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Filter by January, 2011

National Ports Strategy and planning

On 7 January 2011, the Government released its new National Ports Strategy. The strategy proposes to clear freight bottlenecks and ensure urban development does not stall the ability to expand port facilities, through the implementation of planning buffer zones around ports along with streamlined environmental approval processes.Infrastructure Australia and the National Transport Commission released a draft of a Proposed National Ports Strategy on 6 May 2010. The work was undertaken in response to a 2009 directive from the then Prime Minister to provide a strategy for consideration by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).Next month's meeting of COAG will study the strategy’s 42 propo... Read more...

Dams and floods

The present floods in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia have caused substantial damage to life and property. Questions have been raised as to whether the impacts of the floods could have been better mitigated. Are levees or dams the answer? Both the Federal Government and Opposition have raised possible solutions to this issue in the future.The Coalition has established a task force of Shadow Ministers to examine potential dam sites for flood mitigation and water storage (see useful articles here and here). The Minister for Regional Affairs, Simon Crean, discussed the possibility of constructing levees to protect parts of Brisbane (see useful articles here and here).The impact ... Read more...

Large increase in stimulant use for ADHD in Australia: new study

A new study has shown that between 2002 and 2009, dispensing of stimulant medication in Australia—the majority of which is thought to be for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)—has increased considerably. The study, Australian national trends in stimulant dispensing: 2002-09, published in the Early Online edition of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (ANZJP), used data from the Department of Health and Ageing to report trends in dispensed stimulant prescriptions between 2002 and 2009 by gender and age. The drugs examined were dexamphetamine, methylphenidate (brand names: Ritalin and Concerta) and modafinil (brand name: Modavigil).According to th... Read more...

Marketing obesity

Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. In 2010, world-wide there were an estimated 42 million children under five years old who were overweight, and this figure is increasing at an alarming rate.Children who are overweight or obese are likely to grow into obese adults who risk developing a number of chronic non‐communicable ailments, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As these diseases add billions in health costs to national economies, it is clearly desirable both for individuals and for society overall, to devise and introduce policies which prohibit or limit their proliferation. One policy intervention which can help to achieve... Read more...

Financing of aged care - recommendations from the Productivity Commission

The draft report of the Productivity Commission’s (PC) Inquiry into Caring for Older Australians, released on 21 January 2011, provides a sobering assessment of the current state of the aged care system. It argues that the current system can not withstand future challenges without comprehensive reform. A staged implementation plan over five years of the Commission’s recommendations has been put forward to address this. The PC’s report has been met with broad support from stakeholders with many welcoming the ‘bold’ proposals for reform.The PC is recommending dramatic changes to the aged care sector. These are designed to create an aged care system which provides consumers with greater choice ... Read more...

Emissions performance standards for Australian coal-fired power

On 30 November 2010, the Government released its discussion paper: A Cleaner Future for Power Stations. The paper proposes that all new power stations be required to meet a minimum emissions performance standard and be capable of retrofitting carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies when these become commercially available (which is expected to occur within the lifetime of new power plants). The Parliamentary Library has produced a Background Note, Performance standards to reduce energy emissions, that sets out the backdrop against which an Australian emissions performance standard might be explored.Australian convential power plants emit between 0.37 and 1.38 tonnes of carbon dioxide e... Read more...

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