The COAG Road Reform Plan (CRRP) has released a new paper to initiate discussion on funding and implementation issues.

The CRRP was established in April 2007 as a long term road reform agenda to bring about more efficient investment in, and use of, land transport infrastructure to meet the growing freight task and to maximise economic growth.

The first phase of the CRRP focused on researching options for more direct charging for heavy vehicle road use, in order to inform decisions concerning possible implementation of direct charging arrangements. COAG considered the Phase 1 report in 2009 and concluded that there was enough evidence to justify proceeding to a feasibility study. Work on the feasibility study is now underway and is due to be completed by the end of 2011. The feasibility study will provide recommendations to COAG on what further steps, if appropriate, should be undertaken to move towards implementation of feasible reform options.

The Assistant Treasurer, Bill Shorten, is proposing new regulations to specify which taxes, fees and charges will still be subject to the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

The Department Defence has signed an industry contract with Verizon Business to provide high level and high speed internet services to industry, government, service personnel, employees and the public.

The Government has also released the Review of the Measures of Agency Efficiency report, the central recommendation of which- to apply the efficiency dividend at portfolio level – will be adopted by the Government.

The Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator Penny Wong, has that Australia's 'efficiency dividend' -- the ratio of agencies' reduction of running costs to budget – will be lifted  from 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent  for two years in 2011/12 and 2012/13, before it is returned to 1.25 per cent for 2013-14 and 2014-15.

A national blueprint has been released for public consultation for the development of personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR) for their 1 July 2012 launch.

Australia has been ranked number one in the world for the time it takes to start a business, although it has been marked down for its approach to ICT and the availability of new technologies.

The Federal Department of Finance and Deregulation has published the draft of Strategic Vision for the Australian Government’s use of information and communications technology.

Chair of the National Water Commission Chloe Munro has called for a rethink of the way water is priced in Australia.

Australia’s growing skills shortage is most pronounced in the Construction, Building and Engineering categories, across Professional, Associate Professional and Trades occupations, according to the latest analysis by the recruitment agency, Clarius Group.

The Australian Strategy Policy Institute has released its review of Australia's submarine construction policy, finding that very little progress had been made since the publishing of the Defence White Paper in 2009, which outlined the construction of twelve new, non-nuclear long range submarines 'built to perform a range of demanding tasks'.

The Federal Opposition has announced its intention to enhance the role of Infrastructure Australia in assessing infrastructure projects of national significance, should it be elected.

In a recent speech, Federal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott expressed his support for Infrastructure Australia and said the Opposition would boost IA’s role and resources.

“The Coalition supports Infrastructure Australia (IA) and in government will strengthen its role, creating a more transparent, accountable and effective adviser on infrastructure projects,” Mr Abbott said.
“We’ll keep it, we’ll fund it and we’ll listen to it because important infrastructure decisions should be made on the basis of rational planning and not short-term political pork barrelling.”

Mr Abbott outlined a number of measures to boost IA’s capabilities and effectiveness:
  1. The Coalition will ensure that Infrastructure Australia has guaranteed ongoing funding. Funding for Infrastructure Australia expires at the end of this financial year. The Coalition’s commitment means that IA will be provided with the resources necessary for it to do its job properly.
  2. The Coalition will retain Sir Rod Eddington as the chairman of Infrastructure Australia.
  3. The Coalition will require that all Commonwealth-funded infrastructure projects worth more than $100 million have undergone a cost-benefit analysis by Infrastructure Australia.
  4. Infrastructure Australia will be required to publish justifications for its project recommendations, including the net present value of each recommended project.
  5. The Coalition will task Infrastructure Australia with developing a rolling 15-year infrastructure plan for Australia, with this plan being revised every five years. This will provide certainty for industry as to what infrastructure projects will be pursued by government and in what order. IA will be required to clearly specify infrastructure priorities at the national and state levels, based on a rigorous and transparent assessment of competing infrastructure projects proposed by the states.

Professor Ian Chubb, until February this year the vice-chancellor of the Australian National University, has been named as Australia's new Chief Scientist.

National Greenhouse Accounts released by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency show carbon pollution is continuing to rise, highlighting the need for action on climate change.

Australia's urban water sector needs major changes to meet the challenges of providing services that minimise costs and maximise benefits to the community, according to a draft report released by the Productivity Commission.

The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) has released a discussion paper about the development of a 2011 Strategic Roadmap for Australian Research Infrastructure which will identify Australia’s national research infrastructure priority areas.

The first Indigenous Training, Employment and Supplier Plan has been approved under the Federal Government’s enhanced Indigenous Opportunities Policy (IOP).

Two National Water Commission reports on the performance Australia’s urban water utilities and rural water service providers have been released by the Federal Government.

Energy Ministers from 23 different governments have met in Abu Dhabi earlier this week as part of the second Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) focussed on speeding up global efforts to transition to clean energy technologies.

The Federal Government should justify why mandatory collection and retention of personal data is necessary for law enforcement, a senate report into online privacy has found.

CSIRO has launched a new Climate and Health Cluster, with funding of  $3.15 million over three years from CSIRO’s Flagship Collaboration Fund.

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