Australian Government places road charges on agenda

THE Australian Government last week released a discussion paper to "inform public debate on priorities and directions for continuing tax reform in the lead-up to the Tax Forum."

As part of "environmental and social" tax reform, the government said that areas for discussion might include road and congestion charges.

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May 2011 dwelling approvals fall for second month in a row

THE total number of dwellings approved fell 7.9 per cent in May, in seasonally adjusted terms, following a fall of 0.3 per cent in April, according to the latest building approval statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The value of total building approved also decreased, falling by 2.8 per cent in May in seasonally adjusted terms. The value of total residential building fell by 2.7 per cent while non-residential building fell by 3.0 per cent after a 41.3 per cent fall in April.

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Infrastructure Australia calls for reform of infrastructure financing

INFRASTRUCTURE Australia's annual report to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has emphasised an urgent need to reform the financing of major infrastructure projects across Australia.

Releasing the report, 'Communicating the Imperative for Action', the Chairman of Infrastructure Australia, Sir Rod Eddington, said government reforms to infrastructure planning and delivery was frustratingly slow and this had resulted in a slowing of Australia's productivity.

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Australia's population growth rate slows in 2010

AUSTRALIA'S annual population growth rate slowed to 1.5 per cent for the year ending December 2010, according to preliminary figures released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This is down from a peak growth rate of 2.2 per cent in the year ending December 2008.

Australia's population reached 22,477,400 people at the end of December 2010, growing by 325,500 people over the year, the lowest growth since the year ending December 2006 when an increase of 316,200 people was recorded. In 2009, the population grew by 421,300 people.

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SW1 development at Brisbane's South Bank takes out national award

A MIXED-USE development near the Brisbane CBD has taken the top award for urban design in Australia.

The $300 million SW1 South Bank Urban Village project was considered an excellent example of how derelict land can be transformed into attractive habitable spaces.

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Panel to consider Constitutional recognition of local government

THE Australian Government this week announced former Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court, James Spigelman, will lead an expert panel on recognition of local government in the Australian Constitution.

The announcement on Tuesday coincided with Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean's address to the 2011 National General Assembly of the Australian Local Government Association in Canberra.

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Housing variety lacking in Sydney and Melbourne: Grattan Institute

AUSTRALIANS want a greater choice of housing types but there are a range of barriers to delivering more of the housing Australians say they want, according to a new report released by Grattan Institute yesterday.

The report, titled 'The Housing We'd Choose', examined the housing preferences of a representative sample of more than 700 Sydney and Melbourne residents in a detailed survey.

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State of the Regions report released by ALGA

THE Australian Local Government Association yesterday launched its annual State of the Regions report, highlighting the challenges faced by regional communities and economic disparities existing between mining and non-mining regions.

According to the 2011-12 State of the Regions report, prepared by National Economics, inequality between Australian regions has been growing for the past five years as a result of the mining boom and evidence suggests that this trend will not only continue but in all likelihood accelerate during the next five years and beyond.

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Australian Government releases climate change impact fact sheets

THE Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, has released updated Climate Change Potential Impacts and Costs fact sheets summarising research into the possible impacts of climate change in each State and Territory.

Mr Combet said the updated fact sheets reflected the Gillard Government's commitment to informing the public about the latest scientific advice on climate change so people understand the risks and challenges we face.

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New report examines exposure of coastal infrastructure to sea level rise

THE exposure of coastal assets to sea level rise associated with climate change is widespread and expected to increase into the future, with more than $226 billion in commercial, industrial, road and rail and residential assets potentially subject to inundation and erosion hazards if a high end sea level rise of 1.1 metres occurs by 2100.

These are the findings of a new report released by the Australian Government that examines the exposure of coastal infrastructure to inundation and erosion under a sea level rise scenario of 1.1 metres (high end scenario for 2100).

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Dwelling approvals fall in April 2011

FOLLOWING an 8.6 per cent rise in dwelling approvals in March, the total number of dwellings approved fell by 1.3 per cent in April 2011, according to the latest statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Dwelling approvals decreased for the month of April in New South Wales (-12.9 per cent), Western Australia (-9.6 per cent) and Tasmania (-8.7 per cent), while Queensland (+29.2 per cent), South Australia (+9.9 per cent) and Victoria (+0.3 per cent) recorded increases in seasonally adjusted terms.

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Investment in slow-growing regions a waste: Grattan Institute

"GOVERNMENTS are spending more than $2 billion a year on programs for regional Australia that fail to produce the economic development they are explicitly designed to achieve," the CEO of Grattan Institute, John Daley, said last week.

Speaking on the launch of Grattan's report, 'Investing in regions: Making a difference', Professor Daley said regional development policies were neglecting the fastest-growing regions and treating many of their citizens unfairly.

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National Urban Policy released

THE Australian Government today released its long-awaited national urban policy, calling it a long-term blueprint for making the nation's eighteen biggest cities and regional centres even more productive, sustainable and liveable.

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese released the policy, 'National Urban Policy - Our Cities, Our Future: a national urban policy for a productive, sustainable and liveable future', at an address to the Property Council of Australia this morning.

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