A new Climate Change Authority (CCA) is to be established to provide expert advice on the Federal Government’s carbon pricing mechanism. It will be chaired by the former Reserve Bank Governor and former Treasury Secretary Bernie Fraser.

The CCA is to be established by legislation as an independent body to provide expert advice on key aspects of the Federal Government’s carbon pricing mechanism.

Mr Fraser is currently Chairman of Members Equity Bank. Until recently, he was a director of two of Australia's largest superannuation funds, AustralianSuper and Cbus, positions he held for 15 years.

Health care businesses generated $43 billion in income, and spent over $32 billion on expenses, according to a report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).


Australia's private sector health care businesses operated from 101,725 locations providing medical and other health care to 22.3 million people.


These businesses employed or contracted 188,000 registered practitioners and other health care professionals, at the end of June 2010, with a further 145,000 other staff providing support for the same period.


Primary health care services (general practitioner, specialist and dental services) operated from 68,877 locations with the majority of these services (over 75%) located in capital cities and suburbs.


Primary health care services employed or contracted 111,000 registered practitioners and other health care professionals and saw 6 million patients in an average working week.


Further information is in Health Care Services, Australia 2009-10 (cat. no 8570.0).

The Federal Government is planning to push its proposed carbon tax through parliament and senate before the end of the year after it announced that a draft plan of the legislation is due for release within weeks.

Dr Tony Fleming has been appointed as the new Director of the Australian Antarctic Division.

 

Dr Fleming has held senior executive positions within both the Federal and New South Wales public service for more than 20 years and more recently in the not-for-profit sector.

 

He has been the Director of the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Deputy Director-General of the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change.

 

He worked with the Commonwealth to develop the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and was responsible for the Environment Department’s environmental science and reporting activities.

 

Most recently he was National Operations Manager with not-for-profit organisation the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, which manages over 2.5 million hectares of Australia for conservation purposes.

 

Dr Fleming holds a Bachelor of Science and a PhD in Forestry from the Australian National University.

 

Dr Fleming also has strong family connections with Antarctica. His grandfather Sir Raymond Priestley went south with both Shackleton (Nimrod expedition in 1907-09) and Scott (Terra Nova expedition 1910-1913).

 

Additionally his grandfather’s sisters married Thomas Griffith Taylor and Charles 'Silas' Wright, who were both members of Scott's Terra Nova expedition.

 

Dr Fleming will take up his position in August.

A $1.3 billion package has been announced as part of the Federal Government's carbon price plan to support companies with high levels of fugutive emissions in the mining process.

Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) head Dr Stephen Gumley has announced his resignation, effective immediately.

The Coalition and Greens have jointly initiated a Senate inquiry into foreign investment in Australia's agricultural land.

The Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 has been passed in Parliament, introducing a range of amendments to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979, the Intelligence Services Act 2001 and the Criminal Code Act 1995 that will affect operations of security and intelligence agencies.

The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, chaired by Independent MP, Rob Oakeshott, has called for the Australian Taxation Office to report back in six months on action it has taken to improve complaint handing and to address the causes of complaints.

In its annual report to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), Infrastructure Australia has warned that ‘frustratingly slow’ progress of reforms to infrastructure planning and delivery had caused a slowing of Australia’s productivity.

Appointments to the inaugural governing board of the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) have been announced, effective from 1 July, 2011.

The dispute between the Federal Greens and the mining industry has intensified after the party urged a debate on measures to slow down the $65.3 billion iron ore sector according to an article published the Australian Financial Review.

The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, has announced the establishment of an independent probity board that will guide decision making within the Defense Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO).

The Federal Government has announced the membership of its new employment advisory panel that will provide advice on reducing unnecessary red tape for employment services providers.

A new data matching initiative between Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office is expected to claw back millions of dollars from welfare recipients who have debts with the Australian Government.

 

Minister for Human Services Tanya Plibersek said the new initiative will enhance Centrelink’s debt recovery ability and is expected to recover more than $71 million over four years.

 

Beginning on July 1 this year, Centrelink and the ATO will automatically match data on a daily basis as a way of cross-checking former welfare recipients who have a debt with the Commonwealth.

 

Those who are identified as having debts and who haven't made repayment arrangements with Centrelink may have their tax refunds garnisheed when they lodge their income tax return.

 

"The Government prefers to work with people and provide them with flexible debt repayment options, rather than having to garnishee their tax refunds," said Ms Plibersek. "But if people fail to come to an arrangement to settle their debts, the Government has a responsibility to taxpayers to recover that money."

 

Ms Plibersek said Centrelink customers sometimes incurred a debt with the Commonwealth because they either inadvertently or intentionally claimed a benefit they were not entitled to.

 

Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten said the tax garnishee process had been carried out manually once a year for the past 15 years and involved a significant amount time on the part of the departmental officers.

 

"The automation of this process will free up resources and result in more people being referred to the tax garnishee process, retrieving more outstanding debt on behalf of taxpayers," he said.

 

He said more than $27.5 million was recovered from over 43,000 former Centrelink customers' tax refunds in the 2009/10 financial year through the tax garnishee process.

 

"The new data matching link is expected to increase the number of former customers identified for this process by an additional 65,000, above current detection levels, over the four years."

 

Mr Shorten said under the new initiative people experiencing financial hardship will continue to have the opportunity to enter into an alternative repayment arrangement.

 

Centrelink is currently writing to over 90,000 people with outstanding debts who are not currently receiving a payment from Centrelink or the Family Assistance Office.

The ABC’s contract for the provision of Network Australia has been extended by six months while the Federal Government seeks additional information from tenderers for the new contract.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has bowed to pressure from doctors and consumer health groups after listing 13 new drugs on the national subsidised medicine scheme.

The Productivity Commission has published its Trade and Assistance Review 2009-10 outlining the state of trade and sovereign assistance in the country over the last two years.

Federal Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown has announced his party’s portfolio responsibilities as they prepare to take control of the country’s Upper House.

Geoscience Australia has released its Toward Future Energy Discovery, detailing the outcomes and achievements of the Australian Government’s five-year $134 million Energy Secrurity Initiative.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised that Indigenous Australians will have a greater say on how to best address the disadvantages suffered by their communities after the Government’s intervention strategy expires next year.

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