Business News Releases

VET Inquiry public hearings commence

THE House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training is holding the first public hearing for its inquiry into the perceptions and status of VET.

Lisa Chesters MP, Committee Chair, said, “The committee is commencing its hearings for this important inquiry by hearing from the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and Jobs and Skills Australia."

Ms Chesters said, “The Department has responsibility for the Commonwealth skills and training portfolio, and these hearings will provide the Committee with the opportunity to understand and examine the current policy environment before hearing from other stakeholders at future hearings.”

The committee will seek to hold further public hearings over the coming months, with groups and organisations including National Rugby League, TAFE Directors Australia, the Australian Education Union, education peak bodies, employer groups, unions, academics and others.

Details of these public hearings will be posted on the committee website when available. More information on the inquiry, including the full terms of reference and details on making a submission, can be found on the committee website.



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Intelligence and Security Committee recommends passage of the IGIS Modernisation Bill

THE Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) today presented its Advisory Report on the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Modernisation) Bill 2022.

The report considers the operation and effectiveness of the amendments proposed by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Modernisation) Bill 2022. The Committee recommended the Bill be passed following the implementation of the four remaining recommendations.

The committee considered that information sharing provisions between the IGIS and the committee could be improved and recommended that opportunities to improve information sharing should be pursued. The committee also recommended that an individual’s eligibility for appointment to the role of Inspector-General should occur after an appropriate period of time to be determined by the government, following the individual’s employment in an intelligence agency.

The remaining recommendations provide that the Office of National Intelligence develop an employment framework for staff engaged under their Act, and an amendment to the Bill to ensure consistency between integrity bodies’ legislation.

Committee Chair Peter Khalil MP said: ‘The committee supports improvements that allow the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to effectively oversee Australia’s intelligence agencies."

Further information on the inquiry as well as a copy of the report can be obtained from the Committee’s website.



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Sales of new homes in February remain low - HIA

NEW HOME SALES in the three months to February were 46.8 percent lower than at the same time the previous year.

That is the advice of Housing Industry Association of Australia (HIA) chief economist, Tim Reardon, based on the latest HIA New Home Sales report – a monthly survey of the largest volume home builders in the five largest states – as a leading indicator of future detached home construction.

“Sales in the month of February rose by 14.3 percent compared with the previous month but remain exceptionally low,” Mr Reardon said.

“Sales of new homes stalled late in 2022 as the adverse impact of the RBA’s rate increases continue to erode market confidence.

“When the cash rate started to rise in May 2022 there was a very large pool of work to commence construction. This pool of work yet to commence is shrinking quickly as new sales remain very low and the number of new projects entering the pipeline falls," he said.

“Tighter access to finance and a higher cash rate is seeing many new home buyers withdraw from the market. Customers that received approval to build a new home early in 2022 are cancelling these projects as the cost-of-living bites and banks withdraw financing.

“Without an improvement in access to finance, or a lowering of rates, the number of new homes commencing construction will slow later this year.

“The RBA isn’t going to return the economy to stability by putting the building industry through boom-and-bust cycles,” Mr Reardon said.

For the three months to February 2023, compared with the same period the previous year, new home sales in New South Wales were down by 76.6 percent, followed by Queensland (-51.2 percent), Victoria (-42.3 percent), Western Australia (-14.8 percent) and South Australia (-6.0 percent).



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Australia-Iceland Double Taxation Convention and Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention recommended for ratification

THE Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) has recommended the Australian Government ratifies the convention between Australia and Iceland for the Elimination of Double Taxation with respect to Taxes on Income and the Prevention of Tax Evasion and Avoidance and its Protocol (Reykjavík, October 12, 2022) (Tax Convention) and the convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (Paris, November 2, 2001) (UCH Convention).

The Tax Convention would establish a framework for the taxation of cross-border transactions between Australia and Iceland. It identifies the persons and taxes to which the convention would apply, establishes where various types of income would be taxed, and specifies how relief from double taxation would be provided.

JSCOT Chair, Josh Wilson MP said, "This would be the 46th double taxation agreement to which Australia is a party. Eliminating double taxation through the Tax Convention would encourage expanded investment and economic activity between Australia and Iceland.”

The UCH Convention focuses on the protection and preservation of underwater cultural heritage that has been underwater continuously or periodically for at least 100 years.

Mr Wilson said: “Australia has become a leader in UCH and proudly helped to draft this convention. Ratification would allow more scope for Australia to assist other state parties in the preservation of Australian UCH outside our own waters, like war ships sunk in battle. Australia would also be able to lead by example and encourage other states in the Asia-Pacific to become state parties.”

The importance of preserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander UCH was raised during the public hearing.

Mr Wilson said: “Academics report that over the past 20,000 years 2 million square kilometres of Australia’s continental landmass has been submerged. This means that many historic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sites - dating back thousands of years - lie underwater and can be protected, preserved or studied.”

The committee considered evidence from the government that the harmonisation of Commonwealth, state, and territory legal regimes would be encouraged as a result of ratification. This would help create a more consistent protection and management of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander UCH.

“The preservation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander underwater cultural heritage is of vital importance to Australia, and this can be better protected through the provisions of the Convention,” Mr Wilson said.

The convention would also provide for public awareness of UCH, education, research, training in underwater archaeology and the exchange of technology. Notably, the Convention contains an Annex of Rules for activities directed at UCH. 

As part of its inquiry into UCH, the committee heard from a range of stakeholders in the field of UCH including government, non-government organisations, academics, and other specialists who all supported ratification.

The report can be found on the Committee website, along with further information on the inquiry.




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Paramedics target bed block with 'return to road' pledge

FRUSTRATED paramedics in New South Wales are launching their ‘return to the road’ pledge, bucking health department orders to stay in clogged hospitals with non-urgent patients, and instead vowing get back on the road to deal with life-threatening emergencies.

Under current health department policies, paramedics can get stuck in bed blocked hospitals for hours on end accompanying patients suffering relatively minor conditions such as sunburn because the hospital is too overwhelmed to process a formal handover.

This bed block prevents the paramedic attending to fresh, life threatening emergencies, according to the Health Services Union (HSU).

HSU NSW Secretary, Gerard Hayes said from early Tuesday, paramedics will take matters into their own hands. If they judge the condition of a patient aged 18-85 to be stable, they will return to the road.

Mr Hayes said the paramedic workforce was taking the action to promote public health.

“It’s astounding we have to do this, but we have no other option,” Mr Hayes said.

“Paramedics are at their wits’ end. They are forced to hang around emergency departments with patients who have constipation, stubbed toes or sunburn all because there simply isn’t enough staff to process a handover. We are sacrificing crucial minutes where we could be responding to a potential cardiac arrest.

“At the heart of this problem is the collapse in hospital staffing. There are 12,000 vacancies across the hospital system because people with skills and experience simply can’t afford to live in NSW and work in health," he said.

"This is the consequence of a decade of wage suppression.

"We have tried every which way to propose reform options that would reduce bed block. Sadly we have hit a brick wall.

“HSU paramedics have designed this action carefully and responsibly so that it enhances patient wellbeing."

The action begins from the first shift on Tuesday morning in NSW.



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