The struggle between the Victorian and Commonwealth governments over alpine grazing is continuing after the Victorian Government has requested the Federal Court to review the recent decision by the Commonwealth Environment Minister Tony Burke to stop a research trial into the use of strategic cattle grazing as a bushfire risk mitigation and fuel reduction tool in Victoria's high country.

The Victorian Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said Mr Burke had not clearly outlined how he had come to the conclusion that the trial was 'clearly unacceptable'.

"We have carefully considered our options and have sought advice from the Victorian Solicitor General. We have now decided to ask the Federal Court to review the decision-making process. We will be asking the Federal Court to examine the decision to ensure that the Commonwealth Minister has not and cannot inappropriately use Commonwealth legislation to prevent State governments from implementing their policy commitments.

A report by the Centre for Independent Studies has called for the Future Fund to be wound up and its assets transferred to the trustees of existing public sector superannuation schemes to match the liabilities each scheme has accrued.

The Federal Government has passed its anti-dumping reforms through the House of Representatives.

The Federal Government has introduced legislation before Parliament that will seek to improve the quality and transparency of the auditing process.

The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, has announced that regulations to establish the Jobs and Competitiveness Program under the Clean Energy Act 2011 are now in place.

The Federal Parliament has completed passage of legislation recommended by the independent Remuneration Tribunal to reform key entitlements of MPs and some former politicians.

The Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) has released its latest report,  Energy in Australia 2012, providing a detailed overview of energy in Australia, including resources, production, consumption, trade and prices.

The ACCC has announced it has accepted Telstra’s structural separation undertaking (SSU) and approved its draft migration plan.

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 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.

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