National Construction Code now available for free online

As part of our commitment to reduce costs and red tape for small business, we have cooperated with the States and Territories to make the National Construction Code (NCC) available online for free from 1 February 2015.

Over 180,000 more tradespeople and businesses in the building, construction and plumbing industries will now have access to the NCC, bringing savings to Australian businesses of $4.8 million or more. Building, construction and plumping practitioners will no longer have to pay almost $400 for a copy of the document.

To register for free online access to the NCC, visit

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Help keep our environment beautiful on Clean Up Australia Day

Don’t forget Clean Up Australia Day this year on Sunday, March 1! Why not volunteer to join a local clean-up site or register your own to help make the 25th annual Clean Up Australia Day one of the most successful yet?

I’ve happily signed up with Lions Club Brisbane Camp Hill-Carindale, and will be at Meadowlands Road on the day. To find a clean-up site near you, or to donate to Clean Up Australia online, visit

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Commonwealth Bank community grants available to youth organisations

Organisations that are helping youth in our community improve their health and wellbeing can apply for funding through the 2015 Commonwealth Bank Community Grants program. Applications for grants of up to $10,000 are open until 5.00pm AEDT on Friday, 27 February 2015.

Visit for more information on the program, including eligibility criteria, a link to the application form, guidelines and answers to frequently asked questions.

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Review of Australia’s Counter-Terrorism Machinery for a Safer Australia

The Government has released the Review of Australia’s Counter-Terrorism Machinery today.

The Review found that Australia has entered a new, long-term era of heightened terrorism threat, with a much more significant ‘home grown’ element.

It assesses that the terrorist threat in Australia is rising.  On all metrics, the threat to Australia is worsening.  The number of foreign fighters is increasing, the number of known sympathisers and supporters of extremists is increasing, and the number of potential terrorists, including many who live in our midst, is rising as well. 

There are at least 90 Australians fighting with and supporting terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. Over 30 foreign fighters have returned to Australia and at least 140 people in Australia are actively supporting extremist groups. Thousands of young and vulnerable people in the community are susceptible to radicalisation. Terrorists are becoming more adept at evading surveillance.

The Review also finds that it is becoming harder to combat terrorism. Extremists’ slick online messages are grooming the socially isolated. Low-tech terrorism, needing little more than a camera-phone, social media account and a knife, means that it is becoming harder to for police and security agencies to anticipate and disrupt attacks

The number of serious investigations also continues to rise. ASIO is currently investigating several thousand leads and persons of concern. Roughly 400 of these are high priority cases, more than double a year ago.

The Review supports the decision to lift the National Terrorist Threat Level on 12 September last year. 

Since then, we have witnessed the frenzied attack on two police officers in Melbourne and the horror of the Martin Place siege. Twenty people have been arrested and charged as a result of six counter terrorism operations conducted around Australia. That’s one third of all terrorism-related arrests since 2001 – all within the space of six months. 

The Review confirmed that Australia has strong, well-coordinated counter-terrorism arrangements and there is no reason to make major structural changes.  

The Government will implement the Review’s recommendations to strengthen the coordination of our agencies, introduce initiatives to counter violent extremism and manage the return of foreign fighters, and implement measures to improve community understanding of the threat level.

The Government will appoint a National Counter Terrorism Coordinator to bring the same drive, focus and results to our counter terrorism efforts that worked so well to stop the boats in Operation Sovereign Borders.

A new national counter-terrorism strategy will be developed, in close cooperation with the states and territories, to better coordinate our efforts to counteract the threats we face including from home grown lone actors and radicalisation in our community.  

We will also develop a new national strategy to counter violent extremism and build community cohesion, which will be considered by COAG later this year.

The Review recommends the current Public Alert System for terrorism warnings be replaced with a simpler and clearer system. The Government will develop a new system to provide more helpful information to Australians about what the threat actually is and what precautions people might take.

The Government will separately consider the Review’s options to address long term agency funding as part of the Budget process. In August 2014, the Government announced $632 million in additional funding over the next four years for agencies involved in counter-terrorism. This funding responded to reduced agency expenditure on counter-terrorism since 2009 and supports new programmes to bolster monitoring and disruption activities in Australia and overseas.

All of these steps are about making our counter-terrorism arrangements stronger so that Australians are safer. 

They will significantly improve our counter-terrorism effort, making it more focused and more cohesive. Importantly, they will ensure we are as well placed as possible to tackle the increasing threat of terrorism in Australia. 

We cannot promise that there will be no more attacks. In the current threat environment, our agencies assess that a terrorist attack remains likely. However, this Government will do everything it reasonably can to make Australians safe from terrorism.

The full review can be found at

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New Green Army Projects for Bonner

Two new Green Army projects are coming to Bonner following the announcement of successful projects for Round Two of the important environmental programme, Federal Member for Bonner Ross Vasta said today.

“I’m pleased to announce two new rehabilitation projects for the Iona Wetlands and Oxbow Wetlands,” Mr Vasta said.

“There are more than 350 Green Army projects set to roll out across Australia in the coming weeks following the announcement of successful Round Two applicants for the Green Army programme.”

Mr Vasta said the two projects will rehabilitate and restore habitat within the Iona Wetlands and Oxbow Wetlands. The project teams will undertake key activities including weed control, brush cutting, herbicide applications, mulching, revegetation establishment, seed collection and propagation, habitat creation using natural materials, as well as monitoring and evaluation of the area.

“The Green Army provides opportunities for young Australians aged 17-24 years to gain training and experience in environmental and conservation fields, and explore careers in conservation management, while participating in projects that generate real benefits for the Australian environment,” Mr Vasta said.

The Green Army has been an incredible success story for both the environment and those involved. All participants have received training, and many have jobs lined up for when their project finishes.”

Combined with those announced in Round One, 548 Green Army projects have now been announced across Australia.

Mr Vasta said Round 3 of the Green Army programme was now open for applications.

“I encourage eligible community organisations, environment groups and local councils to join this already enormously successful environmental initiative that is delivering real benefits to the Australian environment,” Mr Vasta said.

“Green Army project activities could involve restoring and protecting native habitat, weeding, revegetation, cleaning up waterways, creeks and rivers, fencing, gully remediation, preventing erosion, protecting and conserving heritage places and values, or monitoring and surveying on Indigenous and non-Indigenous lands.”

To be eligible for Round 3, project sponsors must have at least one project ready to begin between 1 June 2015 and 30 June 2016. Applications for Round 3 are open until 17 March 2015.

Further information, project guidelines, the application form and further information on the Programme is available at

Young Australians interested in joining the Green Army can apply through the appointed Service Providers for each state and territory. Contact details for Service Providers are available at

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