Roads to Recovery
Last week [08-11-17] the Nationals-Liberal Government launched the first ever Roads to Recovery Statement of Expectations. Local Government Areas using funding from the Roads to Recovery (R2R) Program are urged to focus on improving road safety outcomes when undertaking local road upgrades.
When selecting projects, councils are strongly urged to consider the likelihood they will reduce fatalities and serious injuries. The Australian Government’s ongoing funding commitment will ensure local councils are better able to decide what local roads are priorities and how money should be spent.
Obtaining detailed information on project outcomes is critical to ensuring the Australian Government is delivering the most robust road upgrade projects to demonstrably reduce the number of serious crashes across the Australian road network.
To that end the new R2R Statement of Expectations will require council input on the benefits their completed projects have provided as a condition of funding in future years.
The Australian Government has demonstrated its firm commitment to R2R by increasing funding available to councils across Australia from $350 million to $400 million a year beginning in 2019-2020, and ensuring the continuation of the program. More information on the statement of expectation is available at:
Rule change to put customers first
The Australian Energy Market Commission released a rule requiring retailers to notify electricity and gas customers when their energy discounts are about to finish or change. This is the direct result of the actions of the Coalition Government to ensure consumers are not paying more for energy than they need to.
In August, the Prime Minister secured a commitment from major energy retailers to support a range of actions to put downward pressure on prices, including the rule change.
This rule means that, for the first time, retailers will be required to notify customers ahead of time, when a benefit in their contract is about to end or change. This will put consumers in a strong, informed position to consider their energy options and to shop around for a better deal.
The rule change will start on 1 February 2018, with retailers required to provide further detailed information to consumers from October 2018, about how much consumers will pay if they stay on the same deal. The Government continues to proactively engage with retail energy companies to deliver on the remaining retailer commitments to put families and small business first, including retailers contacting nearly 2 million households to let them know there are better deals.
On top of this most recent action, the Government has abolished the ability of energy networks to appeal the decisions of the Australian Energy Regulator. This reform is critical as network costs make up around half of the household bill. Previously, networks have used the appeals mechanism to add $6.5 billion on to consumers’ electricity bills.
To further put downward pressure on electricity prices, the Government has secured more gas supplies through tough new regulations in the gas sector to give Australian customers priority access to gas before it is exported overseas.
Commonwealth funding for non-government schools
The Coalition Government has released the terms of reference for an independent inquiry into the data and methodology used to determine specific components of Commonwealth funding for non-government schools.
The review of the socio-economic status (SES) score methodology by the National School Resourcing Board would look into the way SES scores are calculated and used to assess the capacity of families to contribute to the running costs of their non-government school.
Now that the Government has locked in a new school funding system and an additional $23.5 billion funding for students, we must ensure this funding is being distributed as fairly as possible and that it reflects the needs of school communities.
State and Territory Education Ministers, the National Catholic Education Commission and the Independent Schools Council of Australia as well as parents from non-government schools have been consulted to develop terms of reference that give the Board scope to investigate the concerns that have been raised about using SES scores to inform funding.
In undertaking this review, the Board’s considerations will include looking at the strengths and limitations of the current SES measure, possible alternative ways of calculating the capacity of a school community to contribute to school costs or for calculating SES, and how its recommendations could be implemented for the 2019 school year.
For more information and the terms of reference visit: www.education.gov.au/school-resourcing-board