could benefit from this support do consider it.

 

“It is predicted that over 30,000 farmers could be eligible for FHA after further changes are legislated.

 

“We’ve been working to make the application process easier and shorter and a call to a Rural Financial Counsellor can help people work through that.”

 

New Bioenergy Roadmap to grow emerging energy source

13 November 2019 

The Liberal National Government has announced the development of a new roadmap to enhance the growth of Australia’s bioenergy sector and identify the role bioenergy can play in Australia’s future energy mix.

 

Bioenergy is a renewable energy source created from organic and renewable materials, also known as biomass. Biomass can produce heat, electricity, biogas and liquid fuels.

 

Minister Taylor has requested that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) develops the roadmap, to ensure that bioenergy has the scope to expand as an energy source in Australia.

 

“We want to grow this emerging energy source and the roadmap will help to inform future policy decisions in the bioenergy sector”, said Minister Taylor

 

“Bioenergy currently contributes up to approximately 4 per cent of Australia’s total energy consumption, as opposed to approximately 7 per cent in other OECD countries.

 

“It’s important to support new and emerging energy sources like bioenergy so that we can continue to deliver extra energy supply to the market, drive down energy prices for families and businesses, and lower emissions.”

 

The Bioenergy Roadmap will assist with investment decisions by quantifying opportunities where Australia has a competitive advantage in the bioenergy sector.

 

Leading bioenergy industry stakeholders will be consulted on the development of the roadmap, with broader industry consultations to be held in early 2020. Finalisation of the roadmap is expected by mid-2020.

 

The roadmap will leverage the existing work undertaken in bioenergy supported by ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). The Government has already invested over $179 million in bioenergy projects through ARENA and the CEFC since 2015.

 

The roadmap will consider:

 

              

The potential for biofuels to decarbonise the industrial and transport sectors;

The role biofuels can play in  contributing to Australia’s liquid fuel security;

Opportunities to use biogas in the gas network;

             

  • Bioenergy’s capacity to generate heat, steam and power; and

  • Quantifying the economic opportunities for Australia, including a focus on regional Australia.

 

The Bioenergy Roadmap is part of the Government’s commitment to reduce Australia’s emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

 

The continued development of Australia’s bioenergy sector has the potential to deliver lower energy prices, stimulate regional development, enhance our energy security and help meet our emissions reduction targets.

 

Connecting local researchers to global markets

11 November 2019 

The Morrison Government is backing Australian small businesses and researchers to grow and create local jobs, with $1.6 million to connect them with global markets.

 

20 researchers and 14 small businesses are being supported in Round 4 of the Global Connections Fund (GCF) Bridging Grants.

 

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the Government was committed to backing projects that create job opportunities and help build the Australian economy.

 

“These grants provide a critical pathway for Australian businesses and researchers to not only build capacity and skills, but grow in scale to attract potential investment,” Minister Andrews said.

 

“Through this fund we are supporting Australian businesses and researchers to engage with international partners and undertake product development, market testing and commercialisation activities.”

 

The 34 successful projects cover areas including advanced manufacturing, food and agribusiness, medical technologies and pharmaceuticals. The funding will support projects such as the development of a safer cochlear implant surgery, a laser nose to improve wine quality and health, and machine learning to improve diabetes management.

 

“Past Bridging Grants have helped recipients collaborate with partners from 31 different economies, raising working capital of almost $9.5 million – meaning every government dollar has been leveraged more than twofold.”

 

Previous grants have helped the University of Sydney partner with a US company on a project that uses nanotechnology to improve non-invasive early detection and diagnosis of cancer and other diseases.

 

They’ve also helped fund a device for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease, virtual reality to improve health check-ups, and renewable fertiliser.

 

Bridging Grants provide $25,000 to $50,000 per grant as seed funding and support partnerships between small and medium sized businesses and researchers.

 

For more information visit www.globalconnectionsfund.org.au/bridge-grants/

 

Taking Action Against Illegal Offshore Gambling Websites

11 November 2019 

The Morrison Government is implementing a website blocking scheme to protect Australians from illegal offshore gambling websites.

 

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher, today announced that for the first time the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will use its powers to work in cooperation with Australian internet service providers (ISPs) to block illegal offshore gambling websites which are prohibited services under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

 

This measure is the third and final component of the online gambling reforms introduced by the Government in response to the O’Farrell Review into Illegal Offshore Wagering (the O’Farrell Review).

 

It follows reports that Australians have experienced difficulties in withdrawing winnings and deposits from illegal offshore gambling websites.

 

“Illegal overseas gambling companies are preying on Australians by targeting them with misleading incentives. Consumers have no recourse to retrieve their money,” Minister Fletcher said.

 

“Up to $400 million is spent annually by Australians on illegal gambling websites, accounting for around $100 million in lost tax revenue each year. Too often these offshore operators are defrauding Australians - and their websites typically provide very few – if any – harm minimisation controls,” Minister Fletcher said.

 

“While ACMA has a range of powers to protect Australians from illegal gambling services – including issuing formal warnings and seeking civil penalty orders – it can be difficult to take direct action against faceless companies with no legal presence on our shores.”

 

“This is an important partnership with the Communications Alliance, and I want to acknowledge industry’s support. Working with ACMA, these additional measures give ISPs the ability to block illegal websites, protecting Australians and contributing to a safer online gambling environment.”

 

Under the new measures, ACMA will investigate suspect sites and where ACMA’s other enforcement actions are not feasible, refer those in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 to ISPs to be blocked under section 313(3) of the Telecommunications Act 1997.

 

The Government took action in responding to the O’Farrell Review to help protect Australians through a safe regulated environment by:

              

  • Empowering ACMA to impose civil penalties on offending companies, complementing existing Australian Federal Police criminal penalties.

  • Introducing other disruption measures to curb illegal offshore gambling activity, such as placing offending company directors on the Movement Alert List so any travel to Australia can be disrupted.       

  • Announcing the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering on 30 November 2018, providing strong and nationally consistent protections for interactive wagering customers         

  • Prohibiting lines of credit being offered by wagering companies.

 

 

For more information visit: www.acma.gov.au/online-gambling-services

 

For a list of Australian licensed wagering service providers visit: www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/register-of-licensed-interactive-wagering-services

 

ENDS

 

Media contact:

 

Brad Hatch | 0448 162 679 | Brad.Hatch@communications.gov.au

 

Rebecca Papillo | 0439 892 771 | Rebecca.Papillo@communications.gov.au

 

Additional information:

 

              

  • The Commonwealth announced a review of interactive gambling services in September 2015 conducted by the Hon Barry O’Farrell.

  • The O’Farrell Review was delivered in December 2015 and the Government issued a response in 2016 with a series of proposed online gambling reforms.

  • The Government’s reforms commenced with the first stage in September 2017 with the successful passage of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2017, which gives ACMA expanded responsibilities and new powers to enforce prohibitions against the provision or advertising of illegal interactive gambling services.

  • On 30 November last year, the Government announced the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering, implementing the second stage of the reforms.

  • The third and final stage of the reforms is the implementation of measures to allow Australian ISPs to disrupt access to illegal offshore gambling websites.

 

Strong start to NBN Co 2019-20 financial performance  

11 November 2019 

The Government welcomes NBN Co’s 2019-20 first quarter financial results, which show strong growth across revenue, activations and ready to connect premises.

 

NBN Co achieved increases across all key financial and business metrics, with a total revenue of $876 million, up 41 per cent on the 2018-19 first quarter.

 

“NBN Co continues to deliver strong financial results in line with its performance benchmarks in its 2020-23 Corporate Plan, with total revenue up compared to the first quarter of 2018-19 and business revenue of $149 million also up from $102 million in the same period last year,” Minister Cormann said.

 

“This strong start to the fiscal year has seen nearly 500,000 premises activated in the three months to 30 September, an increase of 38 per cent since the 2018-19 first quarter. This has pushed the total number of connected premises well over the 6 million mark, with more than 10.2 million homes and businesses now able to connect to the network,” Minister Fletcher said.

 

To date, more than 66 per cent of new activations are on plans delivering speeds of 50 Megabits per second (Mbps) or higher.

 

Almost 90 per cent of Australians are now able to connect to NBN high-speed broadband, with the company remaining on track to complete its build phase next year.

 

Following network completion, all Australian households and businesses will have access to broadband speeds of at least 25 Mbps and 90 per cent of fixed line households will be able to receive 50 Mbps services.

 

For more information on the NBN rollout visit: www.nbnco.com.au

 

Application Call for Heavy Vehicle Safety Funding 

11 November 2019 

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is calling for funding applications for programs that improve heavy vehicle safety on Australian roads.

 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Federal Government had provided $5.48 million for safety projects for round five of the NHVR’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI) program.

“This funding is focused towards groups and projects delivering real safety benefits for the heavy vehicle industry and all road users,” Mr McCormack said.

“Projects or programs, education or awareness campaigns, or materials that increase safety awareness and compliance that are in need of funding and support should consider applying.

“Road safety is everyone’s responsibility, which is why we’re asking groups to harness their collective knowledge to develop implementable, value-for-money projects.”

The HVSI program has delivered $17.3 million for 62 grants over the past four years.

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said this round’s record funding of $5.48 million showed the Federal Government was serious about heavy vehicle safety.

 

“We’ve seen some great programs across the country benefit from the HVSI funding over the past four years,” Mr Buchholz said.

 

“I recently saw the benefits of a trial for a livestock unloading system at Kilcoy in Queensland.

 

“Elsewhere, projects such as a virtual reality program for learner drivers developed in Bendigo and information for caravan and RV drivers on how to share the road and rest areas with truck drivers are examples of great safety outcomes.

 

“The most recent round of funding will support heavy vehicle driver physical and mental health and wellbeing, and will provide pathways for operators and drivers to increase their awareness and ability to take proactive steps to address this increasingly important issue.”

 

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the HVSI program received 42 applications for funding last year and he looked forward to even more in the next round.

“This continues to be a great opportunity for the NHVR to work with safety-focused groups towards delivering a tangible safety outcome,” Mr Petroccitto said.

“I’m always encouraged by the diversity of stakeholder groups that put forward their ideas and their willingness to create solutions to make our roads safer.”

Applications for round five funding are open until 21 February 2020.

Projects must be implementable, commence in the 2020-21 financial year and be completed by 30 June 2023.

For more information or to view the Submission Guidelines visit www.nhvr.gov.au/hvsi

 

Defence Support to Firefighting Effort

11 November 2019 

I have written to the Chief of the Defence Force regarding the support that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is providing to the bushfire fighting efforts.

 

The forecast for tomorrow is deeply worrying. Areas across the country are expected to be at catastrophic fire danger levels and all Commonwealth agencies stand ready to assist state authorities and the community.

 

Accordingly, I have asked Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell to give an order to local base commanders, making clear that they have the authority to use Defence resources to respond to any local contingencies under Defence Assistance to the Civil Community Category 1 (DACC 1).

 

Senior ADF officers and other commanders are empowered to provide emergency assistance in local emergency situations to save human life, prevent extensive loss of animal life, or widespread damage to property.

 

While our ADF personnel are not trained firefighters, they can provide other support for the nation’s front line first responders.

 

In the last few days, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircrafts transported firefighter strike teams from Canberra, Adelaide and Hobart to Port Macquarie:

 

              

  • A RAAF 737 Boeing Business Jet transported ACT Rural Fire Service firefighters from Canberra to Port Macquarie on 8 November 2019

  • A RAAF C-130J aircraft transported firefighters and their equipment from Adelaide to Port Macquarie on 9 November 2019.

  • A RAAF C-130J aircraft transported firefighters and their equipment from Hobart to Port Macquarie on 10 November 2019

 

 

In addition, Singleton Army Barracks in New South Wales is on standby to provide accommodation and catering support to firefighters from the Victorian Country Fire Authority.

 

Queensland Fire and Emergency Service are using Kokoda Barracks in Canungra to refuel aircraft assisting with the bushfire fighting efforts.

 

Defence has enhanced its planning and liaison support to emergency services including embedding planners into Queensland State Disaster Coordination Centres and New South Wales Rural Fire Service headquarters.

 

I pay tribute to the emergency services personnel fighting these fires across the country and I want to acknowledge the excellent support the Australian Defence Force has been providing to the bushfire fighting effort.

 

Further questions on the bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland should be directed to New South Wales Rural Fire Service and Queensland Fire and Emergency Service.

 

Fair Price Not a Floor Price

11 November 2019 

The Liberal and Nationals Government stands with our dairy farmers as we work to ensure they are paid a fair farm-gate price for their milk so that future generations can enjoy safe, nutritious and delicious Australian dairy.

 

Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, said the drought and high input costs were making things especially hard for dairy farmers across Australia as feed and water costs rose and labour and electricity put even more pressure on balance sheets.

 

“Reregulating the industry would harm, not help our dairy farmers,” Minister McKenzie said.

 

“It’s not something the industry has asked for, in fact the vast majority of dairy farmers I’ve spoken with have pleaded with us to stop it.

 

“The private member’s bill that was defeated today held out false hope to those doing it tough as though one measure could ever be the silver bullet to the complex, unique and diverse issues of this important industry.

 

“Setting a minimum farm-gate milk price would do nothing to fix the current power imbalance between dairy farmers and processors and would do nothing to drive down input costs.

 

“What it risks is reducing the incomes of dairy farmers in the long-term by decreasing demand for milk and suppressing incentives to innovate and improve productivity.”

 

This government is progressing a range of measures to help the dairy industry including:

 

  • A mandatory Code of Conduct to improve contractual arrangements between dairy farmers and their processors

  • $10 million in grants to assist dairy farmers to upgrade or invest in energy efficient equipment to reduce their energy costs

  • $8.1 million in additional funding to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Agriculture Unit; including establishing a dairy specialist

  • $3 million in grants to support farmer groups to set up farm cooperatives and other collective business models, and

  • $1.5 million to provide dairy farmers with contracting and legal advice including $560,000 to design, develop and test new milk pricing and trading concepts.

 

“Our 5700 dairy farming families deserve meaningful support and thoughtful policy.”

 

Labor Fail on Border Protection, Again

11 November 2019 

Once again, Labor and the Greens have teamed up to vote against a key border security policy.

 

Labor Senators unsuccessfully supported a Greens-led motion to disallow the fast track processing of up to 4000 illegal maritime arrivals who arrived under Labor’s failed open-border policies.

 

The Coalition established the fast track process in 2015 to deal with the 30,500 illegal maritime arrivals that Labor didn’t process while it was in Government.

 

Under the process, individuals found not to engage Australia’s protection obligations are automatically referred to the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA) for merits review.

 

Those not considered fast track applications instead have to take their case to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which further delays the resolution of their cases.

 

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said Labor had learnt nothing.

 

“When Labor lost control of our borders, 50,000 people arrived on 800 boats, 8,000 kids were put into detention and 1,200 people tragically drowned at sea – now they have tried unsuccessfully to further delay the processing of 4,000 people who came here illegally on their watch,” Mr Coleman said.

 

“Since 2007, Labor’s failed border policies have cost Australian taxpayers more than $17 billion.”

 

“The fast track process was put in place by this Government to clean up Labor’s mess.

 

Thankfully, Labor’s latest bid to partner with the Greens to weaken our border protection policies has failed.

 

 Navy's Largest Warships Achieve New Milestone

7 November 2019 

The Royal Australian Navy now has one of the most capable and sophisticated amphibious deployment systems in the world, with the Fleet’s Landing Helicopter Docks achieving final operational capability.

 

At 230-metres long and with a speed of more than 20 knots, the 27,500 tonne ships are home-ported at Garden Island, Sydney.

 

Each ship has the ability to support six helicopters, and four small landing craft which are able to carry Army’s M1A1 main battle tank.

 

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said HMA Ships Adelaide and Canberra are ready to be deployed on amphibious operations such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and amphibious warfare.

 

“The Australian Defence Force’s amphibious capability is an integral part of Australia’s strategic posture and this milestone is another step in Navy’s roadmap to delivering amphibious excellence,” Minister Reynolds said.

 

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan AO, RAN, said Navy is closer to achieving a resilient, sustained and integrated Navy supported by our workforce, as outlined in the Plan Pelorus strategy for 2022.

 

“As we transition to a more technologically advanced Navy, our goal is to be capable of conducting sustained combat operations as part of a Joint Force,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

 

More information on Plan Pelorus: www.navy.gov.au/stategy/plan-pelorus-2022

 

Earth and marine observing technologies worth $2 trillion by 2030 - Nov 7

7 November 2019 

Earth and marine observation could be worth $2 trillion to Australia and the rest of the Asia-Pacific by 2030, according to a ground-breaking new report from the Federal Government released today.

 

The report shows Earth and marine observing is currently worth $29 billion to Australia and $543 billion to APEC economies. The value to Australia is forecast to increase to $96 billion by 2030, or $101 billion if Australia makes the most of opportunities to collaborate with other APEC economies.

 

Earth and marine observing is the collection, analysis and interpretation of information on the Earth’s natural systems and has broad applications in disaster management, mining and agriculture.

 

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews launched the report at the 2019 Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Week in Canberra.

 

“Digital technologies using Earth observation data are changing the way we live and work and offer opportunities to deliver enormous economic growth and job creation across a variety of industries,” Minister Andrews said.

 

“This data can be used to improve transport logistics, increase agricultural productivity and predict weather changes to improve natural disaster response.

 

“This report further emphasises how embracing digital technologies will help to grow our economy, create local jobs and benefit everyday Australians.”

 

The report also found there was an extra $183 billion in value to be realised by 2030 if the APEC regions works together.

 

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan is hosting the international GEO Week Ministerial Summit, welcoming representatives from more than 40 countries.

 

Minister Canavan said earth and marine observation plays a critical role in the mining industry, where collaboration in new technologies is critical to unlocking new growth.

 

“In mining exploration, this technology can generate topographic maps or detect oil seeps from deep water petroleum reserves,” Minister Canavan said.

 

“Our resources sector is amongst the best in the world and a leader in adopting new technology to boost exploration and productivity.

 

“This technology has huge potential for Northern Australia, helping us to unlock and harness previously untapped resources in remote parts of the country.

 

“The report estimates that the current economic value of Earth and marine observation to our mining industry is $4 billion. We want to grow that even further so we can keep creating jobs and wealth for Australians on the back of advancing technology.”

 

The Government has also invested $36.9 million dollars in Digital Earth Australia, which uses satellite technology to produce useful information in areas such as soil and coastal erosion, land-use, resource management and the availability of water. This investment is part of the Government’s broader plan to use Earth observation and mapping technology to create new opportunities and grow the economy.

 

The full report Current and future economic value of Earth and marine observing to the Asia-Pacific region report can be accessed from industry.gov.au/APECEMOreport

 

 Government to pay e-Invoices within five days

 

7 November 2019 

From 1 January 2020, Commonwealth Government agencies will start paying e-Invoices within five days or pay interest on any late payments.

 

The five day e-Invoicing payment policy will apply to contracts valued up to $1 million, where a supplier and a Commonwealth agency both use the internationally established framework for delivering and receiving invoices in an electronic form.

 

e-Invoicing will improve business cash flow through faster payment times and deliver significant benefits and efficiencies to suppliers and the Government by reducing transaction costs and handling errors.

 

Last month the Government passed legislation through the Parliament to enable Australia to implement the internationally-recognised framework for e-Invoicing. Having a standardised framework enables buyers and suppliers to transact using e-Invoices even if they have different software.

 

We are now prioritising e-Invoicing adoption across the Commonwealth. The Department of Finance and Services Australia will be the first Commonwealth agencies to accept e-Invoices from 1 January 2020, with other agencies implementing the capability over the course of the year.

 

We encourage State Governments and the business community to follow our lead using the new framework for e-Invoicing.

 

A maximum 20 day payment term will continue to apply in instances where e‑Invoicing is not used.

 

More information on the new five day payment terms for e‑Invoicing is on the Department of Finance’s website.

 

For more information on the international e-Invoicing framework visit the Australian Taxation Office’s website.

Businesses ready to test AI ethics principles

7 November 2019 

Some of the biggest businesses in Australia will trial a series of eight principles around artificial intelligence, developed as part of the Morrison Government’s AI Ethics Framework.

 

NAB, Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, Microsoft and Flamingo AI have signed up to test the principles to ensure they deliver practical benefits and translate into real world solutions.

 

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said AI is a powerful technology that can create jobs, boost the economy and improve our quality of life and is an important part of the Government’s economic plan.

 

“The Morrison Government is determined to create an environment where AI helps the economy and everyday Australians to thrive. The eight AI ethics principles are just one part of this vision,” Minister Andrews said.

 

“We need to make sure we’re working with the business community as AI becomes more prevalent and these principles encourage organisations to strive for the best outcomes for Australia and to practice the highest standards of ethical business.

 

“This is essential, as we build Australians’ trust that AI systems are safe, secure, reliable and will have a positive effect on their lives.”

 

The eight ethics principles are:

 

              

  • Human, social and environmental wellbeing

  • Human-centred values

  • Fairness

  • Privacy protection and security

  • Reliability and safety

  • Transparency and explainability

  • Contestability

  • Accountability

 

 

“Agreeing on these principles with business, academia and the community is a big step forward in setting our shared expectations of each other in Australia’s AI future,” Minister Andrews said.

 

“The Government will continue to work with experts to explore the role of AI in Australia’s future and build tools to support AI development and adoption.”

 

The ethics framework is the outcome of extensive consultations across the country and a discussion paper released earlier in the year.

 

NAB Chief Data Officer Glenda Crisp said the bank is excited to be participating in the trial of AI ethics principles.

 

“We hope to make a meaningful contribution to the discussion, to learn more about how we can leverage AI in an ethical way in order to help deliver new and improved experiences for our customers.

 

“Collaborating with Government and across industry drives diversity of thinking which is vital in developing new ways of working and implementing new technologies safely.”

 

Telstra Chief Data Officer Noel Jarrett said Telstra is “proud to be a part of the AI ethics trial and we look forward to learning from other companies who are also involved."

 

"There’s no doubt that AI can improve the experiences of our customers and our employees by making things simpler and easier. We want to make sure that we’re using this technology in the right way from the start, and testing these principles will help guide us as we consider how to best use AI.”

 

The principles are voluntary and complement existing AI obligations and regulations.

 

To see how we are building AI capability in Australia through the ethics framework and other tools, visit www.industry.gov.au/ai-capability

 

Improving information sharing to protect vulnerable children

7 November 2019 

Australia’s most at risk children will be better protected by a world-first information sharing platform from next year which is designed to improve collaboration between state and territory child protection agencies.

 

Assistant Minister for Children and Families Michelle Landry today announced NSW-based company Itree has been awarded a $5.9 million, five-year contract to deliver the project.

 

“This innovative project is about doing everything that we can to stop vulnerable kids falling through the cracks,” Minister Landry said.

 

“The new platform would ensure that Australia’s child protection caseworkers have access to a more extensive and accurate insight into a child’s history.

 

“It’s an encouraging development because it will improve the way that government agencies share information across different borders, to prevent at risk families who move interstate from evading the gaze of those who have a duty to protect them.

 

“The aim of this streamlined national platform is to make sure that caseworkers across our nation have all the information that they require at their fingertips, which will allow them to respond to child protection incidents without delay.”

 

Each year about 330,000 people move interstate in Australia. Vulnerable children are often at heightened risk of harm if their background in a previous jurisdiction is not known, or not easily accessible, to child protection authorities in their new location.

 

Itree’s platform will enable state-based agencies to exchange relevant information for purposes related to preventing, identifying and responding to situations where children are at risk of harm.

 

NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said the platform would improve how child protection services are delivered across the country.

 

“Children deserve to grow up in a safe, stable and loving home, and I know that all Governments share a common goal to help ensure that and to prioritise child protection,” Minister Ward said.

 

“There is a need for better information sharing at a national level and this landmark platform will enable States and Territories to improve communication in the best interests of vulnerable children and families.”

 

Itree CEO Ben Hobby praised the joint effort across the Commonwealth, states and territories to provide solutions to interagency data sharing.

 

“The solution is truly a world-first development, in using a technology platform to search diverse data and information storage systems across state and territory governments,” Mr Hobby said.

 

“It has been a pleasure to witness the dedication of so many diligent individuals, whilst developing the transformative technology that will deliver very real outcomes for the safety of our children.”

 

The Morrison Government has provided $3.9 million to the project with states and territories to provide supplementary funding to fulfil the final years of the contract.

 

State and territory child protection agencies will implement the system on the ground. The platform is expected to be up and running by mid-2020.

 

The project aligns with the Third Action Plan of The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children, and goes toward addressing recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

 

$90 Million Boost for Indigenous Health

6 November 2019 

The Morrison Government is investing an additional $90 million over three years in the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP), to further support the delivery of culturally appropriate, comprehensive primary health care.

 

A new way of funding primary health care has also been introduced for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS), benefiting the Indigenous health sector and supporting improved health outcomes for patients.

 

As at 1 July next year, the Morrison Government will introduce major enhancements to the way it distributes funding to ACCHS for primary health care under the Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme (IAHP).

 

The Government has partnered with key stakeholders including the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Australian Medical Association to develop a revised funding model.

 

Minister for Health Greg Hunt welcomed the partnership and said the implementation of the funding model will deliver real benefits on several fronts.

 

“Streamlined processes and three-year funding agreements will provide certainty around health workforce continuity and planning, and reduce the administrative burden on the sector,” Minister Hunt said.

 

“Importantly, no service will lose funding under the new funding model. Funding levels will be maintained in real terms.”

 

In addition, all services will receive annual wage indexation increases. Funding will be distributed more fairly and transparently, and will be based on activity levels, the cost of delivering services, and the relative health needs of locations.

 

“Finalising the model is a significant achievement that has been made possible as a result of our ongoing collaboration and shared commitment to Closing the Gap,” Minister Hunt said.

 

“There has been good progress across a range of health and social outcomes. For example, at the end of last year, 97 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged five years were fully immunised.

 

“I pay tribute to NACCHO and the ACCHS state and territory sector support organisations.

 

“They are an important component of the Morrison Government’s investment in Closing the Gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Minister Hunt said.

 

NACCHO Acting Chair Donnella Mills welcomed the announcement, saying it provided greater certainty over the next three years.

 

“The new funding arrangement will allow our community controlled health services to have certainty on their funding for the next three years,” Mills said.

 

“In particular we are pleased that an additional $90 million over three years will be provided to the sector and will support services. Of course more funding is still needed and we will continue to work with government in this regard.”

 

The Morrison Government is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of all Australians.

 

The Government has a long-standing and important commitment to achieving health equity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

 

The Morrison Government’s strong economic management ensures the continued record investment of funding into vital health initiatives including mental health, life-saving medicines, Medicare and hospitals.

 

More Opportunities For Students Through the Defence Industry Internship Program

6 November 2019 

Australian engineering students will now have more opportunities to experience working in defence industry in what is also a win for small businesses in the sector.

 

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Melissa Price MP today announced the Morrison Government had increased funding to the Defence Industry Internship Program, which would now provide 70 internships nationwide.

 

“The Program links engineering students with defence industry by facilitating 12 week internships with defence industry small businesses,” Minister Price said.

“It provides the next generation of Aussie engineers with hands-on experience in defence industry, and will help to attract the workers we need to deliver the Morrison Government’s $200 billion build-up of defence capability.

 

“As a key initiative of the Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy, the Morrison Government is investing $1.9 million in the Defence Industry Internship Program in 2019-20.”

 

Other measures in the Strategy include a $4 million grants program to support skills training in defence industry, $2.6 million for the continuation of the Schools Pathways Program, and the establishment of the Defence Industry Skills Office.

More information on the Defence Industry Internship Program can be found at www.diip.com.au.

 

Skilling Summit To Focus On Defence Industry Jobs

5 November 2019 

More than 100 defence skills industry leaders will gather in Perth this week to work on a plan to  ensure Australia has the skilled workforce it needs to deliver the Morrison Government’s job-creating defence industry agenda.

 

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Melissa Price MP, opened the National Defence Industry Skilling and Workforce Summit today – fulfilling the Morrison Government’s commitment to consult widely with industry and across government on workforce needs.

 

“The two-day summit will drive the unified national effort required to build a skilled defence industry workforce, which is critical to delivering our $200 billion investment in enhanced defence capability,” Minister Price said.

“The supply of skilled defence industry workers is critical, requiring all stakeholders across industry and government to work together.”

 

Groups attending will include Australian industry, all levels of government, education providers and industry associations and networks.

 

As a key initiative of the 2019 Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy, the summit will facilitate the coordination necessary to build a greater understanding of future defence industry workforce needs.

 

“This summit is the start of an important conversation, bringing the skills-needs of our sector into the limelight,” Minister Price said.

 

The inaugural National Defence Industry Skilling and Workforce Summit is being held on 6-7 November 2019, at Optus Stadium in Perth.

 

Regional Australia to Benefit from Visa Expansion

5 November 2019 

In yet another win for regional Australia, the Liberal National Federal Government will increase the number of annual places available under the Work and Holiday visa program from 500 to 2,000.

 

Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, Mark Coulton has welcomed an announcement to expand Work and Holiday visa arrangements for young Thai nationals, saying it will help satisfy serious workforce demand in regional areas.

 

“By expanding this successful programme to more young people we are helping regional areas access the workforce they need to produce and grow their economies,” Minister Coulton said.

 

“This is another example of the Coalition Government delivering improved economic opportunities to regional Australia and ties in with our focus on decentralising government and the economy.

 

“By prioritising benefits for regional areas, we are ensuring a stronger, more resilient economic future – with more jobs – both for these regions and for the nation as a whole.

 

“This Liberal and National Government knows that when our regional economies are strong, the nation is strong.”

 

Minister Coulton said Thai nationals who undertake three months of specified work in a regional area are eligible to apply for a second Work and Holiday visa.

 

From January, second year visa holders can also apply for a third year WHM visa if they carry out an additional six months specified work in regional areas during their second year.

 

“Increasing these numbers, and offering the third year stay option means regional areas will be able to find more workers for a range of industries and boost tourism in regional Australia,” he said.

 

“Businesses throughout regional Australia struggle to fill the positions they have vacant and by expanding this programme, we are helping alleviate labour strains so regional communities can get on with what they do best - producing the wealth our nation thrives on.”

 

Australia currently has Work and Holiday arrangements in place with 44 countries.

 

The start date of the new cap will be published on the Department’s website once agreed.

 

More information on the Work and Holiday visa program is available at www.homeaffairs.gov.au

 

Global Talent Program Open for Business

5 November 2019 

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman today launched the Global Talent - Independent Program, a major new initiative in Australia’s immigration strategy.

 

Under the new program, highly skilled migrants in selected industries will receive a fast-tracked process to permanent residency in Australia.

 

Applicants will have a dedicated Home Affairs contact to guide them through the process, and applications will receive the highest priority processing.

 

Applicants will be eligible for permanent residency if they are likely to earn more than $149,000 per year in Australia, and they are highly skilled in one of seven key industry sectors. The usual character, security and integrity checks will apply to all applicants.

 

The seven industry sectors are AgTech, FinTech, MedTech, Cyber Security, Energy and Mining, Space and Advanced Manufacturing, and Quantum Information/Advanced Digital/ Data Science and ICT.

 

Global Talent Officers from the Department of Home Affairs have already been deployed in Berlin, Washington DC, Singapore, Shanghai, Santiago, and Dubai, and will have regional coverage. An officer has also started in New Delhi today, to further the reach of the program.

 

“With this program, we are targeting the world’s most highly skilled migrants”, Mr Coleman said.

 

“We want to position Australia at the forefront of major growth trends in the world economy. By enabling local businesses to access the world’s best talent, we will help to grow high growth industries in Australia.”

 

“Over time, the Global Talent program has the potential to have a transformative impact on the Australian economy.”

 

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the Global Talent – Independent program will drive growth in the Australian technology industry and will also see local jobs created.

 

“These high-growth sectors exist in truly global markets. For our domestic tech industry to grow, businesses need to be able to hire skilled Australian workers as well as access the capabilities of specialists from across the world,” Minister Andrews said.

 

“We can create high-paying local jobs by making Australia a global technology hub and the Global Talent program is a signal to tech companies that we’re open for business.”

 

Up to 5,000 places will be offered in the Global Talent - Independent program in 2019/20.

 

More information about the program is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.

 

Work and Holiday Visa program Expanded for Thailand

5 November 2019 

In another boost for regional businesses and Australian tourism, more young people from Thailand will be able to travel, work and study in Australia thanks to an expansion of Work and Holiday visa arrangements.

 

Australia and Thailand have agreed to increase the number of annual places available under the Work and Holiday visa program from 500 to 2,000.

 

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said the increase will build on recent improvements to the program that have seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of working holiday makers working in regional areas.

 

“By making this successful program available to more young people we are giving regional Australia access to more workers to fill critical labour shortages,” Mr Coleman said.

 

Thai nationals who undertake three months of specified work in a regional area are eligible to apply for a second Work and Holiday visa.

 

From January, second year visa holders can also apply for a third year WHM visa if they carry out an additional six months specified work in regional areas during their second year.

 

“This expansion, combined with the third year visa option that starts in January, will see more workers available to pick crops, support farmers and boost tourism in regional Australia,” Mr Coleman said.

 

“The increase will also strengthen people-to-people links between Australia and Thailand and provide more opportunities for cultural exchange between our two countries.”

 

Federal Minister for Tourism Simon Birmingham said working holiday makers inject around $3 billion into the economy each year, most of which is spent in regional areas.

 

“Australia welcomes over 90,000 Thai tourists each year and this is an opportunity to continue to capitalise on this emerging tourism market,” Mr Birmingham said.

 

“Work and holiday makers generally stay longer, spend more money in Australia and travel further into regional areas than most other international visitors, supporting Australian jobs in tourism and hospitality.

 

"This expansion of the WHM program will offer more young people from Thailand the opportunity to work and travel in Australia, while also supporting our key industries and regional communities.”

 

Work and Holiday visa arrangements with Thailand began in 2005 and there has been strong interest from young Thai nationals in program over many years.

 

The Work and Holiday visa requires first-time Thai applicants to hold or be studying towards tertiary qualifications and to speak a functional level of English.

 

Australia currently has Work and Holiday arrangements in place with 44 countries.

 

The commencement date of the new cap will be published on the Department’s website once agreed.

 

More information on the Work and Holiday visa program is available at www.homeaffairs.gov.au

 

Australia Welcomes Agreement to Finalise Regional Trade Deal

5 November 2019 

Australia has welcomed agreement to quickly finalise a landmark deal for trade in our region that will boost export opportunities for Australian businesses and create more local jobs.

 

Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would further integrate Australian businesses into the world’s fastest growing region.

 

“Substantial progress has been made with 15 of the 16 RCEP countries committing to finalise minor outstanding matters within months and proceeding to signing this deal next year,” Minister Birmingham said.

 

“These countries account for nine of Australia’s top 15 trading partners, 58 per cent of our trade and 66 per cent of our exports.

 

“Australia will also look to expand the value of RCEP by working with India on its outstanding issues, with a view to having it also sign the deal, while continuing to actively pursue implementation of our India Economic Strategy.

 

“As RCEP economies develop and their middle classes grow, this deal will open up new doors for Australian businesses and investors across our region.

 

“With one in five Australian jobs trade related, the more trade opportunities our businesses have, the more local jobs we can continue to create.”

 

When finalised, Australian businesses and investors are likely to benefit from significant additional opportunities under RCEP that we expect will include:

              

  • New scope for trade in services throughout the region including across telecommunications, professional and financial services.

  • Improved mechanisms for tackling non-tariff barriers including in areas such as customs procedures, quarantine and technical standards.

  • Greater investment certainty for businesses.

  • Rules on e-commerce to make it easier for businesses to trade online.

  • A common set of rules on intellectual property.

  • Agreed rules of origin that will increase the competitiveness of Australian inputs into regional production chains.

  • Access deals with all RCEP parties which build on our existing free trade agreements, as well as the prospect of an agreement on market access with India.

 

Visit to China to Back Australian Exporters

5 November 2019 

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham will visit Shanghai to lead Australia’s delegation at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) as well as participate in ministerial-level discussions on World Trade Organization (WTO) related matters.

 

CIIE is a key event for China to promote its trade and economic links with the international community. It is the world’s largest import-themed trade expo and provides a key opportunity for Australian companies to showcase our premium products and services to prospective buyers from across China.

 

Minister Birmingham said more than 200 Australian companies would attend this year’s CIIE, spanning across a range of sectors from food and agriculture to medicines and healthcare.

 

“Australia’s strong representation at CIIE is recognition of the close trade and investment relationship our businesses share with China, underpinned by the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

 

“We strongly support and value China's continued economic success which has lifted millions out of poverty and provided widespread benefits to our region.

 

“China’s growth has transformed our region, with Australia’s two-way trade with China surging to $213 billion in 2018-19 with goods exports increasing 26 per cent to $135 billion.

 

“Our strong representation at this year’s CIIE reaffirms the importance of this mutually beneficial relationship which has opened new doors for Australian businesses and created thousands of extra Australian jobs.”

 

Minister Birmingham will also participate in ministerial discussions chaired by China which will focus on the next steps for WTO reform.

 

“Australia continues to advocate for an open and rules-based multilateral trading system. With the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference now only 7 months away, it’s important we continue to intensify efforts to progress WTO negotiations and reform initiatives,” Minister Birmingham said.

 

“Australia welcomes China’s leadership in chairing these important discussions and is grateful for the opportunity to cooperate on our support for the WTO and discuss means to improve its operations.

 

"It is especially crucial that we intensify efforts to finalise work to address unsustainable fisheries subsidies as well as the need to drive forward negotiations on agriculture, e-commerce and services domestic regulation.”

 

While in Shanghai, Minister Birmingham will also open Australia House, an initiative by AustCham Shanghai to create a working and networking hub for the Australian business community.

 

Expansion of Personal Use for Truck Drivers

5 November 2019 

The Federal Government has announced the extension of an initiative that will make it easier and more flexible for truck drivers to use their vehicles outside of work hours.

 

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said the Government had worked with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) to extend the Personal Use Exemption for drivers operating under Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) and Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM).

 

“There are currently more than 2300 operators utilising the benefits of AFM and BFM,” Mr Buchholz said.

 

“This change will mean drivers operating under BFM and AFM will have an additional hour to use their fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle for personal use, which can be utilised during the 24 hour rest break.

 

“That means that drivers can do things like pop to the shops to restock personal supplies, make it to their sleeping accommodation, fuel up, wash their vehicles or run personal errands without worrying about going over their regulated driving hours.

 

“It’s a practical change to make life easier for the people that keep Australia moving,” Mr Buchholz said.

 

Personal Use Exemption for drivers on Standard hours was allowed in 2018 and following industry feedback the NHVR has added the extension to drivers who are eligible for BFM and AFM.

 

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the change was part of a five-week Focus on Fatigue campaign that would include education and compliance operations across Australia in the lead-up to Christmas.

 

“With the busy holiday period just around the corner it’s timely to remind everyone about the risks of driving fatigued,” Mr Petroccitto said.

 

“We also want to enable flexibility for operators with good safety records through initiatives like AFM and BFM.

 

“Our most recent Operation Wake Up in April this year intercepted 3506 vehicles for fatigue checks and found that drivers under BFM and AFM were well above the average compliance rate of 93.3 per cent.”

 

The exemption will apply from today. For more information on changes visit www.nhvr.gov.au/fatigue

 

Expansion of Personal Use for Truck Drivers

5 November 2019 

The Federal Government has announced the extension of an initiative that will make it easier and more flexible for truck drivers to use their vehicles outside of work hours.

 

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said the Government had worked with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) to extend the Personal Use Exemption for drivers operating under Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) and Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM).

 

“There are currently more than 2300 operators utilising the benefits of AFM and BFM,” Mr Buchholz said.

 

“This change will mean drivers operating under BFM and AFM will have an additional hour to use their fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle for personal use, which can be utilised during the 24 hour rest break.

 

“That means that drivers can do things like pop to the shops to restock personal supplies, make it to their sleeping accommodation, fuel up, wash their vehicles or run personal errands without worrying about going over their regulated driving hours.

 

“It’s a practical change to make life easier for the people that keep Australia moving,” Mr Buchholz said.

 

Personal Use Exemption for drivers on Standard hours was allowed in 2018 and following industry feedback the NHVR has added the extension to drivers who are eligible for BFM and AFM.

 

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the change was part of a five-week Focus on Fatigue campaign that would include education and compliance operations across Australia in the lead-up to Christmas.

 

“With the busy holiday period just around the corner it’s timely to remind everyone about the risks of driving fatigued,” Mr Petroccitto said.

 

“We also want to enable flexibility for operators with good safety records through initiatives like AFM and BFM.

 

“Our most recent Operation Wake Up in April this year intercepted 3506 vehicles for fatigue checks and found that drivers under BFM and AFM were well above the average compliance rate of 93.3 per cent.”

 

The exemption will apply from today. For more information on changes visit www.nhvr.gov.au/fatigue

 

New National Recycling Scheme for Batteries and Plastic Pens

5 November 2019 

The Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans MP, today launched a new national battery and pen recycling program at Officeworks.

 

“I am delighted to today launch the national roll-out of a new battery and pen recycling scheme at Officeworks, in the lead up to National Recycling Week,” said Mr Evans while at the Osborne Park store in Perth, Western Australia.

 

“Australians can now recycle their batteries, pens and markers at Officeworks, in addition to e-waste, computers and accessories, ink and toner cartridges and mobile phones. It is another step forward in Australia transitioning towards a more circular economy, in which we recognise the value of our waste resources and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

 

“Every Australian — all levels of government, industry, communities and individuals— has a part to play in the waste and recycling revolution underway, and recycling old batteries and plastic pens and markers is one very practical and easy thing we can all do.

 

“I am delighted that Officeworks is playing its part to improve our environment, and assisting customers to dispose responsibly of unwanted technology items for free in their stores at dedicated recycling collection points,” said Mr Evans. “The existing recycling program at Officeworks has already collected more than 10 million ink and toner cartridges and 4,800 tonnes of e-waste.

 

“The Australian Government is committed to Australia becoming a world-leader in recycling and waste reduction, which provides practical benefits to both our environment and our economy”.

 

Currently only 3 percent of batteries are recycled in Australia, providing a significant opportunity to increase recycling rates for this waste stream.

 

Officeworks is planning to have battery recycling available in all its stores, and pen recycling in most stores, by the end of 2020. Officeworks will recycle batteries in partnership with Envirostream, and pens and markers in partnership with BIC.

 

Loop Initiative A Model For Recycling  

1 November 2019 

The Morrison Government has welcomed a new partnership between Woolworths and recycling company TerraCycle, as we look to grow the waste recycling industry in Australia.

 

Launching the national Loop partnership in Sydney today, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said it was a great example for other Australian businesses.

  

“Just as we used to recycle milk bottles, the Loop initiative delivers household items such as ice cream, razor blades and dishwashing tablets to the consumer in recyclable containers,” Minister Andrews said. “These containers are picked up when used, thoroughly cleaned and reused.”

 

“I visited TerraCycle’s headquarters in New Jersey during my recent visit to the United States and was very impressed with how it works on recycling solutions and saw the potential to bring that to Australia.

  

“By working together and with international partners like TerraCycle we can create a thriving industry, produce some outstanding products and provide jobs for Australians.

  

“It’s also why the Prime Minister and I recently committed up to $20 million in Cooperative Research Centre-Projects grants for innovative ideas to grow our domestic recycling industry.”

 

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley is leading implementation of the Morrison Government’s strategy to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres and to see Australia reduce waste and increase its recycling capacity.

  

“For every 10,000 tonnes of waste that is recycled in Australia, just over nine jobs are created, which highlights the great potential from an onshore plastic recycling industry,” Minister Ley said 

 

“Australians want to recycle and they want to know their efforts are adding value. 

 

“At this stage, there’s still a lot of work to be done. But this is a great challenge and a great opportunity to lay the groundwork for a circular economy. 

 

“Waste and recycling are key priorities for the Morrison Government, in particular the reduction of plastic waste. All levels of government have to work together and we need the assistance of private enterprise and the general public.”

 

Finalists of the 57th Australian Export Awards revealed

1 November 2019 

94 of Australia’s leading exporters will this year fight it out for the top honours at the 2019 Australian Export Awards.

 

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham today announced the finalists for the prestigious awards that shine a spotlight on the enormous contribution exporters make to the economy.

 

“94 finalists employing 34,000 Australians and generating more than $7.8 billion in export earnings have been selected for their exceptional entrepreneurship and innovation,” Minister Birmingham said.

 

“Businesses exporting contemporary circus performances, lightning conducting and earthing systems, revolutionary horse shoes, Yellowtail Kingfish and hydraulic and lifting solutions are among this year’s finalists, demonstrating that our exporters span across all sectors of our economy.

 

“Through their creativity and determination these businesses are now exporting their high-quality goods and services all around the world.

 

“I hope by sharing their success stories through these awards that they will inspire the thousands of other Australian small businesses out there to take a punt and go global.

 

“Exports create more Australian jobs and further strengthen our economy. That’s why our Government continues to provide more opportunities for our 53,000 exporters through expanding our network of free trade agreements.”

 

The 2019 Australian Export Awards will be announced in Canberra on 3 December. The full list of finalists can be found at: www.exportawards.gov.au/finalists/2019

 

Mining Industry to Receive Skills Boost

1 November 2019 

Trainees and apprentices will be taught skills that better match the needs of employers in the mining industry, under a Skills Organisations Pilot announced by the Coalition Government today.

 

The Pilot will ensure trainees and apprentices, particularly those in remote areas, are part of a growing workforce to support the mining industry, as well as the broader Australian economy.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the Pilot will ensure more Australians are able to get a highly-skilled job.

 

“This is about making sure more Australians are able to find a job, particularly kids in remote areas. I want these kids to come out of training college with the skills they need to go land a job in the mining industry,” said the Prime Minister.

 

“We need to make sure we are teaching the skills employers are demanding whether they be heavy diesel fitters, automotive electricians, communication technicians or mine engineers.

 

“I know that mining is a high-skill, high-wage industry and this is a further statement of confidence in the industry’s future. It recognises mining’s critical role as a creator of job opportunities in regional and remote Australia, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

 

“A stronger mining sector means a stronger Australian economy.”

 

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said the industry is committed to ensuring the availability of high-quality training and strong employment pathways for learners.

 

“Establishing a Skills Organisation Pilot in this important industry will help ensure the ongoing availability of a highly skilled workforce to support the mining industry, as well as the broader Australian economy,” said Minister Cash.

 

“The Australian Government is committed to a strong vocational education and training (VET) system that is able to deliver a strong and adaptable workforce, and provide employers with access to the skilled workforce needed to grow their businesses.

 

“Australia’s mining services sector creates jobs, builds skills, and attracts investment supporting more Australian jobs.

 

“Strengthening this sector is just one more step we are taking toward strengthening our economy and generating more jobs for more Australians.”

 

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said it was critical for Australia to have a well-trained mining workforce to take full advantage of booming demand for our world class commodities.

 

“Our resources sector is one of the powerhouses of our economy but it can’t happen without the talented people who make it up,” Minister Canavan said.

 

“Our high quality and clean resources have never been in higher demand and now is the time to invest in our resources sector skills base.

 

“More than a million Australians work in the resources sector - that’s about one in every 10 jobs. Investing in the skills of these workers is an investment in Australian families and communities.

 

“Creating a nationwide curriculum under this Pilot will help enhance, expand and advance the skills of our resources workers, securing the sector’s future for decades to come.

 

“I am especially enthused to get more kids excited about what’s under the ground. The technologies to explore our underground are just as technical as those that launch us into space. Australia leads the world in exploration and young Australians don’t need to play Minecraft to dig, they can do it right here in their backyard.”

 

The Skills Organisation Pilot will be co-funded by the Coalition Government and the Mineral Councils of Australia, signifying the important buy-in from the sector.

 

Earlier this year, the Government announced a $585 million Delivering skills for today and tomorrow package aimed at strengthening Australia’s vocational education and training system.

 

As part of the package, the Government committed to establishing two Skills Organisation Pilots in the priority industries of human services care and digital technologies, and is now adding the mining sector to the initiative.

 

The Pilots give the target industries the opportunity to shape the national training system to be more responsive to their particular skills needs, and to ensure that employers have confidence in the quality of VET graduates.

  

Graeme Samuel to lead Environment Review

1 November 2019 

The Federal Government has today commenced a once in a decade review of Australia’s environmental law to tackle green tape and deliver greater certainty to business groups, farmers and environmental organisations.

 

Professor Graeme Samuel AC will conduct the independent review, leading an expert panel that includes Mr Bruce Martin, Dr Wendy Craik AM, Dr Erica Smyth AC and Professor Andrew Macintosh.

 

The statutory review will ensure that the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) remains fit for purpose and fit for the future within the context of our changing environment.

 

This review is not about ideology.  The one thing all sides of the environmental debate concede is that the complexities of the Act are leading to unnecessary delays in reaching decisions and to an increased focus on process rather than outcomes.

 

Delays in EPBC decisions are estimated to cost the economy around $300 million a year and frustrate both business and environmental groups.

 

The Act has been a world benchmark in environmental protection but needs to be adapted to changes in the environment and economy.

 

I’ve asked Professor Samuel to look at how we can improve efficiency and make clear and simple decisions that deliver strong, clear and focussed environmental protection.

 

As a first step to the review, I understand Professor Samuel will be releasing a discussion paper in November, and begin initial stakeholder meetings shortly thereafter.

 

The Morrison Government is committed to delivering improved efficiency and supporting business, investment and jobs, while maintaining high environmental standards.

 

All Australians are invited to share their ideas as part of this review through a new dedicated website - www.epbcactreview.environment.gov.au.

 

 

Further information:

Graeme Samuel – Independent reviewer

 

Professor Graeme Samuel AC is a Professorial Fellow in Monash University’s Business School and School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine. He is also President of Dementia Australia, Chair of the National Health and Medical Research Council National Institute for Dementia Research, Chair of Lorica Health, Chair of South East Melbourne Primary Health Network and Chair of Airlines for Australia and New Zealand.

 

Professor Samuel’s previous roles include Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Associate Member of the Australian Communications and Media Authority, and President of the National Competition Council. He was Chair of the Australian Government's Panel of the Review of Australia's Independent Medical Research Institutes and advisor to the Department of Health in its review of private health insurance.

 

Most recently, Professor Samuel was a member of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s Panel to conduct a prudential Inquiry into the culture, governance and accountability of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and was Chair of the panel which conducted a capability review of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. He has also just completed a review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct.

 

In 2010, he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to public administration through contributions in economic reform and competition law, and to the community through leadership roles with sporting and cultural organisations.

Expert panel members

 

Mr Bruce Martin is a Wik Ngathan man, from the community of Aurukun on the Western Cape York Peninsula. Mr Martin was an inaugural member of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, and is a member of the board of the Indigenous Land Corporation, and the council of James Cook University.

 

Dr Erica Smyth AC has 40 years’ experience in the minerals and petroleum industry. She is currently chair of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority Advisory Board and has held senior roles with BHP and Woodside.

 

Dr Wendy Craik AM has a wealth of experience in natural resource management in Australia and overseas. She is currently chair of the Climate Change Authority, and her past roles include Chair of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, CEO of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Executive officer of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Chief Executive of the National Farmers’ Federation.

 

Professor Andrew Macintosh is an environmental law and policy expert at the ANU College of Law. He is a fellow at the Australian Centre for Environmental Law and member of the ANU Centre for Climate Economics & Policy, ANU Climate Change Institute and ANU Energy Change Institute. He is also the Chair of the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee

 

 

TERMS OF REFERENCE

 

Independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

 

The Australian Government is committed to delivering improved national environmental laws to ensure a healthy environment and a strong economy. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is the Australian Government’s central piece of national environmental law. The EPBC Act requires there be an independent review at least once every 10 years.

 

These are the terms of reference for the second independent review of the EPBC Act.

 

              

In accordance with section 522A of the EPBC Act, the review will examine:

1.    the operation of the Act, and

2.    the extent to which the objects of the Act have been achieved.

 

 

The review will make recommendations to modernise the EPBC Act and its operation to address current and future environmental challenges, including consideration of:

    

   

1.    the objects in section 3(1)(a)-(g) of the Act

 

  

2.    Australia’s international environmental responsibilities

 

  

3.    Indigenous peoples' knowledge and role in the management of the environment and heritage

 

  

4.    implementation of relevant agreements between the Commonwealth, States and Territories

 

  

5.    other legislation that may relate to the operation of the Act

 

  

6.    recommendations of previous reviews and inquiries and significant publications regarding the operation of the Act and potential reform

 

              

1.    broad consultation, including with State, Territory and other levels of government, non-government organisations, Indigenous peoples, members of the community, industry and academia, and

 

              

2.    costs and benefits of recommendations.

              

The review will be guided by the principles of:

      

          

1.    protecting Australia’s unique environment through strong, clear and focused protections

 

  

2.    making decisions simpler, including by reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens for Australians, businesses and governments

 

  

3.    supporting partnerships to deliver for the environment, supporting investment and creating new jobs

 

  

4.    improving transparency to ensure better use of information, accountability and trust in the system, and

 

  

5.    streamlining and integrating planning to support ecologically sustainable development.

 

 

The Independent Reviewer will provide a report to the Minister for the Environment within 12 months of the commencement of the review.

 

Building the Future of Medicinal Agriculture in Australia

1 November 2019 

Researchers will use plants to develop next generation medicines to put Australia at the cutting-edge of an emerging field of medicine while creating jobs and business opportunities.

 

The Morrison Government has provided $5 million to establish the Australian Research Council (ARC) Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture to research the cultivation and production of plant-based medicines.

 

Minister for Education Dan Tehan today officially opened the research hub at La Trobe University.

 

“This research hub will help to develop a profitable and sustainable industry that provides jobs and leads to better health outcomes,” Mr Tehan said.

 

“Research conducted here will assist primary producers and manufacturers to use the latest technologies to optimise their production as well as help train the specialised workforce needed to underpin Australia’s developing medicinal agriculture industry.

 

“Our Government is funding research that fosters collaboration between Australian universities and industry to deliver outcomes that benefit everyone.”

 

The hub will see collaboration between nine participating organisations across two countries with $19.7 million in cash and in-kind support provided to the hub. The partners are: The University of Melbourne; Cann Group Limited; Under the Tree Biopharmaceuticals Pty Ltd; Hexima Ltd; Photon Systems Instruments; Sensadata Pty Ltd; Palo Alto Research Centre Inc; and Bioplatforms Australia Ltd.

 

Waste Expo Highlights Importance of Recycling

1 November 2019 

The Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans MP, was in Sydney today to address leaders from across the waste and recycling industry at the Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo.

 

As the first ever Minister with specific responsibility for waste reduction and recycling, Mr Evans highlighted the Morrison Government’s strong commitment to driving the growth of Australia’s domestic capacity to process and recycle our own waste, and build demand for utilising recycled materials.

 

“Next week, all of Australia’s Environment Ministers will be meeting in Adelaide to decide on a timetable to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres,” Mr Evans said.

 

“Australia is ready to become a world-leader in recycling, innovation and waste reduction. In the longer-term, instead of exporting waste we want to be exporting Australian innovation, technology and recycling know-how.

 

“This transformation will not only create jobs in key areas around Australia, particularly in regional communities and in the outer suburbs of our cities, but will also help improve the environment in practical and meaningful ways”.

 

Mr Evans said the Morrison Government will continue to work with all jurisdictions to help drive a more harmonised, national approach to the challenges in this policy area, to strengthen the viability and size of the waste and recycling industry here in Australia.

 

“Growing jobs and innovation in this industry is a huge opportunity for Australia to seize, and all levels of government, industry, communities and individuals have a role to play in implementing the recycling revolution”.

 

Medicare Access to Life-saving Treatment for People with Eating Disorders

1 November 2019 

From today, Australians with complex eating disorders will be able to access new services through Medicare that will help save lives.

 

In December 2018, the Morrison Government announced it would invest $110.7 million through Medicare to enable these life-saving services to be subsidised for the first time.

 

Today, our Government delivers on this commitment.

 

These new services will support eligible people with anorexia nervosa, bulimia and other complex disorders to access up to 40 psychological services and 20 dietetic services, under the care of their GP or specialist.

 

The new items represent a historic advance in the quality and affordability of care provided to those facing the devastating challenge of an eating disorder, enabling those affected, their families and their carers to get the support they desperately need and deserve.

 

Under the changes, health practitioners will be better able to deliver a full course of treatment as their patients will have one comprehensive care plan and be able to claim the services through Medicare.

 

It is estimated that around 900,000 Australians have an eating disorder. These disorders affect not only the patient, but also their families and loved ones, and have one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric illness.

 

The Government asked the expert clinician-led MBS Review Taskforce to provide advice on how the Medicare Benefits Schedule could be improved to assist patients with eating disorders.

 

The items were developed by the Taskforce through extensive consultation and design of accreditation standards with experts from across the sector. They support a model of best practice, evidence-based care for patients and encourage a multidisciplinary approach involving a range of clinical expertise.

 

This will mean more, better connected services. It will mean fewer repeat visits back to the hospital. It will mean better health outcomes for people living with these debilitating disorders.

 

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Taskforce and the sector in their commitment to help save lives.

 

These new services are part of the Government’s commitment to supporting people with eating disorders. This includes:

 

              

  • $63 million to establish a national network of community based residential eating disorder treatment centres which will provide wrap-around support and specialist care

  • $13.6 million from 2016-17 to 2021-22 to support the National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC) to develop a nationally consistent best-practice approach to the prevention and management of eating disorders.

  • $1.5 million each year to 2021 for the Butterfly Foundation’s national online counselling service 1800 ED HOPE, which provides free support, counselling and guidance on treatments and referral options to people affected by an eating disorder, including family, friends and health professionals.

 

 

The Government is also investing in research to support prevention and better identification and treatment of eating disorders.

 

This includes $5 million for research into eating disorders through the Million Minds Health Research Mission and $4 million to the InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders to develop a strategy for research into eating disorders and translating it into clinical practice.

 

This research will help build understanding of how prevention, early identification, and evidence-based treatment will help Australians with eating disorders to access world-class support.

 

Information regarding the new Medicare items structure can be obtained at MBSOnline.

 

Labor's Policy Plagiarism

1 November 2019 

In his first major policy pitch since becoming leader, Anthony Albanese and Labor have produced a carbon copy of the Government’s skills agenda. We welcome Labor’s endorsement of our reforms to vocational education and training which was left in tatters the last time they were in Government.

 

Their major announcement was the recreation of the already existing Skills Commission and merely renaming it Jobs and Skills Australia. A major function of the Skills Commission will be labour market forecasting.

 

The Morrison Government is also already investing $41.7 million to pilot Skills Organisations in two key industries; human services care and digital technologies. The Skills Organisations Pilots will drive innovative ‘end-to-end’ training solutions and enhance the role and leadership of industry in the national training system.

 

The Skills Organisations Pilots will provide an opportunity for industry to trial new ways of working within the current national training system while looking for new opportunities to make sure training is able to meet employers and the economy’s needs.

 

Australians haven’t forgotten what Labor did to the VET sector when they were last in government. Labor were responsible for the largest ever annual decline in apprenticeships.

 

Yet again Labor have failed another major policy test. These are nothing but hollow words from a leader of a hollowed out party.

 

The Morrison Government is ensuring Australians have the right skills for the workforce of today and the future and have invested $585 million through our Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package. The package will help train highly skilled and qualified workers, including in regional areas, to meet the needs of businesses.

 

We are working with States and Territories to reform the system and clean up the mess left by federal Labor.

 

In 2019–20 alone we are investing over $3 billion in VET which includes:

  • $1.5 billion given to the states and territories, every year, through the National Agreement on Skills and Workforce Development Specific Purpose Payment

  • $1.1 billion to fund the Government’s own skills programs, including employer incentives and support for Australian Apprenticeships

  • $160 million to the states and territories via the Skilling Australians Fund to support increased apprenticeships and traineeship numbers.

 

Our legacy is job creation; Labor’s is nothing but job destruction. Labor cannot be trusted.

 

New Medicare Rebates for PET Scans for Breast Cancer

1 November 2019 

The Morrison Government will make Medicare rebates available for positron emission tomography (PET) scans for breast cancer.

 

From 1 November 2019, the new Medicare rebates will ensure patients with advanced breast cancer can better manage and plan their treatment.

 

Around 12,000 patients will benefit from these services each year.

 

In 2019, the estimated number of new cases of breast cancer diagnosed will be greater than 19,300 and more than 3,000 women are expected to die from the disease.

 

Enormous strides in medical research, diagnosis, treatment and care means the chance of surviving at least five years is now 91 per cent.

 

The listing of the whole body 18F-FDG2 PET scan for the evaluation of breast cancer boosts efforts to improve the health outcomes for breast cancer patients.

 

With the Medicare subsidy, the PET scans - a minimally invasive nuclear medicine imaging technique - will save women up to $1,000 per scan.

 

The new services are:

              

  • Whole body PET performed for the staging of locally advanced (Stage III) breast cancer (Item 61524)         

  • Whole body PET performed for the evaluation of suspected metastatic, or suspected locally or regionally recurrent, breast carcinoma (Item 61525).

The independent expert Medical Services Advisory Committee recommended the listing of these new items.

 

The committee recommended the new services on the basis that they are comparatively safe, clinically appropriate and cost effective.

 

The Morrison Government is strongly committed to reducing the toll of breast cancer on Australians and their families.

 

Early detection is key, and for many years now, Australian women aged between 50 and 74 have been invited to access free screening mammograms every two years via the BreastScreen Australia Program.

 

We continue to list the latest proven treatments for breast cancer on the PBS.

 

In May, Ibrance® (palbociclib) was listed for patients with inoperable or metastatic hormone receptor positive breast cancer.

 

Around 3,000 women each year will benefit from this decision. Without the PBS subsidy, Ibrance would cost around $55,000 for a year’s treatment.

 

The Morrison Government is committed to delivering a healthier Australia, and supporting Australians when they need it most.

 

Small and Medium Businesses Benefitting from Greater Connectivity

1 November 2019 

Greater access to fast broadband delivered by the National Broadband Network (NBN) is delivering a boost to Australian small to medium businesses, according to new research released today at an Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry event.

 

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, welcomed the research by analytics firm AlphaBeta which shows the strong positive relationship between fast, reliable broadband connections and small business productivity.

 

“The report demonstrates a clear link between the NBN and take up of digital technologies in Australian small businesses, with a higher up-take of digital technologies in turn supporting more successful revenue growth and employment opportunities. This reinforces the importance of connectivity in a strong, stable economy,” Minister Fletcher said.

 

Broadband has become a near ubiquitous feature of small businesses, however, the research suggests that increased technology adoption by small businesses would help further improve their productivity and competitiveness.

 

Key findings from the report include:

 

              

  • The average internet speed available to small businesses has increased five-fold over a decade, from 5-12 Megabits per second (Mbps) in 2009 to an average of 30-50 Mbps on the NBN

  • Small businesses which spend more on technology increased their revenue 3.5 percentage points more than those businesses with lower technology spend

  • Small businesses in the top quartile of technology spending growth saw employment grow 5.2 percentage points more than those in the bottom quartile.

 

 

“These findings underscore the importance of the Liberal National Government’s technology neutral approach to rolling out more reliable and affordable broadband services to Australians faster,” Minister Fletcher said.

 

“Over a period of six years, Labor spent $6 billion and connected barely 50,000 premises to the NBN fixed line network. Under the Morrison Government, NBN Co has recently surpassed six million connected premises. This turnaround has been critical to delivering better economic outcomes, particularly for small businesses, which account for 98 per cent of all businesses.”

 

More than 88 percent of Australians are now able to connect to NBN high-speed broadband, with the company remaining on track to complete its build phase next year.

 

The AlphaBeta report, commissioned by NBN Co, is available at: www.connectingaustralia.com.au

 

Commemorating Remembrance Day 2019 

1 November 2019 

On Monday 11 November 2019, Australia will commemorate the anniversary of the Armistice that ended the fighting in the First World War.

Federal Member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, is encouraging the local community to participate in their local commemorative service on 11 November and observe a minute’s silence at 11 am to remember the Australian service men and women who have suffered and died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

 

“Every year at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we mark Remembrance Day because it was at this time and date in 1918 that the guns fell silent on the Western Front, officially ending the First World War,” Craig Kelly MP said.

 

“The war came at a great cost for Australia, with more than 60,000 service men and women never returning home, from the 416,000 who enlisted.

 

“This affected every community, large and small, across the country, in what was a very young nation at that time.”

 

“More than 102,000 names are today listed on the Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour in Canberra to honour the lives lost at war and it is vital we continue to remember their service and sacrifice today.  said.

 

“It is incredibly important to instil an ongoing sense of remembrance and respect in future generations of Australians so our current and former serving defence personnel and their families know their sacrifices are honoured, now and into the future.”

 

We remind all Australians, including our younger generations, to continue the Remembrance Day tradition and pay tribute to those who have proudly served our nation in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations by attending a local commemorative service and wearing a red poppy in honour of the sacrifices made by our brave service men and women.

Labor's Track Record on Jobs

31 October 2019 

Australians have a right to be sceptical about Anthony Albanese’s commitment to creating more jobs.  Only months ago, he was campaigning alongside Bill Shorten offering nothing but $387 billion worth of new taxes on the Australian people.

 

If Labor were serious about getting Australians off welfare and into work, they would abandon their longstanding opposition to the Youth Jobs PaTH programme, which has helped over 50,000 young Australians find work, and their opposition to the Australian Apprentice Wage Subsidy, which has helped 3200 young Australians secure apprenticeships in rural and regional Australia.

 

Labor does not have a strong record on job creation - when the last Labor Government was elected in 2007, the jobless rate was 4.4 per cent.  When Labor left office 6 years later, the jobless rate was 5.7 per cent and rising, and there were 54,700 fewer young people with jobs. That’s a record of job destruction, not creation.

 

At the last election, they took policies we know will destroy jobs and Labor still haven’t ruled out taking them to the next. They include:

              

  • Abolishing negative gearing, which will smash the housing industry.

  • Changes to franking credits which would dent the spending of hundreds of thousands of retirees.

  • Higher emissions reductions target which will smash Australia’s manufacturing base.

  • Higher personal and business income taxes which will put a handbrake on the economy and jobs growth.

  • Abolishing the ABCC which will allow militant unions to run riot on Australia’s critical infrastructure projects.

  • Higher taxes for small and family businesses which are the largest employer of Australian workers.

 

 

Until Anthony Albanese and Labor get rid of these job-destroying policies they cannot be taken seriously on job creation.

 

In the last 6 years, the Liberal National Government has overseen the creation of more than 1.4 million jobs.  At the election, the Morrison Government to create another 1.25 million jobs over the next five years. It’s a credible promise because the Liberal Nationals have a proven record in job creation. Only last month we hit the record milestone of 36 consecutive months of positive job creation.

 

We are also ensuring that Australians have the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.  With the cooperation of States and Territories we are reforming the vocational education and training sector, committing $3 billion to skills every year.  We have also promised to create 80,000 additional apprentices over the next five years.

 

In contrast, the Labor Party brought us the VET FEE-HELP debacle, which saw many Australians offered dodgy qualifications in exchange for free laptops, and a decline in apprentices.  When Labor were last in office we saw a fall in apprenticeships by 110,000 between July 2012 and June 2013 after they ripped out $1.2billion in employer incentives. The largest ever annual decline.

 

Celebrating Multicultural Diversity in Business

31 October 2019 

Some of Australia’s most successful migrant and indigenous business minds have been honoured in the nation’s pre-eminent awards for diversity in business.

 

The Ethnic Business Awards, now in their 31st year, are Australia’s longest running awards recognising the achievement and contribution of a culturally diverse nation.

 

In 2016, the ABS found 1 in every 3 small and family businesses in Australia was started by a migrant. In addition, migrant business owners have been estimated to employ more than 1.4 million people across Australia.  These are powerful statistics that make intuitive sense: just about every shopping strip and industrial park in Australia contains migrant success stories.

 

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world and our cultural diversity is one of our greatest assets.

 

“Our economy is strengthened by the skills, knowledge, linguistic capabilities, networks and creativity of our diverse workforce, and tonight’s awards celebrate these achievements,” Mr Coleman said.

 

“It’s important to recognise and celebrate the success of so many migrants who have come from all around the world to work and make Australia their home.

 

“Our migration program aims to attract the world’s best and brightest migrants. People who will contribute valuable skills and experience and complement the Australian workforce.”

 

Holdmark Property Group took out the Henry Ngai Medium to Large Business award, presented by Mr Coleman. Envirobank Recycling and Pine Creek Mango Plantation Pty Ltd won the Indigenous in Business award and Small Business award respectively.

 

Australia is more prosperous thanks to the valuable contribution of migrants, who have chosen to make this country their home.

 

Driving Reform on Car Repairs

31 October 2019 

The Coalition Government is committed to progressing the design of a mandatory information sharing scheme for motor vehicle service and repair information. This scheme forms part of our commitment to support appropriate commercial dealing and competition in the new car retail supply chain for the benefit of both small businesses and consumers.

 

Today, a roundtable with the five key industry stakeholders, who are signatories to the current voluntary information sharing agreement, was held to update them on outcomes of consultation held earlier this year and recent decisions taken by the Government.

 

The Government received a wide range of feedback from across industry which has been extremely valuable in helping shape an effective scheme going forward. A summary of this feedback is available on the Treasury consultation website.

 

Our scheme will mandate that all service and repair information car manufacturers share with their dealership networks must be available for independent repairers to purchase.

 

It will also remove grey areas in the current voluntary arrangements by explicitly setting out a list of safety, security and environmental information that must only be released to appropriate businesses as well as clear criteria for access.

 

The scheme will be implemented in primary legislation to provide flexibility in its design and robust dispute resolution processes which consultations told us is important to industry.

 

Industry representatives were also asked to consider the potential for an industry-led body to assist Government with administering the scheme and ensure manufacturers, repairers and consumers have a voice in developing the scheme and keeping it effective and relevant. With dispute resolution processes set out in legislation, this body could also be conferred with dispute resolution duties for the scheme.

 

Industry and consumers will continue to be central to our approach as we proceed with the development of the scheme.

 

The Government will continue considering feedback from consultations and working to progress the details ahead of drafting legislative provisions and broader public consultation.

 

Australian Exporters Thriving from New Market Opportunities

31 October 2019 

Australian exporters remain optimistic, expect to improve their financial position and are looking to expand into new markets, according to encouraging results in the latest Australian International Business Survey (AIBS).

 

The AIBS provides a unique insight into the perceptions of internationally-engaged Australian businesses, with a particular focus on small and medium-sized businesses.

 

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said the report confirmed optimism was high amongst Australian exporters as they continued to look for opportunities to expand into new markets.

 

“Overall this report paints a positive outlook for Australian exporters, with almost 80 per cent of those surveyed indicating they were planning to enter at least one new market in the next two years, “Minister Birmingham said.

 

“The report also shows more than half of the Australian exporters surveyed viewed their financial outlook for the next two years as better than the previous two years, whilst 60 per cent of exporters also plan to use their retained earnings to grow their operations.

 

“Additionally, businesses engaging in international trade have a favourable flow-on effect for job creation with 64 per cent expecting to increase their employment.”

 

Minister Birmingham said this was a clear indication that the Liberal-National Government's focus on securing more market access was creating more certainty and boosting the confidence of our exporters.

 

“Expanding opportunities for Australian exporters is a key pillar of our economic plan and builds upon successes that have already fuelled Australia to record levels of exports and a record trade surplus,” Minister Birmingham said.

 

"That is why our government continues to pursue further free trade agreements with our key trading partners, to enhance export opportunities for Australian farmers and businesses.

 

“We continue to make significant inroads having just seen the necessary legislation for our trade deals with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru pass the House, whilst discussions also continue on the other deals including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as well as our agreement with the European Union.”

 

This year’s AIBS captured the responses of 593 Australian companies drawn from 75 industry subsectors operating across more than 90 international markets.

 

The survey was conducted by AMR Research with support from Austrade, Export Finance Australia and the Export Council of Australia. The Final Report can be found at www.austrade.gov.au/AIBS2019.

 

 

First Look at Western Sydney International Terminal 

31 October 2019 

Australia has been given its first look at Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport with today’s release of the first design images.

The design is the next step in Western Sydney International taking shape, with major earthworks set to commence next year that will lead to the construction of runways, roads, rail and the terminal.

The innovative design of the country’s biggest aviation project in decades follows the appointment of the architects who will design the terminal precinct.

 

Successful architectural team Zaha Hadid Architects, and Australian architects, Cox Architecture won the honour to design the terminal precinct following a competitive process which generated more than 40 design entrants.

The winning design focuses on the customer journey while paying tribute to the Western Sydney region and natural landscape. It passed a range of value-for-money and technical reviews.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the designs showed the once-in-a-generation infrastructure project coming to life.

“This is set to be the largest gateway to Australia and these designs are another step to making it a reality,” the Prime Minister said.

“Designed alongside locals and built by local workers the airport will deliver massive economic benefits to the region.”

The appointment of the architectural design team and the first look at the terminal design is a major milestone in the delivery of the federally funded, $5.3 billion Western Sydney International.

 

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said designing and constructing a terminal capable of catering for 10 million passengers annually was a significant challenge.

“To meet the challenge the terminal will be designed for modular expansion, to accommodate the long term capacity of up to 80 million passengers anticipated every year by the early 2060s,” Minister Cormann said.

To be considered for the design project, interested firms were required to have experience designing an airport of similar size and complexity to Western Sydney International in the past five years. The final decision on the winning design was made by a panel of some of Australia’s most renowned architects.

 

Liberal Senator for Western Sydney Marise Payne said the competitive process undertaken for the terminal precinct design led to the very best outcome for Western Sydney.

“The iconic final design ensures that air travel will be accessible for locals, as well as locking in new opportunities for people who want to work, shop and meet at the terminal precinct,” Senator Payne said.

 

The airport has committed to delivering 30 per cent of direct job opportunities to Western Sydney residents and is currently exceeding that target.

Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge said Western Sydney would be the big winner as the airport continues to take shape.

 

“The construction phase alone will support 11,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Western Sydney region,” Minister Tudge said.

 

“Within the first five years of the airport opening it is expected to support 28,000 full time jobs for the people of Western Sydney.”

 

The design process encouraged the demonstration on how local university students would be included on the design team.

Member for Lindsay Melissa McIntosh said designing an airport and working through concepts with local students is important.

“I am pleased to see that Zaha Hadid Architects and Australian architects Cox Architecture will work with Western Sydney University students, local Aboriginal groups and other stakeholders to further refine and enhance the concepts to arrive at the final design,” Ms McIntosh said.

 

“This is the first step in preparing our local kids for the jobs of the future by playing such an integral role through the design of the Airport. We know that post construction over 28,000 jobs will be created and we want our kids to take those opportunities.”

 

View the animated vision here:

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/13G4OwuWXdr0KTdGdxbVxTokt3W5g0Ar_/view?usp=sharing

 

View the images here:

 

https://drive.google.com/open?id=19MtqkyCZwD_2qeYhWy2QsV9SzxTvdRut

 

 

Breast cancer MRI added to Medicare

31 October 2019 

Women with or suspected of having breast cancer will be able to claim Medicare benefits for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, from 1 November 2019.

 

Approximately 14,000 patients each year, predominantly women, will benefit from these services.

 

Medicare rebates will be available for MRI scans for:

 

              

  • Diagnosis of breast cancer in patients where other imaging was inconclusive and a biopsy has not been possible; and

  • Pre-surgical planning for patients diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, where there is discrepancy between clinical assessment and conventional imaging assessment.

 

The Morrison Government has added these new MRI services to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) to ensure women vulnerable to breast cancer have affordable access to MRI.

 

The new items for breast MRI will reduce the out-of-pocket costs faced by breast cancer patients. The Government will provide $32.6 million for Medicare benefits for the services.

 

The Government is committed to making important diagnostic services more affordable and accessible for Australians.

 

Our commitment to Medicare is rock solid, with an additional $6 billion committed to Medicare benefits in the 2019-20 Budget.

 

 

New Design Standard Puts NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation on Solid Foundations

31 October 2019 

Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert, today released the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) Design Standard­­–landmark guidelines that will spur a new era of housing construction and enhancement for Australians with disability. The SDA Design Standard will guide architects, builders and the community as they look for new and better ways to build specialist housing for people with disability.​

 

These guidelines, released together with the SDA Innovation Plan and the Limited Cost Assumptions Review, put participants at the centre of the design approach. They will make it easier for eligible participants to access high quality specialist disability housing, while also providing much-needed certainty to the market.

 

When the SDA market reaches full coverage the NDIS is expected to assist 28,000 Australians with disability through SDA—representing6.1 per cent of NDIS participants. It is anticipated the total annual payments for SDA is expected to be approximately $700m per year.

‘Specialist Disability Accommodation is a life-changing support that gives participants greater independence and control and we have heard loud and clear from Australians with disability that this is an area that needs to be improved. That is why the SDA Design Standard is such an important development and one I am proud to announce today,’ Mr Robert said.

‘I am encouraged by seeing more providers entering the SDA market. We’ve seen in the most recent NDIS quarterly report that the number of SDA providers has grown to 977, an increase of 12 per cent, while the number of enrolled dwellings also grew by 9.5 per cent in the June quarter. We expect today’s announcement will usher further growth in this emerging industry right across the country’

 

‘Under the Morrison Government there is positive momentum right across the NDIS. We are seeing thousands of Australians entering the scheme every week and developments such as the SDA Design Standard are putting in place the prudent and sustainable frameworks to support the NDIS for future generations.’

 

For more information on the NDIS visit www.ndis.gov.au

 

New Design Standard Puts NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation on Solid Foundations

31 October 2019 

Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert, today released the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) Design Standard­­–landmark guidelines that will spur a new era of housing construction and enhancement for Australians with disability. The SDA Design Standard will guide architects, builders and the community as they look for new and better ways to build specialist housing for people with disability.​

 

These guidelines, released together with the SDA Innovation Plan and the Limited Cost Assumptions Review, put participants at the centre of the design approach. They will make it easier for eligible participants to access high quality specialist disability housing, while also providing much-needed certainty to the market.

 

When the SDA market reaches full coverage the NDIS is expected to assist 28,000 Australians with disability through SDA—representing6.1 per cent of NDIS participants. It is anticipated the total annual payments for SDA is expected to be approximately $700m per year.

‘Specialist Disability Accommodation is a life-changing support that gives participants greater independence and control and we have heard loud and clear from Australians with disability that this is an area that needs to be improved. That is why the SDA Design Standard is such an important development and one I am proud to announce today,’ Mr Robert said.

‘I am encouraged by seeing more providers entering the SDA market. We’ve seen in the most recent NDIS quarterly report that the number of SDA providers has grown to 977, an increase of 12 per cent, while the number of enrolled dwellings also grew by 9.5 per cent in the June quarter. We expect today’s announcement will usher further growth in this emerging industry right across the country’

 

‘Under the Morrison Government there is positive momentum right across the NDIS. We are seeing thousands of Australians entering the scheme every week and developments such as the SDA Design Standard are putting in place the prudent and sustainable frameworks to support the NDIS for future generations.’

 

For more information on the NDIS visit www.ndis.gov.au

 

Child Care Subsidy reconciliation

31 October 2019 

The Australian Government is supporting families and maintaining the integrity of the child care system.

 

The Child Care Subsidy (CCS) was introduced on 2 July last year. In its first year of operation 1.13 million families received a Government-funded subsidy to support their child care costs.

 

Out-of-pocket costs for families are 7.9 per cent lower since the introduction of the subsidy and the Government will provide more than $8 billion for child care, this financial year.

 

As with other Government payments, at the end of the financial year, families that received the CCS go through a reconciliation process to ensure they have received the correct entitlement for the previous financial year. The process takes into account a family’s income and the hours of activity undertaken.

 

As a result of the reconciliation process, families will receive a top-up payment if they did not receive their full entitlement through the CCS. Likewise, if a family was paid too much CCS, that amount will be repaid. For example, a family would receive an overpayment if they have underestimated their annual income and as a result received more CCS than they were entitled to.

 

To help families avoid an overpayment, five per cent of CCS payments are automatically withheld throughout the year. This withheld amount can be used at balancing time to offset any overpayments. Families can request an increase to their withholding percentage, from five per cent up to 100 per cent, at any time, to provide a buffer to protect them from potential overpayments at the end of the financial year.

 

The latest balancing data, as at 4 October, shows that more than 574,000 families have had their balancing completed. Balancing work and issuing of outcomes will continue as more income assessments are provided by the Australian Tax Office.

 

Of the outcomes delivered to families, 87 per cent resulted in top-up payments or required no action by the families. 13 per cent were advised of a recoverable overpayment of their CCS entitlement. As at 4 October 2019, 24 people have requested a formal internal review of their CCS balancing outcome.

 

Having an overpayment does not affect eligibility for the CCS.

 

Child care fees increased by 53 per cent when Labor was last in government.

 

$2.5 million a smart investment for La Trobe University

31 October 2019 

A Government grant is investing almost $2.5 million into a cutting-edge La Trobe University project aimed at encouraging climate resilience and rewarding on-farm sustainable practices.

 

Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, and Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum, said the project would provide a proof of concept when it came to putting a value on natural assets on-farm.

 

Minister McKenzie said the project was an important precursor to enable farmers to take part in carbon markets and to achieve premium prices for their food and fibre.

 

“La Trobe University’s project has the potential to put economic values on our natural assets on broadacre, livestock and mixed cropping farms,” Minister McKenzie said.

 

“At least 50 farms across New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania will gain verifiable information about the value of the natural assets on their land—like soil carbon, vegetation and biodiversity.

 

“This information can validate the environmental performance of their farms—information that can help secure market access, provide incentive to investors concerning the sustainability and profitability of enterprises, and help farmers earn carbon credits as another income stream.

 

“This is cutting edge work which will stimulate and reward sustainable practices, allow farmers to pass their land on in better shape to the next generation and demonstrate Australia’s clean and safe credentials to the world.”

 

Mr Drum said the project aimed to develop a National Capital Accounting tool that would be cost effective and easily adoptable by farm businesses.

 

“This project is at the forefront of agricultural innovation and it just wouldn’t be possible to get it off the ground without the willingness of our farmers,” Mr Drum said.

 

“Our farmers have always been early adopters of new technologies and this project shows the determination of many in the sector to continue that tradition.

 

“This project will lead to better sustainable agriculture outcomes, improved health of our natural resources, and increased knowledge and skills for our farmers.

 

“Our government is ready to help agriculture become a $100 billion industry by 2030 and we’ll do that in part through investing in innovations such as these.”

 

Smart Farming Partnerships is a key initiative of the National Landcare Program, with more than $57.5 million in grants allocated to a total of 26 projects across two rounds.

 

HMAS Brisbane Commences Combat System Trial in US

31 October 2019

In a first for the Royal Australian Navy and the United States Navy, HMAS Brisbane has completed a live missile engagement.

 

Using remote sensor data from the USS Stockdale and the Cooperative Engagement Capability, the combat system was tested against a range of challenging targets and tactical situations.

 

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the trials which were held in the US over the past month, mark a ground-breaking milestone for Australia.

 

“This missile firing demonstrates the very highest levels of interoperability between our navies,” Minister Reynolds said.

 

“It reaffirms the game changing technology that the Aegis combat system brings to our Navy and the advanced capability of the Australian-built Hobart Class Destroyers.

 

“By conducting these trials in the US, our Navy is able to access the world’s best expertise, instrumented ranges and analysis capabilities to provide confidence in how the ship will perform in combat.”

 

The Hobart class of ships, commissioned by the Liberal National Government in 2007, are among the most potent warships at sea, forming an important part of the defence of our nation.

 

Cooperative Engagement Capability provides a secure communications capability between Australian and US equipped ships, aircraft or land forces and allows a unit to detect and, if needed, engage a threat identified by another ship or aircraft.

 

The trials mark the next step in the Hobart Class Destroyer’s introduction into service.

 

More information on HMAS Brisbane is available at http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-brisbane-iii

 

Happy 21st to Mobile Muster - A Product Stewardship Success Story

31 October 2019

The Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans MP, today commended the achievements of MobileMuster, a successful industry-led product stewardship scheme, over the past 21 years.

 

“Australians are among the fastest and most avid users and adaptors of new technology in the world, and nearly nine out of ten Australians own a smartphone. That is why it is vital to have arrangements in place to deal with products like phones and their accessories at the end of their useful life.

 

“MobileMuster is a fantastic example of a product stewardship success story. Since it was launched in 1998, the telecommunications industry has invested almost $45 million into the program.

 

The practical environmental result is almost 1500 tonnes of material being recycled, including over 14 million handsets and batteries diverted from landfill.

 

“In the last year alone, MobileMuster collected and recycled 84.1 tonnes of mobile phone components, including 1.12 million handsets and batteries, and recovered 98 per cent of mobile phones. Over 92 per cent of manufacturers and 84 per cent of network carriers are now part of the program.

 

“MobileMuster’s extensive national collection network now has 3,500 public drop-off points across Australia, and covers an impressive 96 per cent of the country.

 

“The success of the program over the last 21 years demonstrates that Australian industries can voluntarily take action to reduce the impact their products have on the environment, without the need for heavy-handed regulation.

 

“The scheme helps consumers and businesses minimise greenhouse gas emissions, save energy, protect the environment and conserve finite natural resources while also stopping potentially hazardous materials from polluting the environment,” said Mr Evans.

 

In recognition of the importance of product stewardship, the Morrison Government has announced $20 million for a new Product Stewardship Investment Fund to accelerate work on new industry-led stewardship schemes, including for batteries, electronic products, photovoltaic systems and plastic oil containers as part of its $167 million Australian Recycling Investment Plan.

 

Product stewardship recognises that the people and businesses involved in producing, selling, using and disposing of products have a shared responsibility to make sure they manage these products and materials throughout their entire lifecycle.

 

Child Care Subsidy leaves more money for parents

31 October 2019

Our Government’s Child Care Subsidy is leaving more money in parents’ pockets.

 

Since the Child Care Subsidy was introduced on 2 July 2018, out-of-pocket child care costs for families have fallen by 5.6 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ consumer price index (CPI) released today.

 

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the Morrison Government was providing record funding of more than $8 billion for child care this financial year.

 

“Our Government’s Child Care Subsidy is designed to assist parents with the cost of child care while they’re working, training, studying or volunteering – and it continues to do exactly that,” Mr Tehan said.

 

“The Morrison Government’s child care reforms are leaving more dollars in the pockets of Australian families.

 

“Since the Child Care Subsidy was introduced, out-of-pocket costs were less than $5 per hour per child for the parents of 732,500 (74.6 per cent) children in centre based day care.

 

“Out-of-pocket costs were less than $2 per hour per child for the parents of nearly 233,000 (23.7 per cent) children in centre based day care.”

 

Government welcomes WA mobile phone ban

31 October 2019

Minister for Education Dan Tehan has today welcomed the decision to ban mobile phones in Western Australian schools.

 

“I commend the Western Australian Government for making the tough but right decision to ban mobile phones during school hours from 2020,” Mr Tehan said.

 

“The Morrison Government believes that banning mobile phones from the classroom will encourage students to focus on learning by removing a significant distraction.

 

“Mobile phones can also be conduits for cyberbullying and other inappropriate use. There is also evidence of the negative impact social media is having on young people’s mental health.

 

“Earlier this year, our Government put banning mobile phones on the agenda at Education Council. We heard from Assistant Professor Louis-Philippe Beland about his research that found low-achieving students enjoyed the biggest positive effect from a mobile phone ban, with the benefit equating to the equivalent of an additional 10 school days a year.

 

“If you go to schools where mobile phones are banned it has made a huge difference to the learning environment and to the social environment at lunch time and recess.

 

“Student wellbeing is an issue for parents and teachers, and we will continue to support all jurisdictions and schools to limit the use of mobile phones in schools.”

 

National Redress Scheme continues to add more institutions

31 October 2019

More than 550 sites have joined the National Redress Scheme driving down the number of applications on hold to the lowest level since the Scheme was established.

 

Following the latest declaration, the number of applications still on hold because those institutions named have not taken the necessary steps to join the Scheme has reduced to 12 per cent of applications received by the Scheme.

 

The declaration includes six new non-government institutions joining the Scheme including the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart as well as sites falling under the Anglican Church of Australia, Baptist Churches of Western Australia, and the Baptist Church of Victoria.

 

“The Morrison Government expects all institutions where child sexual abuse has occurred to sign up to the Scheme as soon as possible,” Minister Ruston said.

 

“Although survivors can make applications for redress at any time, applications cannot be processed until the relevant institution has completed the necessary steps to join the Scheme.”

 

“This announcement means that additional applications can now be progressed.”

 

To date, the Commonwealth, all state and territory governments and 67 non-government organisations covering more than 41,900 sites, such as churches, schools, homes, charities and community groups, across Australia are participating.

 

The non-government institutions that joined the Scheme are:

 

  • Berry Street Victoria Inc (Vic)

  • Confraternity of Christ the Priest (NSW, Qld and Vic)

  • Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God (NSW, Qld and Vic)

  • Missionaries of the Sacred Heart  (NT, ACT, NSW, Qld, Vic and WA)

  • SCEGGS Darlinghurst Limited (NSW)

  • Sisters of the Good Samaritan (ACT, NSW, NT, Qld, SA, Vic and WA)

 

The additions to the Anglican Church of Australia participating group that joined the Scheme are:

 

Anglican Property Trust Diocese of Bathurst (NSW)

Anglicare WA Inc (WA)

 

The additions to the Baptist Churches of Western Australia (WA) participating group that joined the Scheme are:

 

  • Bethel Christian School Albany

  • Emmanuel Christian Community School Incorporated

  • Goldfields Baptist College Incorporated

  • Kojonup Baptist Church

  • The Lake Joondalup Baptist College Incorporated

 

The addition to the Baptist Church of Victoria (Vic) participating group that joined the Scheme is North Balwyn Baptist Church.

 

The Queensland Government has agreed to be a Funder of Last Resort for:

 

  • Beemar Yumba Maud Phillips Memorial Children’s Shelter (Qld)

  • Beulah Homes (Qld)

  • OPAL House (Qld)

  • OPAL Joyce Wilding Home (Qld)

 

More information, including a searchable list of local sites that have joined the Scheme and support services to help people apply for redress, is available at: www.nationalredress.gov.au

 

Australia’s AAA Credit Rating Reaffirmed By Fitch

30 October 2019

Australia’s AAA credit rating has been reaffirmed by Fitch Ratings in a strong expression of confidence in the Morrison Government’s disciplined fiscal and economic management.

 

Today’s report by Fitch confirms Australia is one of only 10 countries which has a AAA credit rating with all three major ratings agencies.

 

Underpinning its decision, Fitch praised our “effective and flexible policy framework” and “improved fiscal performance” while pointing out that a negative rating action could be triggered by a “sustained widening of the fiscal deficit”.

 

The Australian economy has completed 28 years of consecutive economic growth “in the face of substantial external, financial, and commodity price shocks”.

 

Fitch also note that “sound prudential regulation and ongoing strengthening of underwriting standards have improved the resilience of bank balance sheets and limited their exposure to riskier mortgage products”. This has increased the resilience of the economy to future shocks.

 

Today’s announcement will further boost confidence in the economy which has created nearly 1.5 million new jobs since the Coalition came to Government. Jobs growth of 2.5 per cent through the year is stronger than any G7 economy and more than double the OECD average of 0.9 per cent. The economy has recorded three years of consecutive monthly jobs growth which is the first time on record.

 

We have managed to achieve these strong results despite global headwinds and the ongoing impact of the drought. We are also providing legislated tax relief for 10 million Australians enabling them to keep more of their hard earned money.

 

Fitch report that “risks are tilted to the downside given uncertainty around US-China trade policy and slowing growth in China”.

 

With headwinds building, now is the time to stay the course and not make knee jerk decisions as we saw under Labor with overpriced school halls, pink batts and $240 billion of accumulated deficits.

 

The Labor party is focused on talking down the economy and engaging in panic and crisis putting politics ahead of Australian jobs.

 

The Morrison Government is focused on delivering its economic plan to lower taxes, build more infrastructure and invest in skills while restoring the nation’s finances.

 

Our strong economic performance and the important reforms we are undertaking means a more secure future for all Australians.

 

PBS listings to save melanoma and multiple sclerosis patients to save up to $128,900 per year

30 October 2019

Australians suffering from melanoma and multiple sclerosis will soon have new treatment options, with new and amended PBS listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) coming into effect on 1 November.

 

The Morrison Government will expand the current PBS listings of Tafinlar® (dabrafenib) and Mekinist® (trametinib) to include subsidy for post-surgery treatment for patients who have Stages IIIB, IIIC and IIID melanoma.

 

Over 260 patients per year are expected to benefit from this listing each year. Without the PBS subsidy, patients might otherwise pay more than $128,900 for each course of treatment for these medicines.

 

Stage III melanoma means that cancer cells have spread into skin, lymph vessels or lymph glands close to the melanoma but they haven’t spread to other parts of the body.

 

Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world – 11 times higher than the worldwide average; more than twice the rate than the UK or USA.

 

It is estimated 15,229 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2019, and approximately 400 will have Stage III resected BRAF mutation positive melanoma.

 

Additionally, paediatric patients being treated for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis will benefit from the extension of two medicines listings.

 

The current PBS listing of Gilenya® (fingolimod) will be amended to include a new strength of this medicine for treatment of patients weighing 40kg or less, including paediatric patients.

 

Up to 17 patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis are expected to benefit from this listing each year. Without the PBS subsidy, patients might otherwise pay more than $28,800 for a course of treatment.

 

The PBS listing of Tysabri® (natalizumab) will be extended to remove the age restrictions for this medicine, to subsidise use in paediatric patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.

 

Without the PBS subsidy, patients might otherwise pay more than $17,500 each year and it is expected that an additional 10 patients per year will have access to this medicine.

 

These PBS listings were recommended by the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

 

Through the PBS patients will pay a maximum of $40.30 per script, with concessional people paying just $6.50 per script for these medicines.

 

Since 2013, the Morrison Government has made more than 2,200 new or amended medicines listings on the PBS. This represents an average of around 30 listings per month – or one each day – at an overall cost of around $10.6 billion.

 

Unlike Labor, we are listing all medicines recommended by the medical experts on the PBAC. In 2011, Labor stopped listing medicines on the PBS because they could not manage the economy.

 

Our commitment to ensuring that Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.

 

We are able to provide unprecedented levels of support to health and medical research because of our strong economic management.

 

About Tafinlar® and Mekinist®

              

  • Tafinlar® and Mekinist® is the first treatment targeting the BRAF gene mutation to be reimbursed for patients with Stage IIIB-D melanoma following surgery.

  • Whilst survival rates for those with early stage disease are very high, without treatment nearly one in two people with Stage IIIB-D melanoma at diagnosis will experience a recurrence within one year of surgery.

  • Tafinlar® and Mekinist®, known as targeted therapies, work on different proteins involved in tumour cell growth that are active in patients with a melanoma carrying the BRAF gene mutation.

  • By targeting and blocking growth signals from these proteins, Tafinlar® and Mekinist® can slow down or stop cancer growth.

 

HMAS Adelaide to support Operation Render Safe for the first time

30 October 2019

Operation RENDER SAFE 2019 has commenced in the Solomon Islands, with the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces working together with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) to dispose of Second World War explosives.

 

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the Solomon Islands is still affected by a large number of unexploded and abandoned munitions.

 

“The scale of military action that occurred in the Pacific is evident in the amount of explosive material still being found almost 75 years since the end of the Second World War,” Minister Reynolds said.

 

“Australia and New Zealand are proud to be working alongside the Solomon Islands authorities to help remove the danger posed by these unexploded remnants of war.

 

“The officers of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force have significant knowledge on the location and identification of unexploded and abandoned munitions and are highly experienced in their disposal and removal.

 

“Their familiarity with the environment, close connections with affected communities and technical know-how, makes the search and destruction of this material far easier.”

 

For the first time HMAS Adelaide, one of Australia’s Landing-Helicopter Dock amphibious ships, will participate in Operation RENDER SAFE.

 

It will support personnel as they undertake clearance and disposal activities around Vella Lavella Island, Ghizo, Kolombangara Island, Vonavona Island and North-west New Georgia Island.

 

Untangling the knot of trauma - Blue Knot Day 2019

30 October 2019

Today marks the tenth anniversary of Blue Knot Day, established by the Blue Knot Foundation to raise awareness of the more than five million adult survivors of complex trauma.

 

This year the theme is: Untangle the knot of complex trauma.

 

Assistant Minister for Children and Families, Michelle Landry, today highlighted the important role of Blue Knot Day in providing hope and optimism for Australians who continued to battle the ongoing impacts of trauma that they experienced as children.

 

“‘We all have a role to play in helping to untangle the knot and complexities of childhood trauma. Empowering survivors and supporting them in their recovery is paramount to their healing journey,” Assistant Minister Landry said.

 

“I am joining the Blue Knot Foundation this year in asking Australians to support the estimated one in four adults who are living with complex trauma.”

 

Assistant Minister Landry said that the Morrison Government continued to recognise the bravery of survivors and victims’ in coming forward with their story.

 

“As difficult and painful as it is to remember these stories, it is so important that we make sure that the trauma suffered never happens again,” she said.

 

“Counselling support services are always available for people to discuss their emotions in a safe and confidential environment.”

 

As specialists in phone counselling and complex trauma, the Australian Government engaged the Blue Knot Foundation to deliver counselling services for the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, and currently for the National Redress Scheme.

 

The Blue Knot Foundation will also deliver free and independent counselling for people impacted by the Disability Royal Commission, through the National Counselling and Referral Service.

 

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 000. For counselling services, the Blue Knot Foundation can be contacted on 1300 657 380.

 

HMAS Melbourne brings 27 years of service to a close

30 October 2019

The Royal Australian Navy has celebrated 27 years of service by HMAS Melbourne during a decommissioning ceremony, at her home port of Garden Island in Sydney.

 

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC acknowledged the Navy personnel whose service on Melbourne has contributed to security at sea, at home and abroad.

 

“The motto of HMAS Melbourne is, she gathers strength as she goes, and for 27 years she has served the Navy with distinction, playing an important role in protecting Australia’s maritime interests,” Minister Reynolds said.

 

“Thousands of men and women have called this ship home since she was commissioned in 1992, and for some, Melbourne represents key milestones in their lives and careers.”

 

Melbourne has steamed more than 900,000 nautical miles, deployed on operations to the Middle East eight times and earned battle honours for service in East Timor, the Persian Gulf and Middle East.

 

She spent most of 2018 and 2019 deployed overseas, including a four-month deployment through north Asia earlier this year where she conducted international maritime surveillance operations to enforce sanctions against North Korea.

 

Representing the Government at the decommissioning ceremony, Senator for New South Wales, Hollie Hughes said today’s ceremony was bittersweet.

 

“Melbourne will be missed. She has been an integral part of the Navy and the community here at Garden Island,” Senator Hughes said.

 

“It was an honour to attend the ceremony and recognise the men and women of HMAS Melbourne who contributed to her outstanding legacy.”

 

A compile of archive and recent vision of HMAS Melbourne can be found here: https://bit.ly/2lP2uFZ

 

Dairy code of conduct exposure draft released

30 October 2019

The Australian dairy industry mandatory code of conduct exposure draft was released today in what is the third and final round of consultation with the dairy industry.

 

Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, said the code would come into effect in January 2020, months ahead of schedule, thanks to the advocacy of her National Party colleagues.

 

In March 2019 the Government announced the Code’s broad principles that the regulation addresses. Since then, the Code has been developed into a legal text version.

 

“This third and final consultation period will be open for four weeks allowing for all stakeholders, from all dairy regions to have their say,” Minister McKenzie said.

 

“We are keen to make sure that all of industry has an opportunity to provide final comment on the drafted mandatory code because dairy farming is quite a different enterprise in Western Australia compared with Victoria – and that goes for all the states.

 

“I’m very happy that the mandatory code is progressing and will soon help to improve the contractual arrangements between dairy farmers and dairy processors.

 

“Of course we’re not going to solve all the issues facing the dairy industry through the Code which is why we have a suite of other measures including grants to set up cooperatives and grants to help dairy farmers upgrade or invest in energy efficient equipment to reduce energy costs.

 

“Our Government also committed $560,000 to Australian Dairy Farmers to design, develop and market test new milk pricing and trading concepts. My department will seek initial feedback on these concepts while consulting on the code.

 

“We are delivering the mandatory code as soon as possible in order to provide clearer safeguards for how farmers are treated as members of the supply chain.

 

“I remind the dairy industry again that they are on notice to make sure that the contracts offered to farmers are appropriate and fair ahead of its formal introduction—the community expects no less.

 

“The mandatory code is an outcome of the April 2018 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s report into the dairy sector. Stakeholder consultation is an essential component of the development of this mandatory code and vital to its success.”

 

For further information go to the Department of Agriculture’s Have Your Say site by 22 November, 2019.

 

Strong growth in Indigenous participation in higher education

28 October 2019

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students engaging in higher education has grown by 32.5 per cent under the Coalition Government.

 

According to the 2018 Student Data report released today:

              

  • The number of Indigenous students increased to 19,935 last year up from 15,043 in 2014.

  • The number of women studying STEM-related courses increased by 10.3 per cent to 110,370 in 2018, with the number of domestic women studying STEM increasing by 3.6 per cent.

  • Australia continues to be a destination of choice for international students, with enrolments in higher education institutions growing 11.3 per cent last year.
     

 

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said more work was needed to improve access to higher education for regional and remote Australians.

 

“Our Government is focussing on improving educational outcomes for all Australians, no matter their background or where they live,” Mr Tehan said.

 

“Our Government has made graduate employment outcomes, student success, student experience and participation of Indigenous, low socio-economic status, and regional and remote students the key metrics of our performance-based funding model to sharpen the focus of the sector on making improvements in those areas.

 

“The strong growth in overseas students is proof that Australia continues to offer a high-quality education. International education is our number one services export. It generated $35 billion for our economy and supported 240,000 jobs last year.”

 

The Selected Higher Education Statistics – 2018 Student Data is available online at https://www.education.gov.au/selected-higher-education-statistics-2018-student-data.

 

More Indigenous students applying for university

28 October 2019

Record numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are applying to study at university.

 

According to the Undergraduate Applications, Offers and Acceptances 2019 report published today:

 

              

  • 330,608 students applied for university this year, 83.6 per cent received an offer

  • Indigenous students made over 7,000 applications – an increase of 3.3 per cent on the previous year

  • Applications declined by 1.3 per cent reflecting the strong domestic labour market

 

 

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the increase in Indigenous applications demonstrates the continuing improvements in access to higher education over recent years.

 

“Our Government’s investment in supporting more Indigenous people into higher education, through programs like the Indigenous Student Success Program and the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program, is paying dividends,” Mr Tehan said.

 

“The number of Indigenous students enrolling for university has increased by 45 per cent since 2013 to almost 20,000 students.

 

“Australia’s strong jobs market is also having an impact on university application rates, with the slight fall in applications reflecting more people joining the workforce.”

 

The full report is available at https://www.education.gov.au/undergraduate-applications-offers-and-acceptances-publications.

 

Vocation-focused graduates top jobs market

28 October 2019

University graduates with vocationally-focused degrees have the best employment outcomes immediately upon graduation.

 

Pharmacy (95.7 per cent), Rehabilitation (92.4 per cent), Medicine (91.1 per cent) and Dentistry (86.2 per cent) had the highest rates of full-time employment on graduation in 2019.

 

The 2019 Graduate Outcomes Survey released today found:

              

  • The full-time graduate employment rate was 72.2 per cent.

  • Regional universities had the highest rates of full-time employment: Charles Sturt University (86 per cent), Charles Darwin University (82 per cent) and James Cook University (80 per cent).

 

The good news is that within three years of graduating, more than nine out of ten university graduates are in full-time jobs, with an average salary of $72,800, according to the 2019 Graduate Outcomes Survey – Longitudinal report released earlier this month.

 

ABS data shows graduates are always better off in the labour market. In May 2019 the graduate unemployment rate was 3.3 per cent, well below the national average of 5.3 per cent.

 

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the Morrison Government had made graduate employment outcomes the primary metric of its performance-based funding model for universities.

 

“We want universities to strengthen their focus on producing job-ready graduates with the skills to succeed in the modern economy,” Mr Tehan said.

 

“The productivity gains from improving graduate employment outcomes and lifting completion rates are worth an estimated $3.1 billion a year by 2030.

 

“Further improving the job readiness of university graduates will help the Morrison Government achieve its goal of creating another 1.25 million jobs over the next five years, including 250,000 new jobs for young Australians.”

 

The Graduate Outcomes Survey was an online survey completed by 132,176 graduates across 109 higher education institutions.

 

Joint Media Statement on the death of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi

28 October 2019

The announcement by US President Donald Trump confirming the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is welcomed by Australia.

 

 

Al-Baghdadi died in a US-led raid on his hideout in northwest Syria on 26 October.

 

He led a murderous, terrorist group responsible for widespread misery and destruction across large parts of Iraq and Syria.

 

He also inspired or directed cowardly attacks by ISIS followers against innocent civilians around the world, some of whom were Australian.

 

He was responsible for ordering ethnic cleansing, sexual slavery, and other crimes against humanity.

 

Al-Baghdadi’s death is a significant blow to ISIS and another important step in preventing its revitalisation. It is important to remember his death does not represent the end of the campaign to defeat this terrorist group and the extremism it embodies.

 

ISIS and its perverted ideology continue to pose security threats in the Middle East region and beyond.

 

Australia remains an active contributor to the 79-member Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and is committed to playing our part in the evolving counter-terrorism fight. Keeping Australians safe from terrorist attacks remains a foremost priority for the Government.

Australian Defence Force personnel continue to support Coalition operations against ISIS.

 

The Australian Government thanks Australian and Coalition military forces who, for many years, have helped in the efforts to defeat ISIS.

 

We honour the courage and sacrifice of Iraqi Security Forces in the liberation of their land from the ruthless occupation of ISIS.

 

We also restate our deep respect for the Syrian Democratic Forces, who have been steadfast and courageous security partners in the counter-ISIS coalition.

 

Australia will continue to work closely with Coalition partners and the wider international community to counter ISIS, including by stemming their financing, and stopping terrorist groups using the internet as a tool of recruitment and propaganda.

 

Supporting First Home Buyers

27 October 2019

The Coalition Government has today released for consultation the draft Investment Mandate for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (the Scheme) which will help eligible first home buyers enter the property market sooner.

 

The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) Investment Mandate Amendment (First Home Loan Deposit Scheme) Direction 2019, sets out the core elements of the Scheme and NHFIC’s housing research function, including the property price caps.

 

The Scheme provides a guarantee that will allow eligible first home buyers on low and middle incomes to purchase a home with a deposit of as little as 5 per cent. The Scheme will support up to 10,000 loans each financial year, starting from 1 January 2020.

 

Applicants will be subject to eligibility criteria, including having taxable incomes up to $125,000 per annum for singles and up to $200,000 per annum for couples. The Scheme will apply to owner-occupied loans on a principal and interest basis.

 

Property price caps under the Scheme set appropriate price thresholds in capital cities, large regional centres with a population over 250,000 and regional areas;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The capital city price caps will apply to large regional centres with a population in excess of 250,000, namely the Gold Coast, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, the Sunshine Coast, Illawarra (Wollongong) and Geelong, recognising that dwellings in large regional centres tend to be significantly more expensive than other regional areas.

 

The Scheme complements other Coalition Government initiatives to reduce pressure on housing affordability in Australia and support local communities. This includes:

 

  • The First Home Super Saver Scheme which helps Australians build a deposit for a first home inside their superannuation fund by making voluntary contributions.
     

  • Investing $1 billion in local infrastructure to unlock new housing supply, in partnership with local councils through the National Housing Infrastructure Facility.
     

  • Releasing suitable Commonwealth land, including defence land, for housing development.

              

 

These incentives have helped thousands of first home buyers enter the market. In the past year, around 110,000 Australians bought their first home – the highest level since 2009.

 

The Coalition Government’s plan to build a stronger economy will continue to help first home buyers own their first home sooner.

 

Stakeholders are invited to comment on the draft Investment Mandate Amendment and associated material, which are available on the Treasury website. Submissions close on Monday, 4 November 2019.

 

Australia's submarines in the national interest

25 October 2019

Australia’s submarine capability is an essential component of our defence force.

 

As the Indo-Pacific region experiences a new era of strategic competition, our submarine fleet is vital in keeping Australians safe and our sea lanes open.

 

Today our fleet of six Collins Class submarine incorporates the most advanced technology of any conventional submarines.

 

Three of the six submarines are consistently available for tasking as it attends to its most solemn duty – the protection of the nation and our people.

 

This cannot be achieved without the skills, courage and professionalism of our hard-working submariners.

 

Today we thanked the men and women of the Royal Australian Navy, at HMAS Stirling in Perth.

Being a submariner is no easy job. We ask our people who protect our nation to spend long periods of time away from their families, and they often can’t talk about what they do.

But it is also a highly rewarding career, working around the world on one of our best navy assets with a crew of great mates.

As the Morrison Government delivers our $90 billion Naval Shipbuilding Plan, the largest regeneration of the Navy since the Second World War, we will be building 57 naval vessels in Australia, by Australian workers, with Australian steel.

 

These vessels will be the backbone of the ADF’s maritime capability and will generate 15,000 new jobs across defence industry, from diesel fitters to electricians and carpenters.