Unemployment at equal lowest level in 10 years

Today’s ABS labour force figures show the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.9 per cent, the equal lowest level since December 2008.

There are more Australians in work than ever before. Total employment has increased by 284,100 over the year, to a record high of 12,763,400. Full-time employment is 210,000 higher than it was a year ago.

Again, the level of female total employment has reached a new record high of 6,002,400. Female full-time employment also stands at a record high, at 3,249,100.

A total of 1,288,200 jobs have been created since the Government came to office in September 2013.

Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, said today’s figures show the danger of changing course from an economic plan which is working.

“Our economy is facing global headwinds and that’s why we need to stick to our plan, which is helping to build a stronger economy,” Minister O’Dwyer said.

“By contrast, Labor’s only plan for the economy is $200 billion of higher taxes on your retirement, your superannuation, your house, your business and your income.”

“Let’s not forget that the unemployment rate skyrocketed from 4.4 per cent to 5.7 per cent under Labor. In their final year in office, full-time employment actually fell by 20,300.”

“All that Labor’s taxes and job-destroying policies will do is hurt Australians, including many on low and middle incomes, and older Australians,” Minister O’Dwyer concluded.

Greens announce plan for federal fracking ban

The Greens will move to protect Australia’s precious groundwater by extending the ‘water trigger’ to all types of unconventional gas mining as part of the their plan to ban fracking across Australia, mining and resources spokesperson Larissa Waters will announce today.

Senator Waters said while working on the ultimate goal of a complete ban, amending the ‘water trigger’ to ensure the Environment Minister must fully consider any negative impacts on water or groundwater of an unconventional gas mining project before deciding whether to approve it, would go a long way to protecting our water.

“Fracking is a disaster for our farmland, groundwater, environment and climate, with dangerous methane pollution leaking from wells and pipes as ‘fugitive’ emissions,” Senator Waters said.

“We’re on the driest inhabited continent on the planet, which is experiencing unprecedented drought, protection of our precious groundwater must come before the profits of gas companies.

“It’s time for Australia to join the global movement against fracking.  Bans or moratoriums are already in place in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Wales, Scotland, New York State in the USA and Quebec in Canada.

“States and Territories like Tasmania, Victoria, south-eastern South Australia and parts of NSW have already responded to the community and taken the first steps towards phasing out this dangerous industry – but sadly, fracking is still legal in Queensland, Western Australia and the NT.

“The Greens have been campaigning against the polluting unconventional gas industry since 2010 but Labor and the LNP continue to champion gas because they take political donations from the gas companies.

“Landholders, including traditional owners, cannot say no to unconventional gas because the major parties keep saying yes to their mining donor mates.

“We have energy alternatives which don’t threaten our climate, health, land, and that will create new jobs for workers and communities – CSG can frack off, for the sake of a better future for all of us.”

Stop Fracking and Unconventional Gas policy here: https://greens.org.au/sites/default/files/2019-03/Greens%20Election%202019-Stop%20Fracking.pdf

 

Greens Environment Commission would fund and track threatened species recovery

Reports that the Federal Government has not kept track of threatened species recovery shows the need for the Greens’ proposal to strengthen environmental laws and establish a National Environment Commission.

“We need to get serious about threatened species recovery. The days of throwing small amounts of money at pet projects without any follow through must end. A National Environment Commission would ensure that threatened species recovery was prioritised and tracked,” Greens environment spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“Our environmental laws are broken, and the hard work of the many excellent staff in the Environment Department is undermined and eroded by a system that is too easily flouted.

“The Liberals cannot be trusted on saving our threatened species, as we learn time and again. Labor is yet to commit to strengthening our environmental laws.

“Our care for the environment should be based on facts, not the whims of the government of the day. We need to get down to the business of restoring ecosystems, addressing climate breakdown and making sure we leave a thriving planet.

“The Greens have a plan to restore and protect our environment, which includes stronger environmental laws, establishing a body to fund and track the recovery of our threatened species, and a national Environment Protection Authority with teeth to enforce real consequences for those who are wrecking our natural world.”

NSW name captains for 2019 National Netball Champs

Netball NSW is delighted to announce that the leadership teams for the 2019 NSW 17/U and 19/U Teams have been selected.

The team will travel to Brisbane next month to contest the National Netball Championships, where Australia’s best young players get the chance to represent their respective state or territory.

The Championships also provide a fantastic pathway opportunity for athlete exposure and talent identification.

Building on a stellar year in 2018, NSW Swifts training partner Matisse Letherbarrow (Baulkham Hills Shire) has been named captain of the NSW 17/U side. The 17-year-old played in last year’s Nationals in Adelaide and also represented the Netball NSW Waratahs in the Australian Netball League (ANL).

Letherbarrow will be assisted in her leadership duties by co-vice captains, and sisters, Amy and Natalie Sligar (Camden & District).

Meanwhile the NSW 19/U side will be led by GIANTS Netball training partner Latika Tombs (Manly Warringah), who will be assisted by 2019 GIANTS defender Matilda McDonell (St George District) and Canberra GIANT Madeline Eaton (Sutherland Shire), who have been named vice captains.

Tombs, who was called into the GIANTS’ Suncorp Super Netball squad in 2018 as injury cover, is also stepping up after an impressive showing with the Canberra GIANTS in last year’s ANL.

Netball NSW’s Head of Netball Nikki Horton congratulated the athletes on their appointments and wished them well ahead of the trip to Queensland.

“It is a great honour to play for NSW, but to captain is another level again and I know our state team coaches are very happy with who’ve they’ve chosen,” she said.

“Our 17/U head coach Amber Cross, her 19/U counterpart Nerida Stewart and their respective teams have gone through a very thorough process and the calibre of athletes they had to choose from was excellent.

“On behalf of everyone at Netball NSW I would like to sincerely congratulate all of the captains and vice captains named today. It truly is a fantastic achievement and one that they themselves, their families, clubs and associations should be exceptionally proud of.

“We are looking forward to making the trip to Brisbane next month and hoping they can bring some national titles back to NSW.”

The 2019 National Netball Championships take place at the Queensland State Netball Centre in Brisbane from April 11-16.

Police warn of risky driver behaviour around Newcastle’s light rail network

Police are pleading with motorists and pedestrians in Newcastle’s CBD to take care around the light rail corridor.

Officers from Police Transport Command, Traffic & Highway Patrol Command and Newcastle Police District have been regularly patrolling around the Hunter Street transport system since it went live on Monday 18 February 2019.

Northern Region Traffic Tactician Chief Inspector Amanda Calder said officers have observed a number of dangerous incidents putting the lives of not only drivers at risk, but also bystanders and light rail commuters.

“The light rail has been up and running for more than a month and the vast majority of people are aware of the changed road network and have adapted to the changes,” Ch Insp Calder said.

“There are some drivers who are not paying attention and are making serious mistakes with their actions endangering themselves and others along Hunter Street and Stewart Avenue.

“Officers from Traffic and Highway Patrol have observed several near-misses during this first month of operation, with the most common offences being vehicles driving on the tram tracks; running red lights at light rail crossings; and pedestrians – who are often distracted and looking at their phones – jaywalking across the tracks.

“One driver was seen by police to drive onto the rail track on Hunter Street, cross to the wrong side of the road and drive into the path of an oncoming tram, before proceeding through a red light before police could stop the car,” Ch Insp Calder said.

Chief Inspector Calder is encouraging motorists to use their common sense and take their time on the roads to adapt to the new road conditions.

“We’re asking the community to not let these issues become long term habits, be safe and alert at all times when near the light rail network,” Ch Insp Calder said.

For more information on the Newcastle Light Rail visit www.newcastletransport.info/light-rail.

NEXT STAGE OF METRO WELL AND TRULY UNDERWAY

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance today inspected the site where Sydney Metro’s fifth mega tunnel boring machine is preparing to begin the historic first rail crossing deep under Sydney Harbour.

Tunnel boring machine Kathleen is being assembled at the site of the new Barangaroo metro station, to start tunnelling under the Harbour in June.

“Kathleen will quite literally shape Sydney’s future in the coming months as she builds the first railway tunnels under Sydney Harbour – linking metro rail from the city’s northwest, through the CBD and on to the south west,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“This game-changing project is the first new rail line through Sydney since the 1970s and will massively cut travel times for commuters across the whole system.”

The specialised harbour tunnel boring machine is named after Kathleen Butler, who played a vital role in the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as the technical advisor to legendary engineer John JJC Bradfield.

This project is providing a boost to the NSW economy, with more than 6200 people to work on the project at the peak of construction.

“I am so excited by the progress of the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project,” Mr Constance said.

“Four mega borers have been busy digging more than five kilometres of tunnels under the city in the past five months – that’s 16 per cent of the Sydney Metro Tunnelling task completed.”

Four new Sydney Metro stations are being built in the Sydney CBD – at Martin Place, Pitt Street, Barangaroo and Central.

“This once again shows that only the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will deliver Metro rail across Sydney,” Mr Constance said.

“When Labor was last in office they announced 12 rail projects. They did not deliver one in full and they are already promising to cancel the Sydenham to Bankstown Metro upgrade.”

Kathleen will join the four borers currently digging from Marrickville and Chatswood towards the harbour’s edge.

Together all five tunnel boring machines will deliver twin 15.5 kilometre rail tunnels for Australia’s biggest public transport project.

Sydney Metro Northwest is on track to open in May and is at least a billion dollars under budget. It includes 13 Metro stations and 4000 commuter car parking spaces.

Metro rail is being extended from the north west, into the CBD and beyond to Bankstown in 2024, delivering Sydney 31 metro stations and a 66km standalone metro railway line.

State Government decision looming for Park and Ride

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has informed City of Newcastle it will make a decision Friday on the continuation of the successful Park and Ride commuter bus service into the city.

However, it appears Park and Ride won’t continue beyond the end of the month given comments from TfNSW to the Newcastle Herald today suggesting people using the service instead “get a bus from Lambton Rd”.

The Park and Ride was initially funded by Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation (HCCDC) as a means off offsetting the impact of the construction of light rail and commenced on 6 November 2017. The NSW Government’s commitment was that it would trial the service and funding switched to TfNSW late last year when light rail construction finished.

City of Newcastle wrote to the Transport Minister in November last year seeking his support for the continuation of the Park and Ride based upon the strong take-up from commuters.

“More than 41,000 people have used the Park and Ride since it started,” City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath said.

“That’s a phenomenal outcome in a city that has the lowest rate of public transport usage anywhere in Australia.

“Despite the success of the Park and Ride it would appear TfNSW has decided to cease its funding at the end of this month. The comments in today’s Newcastle Herald from a TfNSW spokesperson are pretty clear.

“Their suggestion that commuters simply catch a bus from Lambton Rd fails to recognise that a dedicated space needs to exist nearby for up to 250 cars daily. The suggestion also fails to acknowledge that one of the great appeals of the Park and Ride was that it is an express service into the city.

“Since its introduction, the City’s position on the value of Park and Ride to Novocastrians has never wavered. We maintain that there’s a strong case for Park and Ride to continue until such time as the light rail is extended to Broadmeadow.

“We will continue to advocate for the Park and Ride for the simple reason that it remains the most reliable and cost-effective mode of public transport for people living outside the City.

“The NSW Government, through its Greater Newcastle Transport Plan, has publicly committed to doubling the rate of bus usage locally and has itself nominated Park and Ride as one way of achieving this.

“Park and Ride takes around 200 commuters and sometimes as many as 250, into the CBD from Broadmeadow each morning and back again each afternoon. In a city that has been reluctant to embrace public transport, Park and Ride has proved that people will use public transport when the service is affordable, reliable and regular.

“It has provided people with a dependable source of transport and the best means possible to access the City during a time of significant change and transformation.”

From November 2017 to March 2019, passenger numbers have soared from an average of 372 people per week to 850 per week.

Mr Bath thanked Keolis Downer, Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation, Venues NSW and the people of Newcastle for their continued assistance and support in making the service a success.

“Local Government is not a transport provider. But we agreed at short notice to administer the Park and Ride on behalf of TfNSW because they said they didn’t have the capacity at that time. Our staff have been on site every morning at the Stadium, negotiated all contracts with service providers, funded the marketing of the Park and Ride, undertaken all communications with users and maintained the website,” he said.

“Feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive and combined with fantastic support from Keolis Downer, the Park and Ride has provided a level of customer service that public transport in Newcastle that has never before been experienced. We have held the price at $2.20, increased the frequency of services, improved the customer parking experience at McDonald Jones Stadium and provided up to date communications.

“Thank you to the tens of thousands of people who used the Park and Ride. We will continue to push for its reinstatement and remain hopeful that whichever party forms Government after the State election on Saturday, will recognise that it makes no sense to shut off funding to a public transport service that is popular and well used.”

Registered users will be notified of the future of Park and Ride once City of Newcastle receives formal notification from TfNSW, expected to be Friday. The likely final service will be on Thursday 28 March. It will not operate on Friday 29 March due to the Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and Sunwolves.

The Liberals’ secret plan to toll the M4 from Penrith to Parramatta revealed

In a massive hit to Western Sydney families just days out from the election, Premier Berejiklian said there will be a second new M4 toll under a Liberal Government in the Sky News leader’s debate.

The current M4 toll is the single largest cost of living issue affecting many M4 commuters in Western Sydney.

In a late night tweet Premier Berejiklian then said she wouldn’t introduce a new M4 toll.

In the debate the Premier was asked if there would be a second toll west of Parramatta. She said there would be under the Liberals. This part of the M4 is currently toll-free.

“Either the Premier is so out of touch she doesn’t know where the tolls are or she slipped up and revealed her real plans for after the election,” Shadow Minister for Western Sydney, Prue Car, said.

The current M4 toll costs more than $2,000 a year for a regular commuter – dwarfing soaring electricity prices.

The Liberals are keeping their M4 toll, while Labor is introducing a M4 toll Cashback.

“Every person I speak to is already feeling the pinch from rising costs. A secret new toll would be cruel and unaffordable. It will blow the family budget for tens of thousands of Western Sydney commuters.” Labor Leader, Michael Daley, said.

“This will not happen under Labor. I cannot be more certain, under a Government I lead there will no new tolls on old roads. In fact we will introduce massive cut to tolls paid with our M4 Cashback.”

“This will send a shockwave through Western Sydney,” Shadow Minister for Western Sydney, Prue Car, said.

“It is a disaster for family budgets and the Liberals know this, it’s why they have never whispered a word of a new toll before tonight.”

Labor is committed to a M4 Cashback, which was costed in the independent Parliamentary Budget Office’s official statement.

A plan for Australia’s future population

The Morrison Government will tackle the impact of increasing population in congested cities and back smaller cities and regions looking for greater growth to secure their economic future and the key public services they rely on.

We will reduce the cap on our migration program, build the infrastructure and deliver the services Australians need, and plan for a more evenly distributed population growth. These changes are about easing population pressures in our biggest cities, while ensuring regional communities are given a much needed boost.

Australia has thrived from a steady population growth and is the most successful immigration nation in the world and our plan will ensure our country continues to lead the way. But over the last two decades, the infrastructure and services have not kept pace, causing congestion on our roads and public transport particularly in Melbourne, Sydney and South East Queensland.

At the same time, many of our smaller cities and regional areas are crying out for more people. Some regional areas simply cannot fill the jobs available. There are an estimated 47,000 job vacancies in regional Australia today.

The Morrison Government’s plan for Australia’s future population will ease the pressure on the big capitals while supporting the growth of those smaller cities and regions that want more people.

Last year, we brought the permanent migration rate down to its lowest level in a decade by focusing on the integrity of the visa system and prioritising Australians for Australian jobs. Part of our population policy will include stronger incentives for new people to our country to settle outside the big capitals in areas that will welcome their skills and expertise.

New measures will be introduced that will better match migration to regional needs, ease the pressure on big cities and ensure Australia remains an attractive destination to live and work for highly skilled and talented people from around the globe.

We will continue to deliver a record $75 billion investment in infrastructure, underway right now across the country.

The Government’s population policy includes:

1. Reducing the migration cap by 15% and incentivising more new migrants to settle outside the big cities where there are jobs and services;

Reducing the migration ceiling from 190,000 to 160,000 places.

Introducing two new regional visas for skilled workers requiring them to live and work in regional Australia for three years before being able to access permanent residence. 23,000 places will be set aside for these regional visas.

Introducing new tertiary scholarships to attract Australian and international students to study in regional Australia ($15,000 scholarships will be available to more than 1000 domestic and international students each year).

Giving international students studying at regional universities access to an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa.

2. Busting congestion on our roads and trains.

Plan to better connect regional centres with fast rail.

Investing $75 billion in road, rail and air infrastructure across the country.

Investing more in congestion-busting infrastructure through the $1 billion Urban Congestion Fund.

3. Planning for the future by working more closely with state and territory governments to match infrastructure with local population need

Population management as a fixture of future COAG discussions with the adoption of a bottom-up approach

Continuing to deliver new City Deals and Regional Deals to ensure three levels of government working together

Establishing a Centre for Population, ensuring there is a central, consistent and expert perspective on population growth. The Centre will pursue opportunities to improve data and research on population and facilitate collaboration on population planning across Commonwealth, State, Territory and Local governments.

We will also build on the work our government is doing to support grassroots initiatives that foster belonging and break down barriers to social and economic participation.

These changes also enhance the Government’s focus on skilled migration, with the number of Employer Sponsored skilled visa places increasing from 35,528 in 2017-18 to 39,000 places in 2019-20. There is no change to the Family stream of the program, with 47,732 places available in 2019-20.

Under the two new regional visa categories, skilled migrants will be priority processed and will have access to a larger pool of jobs on the eligible occupation lists compared to those who live in our major cities. Migrants on these visas must demonstrate they have lived and worked in regional Australia for three years before being becoming eligible to apply for permanent residence.

The changes will mean migrants will stay in regional Australia longer-term, as they will build ties to a particular location through workforce participation and community involvement, easing the pressure off our congested cities.

Labor’s failure to plan for the impact of record migration on our cities and infrastructure has meant we have been forced to play catch-up.

Full details of the Morrison Government’s plan for Australia’s future population – download here.

A SHORTEN LABOR GOVERNMENT WILL INVEST IN A NEW HOME FOR SURFING WA

A Shorten Labor Government will invest $4 million to build a new home for Surfing WA at Trigg Beach, supporting the more than 170,000 West Australians who regularly enjoy surfing.

No matter if it’s the river, pool or beach, enjoying water is part of Australian life and Western Australians have embraced surfing.

Each year Surfing WA provides 250,000 hours of surf education, training around 65,000 kids, beginners and elite surfers with surfing and water safety skills.

The new headquarters will feature more space for surfing lessons, water safety programs, training of judges and officials, increased storage and more workspace for staff.

This will help Surfing WA continue to support 31 surf clubs along the WA coast and the 70 primary and high schools who benefitted from their education programs in 2018.

Nationally, Surfing WA is the number one state for delivering the grassroots SurfGroms program which teaches 5-12 years old the fundamentals of surfing.

Labor’s investment will also help Surfing WA continue to run four international surfing events, including the annual world tour Margaret River Pro, and local and regional contests throughout WA most weekends.

In 2018 Surfing WA expanded their regional footprint with more than 65% of organised surfing in the state now held in regional WA.

Labor’s investment will also support Surfing WA to identify, train and nurture the next generation of Australian surfing heroes like Western Australia’s own Taj Burrow, current women’s world champion Stephanie Gilmore, fellow seven-time world champion Layne Beachley and three-time men’s world champion Mick Fanning.