26 September 2023

PS from the PaSt: 10–16 October 2012

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1. This week 10 years ago, Chief Executive of Comcare, Paul O’Connor reaffirmed the importance of public sector employees having a sense of purpose in their work if increasing incidents of stress and mental illness were to be tackled.

Mr O’Connor said that without this sense of purpose, not feeling wanted and part of a team, anyone could feel depressed and unhappy.

He said that while he was concerned at the rising number of mental health claims and the reported cases of bullying, the emphasis needed to be on the positive.

“Every one of us needs the reassurance that their work is making a difference,” Mr O’Connor said.

“People are naturally motivated by progress. A sense of being part of a team that looks out for each other is so important.”

2. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten announced a new position in the Chief Scientist’s office to increase the role of social science research and evidence in future policy development, the National Science and Mathematics Education and Industry Adviser.

Mr Shorten said the new position would work collaboratively with the Australian and international scientific and research communities and other Government Agencies and would bring together the best research and evidence to tackle current and emerging policy challenges across the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio.

“Australia needs to be forging stronger links between scientific research and public policy development, including in the social sciences,” Mr Shorten said.

“We need to be developing the higher-end skills among our workforce that will keep Australia sharp, smart and globally competitive.”

3. A new website was launched to give patients suffering from chronic diseases easier access to clinical trials of new drugs, treatments and medical procedures.

Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek said the Australian Clinical Trials website was created in response to the needs of consumer groups, the pharmaceutical industry and research institutions. She said clinical trials gave tens of thousands of patients access to new and innovative treatments and played a vital part in the fight against disease.

“There are many stories about recovery, improved quality of life or longer life from participating in a clinical trial conducted in Australia and this website will make it easier for patients to find out about and access clinical trials,” Ms Plibersek said.

4. New laws were introduced to Parliament to allow superannuation to be portable across the Tasman in what Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten said was an important step towards closer economic relations with New Zealand and supporting progress towards a single economic market.

Mr Shorten said the proposed law would remove one more barrier to labour mobility between the two countries and would assist the thousands of Australians and New Zealanders who moved across the Tasman each year to consolidate their retirement savings in their country of residence and avoid paying fees and charges on accounts in the two countries.

He said that among the key features of the portability scheme were provisions for an individual to transfer their retirement savings between an Australian complying superannuation fund and a New Zealand KiwiSaver scheme.

5. A decade ago, Australia established the Australian International Food Security Centre — its first such office in Africa — in Nairobi, Kenya.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Senator Bob Carr said Australia was helping Africa make the transition from relying on emergency food aid to building a viable smallholder farming sector and the Centre was delivering research projects across Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

“The Centre will ensure we are also sharing our valuable agricultural expertise,” Senator Carr said.

“The work of the Centre will build on Australia’s contribution to food security in Africa by ensuring technology and knowhow are put into the hands of smallholder farmers across Africa.”

6. The Queensland, NSW and Victorian Governments joined forces to support regulatory reform of the Federal energy sector and greater protection for consumers.

Queensland Minister for Energy and Water Supply, Mark McArdle said the States wanted the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) to be separated from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“The Federally funded AER is a servant of the ACCC and cannot be called fully independent,” Mr McArdle said. “Separating from the ACCC would give the AER the independence to provide proper and thorough determinations on the applications it receives.”

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