The Productivity Commission has released its Report on Government Services 2012, finding a ‘number of improvements’ in the contents of the seventeenth edition of the report.

“Everyone relies on government services at different stages of their lives, and the services in this Report are particularly important for the more disadvantaged members of society. Improving government services is important socially, but also economically. Governments spent over $164 billion on the services covered in this year's Report, equivalent to around 12.5 per cent of Australia’s national income,” Chairman of the Commission, Gary Banks, said.

There are a number of improvements in this year's Report, including the introduction of sector summaries in all broad reporting areas (Early childhood, education and training, Justice, Emergency management, Health, Community services, and Housing and homelessness), further data quality information, extended time series data for many indicators, and inclusion of brief case studies for selected service areas.

The Federal Government has announced it will be conducting a new Superannuation Roundtable to consider points raised in the Tax Forum held last year.

The Minister for Defence Stephen Smith has released a progress report from the expert panel preparing the Defence Force Posture Review.

The Australian Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education is recruiting a Chief Executive to establish and lead a new Australian Government Centre for Excellence in Public Sector Design.

The percentage of long-term unemployed (people unemployed for one year or more) was 19% in July 2011 compared to 18% in July 2010 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Of these, around 83,000 (or three quarters of long-term unemployed people) were looking for full-time work in July 2011.

For long-term unemployed people the most common difficulties in finding a job were 'own health or disability' (17%), 'lacked necessary skills or education' (13%), followed by 'too many applicants for available jobs' (11%). 

The majority of unemployed people, (81%) were unemployed for less than one year (short-term unemployed), with over a quarter of these (26%) having been unemployed for less than four weeks.

The Australian Government’s Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR)  will commence operation on 30 January 2012, providing people with a way of checking whether the goods they are buying have a security interest over them—such as cars, boats or machinery—almost anything except real estate. The PPSR will replace 40 registers and 70 laws around Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released its Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for the December 2011 quarter, finding inflation remains unchanged.

Trade figures released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade show Western Australia's share of Australian exports continues to grow, while export volumes from South Australia also enjoyed strong growth last financial year.

Recruitment specialist Hays has released its January to March quarterly report into labour and skills demand, examining the ‘current hotspots of recruitment activity and trends’.

The Australian Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has announced the appointment of Mr Ross Bunyon, Ms Nancy Fox, Mr Stephen Parbery and Mr Michael Perry to the Energy Security Council. 


The Energy Security Council was established as part of the Clean Energy Future package to advise on possible support measures to address energy security risks.


Mr Bunyon has experience in the electricity sector, including as chairman of Eraring Energy from 2000 to 2010 and as a director of Pacific Power from 1996 to 2000.


Ms Fox has 30 years of financial services and insurance experience within Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. She brings debt and structured finance experience arising from transactions for financial institutions, infrastructure projects and utilities.


Mr Parbery is a founding partner and board director of PPB Advisory (which provides insolvency services, and restructuring and other advice) and is a chartered accountant and registered liquidator. 


He has experience in investment banking in Australia and overseas and has been involved in a wide range of private infrastructure projects, including in energy. 


On 12 October 2011 the Government announced that it had appointed Dr Michael Vertigan as chair of the Energy Security Council.  Membership of the Council also includes the chairs of the Australian Energy Market Commission, the Australian Energy Regulator and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

The Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced new terms of reference and new membership for the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) following a recent review of its operations and membership.

The Federal Government has announced the formation of a new Urban Policy Forum aimed at providing stakeholder advice on the future development of cities.

The Attorney-General’s Department has announced it will not be looking to introduce anti-piracy legislation similar to the controversial United States’ Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

The Federal Government has established a new Urban Policy Forum which will advise the Government on the implementation of its National Urban Policy.

The Australian Public Service Commission has released a revision to its rules surrounding public servant’s commenting and participation on social media sites and other participatory online mediums.

The Federal and Victorian governments have announced $103 million in co-funding to boost the fuel efficiency and emissions performance of the Ford Falcon and Ford Territory models being manufactured in Australia.

The Productivity Commission has released a consultation paper on the reviews of carbon policy assistance schemes for emissions-intensive trade-exposed activities, the coal mining sector and the steel industry that it has been commissioned to undertake.

The Australian Government is staging a National Telework Week in November this year to encourage increased uptake  of teleworking, making use of the capabilities of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The Federal Government has warned that it will consider withholding GST final rewards payments to states if they continue to delay key elements of the proposed COAG reforms to create a seamless national economy.

Two new bodies responsible for consistency and efficiency in offshore petroleum regulation in Commonwealth waters have begun operations.

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