The Productivity Commission has issued a discussion draft of its report on the impacts of Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reforms in the areas of business regulation and vocational education and training.

The Commission found that increased effort from governments would be needed for the potential gains to be achieved in these two areas.

COAG has developed a wide-ranging agenda of national reforms. Reforms to raise productivity and workforce participation should improve the competitiveness of Australian industry, placing Australia in a better position to deal with population ageing and structural adjustment.

Clean technologies developer, Dr Marc Newson, has been appointed as the Federal Government's Clean Technologies Supplier Advocate.

Australia’s Governor General has sworn in the new Federal Government’s ministry, following a substantial reshuffle of the Prime Minister’s cabinet.

Special Minister of State Gary Gray has announced plans to  halve the number of IT services panels currently operating across the Australian Government.

The fourth Australia State of the Environment has been released, providing an overview of the current condition of the environment and its outlook, and calling for a strong leadership role from the Federal Government.

A report released by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) has predicted that total energy consumption in Australia will increase by around 29% over the period 2008-09 to 2034-35,  with electricity generation increasing by around 42% over the same period, driven by increased gas-fired and renewable sources.

Terms of reference have been released for an inquiry by the Productivity Commission into aspects of national electricity network regulation, as foreshadowed at the time of the release of the Clean Energy Future package.

The Federal Government has called on quality organisations to apply for around $350 million in grant funding to assist in delivering professional development and inclusion support for early childhood education and care services.

The seasonally adjusted Australian unemployment rate increased 0.1 percentage points to 5.3 per cent in November, as announced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

The ABS reported the number of people employed decreased by 6,300 to 11,457,100 in November. The decrease in employment was driven by a decrease in full-time employment, down 39,900 people to 8,026,300, and was offset by an increase in part-time employment, up 33,600 people to 3,430,800.

The number of people unemployed increased by 9,400 people to 635,800 in November, reported the ABS.

The ABS monthly aggregate hours worked series showed a decrease in November, down 11.3 million hours to 1,616.8 million hours.

The ABS reported a decrease in the labour force participation rate of 0.1 percentage points in November to 65.5 per cent.

The ABS reported the labour force underutilisation rate was 12.6 per cent in November, up 0.2 percentage points from August.

More details are in the November 2011 issue of Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0), as well as the upcoming November 2011 issues of Labour Force, Australia, Detailed (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001) and Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly (cat. no. 6291.0.55.003), both due for release next week on December 15. All three publications are available for free download from the ABS website -

The Australian Government has released a draft Energy White Paper for public consultation, alongside the release of the 2011 National Energy Security Assessment and the Strategic Framework for Alternative Transport Fuels.

The Federal Government has announced a new $249 million Industrial Transformation Research program and cadetship package.

The Federal Government has announced the opening of the $164 million in competitiveness assistance advances under the Australian Government's Steel Transformation Plan (STP).

The Federal Government has announced $100 million in venture funding as part of the Innovation Investment Fund (IIF).

The Federal Government has announced $377 million in funding for the country’s higher education sector, with regional universities to receive $268 million of the funding.

The Federal Government has announced the second and final stage of the High Speed Rail Study has begun with the authorship tender given to AECOM.

The Australian Labor Party has voted to change its platform on exporting uranium to India following an impassioned debate at the party’s national conference.

The Federal Government has announced it is now accepting applications from eligible electricity generators for cash assistance under the Energy Security Fund.

The Federal Government has announced the formation of a Senate inquiry into the growing demand for infrastructure delivery and shortage of appropriate engineering and trade related skills in the country.

The Federal Government has called for proposals for the NBN-Enabled Education and Skills Services program, with organisations encouraged to develop ideas or trial projects that can be delivered across the Australian education sector.

Results published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows the Australian economy is growing faster than expected, notching up a 1 per cent growth rate in the September quarter.

The Federal and NSW governments have co-signed an intergovernmental agreement that will see the construction of a $1.1 billion freight corridor, aimed at removing 200,000 trucks a year off the state’s roads.

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