The Productivity Commission has issued a discussion draft of its report on the impacts of Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reforms in the areas of business regulation and vocational education and training.

The Commission found that increased effort from governments would be needed for the potential gains to be achieved in these two areas.

COAG has developed a wide-ranging agenda of national reforms. Reforms to raise productivity and workforce participation should improve the competitiveness of Australian industry, placing Australia in a better position to deal with population ageing and structural adjustment.

The WA State Cabinet has formally approved the drafting of legislation to abolish the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) and restructure it as a department of the State Government.

The Western Australian Government has reached agreement with BGC Construction on settlement of major contractual claims related to the design of the Perth Arena.

The Western Australian Government will continue to work with the Oakajee Port and Rail (OPR) partners, despite the exclusive arrangement expiring on December 31, 2011.

Western Australia is set to record the highest surplus in the nation with a strong and stable economic outlook following the release of the mid-year review today.

The Queensland Government has announced it will regularly audit the employment-related provisions in contracts for State Government-funded construction projects to help ensure ‘sham contracting’ does not take root in the Queensland construction industry.

The audits were among several recommendations contained in the report of the Industry Reference Group on sham contracting ordered by Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick.


Mr Dick said the Industry Reference Group had found no evidence of systemic ‘sham contracting’ practices on Queensland worksites.

“However, the group recommended a high level of vigilance to ensure the practice does not creep in, and this is why we will be implementing all the recommendations in the report.”

Building Minister Simon Finn said employers who use ‘sham contacts’ to avoid paying superannuation and recreation and sick leave will not be tolerated.

“Unscrupulous employers can also use the practice to avoid paying workers’ compensation premiums which could ultimately undermine the viability of the scheme.

“This is why we will be keeping a close watch on industry contracting practices to ensure they remain fair and equitable for workers.

The Department of Public Works will introduce a regular auditing process of the industrial relations provisions in selected major projects in early 2012.

The IRG report, carried out by senior union and employer representatives and industry experts, recommended:
• the government undertake a formal review of employment-related provisions in contracts for government-funded construction projects
• ensure compliance with industrial relations obligations on Government funded projects
• undertake an audit program on significant construction projects
• liaise with the Commonwealth Government via the Fair Work Ombudsman and Australian Tax Office to ensure that building and construction industry workers are receiving their proper superannuation entitlements
• establish a Project Monitoring Group to provide industry stakeholder input into the implementation of the IRG report recommendations.

Mr Dick said the report, which had the broad support of the industry, would enable employers to be aware of their responsibilities and assist in protecting Queensland workers from unscrupulous employers.

The Industry Reference Group included: the Australian Workers Union, the Builders Labourers Federation, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union; employer groups including the Housing Industry Association and the Master Builders Association; the Queensland Workplace Rights Ombudsman; and related Queensland Government agencies.

More information about the Industry Reference Group’s recommendations can be found at

A consultation paper canvassing the key issues to be investigated as part of a review of Tasmania’s public vocational education and training has been released for comment. .

The Victorian Government has released its manufacturing strategy that aims strengthen the state’s manufacturing industry to secure jobs and grow business investment.

The Victorian Government has announced it will be cutting one in ten jobs from the state's public service, amounting to an estimated 3,500 positions.

The Queensland Government has released its Greenspace Strategy 2011-2020, aiming to assist the State Government in reaching its target of 50 per cent increase in land protected for conservation and recreation.

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads has released the Integrated Freight Strategy for Queensland to provide a high-level strategic framework that supports more informed, consistent, coordinated and responsive strategies, plans and actions for the growing freight task in the state.

Federal Minister for Local Government and Regional Australia Simon Crean and Queensland Minister for agriculture, Food and regional Economies Tim Mulherin have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will seek to support the state’s regions currently experiencing infrastructure, skills and unemployment pressures.

The New South Wales and Victorian governments have announced a joint agreement aimed at accelerating economy-boosting reforms, particularly in energy efficiency and skills.

Victoria has released the  Final Report of the Review of the 2010-11 Flood Warnings and Response, conducted by Neil Comrie.

Four new irrigation efficiency projects in NSW funded by the Federal Government have been announced to provide an average of over 75 gigalitres to help bridge the gap to sustainable diversion limits under the final Murray Darling Basin Plan.

The ACT Government has called for qualified construction companies to tender for stage one of the Belconnen to City Transitway Project.

The Western Australian Government has outlined a further $6 million in round 4 of the Exploration Drilling Program.

The Victorian Auditor-General's Office (VAGO) has released a report into the state's building permit system. Specifically, the audit examined how effectively the Building Commission regulates the activities of municipal and private building surveyors and councils enforce compliance with building permits within their municipalities.

The Queensland Government has announced plans to abolish Queensland Health in a bid to create a ‘new beginning’ in health services in the state.

The Victorian Auditor-General has released a damming report of the managing of contaminated sites by the Department of Planning and Community Development, the Environment Protection Authority and local councils.

The Victorian Government has called on Basin communities to voice their concerns over the recently released Murray-Darling Basin plan.

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