Controversial nuclear waste plans back under the spotlight

A controversial government plan to build a national nuclear waste storage site has come back under the spotlight.  Photo: Andrew Quilty

A controversial government plan to build a national nuclear waste storage site has come back under the spotlight.  Photo: Andrew Quilty

Issues at two of Australia's largest radioactive waste storage facilities have put a controversial government plan back under the spotlight.

For years the federal government has tried in vain to build a national dump for the country's nuclear waste. 

Staunch opposition from prospective locations has repeatedly stalled the project, which opponents believe is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

Millions at stake in Powerhouse Museum negotiations

An artist's impression of the proposed Powerhouse Museum to be built in Parramatta.

An artist's impression of the proposed Powerhouse Museum to be built in Parramatta.

Parramatta is at risk of losing $803 million in economic activity if the axe falls on the State Government’s plans to move the Powerhouse Museum to its CBD.

A new report produced for the council by a specialist consultancy says at stake is an expected $42.5 million in additional revenue for Parramatta businesses and more than 2,320 jobs a year during construction of the museum.

Post construction, the Powerhouse will provide 260 new jobs in Parramatta.

A four-day work week - just the beginning

The five-day work week has been a permanent fixture in Australian workplaces, however, the Greens have suggested that a four-day work week could be feasible.

Dr Lindsay McMillan, from global HR think-tank Reventure and lead researcher of the national campaign to renew workplaces – a future that works welcomed the announcement as the start of a robust debate about changing entrenched work practices.

Figures show Australian Airbnb hosts to make less than half of what they charge

Apartment-owners fare only slightly better, than house owners in the Airbnb profit stakes, likely to make a little over half the price they tend to charge. Photo: Eddie Jim

Apartment-owners fare only slightly better, than house owners in the Airbnb profit stakes, likely to make a little over half the price they tend to charge. Photo: Eddie Jim

People who rent out their houses on Airbnb stand to make, on average, less than half of what they charge, new figures based on the company’s data and checked by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) show.

Apartment-owners fare only slightly better, likely to make a little over half the price they tend to charge, after paying income and Capital Gains Tax when they finally sell their property.

RFSA fights to maintain funding levels for fire services under new model

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The official representative association for the State’s 74,000 volunteer fire fighters, the NSW Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA), believes it has secured sustainable funding for its members following a commitment from the NSW Government over a new property-based emergency services levy.

The new levy, to be charged to landowners through their local government rate payments, replaces the existing funding model where emergency services are funded primarily through levies collected by insurance companies.

RFSA President Ken Middleton said the Association supported the existing insurance-based model over the proposed property-based model, but recognised the Government’s intent of following other States into a property-based model, and therefore worked closely with the Government to secure the best interests of its members under a new approach.

“We had concerns about the property-based levy before and we still have some concerns now, but at the end of the day we believe we have achieved our first priority – to ensure funding levels for rural fire-fighting services are maintained and have the ability to grow as required,” Mr Middleton said.

“We commissioned Deloitte to look at our options under the new funding model so we understood clearly where the potential
flaws would be for our members. That work was vital for us to be armed with the facts we needed when we entered negotiations.

“As a result we were able to make our case clearly and strongly to the NSW Government so our members achieve the best result possible out of these new arrangements.”

Mr Middleton said the RFSA had negotiated to ensure the RFS retained its autonomy in the emergency services structure, to maintain funding levels with room for growth, and to give the service the ability to roll over unspent committed funds for volunteers into the next financial year.

Mr Middleton says interstate experience suggests a broad property levy may not always be able to keep up with the funding needs of a rural fire service, which the RFSA will monitor closely over coming years.

“Our number one priority is to ensure our members, the 74,000-plus volunteers who make up the RFS, continue to be funded adequately and appropriately,” Mr Middleton said.

“We congratulate the Government on being open to consultation, for listening to our concerns as the peak body representing the volunteers and members of the rural fire service, and for taking steps to improve the legislation.

“The RFSA will continue to fight on behalf of our members and volunteers to make sure the NSW Government is true to its word to maintain strong funding for the RFS.”

Airbnb to hold ‘secret’ briefing for NSW state MPs

Sydney’s inner-city harbour and beachside apartment blocks are the jewels in the holiday-letting crown. Photo: Anna Kucera

Sydney’s inner-city harbour and beachside apartment blocks are the jewels in the holiday-letting crown. Photo: Anna Kucera

Airbnb is ramping up its efforts to gain access to Sydney’s apartment blocks by holding a private briefing for NSW state MPs ahead of new legislation on the short-term holiday letting industry.

MPs have been invited to a special event at Parliament House on Thursday where Airbnb employees and selected super-hosts will “advise them on home sharing and the visitor economy in NSW” as well as present them with details on the positive impacts of Airbnb in their electorates.

Firing up the barbie to support volunteers

Kyogle RFS are looking forward to using their new gas barbecue which will allow them to cater at incidents, celebrate brigade milestones and at open days.

Kyogle RFS are looking forward to using their new gas barbecue which will allow them to cater at incidents, celebrate brigade milestones and at open days.

WHEN it comes to bringing Rural Fire Service volunteer fire-fighters together, not much beats a good old barbecue.

Barbecues are important when you are managing catering to feed the crew at an incident or celebrating new members of the brigade when they get their basic qualifications.

Insurers on notice to cut premiums in fire service levy overhaul

A NSW Fire Brigade member fights a fire in the Lake Macquarie area this summer. The levy for emergency services will move to council rates this year. Photo: Nick Moir

A NSW Fire Brigade member fights a fire in the Lake Macquarie area this summer. The levy for emergency services will move to council rates this year. Photo: Nick Moir

Insurers are being put on notice that residential premiums must fall by up to 20 per cent after the introduction of a new scheme to fund fire and emergency services in NSW.

But the opposition has questioned whether the savings will be delivered, especially after a government-appointed watchdog's role ends at the end of 2018.

Driving prices sky high

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Airbnb is driving up prices in Sydney’s popular tourist spots and the hike will soon hit Blacktown, according to Owners Corporation Network chair Stephen Goddard.

The University of Sydney released a study in January, which looked at Airbnb’s impact across five Sydney council areas: City of Sydney, Waverley, Marrickville, Leichhardt and Parramatta.

French operators of Aube nuclear waste dump tour SA sites considered for Australian dump

Spent fuel from nuclear reactors inside a French nuclear waste reprocessing plant. Picture: AFP

Spent fuel from nuclear reactors inside a French nuclear waste reprocessing plant. Picture: AFP

Touring a radioactive waste dump isn’t high on most people’s list of things to do when they visit France’s Champagne region.

But keeping the doors open to visitors is a vital part of the Aube radioactive waste disposal facility’s ongoing efforts to build public trust.

Well over three quarters of the local population opposed the construction of the waste dump in the late 1980s, but annual surveys show most people now support it.

“More than 75 per cent of the population supports our activities and they think that it’s a good thing that we’re here,’’ Aube waste disposal centre director Patrice Torres said.

Senior PR & Media Advisor

Australian Public Affairs is a dynamic communications consultancy seeking a PR and Media Advisor to run campaigns on behalf of our clients.

The ideal candidate will have experience in both journalism and the political landscape in NSW or Federally.

The job will involve the management of campaigns, clients, budgets and resources to service a range of corporate, government and industry clients on regulatory and issues-related matters.

An ability to design a successful communications strategy, actively cultivate high traction messaging, and deliver campaign results are essential elements.

An ability to generate new business to help grow the practice will be valued and rewarded but is not essential.

We are a fun team that really enjoys interesting issues and clients.

Please send a max 3 page CV and cover letter to Tracey Cain at tcain@apa.net.au

Blacktown service tackles growing need for mental health care

Psychologist Steve Bailey with Mental Health Workers Mariham Bast and Changiz Iranpour.

Psychologist Steve Bailey with Mental Health Workers Mariham Bast and Changiz Iranpour.

A Blacktown mental health service has “taken matters into its own hand” to try and tackle the growing need for mental health assistance in western Sydney by offering a mobile service.

Non-profit group 180 Wellbeing Solutions (formerly Marist Youth Care) is rolling out the program to curb the rate of mental health in the region.

More than 12 per cent of adults across western Sydney primary health networks report high or very high levels of psychological distress.

Embrace change to deal with a more fragmented marketplace

Recruitment agency Ignite says businesses need to embrace change this year, as they face a fragmented marketplace where job candidates are using different platforms to find work and where people are looking for non-traditional employment.

Chief executive Julian Sallabank says growing trends include a greater demand for part-time work, which has made Australia a more competitive economy, with many skilled workers choosing reduced hours so they can spend more time with family or pursue hobbies.

Fading Eyre Peninsula town looks to nuclear waste dump for a future

The Australian  |  February 6, 2017
VERITY EDWARDS

Kimba farmer Jeff Baldock at the property he has offered for Australia’s new nuclear wastedump. Picture: Katrina Koch.

Kimba farmer Jeff Baldock at the property he has offered for Australia’s new nuclear wastedump. Picture: Katrina Koch.

Jeff Baldock, a third-generation farmer at Kimba, watches the Eyre Peninsula town 460km west of Adelaide declining as families move for work and schooling, but believes that if his land was chosen for an intermediate-level nuc­lear waste dump it would mean econo­mic salvation.

Aboriginal corporation wants FOI waiver for land councils revoked

Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation chairman Bakamumu Marika  |  Picture: Amos Aikman

Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation chairman Bakamumu Marika  |  Picture: Amos Aikman

A Northern Territory Aboriginal corporation has launched an ­explosive new salvo in its long-running battle with the nation’s largest land council, asking ­Attorney-General George Brandis to revoke a “frankly mad” blanket exemption such councils enjoy from freedom of information ­requests.

The Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation of East Arnhem Land, which manages businesses with an annual turnover of tens of millions of dollars, argues that the exemption has created “an unfair situation, which is hurting us and hurting our people”.

Independent survey – one in ten workers is verbally abused or bullied

New data shows that 10 per cent of Australian employees have experienced verbal abuse or bullying in the workplace.

And that doesn’t include serious incidences of conflict or other negative impacts from work – which another half of workers have experienced at some point in their career.

These are some of the concerning findings from the recent 2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace – a national survey of 1,001 workers undertaken by global think-tank, Reventure Ltd.

“Any abuse is not on, but to see 10 per cent of workers surveyed say they experience this behaviour in the workplace is a real wake up a call,” said lead researcher, Dr Lindsay McMillan. 

“Bullying and abuse in the workplace can have a devastating effect on an individual’s mental and physical health and an organisation’s culture.

“Employers, employer organisations and unions need to work collaboratively to drive down these damning numbers and work towards creating happier and healthier workplaces.” 

Dr McMillan also stressed that some types of workplace bullying can be criminal offences. 

“If any employee has experienced violence, assault and stalking then they can – and should - report it directly to the police,” Dr McMillan said. 

Also according to the Snapshot:

·         20 per cent of workers experienced high levels of negativity in the workplace;

·         18 per cent experienced conflict with their boss

·         14 per cent experienced mental or physical health decline as a direct result of their work.

“Statistics like these are why we started A Future That Works, a campaign to focus business leaders, employers, employees and contractors on how to improve and renew their workplaces,” he said.

“The first step is to identify the problem – the next is to pursue solutions such as workplace bullying prevention plans and proactively promoting respect in the workplace.”

A Future That Works is aimed at undertaking research to highlight the issues, such as work-related stress, and finding solutions so that workplaces can more actively engage with modern challenges.