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Political blame game over childcare costs

Written By kemala yuspita on Minggu, 22 Juni 2014 | 15.03

Childcare costs have rocketed 150 per cent in the past decade, a report shows. Source: AAP

WORKING mothers are losing 60 cents of each dollar they earn to rising childcare costs but Australia's politicians haven't found a way to ease the situation for now.

INSTEAD they're blaming each other for the worsening crisis in childcare affordability.

Childcare costs have skyrocketed 150 per cent in the past decade, with only electricity and tobacco prices rising at a faster rate, a new report claims.Parents returning to full-time work after having a child can now expect to lose up to 60 per cent of their gross income to childcare fees, loss of benefits and higher income tax rates.Mums from low income families who return to full-time work may take home as little as $4.55 an hour, the research from financial services firm AMP and the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling found.Assistant education minister Sussan Ley regularly meets women juggling childcare with returning to work."There is crisis and struggle and desperation when you talk to mums who just don't know what to do with the work-family balance," she told reporters in Melbourne."It's not fair for families to have to live within a system that is as unsustainable as the one that Labor has left us with."The Productivity Commission is due to deliver its initial report on childcare to the government next month and the final version in October.Ms Ley expects the government will have some solutions for parents in early 2015.But the opposition says the government can do one thing to help right now: abandon plans to freeze childcare payments."They cannot justify standing up and attacking low and middle income families time and time again and this report shows that Australia can't afford it," opposition childcare spokeswoman Kate Ellis said.Labor was worried many women wouldn't return to the workforce after having children because of the difficulty of finding and paying for childcare.The AMP-NATSEM report said 630,000 Australian families pay for "long day" childcare, which can cost up to $170 a day per child.The national average childcare fee has risen 150 per cent since 2004. Childcare generally costs more in cities compared to regional areas and more in wealthier suburbs than less affluent areas.Fees have risen faster than petrol, education and healthcare costs.While the number of children in childcare has risen steadily over the past decade, about 60 per cent of children from working families are still cared for by grandparents, relatives or friends.

15.03 | 0 komentar | Read More

Newman says ALP wrong on TAFE fee rises

QUEENSLAND'S premier has accused the opposition of playing Nostradamus over TAFE fee increases.

LITERACY and numeracy fees for disability pensioners have risen from $140 to $800 while tuition fees for a diploma in marketing have increased from $2400 to $6000, Labor says.

It predicts that fees will go up even more as previously subsidised courses incur full fees and a new Queensland Training Assets Management Authority makes TAFE campuses pay full commercial rent.But the Liberal National government insists there is no link between course costs and infrastructure arrangements.Premier Campbell Newman said hefty TAFE fee increases would be unlikely when asked about Labor's predictions."It's interesting to see they're playing Nostradamus," he told reporters on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday."I don't believe that's the case."TAFE is being re-focused so it meets the needs of employers so we create jobs."Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said the government had a secret agenda, after Labor uncovered leaked TAFE documents which say "costs could increase again for the start" of the first semester in 2015.They are answers to student questions and comments such as, "Are costs likely to increase next year?" and "I feel ripped off"."We've now heard of secret plans where TAFE fees are going to be skyrocketing in this state," Ms Palaszczuk told reporters.Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek insists fees aren't actually rising, with a spokeswoman explaining in a background statement to AAP that subsidies were being reduced to some courses that didn't align with skills shortage areas.

15.03 | 0 komentar | Read More

Qld premier coy on chief justice pick

QUEENSLAND'S premier has held his first media conference in five days, but was coy when questioned about his government's controversial selection of Tim Carmody as the state's new chief justice.

SINCE Campbell Newman last stood before reporters, Judge Carmody's controversial addition to the Supreme Court has been approved by the state's governor.

Judge Carmody's meteoric rise has divided the judiciary, with critics arguing he's too inexperienced and too close to the government.But Mr Newman has declined to offer any new comment on the appointment of Judge Carmody, even though Court of Appeal justice John Muir has joined senior legal figures in slamming the appointment process."Go back to what I've said when I announced it about a week and a half ago," Mr Newman told reporters on the Sunshine Coast."You've got my comments."Late last week, Governor Penelope Wensley issued writs for the July 19 Stafford by-election, where the ruling Liberal National Party is considered the underdog despite its seven per cent margin.Asked why the media wasn't invited to that event, Mr Newman pointed to his June 5 speech to parliament."The announcement was made in parliament, look at the record," Mr Newman said, adding media weren't usually invited for by-election declarations."I've held many press conferences since I made the announcement in parliament."Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk accused the premier of hiding from voters during the past week, with Mr Newman's last media conference on Tuesday in Mount Isa."The premier has been in hiding now for over a week, afraid to front the music, afraid to talk to people in this state," she told reporters in Brisbane.The premier was on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday holding a community cabinet in Maroochydore, which is also in Clive Palmer's federal seat of Fairfax.A cabinet meeting is being held in the same beachside suburb on Monday.It would come three days after Mr Palmer lodged a defamation writ against Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney in the Supreme Court, after he alleged on the ABC that the mining tycoon had sought special favours for his Waratah Coal interests in the Galilee Basin in 2012.Mr Palmer is also suing Mr Newman for defamation after the premier claimed that he tried to "buy" the Queensland government.

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GG visits Ord irrigation scheme

GOVERNOR-GENERAL Sir Peter Cosgrove is hoping to shine a light on economic opportunities in agriculture and progress being made on indigenous issues during a tour of northern Australia.

SIR Peter said the second phase of the Ord irrigation scheme near Kununurra was beginning to come to fruition, largely due to Chinese investment.

"It's now possible to see, not just its future potential, but its present importance," he told reporters after a tour of the Ord Stage Two Development on Sunday."I hope that all the negotiations for the Ord River project phase two can continue and we can see waving fields of sugar, sorghum and other crops in this beautifully irrigated part of Australia."He said the area around Kununurra in north Western Australia could produce life saving food for international markets.Sir Peter is half way through a five day tour of the Northern Territory and north Western Australia, taking in the towns of Katherine, Kununurra and Wyndham as well as remote areas."I shine a light. I turn up to places where there is wonderful endeavour and it may not necessarily be solely economic, it might be more on social development or amenity for younger Australians," he said."Or it might be to watch indigenous Australians who, whilst acknowledging that there is a gap to be closed, are working hard with specific programs to enhance indigenous health and to extend life expectation, to reduce infant illnesses and keep kids in school."After planting a tree with Girl Guides and chatting to volunteers on Sunday morning he said regional communities such as Kununurra had a strong volunteering spirit."What I like about rural and regional Australia, the more remote in some ways the better, is you'll see the strength and interaction of communities," he said."In towns in rural and regional Australia you see the interaction up close."Sir Peter, also visited the Kimberley squadron of the Australian army's Norforce reserve unit."I've got a special place, I always will have a special place in my heart for people who put their country's uniform on. Military, navy, army and airforce, but police, SES, anybody who provides a sense of service before self who takes on burdens that are inconvenient and stressful and sometimes hazardous to help other people."However, Sir Peter, who was commander of defence forces when Australia deployed troops to Iraq 11 years ago, declined to comment on how he felt about a fresh batch of troops being sent to Baghdad."On those sort of issues which are contemporary I would say that's a matter for the government."Defence has sent a small unit of Australian Defence Force personnel to Baghdad to bolster security at the Australian embassy.In coming days Sir Peter will visit the TFS Sandalwood plantations, indigenous groups, schools and attend a football training session at the Clontarf Foundation, of which he is patron.

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Fuel excise hike before parliament

Written By kemala yuspita on Kamis, 19 Juni 2014 | 15.03

A controversial budget measure to raise the fuel excise has been introduced to parliament. Source: AAP

IT will cost motorists about 60 cents more to fill their car with petrol from August if the Abbott government can convince parliament to approve new legislation.

INDEXATION of the fuel excise will be re-introduced with half-yearly increases in line with inflation.

While motorists won't feel too much pain initially - the government estimates an extra burden of $24 a year - by 2018 the effect of compound interest will mean the impact is 10 times that.The return of indexation will provide $2.2 billion for the government's coffers by then, with about $157.5 million being generated in the 2014-15 financial year.The money will be pooled into a special account to fund road building.Exempted from the changes are heavy vehicles and businesses with off-road vehicles, which are entitled to fuel tax credits.The government has the numbers in the lower house to have its legislation pass first base, but its fate in the Senate is not so certain.Labor opposes the move, while the Greens will support it on the proviso the revenue isn't spent on roads.The Palmer United Party, which will play a crucial role in the upper house from July 1, has indicated it will oppose the measure.The excise has been frozen at 38.14 cents since 2001, when the Howard government abolished the six-monthly indexation of fuel tax rates after the introduction of the GST.

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Port and rail company axing 500 jobs

Rail operator Asciano will axe about 500 jobs in order to cut costs. Source: AAP

FREIGHT and rail company Asciano has blamed a weak Australian economy for the planned axing of 500 jobs.

THE operator of the Patrick and Pacific National businesses was not meeting earnings targets and had been forced to accelerate its five year restructuring program, chief executive John Mullen told investors.

Its restructure was developed after a near $1 billion loss in 2010, and Asciano has steadily grown net profit since, to $348 million last year.The aggressive moves will cut $90 million in annual costs."We are taking aggressive cost measures in order to offset this hopefully temporary cyclical flat period," he said.Driving the cuts is pressure on Asciano to reduce fees to its coal miner customers due to weak prices, the mass automation of its port operations, a weak domestic economy and volatile freight volumes."The obvious challenge at the moment is a much lower than expected or negative growth in some of the markets we operate in, reducing our earnings trajectory quite considerably," Mr Mullen said."Two to three years ago we had strong growth in every segment and now it is much flatter with one, two, three per cent growth while labour costs, rents go up and we have to offset that."Investors welcomed cost cutting, sending Asciano shares up 32 cents, or 6.1 per cent, to $5.55.The job cuts caught unions by surprise, who say they were not consulted and are seeking more details.Asciano did not say where the positions would be cut.Rail, Tram, Bus and Union assistant national secretary Allan Barden said Asciano had cut 165 jobs involving its members recently.The union has launched legal action in the Fair Work Commission over a lack of consultation in relation to the job cuts, which partly related to the merging of Asciano's two NSW rail businesses."We've just gone through a round of redundancies within Pacific National Rail, if there are going to be further redundancies we will protect our members in line with our enterprise agreement," Mr Barden told AAP.The company has previously announced plans to halve its workforce at the Port Botany container terminal in Sydney ahead of next year's automation of technology, angering the Maritime Union of Australia.Asciano estimates it will have 3,600 full time equivalent employees by June 30.The company maintained guidance of low single digit growth in its underlying net profit in 2013/14.It said stronger-than-expected growth in coal and container volumes, combined with its cost cuts, had offset weaker volumes in export grain, intermodal and bulk ports.It has flagged stronger earnings growth in 2015.

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Search continues for missing Vic fisherman

A MASSIVE air and sea search covering 3500 square kilometres continues after a Victorian professional fisherman failed to return from a fishing trip.

THE 65-year-old Warrnambool man set off alone from Point Fairy wharf to go gummy fishing about 1.30pm on Wednesday.

Police say it's believed he was headed to Lady Julia Percy Island about 22km southwest of Point Fairy.He failed to return home as expected at 10pm and his family raised the alarm early on Thursday.Several volunteer vessels and two water police boats spent the day searching for the man off Victoria's southwest coast.Fourteen aircraft, including nine helicopters, have also been searching an area covering about 3500 square kilometres, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.The man's wife told police he had been fishing for most of his life, and had no known health concerns.Sergeant Mick Wolfe of Point Fairy police said the search area was extended during the day, after an early search around Lady Julia Percy Island found nothing."As time's gone by further resources have been utilised and we've actually had to spread the area because he's not where we initially thought he was," Sgt Wolfe told Fairfax Radio."At this stage we've got no idea where the boat is."Senior Sergeant Tania Barbary said police held out hope the man would be found OK."We've always got hope that there's something, that he's just drifting out there and he's unable to make contact with anybody at the moment," she told reporters at Point Fairy."We'll continue our search until we find otherwise."The search is expected to be scaled back overnight before being ramped up again on Friday morning.

15.03 | 0 komentar | Read More

Two boat mishaps off Malaysia, 35 missing

MALAYSIAN authorities are searching for 35 people missing at sea following two boat accidents at a time when many illegal migrant workers head home to Indonesia for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

IN the latest incident early on Thursday, nine people were missing off western Malaysia after a boat believed to be bound for the Indonesian island of Sumatra sank near the district of Sepang, south of the capital Kuala Lumpur, The Star daily reported.

Eighteen people were rescued, it said, quoting Mohamad Hambali Yaakup, an official with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).The accident came to light as authorities expanded a search for survivors of another boat - also bound for Sumatra - that sank just up the coast with 97 Indonesians aboard early on Wednesday.Nine bodies have been found after that accident, while 26 remain missing, though officials believe some of them made it to land - it sank near the Malaysian shore - and fled the area to avoid being apprehended by authorities.Authorities have not yet determined the cause of either accident, but the boat that sank on Wednesday was likely carrying three times more passengers than it could safely transport, officials said."The boat is too small to ferry 97 people. The boat must have been very cramped," said MMEA spokesman Mohamad Zuhri, adding that its capacity was likely around 30 passengers.Large numbers of Indonesians - many of them illegal migrants - return home annually from Malaysia for Ramadan, which this year begins at the end of June and will culminate in late July with Eid al-Fitr, Islam's biggest festival.On Thursday, divers were deployed, more vessels brought in and the search zone for the first sinking expanded along the coast in the hope of finding more survivors, said Mohamad Hambali."We have deployed divers and a total of 25 marine craft and a helicopter to sweep the coastal area for possible survivors," he told AFP.Mohamad Hambali said the divers would try to determine what caused the boat to sink and to view any markings that would help identify its owner and operator.The 62 survivors of the first mishap have been detained by authorities and were not available to speak with the media.

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Firies cancer law not ruled out: Vic govt

Written By kemala yuspita on Minggu, 15 Juni 2014 | 15.03

Volunteer firefighters rally in Melbourne for access to compensation for cancer contracted at work. Source: AAP

THE Victorian government says it hasn't ruled out changing the way firefighters access cancer compensation as hundreds rallied in Melbourne to try to break down barriers to claims.

THE government says it simplified cancer claims for firefighters and encouraged both career and volunteer firefighters to lodge a claim if they believe they had contracted cancer as a result of their duties.

"The Victorian government is not ruling out presumptive legislation and will continue to consider new medical and scientific evidence as it becomes available," a government spokesperson said.Volunteer Fire Brigades president Bill Watson said firefighters wanted a law that lists the 12 typical "firefighter" cancers and presumes them to be work-related, providing the firefighter has enough years of service behind him or her and relevant risk exposure.Mr Watson said there is plenty of evidence firefighters are more likely to suffer certain cancers, but it can be difficult to prove which fire or chemical incident caused their illness."It's not like a broken bone where you know exactly when and where it happened," Mr Watson said."The burning car or house fire you attended today may cause a cancer that doesn't show up for decades, which makes it nearly impossible to prove it was work related."The federal government introduced presumptive legislation in 2011.Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia also have laws that recognise the link between firefighting and cancer.Mr Watson said any legislation would have to include eligibility guidelines."We're not after a free ride," he said."We just want to make sure they're looked after if they get sick."The Victorian government has been under pressure to make changes to the way compensation is accessed after a 2012 report found firefighters who trained at the CFA Fiskville site had been exposed to dangerous chemicals going as far back as the 1970s.Last year they introduced a review panel to assist both volunteer and career firefighters seeking compensation for cancer caused by their work.Opposition leader Daniel Andrews said Labor would introduce the legislation if elected in November."I have committed to the introduction of presumptive rights," Mr Andrews said.

15.03 | 0 komentar | Read More

Afghan voters defy Taliban threat

Afghans have braved threats of violence and searing heat to vote in the presidential elections. Source: AAP

THE United States praised millions of Afghan voters who defied Taliban threats and attacks to vote in a presidential run-off election securing the country's first democratic transfer of power, with counting set to begin.

WITH turnout higher than expected after a largely peaceful day of voting, Washington hailed the polls as a "significant step" for the country's democracy, commending "the voters, electoral bodies and security forces for their commitment to the democratic process".

"These elections are a significant step forward on Afghanistan's democratic path, and the courage and resolve of the Afghan people to make their voices heard is a testament to the importance of these elections to securing Afghanistan's future," the White House said.Ahead of the ballot, which decides the next president of the country ahead of the withdrawal of NATO troops later this year, the Taliban had threatened to kill voters and officials, saying the election was an American plot "to impose their stooges".Polling day saw no major attacks in cities, but there were at least 150 minor attacks - including a Taliban rocket that hit a house near a polling station, killing five members of the same family.Eleven voters in the western province of Herat had their fingers - which were dipped in ink to register their ballot - cut off by insurgents, Deputy Interior Minister Ayoub Salangi said on his Twitter account.The polls result, due out next month, will confirm whether former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah or ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani will lead Afghanistan into a new era of declining international military and civilian assistance.The two candidates came top of an eight-man field in the April first-round election, triggering the run-off as neither reached the 50 per cent threshold needed for outright victory.Abdullah secured 45 per cent of the vote with Ghani on 31.6 per cent.Counting the ballot will take weeks. The preliminary result is due on July 2 and a final result on July 22.The United Nations also praised the elections, congratulating the "courageous" Afghans who set out to cast their ballots in the face of Taliban threats."With the same determination, resilience and courage the world saw in the first round of elections, the people of Afghanistan today once again decided to take their destiny in their own hands and demonstrate their desire for a peaceful, prosperous, and united Afghanistan," the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, said.While high turnout may lend legitimacy to the winner if the gap between the two candidates is clear, a close count could mean a contested outcome.Both candidates swiftly alleged fraud after the closure of the polls Saturday."We know there has been fraud, you have seen it, we have seen it," Abdullah said.Ghani called for a full investigation into vote-rigging, saying "unfortunately there were cases of security forces involved in fraud, we have the evidence".A smooth handover in Afghanistan's first democratic transfer of power would be a major achievement for the 13-year US-led effort to establish a functioning state after the depredations of the Taliban era.President Hamid Karzai, who has ruled Afghanistan since 2001 and was re-elected in a 2009 vote marred by ballot-box stuffing, is constitutionally barred from a third term in office.

15.03 | 0 komentar | Read More
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