Daily News - Thursday 1 May 2014

Posted 1 May 2014 7:46am

Spending priorities to become clearer with release of Commission of Audit report

Last week, the Treasurer gave the first indication of what [the Commission of Audit report] might contain.

He revealed there are 86 recommendations, covering the 15 largest government programs.

He said some recommendations would be implemented immediately, others would need further consideration, while some would be rejected outright.


Explainer: What to expect from the National Commission of Audit
Chris Sadleir, The Conversation

Judging by the selective leaking of likely points in the coming budget the Commission report will highlight the parlous state of the government’s financial position.

Possible ways of repairing the situation may well include a co-payment for visiting the doctor; responding to a healthier but aging population by increasing the pension age; greater competition between providers in the higher education sector and further shifting of costs of degrees to students; greater use of public private partnerships as a means of providing infrastructure; support for new regimes for measuring the performance of government services and operations, and just possibly further pressure to move more public servants from Canberra to regions.


Canberra to be cut to bone in audit report
Peter Martin and Mark Kenny ($)

Tony Abbott's Commission of Audit has recommended massive cuts to the size of government, with whole agencies to be abolished, privatised, or devolved to the states, in what would be the biggest reworking of the federation ever undertaken.

... As well as a controversial deficits tax, and a scaled-down paid parental leave scheme, the unemployed can expect tougher rules regarding eligibility for Newstart with a renewed push to "earn or learn".


Cost cap urged for ‘flawed’ NDIS
Patricia Karvelas, The Australian ($)

The Coalition’s Commission of Audit will today recommend the Abbott government cap the cost of the national disability insurance scheme and slow down the timetable for its full rollout to control its ballooning cost to the federal budget.


Alarm bells in secret NDIS report
Lauren Wilson, News Corp Australia

A secret report handed to the former Labor government before the National Disability Insurance Scheme was launched in 2013 warned the sector was drastically underprepared for the massive rollout task.
The report, written for the Gillard government in 2012 by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers, and obtained by News Corp, sounded the alarm, warning organisations were “not currently prepared for the significant changes that will be required in transitioning to an NDIS”.


New report shows young and working Australians locked out of mainstream finance
Media Release, NAB

A significant number of young and working Australians are unable to access mainstream finance according to a new report issued today by NAB.

The annual Measuring Financial Exclusion in Australia report, commissioned by NAB and conducted by the Centre for Social Impact, found that more than three million adult Australians don’t have access to a moderate amount of credit, a basic transaction account or don’t have general insurance.

... Good Shepherd Microfinance CEO, Adam Mooney said that there is a strong economic case for greater investment in microfinance in Australia. While existing programs assist the most vulnerable to move towards financial stability and resilience, investment and innovation is required to reach more people.


Full report: Measuring Financial Exclusion in Australia 2014
NAB & Centre for Social Impact

There may be a large untapped market for financial inclusion initiatives aimed at people in employment. There may also be a need to design and provide appropriate mainstream financial services and products for this group.


Older Australians pile on housing debt: at what risk?
Adele Horin, Coming of Age

Increasing numbers of Australians are hitting retirement with hefty mortgages. Instead of running down debt as they get older, they’ve added to it, using their house as collateral. Such is the case with an old acquaintance of mine I’ll call Susan who lives in a charming cottage in inner city Adelaide. Single, 60 and in poor health, she’s now facing a restructure at work that may leave her jobless. “I wish I’d paid the house off when I had the money,” she told me. “Now I’m terrified of losing it.”


Building funds cut even as older women swell ranks of homeless
Eileen Webb, The Conversation

Social services minister Kevin Andrews recently announced an extension of funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) until June 30, 2015. This agreement funds 180 homelessness services around Australia. The government will provide A$115 million – $44 million less than its predecessor – to extend the Commonwealth-state arrangement.

The government says it is not cutting funding to frontline services, only capital works. It is unfortunate that capital works are to be curbed at a time when more facilities are required to accommodate growing numbers of homeless. They include many people we do not automatically think of as being “at risk”. One such group is older women.


Margaret: the hidden face of homelessness

Aged in her late 50s, Margaret found herself homeless and sleeping rough on the streets of Brisbane.

Margaret is just one of a rising number of Australian women aged over 55 who are having to seek housing support, live on the street, or are on the verge of homelessness.


Unable to downsize as they wish, baby boomers are staying in their old homes longer
Michael Bleby, Sydney Morning Herald

A lack of suitable housing for downsizing baby boomers is keeping them in their homes longer and constricting supply for first-time home buyers, says James Kelly, managing director of affordable housing company Lifestyle Communities.


Workers juggling elder care need help from bosses
Adele Horin, Coming of Age

Increasing numbers of workers are faced with the crisis of elder care, and not all of them have sympathetic bosses. In the workplace, elder care is the new frontier. But unlike the UK, where a group called Employers for Carers has attracted support from big companies, it’s low priority here. For many people old age comes in gentle increments. But for others old age comes overnight – with a debilitating stroke or a fall, or some other blow that turns the fit and independent into a frail or ill person who needs you. Your day has come to step up. But when you’re a worker, it’s not so easy.


Youth jobs: Clarion call for the nation
Brotherhood of St Laurence (pdf)

Brotherhood executive director Tony Nicholson says the Federal Government should move towards establishing a specialist, targeted youth transitions service to help young people secure first jobs.

Under the Brotherhood’s proposal, jobless youth aged 17 to 24 would be rapidly referred to a National Youth Transitions Service so that they are actively engaged in an employment preparation and placement program.

The service would include intensive coaching, mentoring and real-life work experience and, importantly, direct contact with local employers.


Labour Stats 101 youth unemployment: a quick guide
Penny Vandenbroek, Parliamentary Library

This guide provides a brief overview of youth unemployment, an introduction to the key concepts and terminology used, and lists relevant data sources. This is one in a series of Quick Guides related to labour statistics, designed to provide a basic understanding of the Australian labour market data.


Federal Government commits extra $40m to car industry fund

The Federal Government will pour an extra $40 million into a fund to help car industry workers who will lose their jobs.

It is designed to help retrain workers and assist car components companies find new markets.

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