by Alan Thornhill
Julia Gillard says she will bring legislation, to increase the Medicare levy, into Parliament before the elections on September 14.
The Prime Minister made the commitment after the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, said he would support the increase, to clear the way for the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The Prime Minister proposed earlier this week that the Medicare levy be increased by 0.5 per cent, to back the new insurance scheme.
Early today, Mr Abbott declared his support for the scheme and said he would – at least temporarily – support the 0.5 per cent increase in the Medicare levy.
That was enough for the Prime Minister.
Just hours later, she told reporters in Tasmania that, as a result: “ I will bring to the Parliament the legislation to increase the Medicare levy by half a per cent.
“I am pleased that the Leader of the Opposition has made his statement today,” Ms Gillard said.
“We will continue to get on with building DisabilityCare and I look forward to the launch sites for DisabilityCare coming into operation on 1 July, including the launch site here in Tasmania.”
Mr Abbott had also said earlier the levy, which the government would apply to the new scheme would not be permanent, if he became Prime Minister on September 14.
In a statement issued through the Coalition he leads, Mr Abbott said: “People with a disability should not have to wait any longer than is necessary for the support they need.
“For these reasons, the Coalition is prepared to consider providing support for the Government’s proposed increase to the Medicare levy.”
He said, also, that; “the Coalition has supported the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme every step of the way.
“We want the NDIS to be a success and we want is to belong to all Australians. It is too important to become a partisan football.
“We want to ensure that the NDIS is a reality as soon as possible,” Mr Abbott added.
“The legislation to give effect to the Government’s increase to the Medicare levy and the full NDIS package must be introduced and voted on in the current parliament,” he said.
“The legislation must establish how the Scheme will work and who will be eligible,” Mr Abbott added.
Senior figures in the government, at first, responded cautiously, to this statement, describing the Opposition Leader’s support for the new scheme as “conditional.”
They accused Mr Abbott of “playing games.”
by Alan Thornhill
The Reserve Bank is setting tight, new reporting standards for residential mortgage backed securities.
That’s hardly surprising.
After all, wholesale abuse of these financial instruments – in the United States – played a central role in the collapse of Lehman Brothers back in 2008.
That produced the global financial crisis.
It is still afflicting us some five years later.
No-one is suggesting that anything like that abuse is happening in Australia, right now.
But a close watch is always wise.
The Reserve Bank certainly believes that.
It released a progress report, on this project, today.
The bank recalled that back in October 2012, it had announced that it would be introducing new criteria for eligibility of residential mortgage backed securities in its operations.
It said this reflected the bank’s wish to get “more comprehensive and standardised information” on these sophisticated financial instruments.
The bank noted that it had then asked institutions, which issue these securities, to comment on its request.
“The consultation period closed on 28 December 2012,” the bank said in its statement, replying, in turn, to those who responded.
It said the main changes, to the templates it had set, were that:-
* Data must be made available either on a secure website managed by or on behalf of the information provider, or through a data warehouse with secure access and expertise in handling the new reporting requirements.
* This data should be available in a usable format and
* It should be be free of charge.
“Only the most recent reports need to be made available,” the bank said.
“Some changes have been made to the required loan-level data to address privacy concerns,” it said.
by Alan Thornhill
Tired of office politics?
And sick of the daily grind of getting to and from work?
Telework might be the answer.
And it could be closer than you think.
The roll out of the national broadband network will help.
So will changing managerial attitudes and strategies.
But if you boss is a slow learner, by all means discuss it with him.
That’s what National Telework Week is all about.
Julia Gillard, who launched it today, predicted that Telework would become a big part of the future of work in Australia.
And what is it?
Simply a flexible work arrangement that allows employees to work from home.
Australia’s public servants will be among the first to be offered this choice.
The Prime Minister said the Federal Public Service’s commitment to telework is in line with the Government’s National Digital Economy Strategy.
She said several Federal public service departments would conduct a series of telework trials commencing in the first half of next year.
There has already been a study on this subject.
New research by Colmar Brunton and Deloitte Access Economics found:-
* 66 per cent of people with disabilities who are not in the labour force would take up telework if it was available to them;
* 74 per cent of people with family or carer responsibilities who are not in the labour force would take up telework if it was available to them;
* 60 per cent of people nearing retirement age would take up telework if it was available to them; and
* 70 per cent of people living in regional or remote areas, who are not presently in the labour force would take up telework if it was available to them.
The research also found that by 2020-21 these participation impacts of telework alone could:
* Help grow annual GDP by $3.2 billion; and
* Create the equivalent of an additional 25,000 full-time jobs, with 10,000 of these jobs in regional Australia.
The idea is not entirely new.
Leading companies such as Cisco, Telstra, Westpac, Medibank Health Solutions, Microsoft and KPMG are already using it.
But be warned.
There are traps.
There is always something that needs to be done first, at home.
And if your partner is also at home, there might well be interruptions.
(Questions starting with the words “would you..?) for example.
Take heart, though.
There are escape routes.
A laptop at your local library is one.
Just don’t expect to push me aside, when you get there.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
Friday May 24
The Dow Jones Index fell 12.44 points to 15,294.70
Ford Australia says it will close its Australian manufacturing plants in October 2016. Some 1,200 jobs to go.
Hazel Hawke dies at 83
A British soldier is hacked to death in the London suburb of Woolwich, in an apparent terrorist attack
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