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Australian GovLink is published bi-annually with a purpose to promote and review major initiatives in local, state and commonwealth government departments and to encourage the principles of progress through partnerships between the private sector and government.

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clean-energy

 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that the government will establish a $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund which aims to “support emerging technologies make the leap from demonstration to commercial deployment”. The fund will make $100 million available each year for the next 10 years.

The $1 billion fund will be jointly managed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) which the government says will provide both debt and equity for clean energy projects. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott had previously expressed a desire to close the CEFC and ARENA during his tenure. However the current government stated in a media release that they would “retain and reinvigorate the CEFC and ARENA”.

Retaining the CEFC and ARENA was a “welcome development” according to Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council. However Mr Thornton has also expressed scepticism over the Clean Energy Fund saying that it would essentially be removing funds from ARENA and limiting their ability to provide grants in the future. The Clean Energy Fund has been met with further scepticism from The Australian Solar Council who claim that it will “strip $1.3 billion in renewable energy budget funding” and reallocate it from with the CEFC.

One project that could potentially benefit from the $1 billion fund is the proposed Port Augusta solar-thermal power station. Lobby group Repower Port Augusta sees the solar-thermal plant as a means of driving the local economy forward following the imminent closure of the coal-fired power station. Daniel Spencer, of Repower Port Augusta, says that the solar-thermal plant could cost $100 million to build but would create up to 1,000 jobs in construction and 50 ongoing jobs once operational.

ix35

 

A hydrogen-powered car has recently set the record for the world’s longest continuous journey after it travelled 9,810km on a London motorway. The trial took place on London’s M25 motorway which circles the city and was completed by Hyundai’s hydrogen-powered car, the ix35. The record breaking journey took six days to complete with four different drivers. The journey only required some short stops at various hydrogen refuelling stations to top-up on fuel. During the trip another record was set as the ix35 travelled 643km on one tank of hydrogen which was the furthest recorded by any fuel cell electric vehicle.

The trial was backed by the London Hydrogen Network Expansion Project (LHNE) which also receives government backing. The LHNE aims to promote hydrogen-powered transportation and its benefits including efficiency, low noise levels and no harmful emissions. The sole by-product of the hydrogen fuel production cycle is water meaning there are no greenhouse gas emissions. Water is also used to produce hydrogen.

The Hyundai ix35 has been available to consumers since 2014 and there are other options on the market such as the Toyota Mirai FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle) which was released last year. Other manufacturers such as Honda, Mercedes, BMW, VW and Audi are all developing FCEV’s for future sales. Hydrogen-powered buses are also available and London has a fleet of eight servicing a popular route in the busy city.

There has been somewhat of a slow build up for hydrogen-powered cars when compared to electric cars. Part of the reason could be the reliance hydrogen vehicles have on hydrogen fuel stations, more so the limited availability of these stations. There are currently six stations in the UK with plans to add another six in the next twelve months. Having hydrogen fuel stations more readily available to the public may encourage consumers to make the switch the hydrogen vehicles in the future.

See the video below for more information on the Hyundai ix35.

butts

 

A company in the United States has found a way to recycle a product that for some time was thought to be unrecyclable, cigarette butts. TerraCycle, based in New Jersey, is able to recycle millions of cigarette butts and turn them into useful products such as railway sleepers and shipping pallets.

TerraCycle was launched in the early 2000’s with the aim of taking products that are not normally recycled and figuring out a way to do so. Today they have more than 7,000 cigarette recycling bins in 9 countries including Australia. TerraCycle also has a facility for people to send in their cigarette butts for recycling free of charge. You can even earn TerraCycle points whilst doing so which can be redeemed for gifts or donations.

Cigarette butts are an environmental hazard. According to US National Health (NIH) out of the 6 trillion cigarettes smoked every year, 4.5 trillion (75 per cent) end up as litter in the environment. As a result, many butts end up in waterways where they can be very damaging to the surrounding environment due to the toxins they contain.

The tightly compacted combination of organic and inorganic materials in a cigarette butt are what makes it difficult to recycle. In order to do so, TerraCycle breaks them down into their individual parts. From here, the organic material can be combined with other food scraps and made into compost for use on non-agricultural land. The filters, made of cellulose acetate, need to be sterilised, shredded and then blended with other recycled materials. They are then melted down into industrial plastic, also known as ‘plastic lumber’. This can be used to build railway sleepers and shipping pallets. Other products such as ashtrays, Frisbees and even playground equipment can be made from the recycled materials.

Unfortunately the recycling process is not cheap and actually costs more than the plastic products can be sold for. This could be why there are no larger recycling plants adopting the process. To get around this, TerraCycle accepts funding from other corporations, including cigarette companies, to sponsor their bins and recycling programs. This allows them to maintain a no-charge recycling program for people who wish to send in their cigarette butts.

TerraCycle is now exploring other household waste which has not been recycled in the past such as chocolate wrappers, pens and mobile phones with the overall aim of reducing the amount of waste ending up in landfill.

Nationwide wide ban on hoverboards, for now

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 10:55 Published in GOVERNMENT NEWS

hoverboard ban

 

As of March 19th hoverboards, or self-balancing scooters, are banned across Australia for 60 days until further action can be decided. The ban has come as a response to safety concerns over the devices and the potential fire hazard they present. This follows a number of house fires in Australia which are linked to battery explosions caused by charging faulty hoverboard units.

Concerns over safety had previously prompted Victoria’s consumer affairs minister Jane Garrett to write a letter to Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer outlining the dangers of hoverboards and requesting that they be banned nationwide (click here for more).

The ban in Australia comes only two days after the United States also banned the devices due to patent claims by Segway over other overseas suppliers. The Australian ban applies to hoverboards with batteries and battery control systems which don’t meet safety requirements.

Kelly O’Dwyer had this to say on the ban, “The ACCC has advised of four house fires in Australia directly linked to hoverboards resulting in the destruction of two houses. Specifically, the ACCC’s investigation found there are fire safety risks from defective charging devices, electrical circuitry and substandard lithium-ion batteries in hoverboards. The interim ban sets out the safety requirements for batteries and battery control systems that hoverboards must meet in order to be sold in Australia.”

The ban applies to manufacturer and suppliers and is not a product recall as of now. The ACC is expected to consult with hoverboard suppliers and other experts so that products sold following the ban will meet safety standards. Current owners of hoverboards are advised not to charge or use the devices without supplier confirmation that safety standards have been met.

For more information about hoverboard safety standards click the link.

vw

 

We've put a lot into the new sixth generation Transporter, because we know how much you put in to your work.

The same care that you put into your work, we've put into the new range of Volkswagen Transporters. In fact, when it comes to finding the right commercial vehicle for your fleet, our wide range of Transporter vans represents the cutting edge in safety, efficiency and innovation.

The Transporter range offers a variety of body styles: from regular Van and Crewvan in short or long wheelbase, to cab chassis versions with either Single Cab or Dual Cab. As well, Volkswagen's 4MOTION technology is also available on selected models.

Vehicles with 4MOTION are equipped with the latest generation all-wheel-drive coupling, which improves handling and dynamics. Plus, if your job requires it, mechanical rear differential lock and suspension upgrades are also available.

Under the hood choose from three diesel engines, with manual or direct shift gearbox (DSG). The 2.0 TDI turbo-diesel engine delivers an impressive maximum torque of up to 400Nm.

But, performance isn't everything. Every sixth generation Transporter is fitted with BlueMotion Technology, which helps reduce fuel consumption and emissions. This is achieved thanks to the engine start/stop system and regenerative braking technology.

Safety is paramount. That's why each model is fitted with a host of industry-leading safety features, such as: Fatigue Detection, Multi-collision braking system, and an airbag package that includes front and side/head airbags as standard.

The Fatigue Detection system monitors driving behaviour and, if fatigue is detected, uses visual and acoustic signals to warn tired drivers to pull over and take a break. In the event of an accident, the Multi-collision braking system prevents secondary collisions by triggering your brakes after initial impact.

Long days on the road mean driver comfort and connectivity are essential. That's why a colour touch-screen audio system, with USB, AUX input and Bluetooth audio streaming, comes installed in every Transporter. Plus, you can upgrade to Volkswagen's App-Connect system and in-built satellite navigation.

The Transporter van's ability to take on any challenge is sure to turn heads. The two wheelbases and three roof heights allow a load compartment volume ranging from 5.8m3 to 9.3m3. The payload can be up to 1.2 t, while an optional second sliding door simplifies loading and unloading. And, talking about turning, despite its large capacity, each model still enjoys a remarkably compact parking footprint and turning-circle.

These days a commercial vehicle isn't just for carrying products and equipment. It's a mobile office. That's why there's a spate of factory options for you to choose from to customise your van based on your needs.

However you choose to set up your Transporter, rest assured it's the right vehicle at the right price with the right support for your fleet. For more information on the new Transporter range, go online to volkswagen-commercial.com.au/transporter

fast train

 

A plan to link Melbourne and Sydney with a new high-speed train line would see the 824km journey slashed from 11 hours to just 3 hours with trains able to travel up to 350km/h. Melbourne based company Consolidated Land and Rail Australia will pitch the idea in a meeting with the Prime Minister on March 17th.

A high-speed rail line would give commuters another viable option to travel between the two major cities and potentially spark some competition between air and rail travel. As it stands, the rail line is not an option for those wanting to travel between Melbourne and Sydney quickly. However the air route between the cities is the 5th busiest in the world. The high-speed line could provide a comparable alternative to air travel in speed and cost for commuters.

In 2012 a federally funded investigation into a high-speed rail line identified five stops between Melbourne and Sydney to be ideal. These were Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga, Wagga Wagga, Canberra and Mittagong. Those areas could see an increase in tourism and business with a connection to a high-speed rail line.

 

fast rail

 

MP for Bennelong John Alexander said that there are “three separate groups who are looking at similar ideas” including Consolidated Land and Rail Australia. "There are a number of groups that are looking at securing their own land at the current price, funding the infrastructure and then paying for it in the uplift of the properties," Mr Alexander said.

This idea is not the first of its kind in Australia, various groups have been proposing high-speed rail lines since the 1990’s. The Howard government was the last to look at such a proposal back in 2000 involving a link between Sydney and Canberra. However the proposal was denied due to the $4.5 billion cost.

caddy vw

 

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has launched the fourth generation of the hugely popular Caddy in Australia. The Caddy model range includes short and long wheelbase vans, a long wheelbase 5-seat crewvan, plus people movers with up to seven seats.

A 1.4 litre 92kW TSI petrol engine is available for all models, paired with either a 7-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG) or 6-speed manual transmission. Volkswagen’s BlueMotion Technology stop/start system is standard, helping to reduce fuel consumption.

The Caddy Van has a large number of assistance systems, which are largely unmatched in the urban delivery van segment. Front and front/side airbags are standard, as is an all-new fatigue detection system and a multi-collision braking system. Optionally available is the ‘Front Assist’ surround monitoring system – which helps shorten stopping distances – and City Emergency Braking, which provides braking assistance at low speeds of under 30km/h.

All Caddy models have a colour touch screen audio system and Bluetooth phone capability with audio streaming. The redesigned interior boasts comfortable seats and an ergonomic layout of all controls and storage compartments.

The Caddy Van is available now and starts from just $23,990 driveaway for the 1.2 litre 62kW TSI petrol ‘Runner’ model with 5-speed manual transmission.

sapol

 

A new agreement between the South Australian State Government and the state’s Police Association (PASA) will see police officers who are injured in the line of duty have their full workers compensation restored, with an added 2.5 per cent annual pay rise for the next 3 years. The agreement comes after months of conflict which included a protest on the steps of State Parliament and a strong “Protect Our Cops” ad campaign.

Under the State Government’s new Return to Work Act, which was implemented on July 1st last year, compensation to workers injured on the job is to cease after 2 years unless injuries are determined to be “catastrophic”. This means 30 per cent or more whole person impairment. The Return to Work Act was not received well by police officers and their union which led to a backlash against the State Government.

PASA said in a statement, "The Return to Work legislation proved to be one of the most significant concerns ever to face SA police officers. It is certainly one of the biggest and most serious campaigns the association has ever run.” PASA also stated that the “…outcome satisfies all the parameters the association requested in its Protect Our Cops campaign.”

The agreement is said to cost around $2.2 million annually and would not require any changes to the Return to Work Act, rather it forms part of a new enterprise agreement. Police men and women who suffer injuries while working in administration or other back-office work will receive the standard 2 year compensation as outlined in the Return to Work Act. Therefore the new agreement only applies to officers who are injured in dangerous situations.

The new agreement could have further implications with the State Government leaving the door open for other emergency services receiving similar provisions under new enterprise agreements. "Other emergency services will pay a lot of attention to this outcome," Police Minister Peter Malinauskas said. "If they have reasonable requests and good arguments, we'll assess those on their merits.”

singapore

 

Direct flights to Singapore and Wellington from Canberra will soon be possible thanks to Singapore Airlines’ new “Capital Express” route. Although the airport in the nation’s capital was known as an international airport, it rarely facilitated overseas and did not have a regular international service. The 4 day a week service will be implemented in September this year and will provide Canberra residents direct return flights to Singapore and Wellington starting from $650 and $469 respectively.

Airport Chairman Terry Snow says securing international flights in and out of Canberra is the culmination of nearly 18 years work. “Canberra is relieved we do not have to have the embarrassing, inconvenient and demeaning experience of going through Kingsford-Smith," said Mr Snow. He also believes that more airlines will be eager to bring their services to Canberra in time.

Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong says that the new service reflects the close ties between Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. "We are especially pleased to be bringing more convenient travel options to customers with Canberra's first regularly scheduled international flights and the first non-stop links between the capitals of Australia and New Zealand," Goh Choon Pong said.

The ACT Government is also pleased to see regular international flights coming to Canberra. Chief Minister Andrew Barr believes the service could bring a variety of benefits to the nation’s capital. "This has been the most important project in economic development in the ACT in the history of self government," he said. "What this will bring to our city in terms of business connections, new tourism opportunities, and investment into our economy is significant.”

Singapore Airlines will be running a Boeing 777-200 aircraft with 38 business-class seats and 228 economy-class seats for the route. Tickets for the ground breaking service will go on sale from Monday, January 25th.

paris

 

From 30 November to 11 December, 25,000 delegates from over 190 countries, including Australia, will come together for the COP21 Climate Conference in Paris, France to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

In the wake of the recent terrorist activity, the event may also act as an opportunity for world leaders to unite under a common goal, paving the way for sustainability.

On the margins of this historic conference, the delegates and a further 25,000 people will participate in side events to explore tangible solutions for achieving a low carbon economy, from grass roots education to business strategy.

One of these side events will be taking participants out of Paris to explore local solutions. On 3 December, a specially chartered train will take 500 official delegations, local authorities, journalists, businesses and NGOs from Paris to a small town called Loos-en-Gohelle in Northern France. It is an unlikely place for this kind of event; a poor, ex-mining town, home to the highest slag heaps in Europe. But scratch the surface, and you will see an amazing example of transition to a low carbon economy.

In the morning participants will arrive at the former mine site "Base 11/19" – a collection of UNESCO listed buildings showcasing reconversion to sustainable activities. A series of guided visits will show participants how Loos-en-Gohelle has mobilized stakeholders across Northern France to develop projects around solar energy, ecoconstruction and the circular economy.

In the afternoon, economists, sociologists and business leaders will discuss how the Northern France region has put the "Third Industrial Revolution" at the heart of its development strategy. The Third Industrial Revolution, discussed primarily by American economist and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin, foresees the merger of communications technologies and renewable energy sources for a sustainable future. In this vision, a switch to clean energy production creates businesses and jobs, but also leads to a fundamental reordering of human relationships from hierarchical to lateral power, changing how we conduct business, govern society, educate our children, and engage in civic life.

It is understood that Jeremy Rifkin will be joined by the French President Francois Hollande to close the event.

COP21 participants can sign up for the "TRI-GV: the Train for Change" side event here TRI-GV: the Train for Change.

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