The Federal Government has announced the release of four new, independent research reports that will form part of the government's review into school funding.

The reports have been released for comment in a public consultation period by the by the Review of Funding for Schooling panel. The reports will assist the panel in developing its final recommendations to the Federal Government by the end of the year.

The four reports released are:

  • An Allen Consulting Group report which considered the feasibility of a schooling resource standard – the baseline amount of money per student needed to achieve good educational results including loadings for disadvantaged students. The report found a schooling resource standard was feasible.

  • An Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) report on the existing processes for targeting funding to disadvantaged students. The report highlighted the current disjointed and complex nature of these arrangements.

  • A Deloitte Access Economics report into existing funding models for schooling in Australia. The report says that teacher quality, school autonomy and targeted funding for disadvantaged students are the most significant influences on results.

  • A Nous Group consortium report into schooling challenges and opportunities in Australia, which confirmed that while Australian schools perform well by international standards, there is variable performance between schools and within schooling sectors.

The Federal Government has announced the invitation list, program and facilitators for the Tax Forum to be held in Canberra on 4 and 5 October.

Treasury has released an exposure draft legislation for the extension of the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT) for public comment.

The Federal Government has announced three new appointments to the Commonwealth Grants Commission (CGC).

The Federal Government has announced the formation of the National Skills Standards Council (NSSC), which will act as a standards setting body for the vocational education and training (VET) sector with an aim to improve quality and consistency of VET regulation throughout the country.

The Federal Government has announced a new reference group  to provide advice on the implementation of four higher education performance measurement instruments under the Australian Government’s $1.3 billion Advancing Quality in Higher Education initiative.

The Federal Government has refused to conduct an inquiry into the state of manufacturing in Australia, citing fears that a move to protect the industry would threaten Australia's reputation as an open market economy with little sovereign intervention.

The Federal Government has announced it will be calling for comments from stakeholders on the draft program guidelines for the Digital Local Government Program.

The Federal Government has launched an online mapping service to assist people in financial difficulty find their nearest financial counsellor.

The Federal Government has introduced a new Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) legislation before Parliament.  If passed, the legislation will see the formation of the new office that will have regulatory powers that will seek to introduce increasing levels of transparency and dissemination of information regarding budget policy proposals.

In the wake of BHP Billiton’s record profit announcement,  South Australian Greens MP Mark Parnell is calling on the South Australian government to insist that BHP process Olympic Dam ore in South Australia, not export it to China to save costs.

The Federal Government has announced the first major reform to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EBPC) Act since its creation in 1999. The reform forms the Federal Government’s response to the independent review of the Act by Allan Hawke AC.

Work will begin on the development of a National Partnership Agreement on Mental Health following last week’s meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has announced a suite of safety and productivity reforms for the logistics sector that will aim at reducing the industry’s expenses by up to $30 billion. The reform packages cover rail, road freight and commercial shipping and are as follows:

The Federal Government has released a draft marine bioregional plan that proposes to establish marine reserves networks to protect marine environment in Australia’s north and north-east.

The Federal Government has announced the formation of a panel of leading education and training experts that will advise the government on the National Trade Cadetship (NTC) and Indigenous Ranger Cadetship Initiatives.

The Federal Government has announced it will introduce a new advance facility into its Steel Transformation Plan (STP) in an attempt to counter the recent troubles in the steel production sector.

Construction firm Abigroup has secured a national Defence contract to retrofit RAAF airbases around Australia to accommodate the next generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Joint Standing Committee on Cyber Safety has published its report into the Federal Government’s Cybercrime Legislation Amendment Bill 2011.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has called for an emergency intervention by the Commonwealth to help the ‘ailing international education sector’ .

Legislation to establish the $118 million National Health Performance Authority has passed through the lower house. The Authority will report on the performance of local hospital networks; public hospitals; private hospitals; primary healthcare organisations; and other bodies or organisations that provide health care services. It will be required to deliver performance reports to the parliament on an annual basis.

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