The National Dental Health Advisory Council (NDHAC) has released its first report into the nation’s dental health, finding that $10 billion is required to stop the deterioration of the nation’s dental health.

The report urges the formation of a universal Denticare scheme to stop the steady decline in overall dental health, an occurrence that hasn’t been seen since the 1970’s.

The group authored the report after its formation in September last year when the then Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, and Greens Senator Richard Di Natale announced the establishment of the body to conduct an indepth analysis of the country’s dental health.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics (ABARES) has appointed long serving public servant Paul Morris as the new Executive Director of the bureau.

The Federal Greens have announced their intentions to push for the establishment of a Senate inquiry into the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s draft plan.

The Federal Government has released the draft National Gambling Reform Bills 2012, which is aimed at reforming key parts of the gambling industry.

The Federal Government has announced the first ever termination of a labour agreement after the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) revoked the rights of a Victorian on-hire company’s right to recruit 457 visa holders.

The Federal Government  is seeking feedback from industry on the major element of its shipping tax reform package.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called a Labor leadership spill for this coming Monday, with former Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd set to arrive back from the G20 meeting over the weekend to pursue the challenge.

The Federal Government has announced the release of the long-anticipated Gonski review into school funding in the country, finding that a comprehensive overhaul of funding is required to delivery the best results for students.

The Federal Government has launched two new programs with funding of  $1 billion for manufacturers to improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution.

Australia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased 0.1 percentage points to 5.1 per cent in January, as announced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

The ABS reported the number of people employed increased by 46,300 to 11,463,900 in January. The increase in employment was driven by increased part-time employment, up 34,000 people to 3,400,800, and an increase in full-time employment, up 12,300 people to 8,063,100. The increase in seasonally adjusted part-time was driven by an increase in female part-time employment whereas the increase full time employment was driven by an increase in male full-time employment. 

The number of people unemployed decreased by 15,300 people to 614,200 in January, the ABS reported.

The ABS monthly aggregate hours worked series showed a decrease in January, down 23.1 million hours to 1,593.9 million hours.

The ABS reported an increase in the labour force participation rate of 0.1 percentage points in January to 65.3 per cent.

Recent reports have compared the annual growth in seasonally adjusted employment level estimates and have suggested 2011 is the year with the lowest employment growth since 1992. This neglects consideration that the growth in population estimates for 2011 was also the lowest in over 10 years. An alternative method of analysis that removes the effect of population growth is to compare average employment to population ratios for each year. In 2011, the employment to population ratio was 62.2%, which is the third highest rate of employment in the last 30 years, up 0.1 percentage points from 2010 and 6.1 percentage points higher than the low in 1992. Further information can be found in this months article 'Employment Level Estimates Versus Employment to Population Explained.' 

The most recent estimate of the seasonally adjusted underemployment rate was 7.3 per cent in November 2011 issue. Combined with November's unemployment rate of 5.3 per cent, the latest estimate of total seasonally adjusted labour force underutilisation was 12.6 per cent. For more information on underemployment and underutilisation, please refer to the article'Understanding Labour Force' which is published every month in Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0). 

More details are in the January 2012 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0), as well as the upcoming January 2012 issue of Labour Force, Australia, Detailed (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001) due for release next week on February 23. Both publications are available for free download (after release) from the ABS website -

The Federal Government has announced $10 million in funding to build public awareness and community support for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Federal Minister for Immigration and Citzenship, Chris Bowen, announced the Federal Government will move to simplify the student visa application process for 29 countries by reducing assessment levels across a range of student visa subclasses from 24 March.

The Federal Government has introduced legislation before parliament that, if passed, will see the introduction of an R 18+ category for video games.

The Federal Government has introduced legislation before parliament that will require new participation requirements for Disapility Support Pension recipients who have some capacity to work.

Queensland has become the first state to sign up to the newly strengthened regulatory framework for coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.

The Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education has released data that shows more than 220,000 university offers have been made this year, an increase of over four per cent compared to the same time last year.

Federal Minister for Sustainability and Environment Tony Burke has slammed the ‘irresponsible campaigns against Tasmania’s overseas timber market’, saying their efforts are sabotaging local jobs and undermining environmental efforts.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has announced a round of voluntary redundancies that will see the agency shed up to 75 positions.

The Federal Government and the Greens have struck a deal that will see the formation of a $165 million package to provide dental services to low income earners in return for support of the government’s health care means testing legislation.

The Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand have agreed that the Productivity Commissions of each country will conduct a joint scoping study to identify options for further reforms which might boost productivity, increase competitiveness and drive deeper economic integration between the countries.

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