Report shows NSW economy resilient: Baird

A prediction the NSW economy will take centrestage as the mining boom slows shows the state’s resilience against the “coconuts” being thrown by Canberra, Treasurer Mike Baird says.

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A report by one of Australia’s big four banks, ANZ, forecasts NSW will increasingly anchor the country as the national economy begins to lean on non-mining sectors.

“We’re confident as seen by the ANZ report (that) as the mining boom comes off, NSW starts to play a leading role again in driving the national economy,” Mr Baird told reporters in Sydney.

He said this was despite Prime Minister Kevin Rudd “ripping confidence” out of industry and undermining all fiscal efforts in NSW.

“It’s almost like Kevin Rudd is a pale imitation of Tarzan throwing coconuts at industries from one side of the country to the other,” he said.

However, Mr Baird cautioned that despite the positive outlook, financial conditions in the state remained fragile.

In NSW, the jobless rate rose to 5.6 per cent in July, up from 5.4 per cent in June, according to seasonally adjusted figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday.

The national unemployment figure remained steady in July at 5.7 per cent.

Mr Baird said the NSW figures showed “some softness” but positive long-term trends.

“Despite the challenges the NSW economy remains resilient,” he said.

“What we’ve seen with the unemployment figures today is we remain below the national average. That’s a good thing, but clearly there is weakness.”

ANZ’s report predicts that despite NSW growing more slowly than other states over the past 10 years there are now signs it is outperforming the rest of Australia.

In Victoria and mining states like Western Australia and Queensland, growth was likely be stunted by slower housing construction, the report said.

The mining industry only contributes around three per cent to the NSW economy.

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Greek temporary public TV launches first live broadcast

Greece’s temporary public television network launched its first live broadcast Wednesday, more than two months after the controversial shutdown of state broadcaster ERT caused a major political crisis.

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“We will be here for two hours every morning,” said journalist Yiannis Troupis, co-host of the new morning news show on temporary public channel DT along with veteran public TV anchorwoman Odin Linardatou.

   

DT, which started broadcasting in early July, one month after ERT’s sudden closure, will also run sports shows focusing on the Champions League football tournament.

   

Meant as a stopgap until new broadcaster NERIT (New Hellenic Radio, Internet and Television) starts operating, DT had so far only been airing stock footage, black-and-white films and old ERT programmes.

   

Seeking to cut spending, the crisis-battered Greek government abruptly pulled the plug on ERT on June 11, saying the organisation operated without transparency and ate up 300 million euros ($400 million) annually.

   

The move cost some 2,600 jobs overnight, caused an international outcry and nearly brought down the coalition government of conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras after one of its allies defected over the row.

   

Refusing to accept their dismissal, ERT staff have taken over the station’s headquarters in northern Athens and have maintained a rogue broadcast since June 11.

   

The former employees were so far able to broadcast with the help of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which ceased streaming their station on Wednesday.

   

“The need for the EBU streaming has ended and from 9:00 am (0700 GMT) on Wednesday, August 21, the service will no longer be available,” EBU chief Ingrid Deltenre said in a statement.

   

The rogue news programmes are still broadcast via Internet, notably at ertopen.com.

  

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Will a levy be introduced for the NDIS?

A levy on taxpayers to fund the NDIS is apparently being considered as part of next month’s budget.

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The move comes as the Government considers new ways of raising revenue to fund its policies after it revealed a budget shortfall of 12 billion dollars.

 

Amanda Cavill reports.

 

A disability levy could cost the average taxpayer an extra 300 dollars a year if the Medicare levy is raised from 1.5 to two per cent, to raise more than three-billion dollars cover the scheme.

 

Labor has previously ruled out a levy to fund the NDIS but now appears to be reconsidering.

 

There is also speculation that the Government may tighten conditions around the Disability Support Pension to further fun the Scheme.

 

Finance Minister Penny Wong has told the ABC the Government is considering imposing the levy.

 

“We are considering a number of funding options and what I would say is obviously a levy is something stakeholder have been calling for and and have been calling for in the last 24 hours. Whatever option you look at you have to what will give security to be people with a disability. What will ensure we have a strong scheme not just for a couple of years but for the decades ahead.”

 

The Federal Opposition has indicated it will look at the details of the funding plan, but in general supports an NDIS.

 

John Della Bosca, from the lobby group, Every Australian Counts, says the NDIS must go ahead, whatever the cost.

 

“I think people become very disturbed about the fact that Australians who are injured in a car accident for example, that’s insured and get adequate support. But Australians that fall off their roof while cleaning their leaves out their gutter find themselves living a life of poverty because they can’t get reasonable support. I think many Australians when they think it through are very supportive of the idea of a National Disability Insurance Scheme and supportive of the notion of finding a way to properly pay for it.”

 

The Greens say another levy on Australian taxpayers shouldn’t impact on low-income earners.

 

Immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson Young says there are also other things that can help reign in the budget deficit.

 

She says if the Government fixed what she calls loopholes in the mining tax, it could raise 26 billion dollars and if it ended fossil fuel subsidies it could save 13 billion dollars.

 

Senator Hanson Young says billions could also be saved if the Government scrapped offshore processing of asylum seekers.

 

“We are burning Australians cash creating camps of cruelty and it is just crazy. The Prime Minister announced yesterday a 12 billion dollar hole in the budget. This is where she should start. She should be saving money, three and a half billion dollars, that we are already spending on offshore processing, that’s a good place to start in terms of plugging that budget hole.”

 

Economists are predicting a budget deficit of between 10 billion and 25 billion dollars in next month’s budget and the Government is looking for cuts where it can.

 

There’s budget speculation that two billion will be scrapped from the defence capability plan.

Also believed to be in the firing line is child-care funding which could be means tested and tighter access to so-called middle class welfare like the baby bonus.

 

But Prime Minister Julia Gillard has ruled out raising the GST.

 

The International Monetary Fund says it’s not isn’t overly concerned about Australia’s weaker fiscal position.

 

It says with debt levels at just 10 per cent of gross domestic product, Australia is one of very few countries with triple-A sovereign debt ratings from the three major credit ratings agencies.

 

 

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Inquiry seeks increased Indigenous sport involvement

It’s handed down its findings after a nine-month inquiry and says encouraging Indigenous Australian to participate in sport could help close the disadvantage gap.

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Amanda Cavill reports.

 

The parliamentary committee into Indigenous sport has called for a federal review of current programs and form a view on what can be improved to increase participation.

 

Committee Chair Janelle Saffin says sport can provide valuable opportunities for communities to come together.

 

And she says improving Indigenous participation in sport can help close the gap in important areas.

 

“Sport is much more than just a game. It can be a pathway to stronger communities and better opportunities. Sport can be the hook, or vehicle, to provide opportunities for communities to come together to encourage indigenous participation in education and employment and to demonstrate positive behaviours through local and elite sporting role models.”

 

The Committee has made 11 recommendations including the need for a national framework for sports programs specifically targeted at Close the Gap target areas.

 

It also wants the expansion of a highly successful Indigenous sports program, called “Learn Earn Legend!”

 

The program provides Indigenous students with the support to finish high school and go on to more study, training or enter the workforce.

 

Ms Saffin says it has proved highly successful and could be expanded.

 

“The Committee was impressed with many of the sports programs currently operating throughout Australia, including the Commonwealth Government-funded Learn Earn Legend! program that focuses on school retention and school-to-work transitions and is being facilitated by numerous sporting bodies. The Committee recommended the Commonwealth Government extend the funding of the Learn Earn Legend! program. It really is a great program.”

 

Committee deputy chairwoman Dr Sharman Stone says there also needs to be a focus on encouraging Indigenous girls to become involved in sport.

 

Dr Stone says girls are much less likely to be involved with the typically male-dominated sports but this could be addressed by specifically targeted programs modelled on the Clontarf program, which uses football to attract and retain young Indigenous men at school.

 

“Girls are much less likely to be involved with the various football codes and cricket, although some hardy individuals do break through the barriers, but of course the football codes are most likely to be funded to go out and support Indigenous communities. There is no doubt in my mind that such an excellent program would prove to be just as successful if girls were also targeted; perhaps using netball or some other sport of wider appeal to girls.”

 

The Committee is also calling on the government to find funding to help support Indigenous sporting carnivals.

 

Dr Stone says short-term funding is all very well but a long-term view needs to be taken.

 

“This is typical of Indigenous program funding, of course, and unfortunately on many other levels of state and federal funding, but it’s led to understandable cynicism and disappointment as remote or small communities see new faces come and go in an endless stream, leaving little to show for their efforts.”

 

But given the report has been handed down in the last sitting week of the 43rd parliament, it’s unlikely there’ll be any response from government until after the September 14 election.

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Play tackles cancer taboo

Despite all the advances in treatment, cancer remains a scary word for many people.

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In some communities, that fear can stop some people from attending early screening programs.

 

A program funded by the New South Wales Cancer Institute is attempting to raise awareness of the benefits of early screening and prevention through a series of theatre shows.

 

Peggy Giakoumelos reports.

 

On Railway Parade near Rockdale station in Sydney’s south, the sound of chanting creeps through the door of a Macedonian church.

 

The local Council says around five per cent of Rockdale City’s residents speak Macedonian at home, compared to the Sydney average of less than one per cent.

 

It’s a fitting place for the church which sits near the neighbourhood shopping strip.

 

The strip is now spotted with southeast Asian restaurants, reflecting a more recent wave of migration.

 

At the back of the church, a multicoloured marble floor and staircase leads to a theatre space.

 

Groups of Macedonian-speaking actors have gathered to rehearse a play.

 

The play is about cancer and it’s being put on as part of a government-funded project to encourage people in the Arabic, Greek and Macedonian speaking communities to go for early screening tests.

 

Astrid Perry is the Manager of the Multicultural Health Service for the southeastern Sydney Local Health District which is coordinating the project.

 

She says an evaluation of an earlier theatre program about stigma and mental health showed it was an effective way of targeting some communities.

 

Astrid Perry says with this project, they’re trying to break down the idea that cancer can’t be treated and is something that should be hidden.

 

“Well it’s probably the same as what it was some years ago in all communities because it’s potentially fatal and people are very scared of it and in some communities people would rather not know what the future holds, and also they may think that is a god-given reason and I just must accept my fate. Also people don’t want anyone else to know so the family does not lose reputation or something like that.”

 

The Cancer Institute of New South Wales says on average, one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with a form of cancer in their lifetime.

 

Cancer is now the largest cause of disease in Australia and research has proven that early detection and screening programs significantly improve outcomes for patients.

 

But there’s still a stigma and Astrid Perry says her service has had to be creative because mainstream campaigns don’t always work for everyone.

 

“These plays they have a comedy angle, so they’re not just something boring. And people enjoy having a night out and they also enjoy listening to their own language. There’s very few times that they have events that are in their own language. It’s really something quite special – people dress up for it and it’s a real community event.”

 

The play in Macedonian is called ‘Wrestling the Bear’.

 

It focuses on two Macedonian-Australian men dealing with cancer

 

Vasko Srbinovski is one of the actors in the production, which is the latest in a string of similar education projects dealing with issues such as domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse.

 

“I play the main character in this play. The play is about two families. Their children marry and my part of the family takes care of their health issues and has regular checkups and the other part is quite the opposite to that. So when you tackle heavy subjects such as cancer and drug and alcohol in the past, it’s a very difficult thing to put on stage, because you have to firstly provide the information to the community and secondly it has to be entertaining.

 

Dushan Ristevski is the writer of the play.

 

He says with a strong history of theatre-going in Macedonia, it’s something the community really enjoys.

 

“We did another project which was addressing depression and anxiety in older generation in older people so we called it Old And Happy, so we wanted to bring people out from isolation to encourage them to participate in groups. To go out and to enjoy themselves, it doesn’t matter about the age or the illnesses. The message was go out and enjoy yourself fully. Australia is giving you many opportunities, just use that. So that’s a project we did for elderly. We found out that Macedonians are not using the screening services – the lowest number of screenings – so we believe it’s important through the theatre to promote the screening.”

 

Focussing on two families, where both of the fathers have been diagnosed with cancer, the play centres on how each man responds to his diagnosis.

 

One is ashamed of his illness and keeps his diagnosis to himself, not even telling his wife or children, while the other is open about his illness, getting the support he needs.

 

Dushan Ristevski says he focused on men because it’s men who are less likely to get early screenings for a range of cancers and more likely to keep any subsequent diagnosis to themselves.

 

“We’re trying to portray men who are very stubborn and we’re trying to break the stubbornness in the community. Men they want to keep things quiet within themselves. It doesn’t matter if they have illness or mental illness, which this guy also has depression, because this guy is suffering from cancer he also has depression. All these symptoms are not recognised by his partner. So my focus was on men, but there are also lot of messages for women and for breast screening for instance, and culturally men tend to keep things quiet, they tend to keep things to themselves and the results can be traumatic.”

 

The three plays will run in Sydney from May until July of this year.

 

DVDs of the plays will also be produced and distributed to cancer services across Australia.

 

 

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