Anzac Day services were held across Australia today to mark the 98th anniversary of the first landings by Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli, Turkey in 1915.
Thousands attended dawn services around the country to commemorate and pay tribute to soldiers who fought and died during the wars.
ABC News reports that Victoria Cross winner Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith addressed a special dawn service at the war memorial in the capital, Canberra.
The corporal read out letters from serving soldiers, including one who is currently deployed in Afghanistan's Kandahar province.
"At this moment I am proud. Proud of my wife and her efforts back home. Proud of my country. Proud of my mates' service, and the sacrifices we all make in order to serve," he read.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard attended a special service in the city of Townsville in North Queensland where she laid a wreath as a mark of respect for the seven soldiers who lost their lives since Anzac Day last year.
The city is home to one of Australia's biggest Defence communities.
Prime Minister Gillard also attend the city's Anzac Day parade later in the day.
The City of Perth is to play host to the largest resouce event in its history, the Liquified Natural Gas (LGN) Conference in 2016.
This week the Mines and Petroleum Minister, Bill Marmion is in Texas in the US, where he will address 10,000 delegates at the closing stages of this this year's LNG Conference.
After the Minister delivers his address the organisers, Houston, will pass on the hosting duties for the next conference in 2016 to Western Australia.
Seen as the largest resources event in its history, it is anticipated to inject more than $50million into the State’s economy.
He will use the closing ceremony address to invite thousands of international
delegates, exhibitors and petroleum industry representatives from more than 80
countries to attend the eighteenth LGN conference in Perth 2016.
“LNG18 is expected to attract 5,000 delegates and exhibitors and inject more than
$50million into the State’s economy, the largest such event in WA’s history,”
Mr Marmion said.
“It will be an unparalleled opportunity to promote Western Australia’s petroleum
resources and role as a global energy supplier, and Perth as a major centre for
expertise and services to the petroleum industry in Australia and Asia.”
While in Houston Mr Marmion will also meet with senior executives from exploration,
production and services companies from the USA, Europe and Asia.
“This interaction is crucial, as Western Australia is becoming a world leader in
“By 2016, WA is expected to have an annual LNG production capacity of more than 50
million tonnes - up from the current level of 20 million tonnes.”
The LNG17 conference runs from the 16-19 April.
Moving on: Allanah Lucus
Director General of the Department of Culture and the Arts, Allanah Lucas has decided to not seek reappointment to her role.
In a press statement today, the Planning Minister, John Day paid tribute to Miss Lucas and said she will be undertaking a different role within the public sector.
Minister Day said that he greatly valued the advice and assistance Ms Lucas had provided to him and the Government over the past four and half years.
“Allanah’s knowledge of, and experiences in, the arts sector has been invaluable during a period of significant developments,” he said.
“She has played a pivotal role in managing the ever present financial pressures
whilst also leading in the ongoing growth of a vibrant and active arts sector in Western Australia.”
Lucas was appointed director Arts WA in 1999, after having worked in a variety
of roles in the sector in both Australia and the United Kingdom.
She was appointed Executive Director Development and Strategy in 2005 and became Director General of the Department in 2008.
Allanah guided the planning and delivery of cultural infrastructure, the most
significant being the delivery of the State Theatre Centre in 2011.
Th planning minister said she had played an important role in the first stages of planning for the new Western Australian Museum in the Perth Cultural Centre.
Peanalising WA schools: Premier Barnett (pic: sbs.com.au)
WA Premier Colin Barnett has strongly criticised the Federal Government’s proposed overhaul of education funding.
Premier Barnett said he believes that such changes will disadvantage West Australian children in public schools.
Speaking yesterday, he said the latest Federal figures showed that NSW would get 16 times the funding of WA.
The Premier indicated that he thought WA would be penalised for their previous, strong investment in children and education.
As a consequence WA would receive the same funding as Northern Territory, which has only one tenth of the states population.
“Effectively, Prime Minister Gillard wants to disadvantage West Australian boys and girls
because of the my Government’s strong investment in State schools," he said.
Barnett said he was not prepared to hold WA schools back just so that other states could catch up.
He said the State Government spent an average of $13,900 per primary student and $19,050 per secondary student in government schools.
The Commonwealth model is based on an average $9,200 per primary student and
$12,200 per secondary student, with loadings for socio-economic status, disability, Aboriginality, location and size.
The Premier criticised the Gillard Government over the proposals, calling it: 'disgraceful'.
“What’s worse is that we will only get $50million a year if we sign up to a model
that restricts funding to WA government schools to get them down to a national
“This is just another example of Prime Minister Gillard attempting to financially
penalise Western Australia for being successful,” the Premier said.
Troy Buswell tests out a segway. Photo: WA today
WA Transport Minister, Troy Buswell has approved regulation amendments enabling the limited use of Segways across the state.
However, use will be restricted to special commercial tour operators within specified areas and under strict conditions.
The electric, personal transporter devices, or Segways, will now be allowed on shared paths, giving WA tourism a boost.
“As the regulations stand, the use of Segways is prohibited on all roads or paths within the State,” Minister Buswell said.
“This amended to the regulations will allow them to be used as part of commercial tours between sunrise and sunset."
Western Australia is now only the second state or territory in the country to approve the use of Segways for tour operators according to the minister and he said he believes that it will be a great tourism opportunity for the State.
But the use of segways will be subject to certain restrictions.
Commercial operators will need to seek approval from the local council or authority of the area in which they propose to operate a segway tour. They will also have to seek approval from the State Government.
“The regulations also specify safety requirements, including training and the use of helmets, that must be met in order for approval to be granted," the Minister said.
"But with these safety regulations in place,I am confident the segways will be welcomed by the public,” he added.
Due to safety issues, the amendments do not extend to allow personal use of segways outside the supervised commercial tours.
Co-founder of Apple and Segway enthusiast Steve Wozniak welcomed WA's move to introduce segway tours saying: “Segways are a benefit to my life in many aspects”.
Mr Wozniak, who travels extensively said he found such transport to be the best form of city tour.
" On a segway tour you are on the ground, with the advantages of a pedestrian tour, but it's much easier on the segway.”
Mr Wozniak visited Perth last year where he did a restricted Segway tour of Kings Park.
Helen Morton: Mental Health Minister (WA)
WA's Mental Health Minister, Helen Morton has praised the merging of the Drug and Alcohol Office (DAO) with the Mental Health Commission (MHC).
Minister Morton said she believes it will ensure better integration of the State’s network of mental health and drug and alcohol prevention and treatment services.
“There is no doubt that there is a substantial link between people experiencing mental illness and harmful drug and alcohol use,” Mrs Morton said.
“Given the common occurrence of drug and alcohol issues coexisting with mental health problems, this merger will support a timely and effective response to both issues," she added.
The Minister said that the Stokes Report highlighted the need for improved liaison between mental health and drug and alcohol services to co-operatively provide care and intervention for patients with dual conditions.
“The new arrangement will encourage culture change, reduce the incidence of ‘silos’ in service delivery and improve the delivery of mental health and drug and alcohol services across the State.
The MHC and DAO currently operate primarily as the purchaser of services across government. This proposal will strengthen the ability of the departments to negotiate and manage contracts.
The board of the DAO will continue to operate and be supported by the MHC until changes to the Alcohol and Drug Authority Act 1974 can be enacted to amalgamate the DAO and the MHC.
Sweeping reform: Colin Barnett
Sweeping reforms are ahead for local government in Western Austraila according to Premier Colin Barnett.
In an announcement today the Premier said the proposed changes will improve the delivery of services to the Western Australian community.
Among the proposed changes is the merger of Verve and Synergy.
Other comprehensive reforms will result in a new Department of Local Government and Communities established, a new stand-alone Department of Lands created and, as outlined during the election campaign, responsibility for science will be moved into the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC).
Mr Barnett said he was keen to get on with his election commitment of splitting the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) into a new Department of Parks and Wildlife and an environmental regulation department which will retain the name DEC.
The Premier said that consideration was being given to subsequently amalgamating the Department of Water with the remaining part of DEC but if this takes place, it would not occur until the end of the year.
It's expected that the Office of Strategic Projects and the Regulatory Gatekeeping Unit from Treasury will be brought into the Department of Finance. The Department of Indigenous Affairs will be renamed the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, following requests from the Aboriginal community and the Department for Child Protection will be renamed the Department for Child Protection and Family Support.
The Drug and Alcohol Office will be joined with the Mental Health Commission under the control of a single chief executive, in an effort to ensure better integration if prevention services.
Mr Barnett said the changes to the Drug and Alcohol Office were in response to the findings of the Stokes Report which highlighted issues facing the mental health system including the need for ‘improved liaison between mental health and drug and alcohol services worker willingness to co-operatively provide care and intervention for patients with dual conditions’.
“The changes will improve service delivery, streamline processes, ensure better transparency and bring greater efficiencies to many government operations. They are about building better structures of government and ensuring better delivery of service to the public,"he said.
“These are logical steps in the provision of better government services," the Premier added.
He believes that the changes to Verve and Synergy would deliver improved efficiencies in the delivery of electricity, and noted that the splitting of Western Power into separate State-owned entities had failed to deliver lower electricity costs.
“This structure has created a series of unintended and highly inefficient outcomes which has contributed to higher electricity costs,” he said.
Mr Barnett said while the electricity market changes had attracted some private sector investment they had also resulted in a lack of longer-term planning on electricity market requirements, including energy security.
With regard to the other changes, the Premier said the new Department of Local Government and Communities would improve the delivery of a range of community services at the local level.
“We expect this will drive increased collaboration at a local level between Government agencies, not-for-profit organisations and local governments,” he said.
He foresees that splitting DEC would also have great advantages.
“This will clearly separate the management and conservation of our unique marine and terrestrial environment from the role of environmental regulator,” he said.
“Parks and Wildlife will focus on scientific research and conservation efforts and promotion of the tourism potential of our State’s natural assets.”
In addition, a new single authority, to be named the Conservation and Parks Commission will replace two separate existing authorities, the Marine Parks Reserves Authority and the Conservation Commission.
According to Barnett, moving Science into the DPC shows the importance of Science and a science culture to the future development of the State.
“The knowledge and application of science is what underpins new and diverse concepts and ideas. It’s what enables communities to take steps forward in the way they run businesses, the way they protect the environment and the way they educate their children,” he said.
“Recreating a Department of Lands will also ensure that sufficient attention is given to the integrity of the system of land titles while moving the Office of Strategic Projects and the Regulatory Gatekeeping Unit in the Department of Treasury to the Department of Finance will consolidate capital works projects within one agency.”
The legislation which will see the reform of ports management, including the consolidation of the seven of the State’s eight port authorities into four regional port authorities, announced last year, will also be introduced into Parliament this year.
Western Australian parents can now turn to social media for advice on raising children thanks to a new Parenting WA Facebook page.
Community Services Minister, Tony Simpson said the launch of the new page was an innovative way to engage local parents and carers through the use of social media.
“More and more people, including parents, are turning to the internet and social media for information, so providing a local Facebook page will keep parents regularly informed of the help that is out there for them,” Mr Simpson said.
“I encourage people to ‘like’ this page and keep up-to-date on parenting courses, parenting events and parenting resources to assist them in the often challenging role of being a parent.”
The Minister said the Facebook page would not be able to respond online to individual queries but people would be referred to the Parenting WA line and local Parenting WA staff or offered information where appropriate.
Parenting WA offers a 24/7 telephone and email support service, a free parenting library and staff based in metropolitan and regional locations to offer as much assistance as they can.
TWU: Tony Sheldon
Head of the Transport Workers Union,Tony Sheldon has been forced to 'eat humble pie' after it was revealed that some senior, union staff are holders of 457 visas.
ABC News reports that The Federal Government is promising to crack down on the use of 457 visas, arguing that Australian workers should be prioritised over foreign labour.
In an interview earlier this year Sheldon said he thought employers should be obliged to train Australians first and prioritise jobs for Australian workers.
"457 workers should only be brought in where there's real shortages," Sheldon added.
But the union has now confirmed three staff in its national office are employed under the visa system.
Mr Sheldon defended the three jobs saying that the staff in question were employed after the union was unable to find local staff for the positions.
He says the problem with 457 visas has always been "unscrupulous employers taking advantage of loopholes in the system".
Sheldon has declined a further interview request from the ABC following the revelation.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is also receiving continued criticism regarding the 457 system after it was revealed that her Communications Director, John McTernan is also a 457 holder.
Liberal Senator Eric Abetz says the latest revelations involving the TWU undermine Labor's campaign.
Ms Gillard has rejected accusations the Government is being racist in its determination to crack down on the use of 457 visas.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch yesterday said the Government's language around the issue was "pretty disgraceful and racist".
But Ms Gillard has rejected the claim.
"My job as Prime Minister is to make sure that Australians - Australian citizens - have their job opportunities put first," she said.