Thursday, April 30, 2009

Innovation ACT Launch

Changing States - President Barack Obama, Single retired American cotton flag woven through nylon mesh 4ft x 6ft by Benjamin ShineGreetings from the launch of Innovation ACT at "spacedock" (aka John Curtin School of Medical Research) the Australian National University in Canberra. This is a program to teach innovation to students at the ANU and University of Canberra. The guest speaker was fabric artist Benjamin Shine, with hsi work including a portrait of President Barack Obama. As well as art, Benjamin does commercial design work, including the logo for the Aphasia Alliance (a topic I was lecturing on today). After a series of seminars on how to turn an invention into a product or service, the students (and staff) from teams, prepare proposals and compete. The winners receive practical experience to implement their idea. One innovation with the program is that it is no confined to profit making patented idea, but can include non-profit open source community benefit idea. John H. Howard, author of Innovation, Creativity and Leadership talked at the launch. The program events are open and a entertaining as well as informative. As part of the program I will be speaking at the "Environmental and Social Sustainable Seminar",6pm, ednesday, 3rd June. My postings from last year's program are also available.
30th AprilIntroduction to Innovation SeminarBenjamin Shine
6th MayIntellectual Property for Innovation SeminarRobert Miller (Spruson and Ferguson)
13th MayTeam Formation Evening
20th MayProduct and Market Definition SeminarJohn Hemphill (Pyksis)
27th MayFinancial and Resource Management SeminarNick McNaughton (Blue Cove Ventures)
3rd JuneEnvironmental and Social Sustainable SeminarANU Green
10th JuneBusiness Plan Writing and Presentation SeminarLachlan James
1st JulyElevator Pitch Competition
Monday 20th JulyBusiness Plans and Presentations Due
22nd JulyBusiness Plan Presentations
29th JulyGala Awards Dinner
From: Schedule, InnovationACT, 2009

Lack of useful Swine Influenza Information online from Australian Government

Senator Lundy posted an item to her new web site on 29 April, pointing out that the Department of Health and Ageing (DHA) established a website to provide information on Swine Influenza. That got me thinking about what information was available for the public. I was unable to find any clear and coordinated information for the public from Australian Governments. Instead there are an assortment of web reference to detailed information to officials and cross references which will lead the reader around in circles.

The DHA appears to be for medical practitioners, not the general public. It refers people to DHA's "Health Emergency" web page. This has a paragraph about swine flu and then a link to "Swine Influenza Outbreaks", which contains the equivalent of five pages of text and then links to detailed documents about the number of cases reported so far. All this material appears to be intended for officials, not the public:

National tally of people being tested for Swine Influenza as at 6 am,
30th April 2009


Table 1: Current Australian Cases Under Investigation
0600 AEST 30/04/2009
JurisdictionsSuspect CasesProbableConfirmed

Source: CDNA

From: Swine Influenza Update Bulletin,Department of Health and Ageing, 6am, 30 April 2009
The World Health Organization (WHO) has a Swine influenza - Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response (EPR) but this is intended for national public health officials. The Australian Capital Territory Department of Health has a Swine Influenza page, but this refers to the DHA and WHO pages.

healthdirect Australia, a joint initiative of the Australian, ACT, NSW, NT, Tasmania, SA and WA governments has a "health alert" on its home page, but this just links to DHA.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)has videos on YouTube, showing the correct way to wear a face mask.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Opening Australian Government Online

Senator Kate LundySenator Kate Lundy has a new web site subtitled "Taking Australia forward with openness". The Senator has been a pioneer of Internet use in the Australian Parliament, but has a result has has an assortment of web sites using different technologies. Noted technology evangelist Pia Waugh has now helped the Senator to consolidate all the material into one place. I have suggested adding links to the archived copies of the old sites so they are available as a research resource. No doubt someone at ANU will do a PHD on the evolution of parliamentary web sites (there is a thesis on web censorship lobbying). The Senator is going to run a series of informal technological events starting with one on "The opportunities and issues around getting high bandwidth Internet in Australia", 7 May 2009, at the Australia National University.

eGovernment in Developing Nations

Professor Shirley Gregor and His Excellency HE Lt Gen Masud Uddin Chowdhury, The High Commissioner of Bangladesh. Photo by Obaidul HuqeGreetings from the completion ceremony for the eGovernment capacity building through knowledge transfer in Bangladesh project (PSLP eGov), being held at the Australian National University in Canberra. Present are His Excellency HE Lt Gen Masud Uddin Chowdhury, The High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Australia and dignitaries of the ICT community including AGIMO, NICTA, Professor Gregor who oversaw the project and Ahmed Imran who did much of the work. The project involved preparing training materiel for Bangladesh government officials and conducting training forums. One of the more useful output is the "ICT Management Handbook: A Guide for Government officers in Bangladesh". The handbook is based on AGIMO's handbook for the Australian Public Service. There are other items from the course available on the web. It is likely that the program will be expanded to other developing nations through AusAid. Also later versions may include a component on sustainability from my ANU Green ICT course.

ICT Management Workshop/Training Resources

Module 1

4 Introduction to eGovernment [PDF]

4 eGovernment Management Lifecycle [PDF]

Further Readings

Module 2

4 ICT Business Case [PDF]

Further Readings

  • A Guide to ICT Sourcing for Australian Government Agencies. Developing and Executing an ICT Sourcing Strategy. Second Edition. September 2007. AS/NZS 4360:2004 Risk Management
  • Business Case Guide. A Guide to developing ICT business cases with comprehensive planning and analysis of the project’s demand, value and costs. September 2006.

Web Links:

Module 3

4 PSLP Project Management [PDF]

Further Readings

Project Management Bodies

General Project Management Resources
ProjectMinds Gantthead – the online community for IT project managers

Module 4

4 Managing the Outcomes [PDF]

Further Readings

  • Weill, P. and J.W. Ross (2004) IT governance: How Top Performers Manage IT Decision Rights for Superior Results, Watertown, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
  • Weill, P. and J.W. Ross (2005) “A Matrixed Approach to Designing IT Governance”, Sloan Management Review (46)2, pp. 26-34.
From: "ICT Management Handbook - A Guide for Government officers in Bangladesh", Training Resources, PSLP 2008

Photos by Obaidul Huqe available.

Australian e-waste policy

The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts released a consultation paper on a National Waste Policy 7 April 2009. The paper is 62 pages long in a 397 Kbyte PDF or 1.3 Mb RTF file. The paper has 19 references to "e-waste" electronic waste as from computers and telecommunications equipment. Section 10 of the report asks: "What, if any, changes are needed to the way e-waste is managed?" and points out that some local governments have e-waste collections.

10. Electronic waste

This section explores the issue of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) and its management as a growing part of the waste stream.

Electronic waste or e-waste is discarded electronic or electrical equipment. It typically includes televisions, video and DVD players, stereos, mobile phones, computers, photocopiers, fax machines, printers as well as cartridges, batteries and peripheral devices associated with the equipment. E-waste consists predominantly of metals and plastics with some components having an economic value if recycled and some containing hazardous substances (which may also be valuable) (see Table 5).There is some community concern with the practice of landfilling electrical and electronic waste (e-waste). This may be because such waste contains hazardous substances, but also because of the relatively short life of these products, the desire not to waste the resources embodied in the waste, and the increasing volume going to landfill.

Table 5: Key materials in electrical and electronic equipment

ComponentEquipmentSubstances of concernRecyclable materials

Cathode ray tube

Personal computer monitor, television

Lead, antimony, mercury, phosphors


Glass screens

Computer monitors, televisions, microwaves


Liquid crystal display

Notebook, laptop, mobile phone, some desktop computers



Circuit board

Telephone, personal computer, notebook, laptop, television, radio, audio amplifier, CD/DVD player, handheld games machines, mobile phones

Lead, beryllium, antimony, Brominated flame retardants, cadmium, arsenic





Telephone, personal computer, laptop, mobile phone, handheld games machines

Lead, lithium, cadmium, mercury





Power or external cables

Most electronic and electrical equipment



Plastic housing

Most electronic and electrical equipment

Brominated flame retardants


(Based on WEEE and Hazardous Waste, A report for DEFRA, March 2004 by AEA Technology. The report defines WEEE as waste from electrical and electronic equipment. DEFRA is the United Kingdom Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.)

E-waste is a growing component of the waste stream. In 2005 an estimated 697,000 tonnes of electronic equipment was consumed with approximately 312,930 tonnes of electronic equipment disposed of to landfill.1 It is estimated that approximately

570,900 computers are disposed of annually in Australia, with only a quarter being recycled. Current annual disposal of televisions is around 350,000 units.

Figure 7: TVs landfilled 2000–2005

(Hyder Consulting, 2008)

Data for the years 2004 and 2005 is only available in aggregated format.Figure omitted

Figure 8: Computers landfilled 1998–2008

(Hyder Consulting, 2008)

Figure omitted

In 2007–08 approximately 8.87 million mobile phone units were imported into Australia, an increase of 1.48 million from 2006–07 (7.39 million).2 For televisions, Hyder Consulting reported an 18 per cent increase in sales from 2003 to 2004.3 An

estimated 3.5 million computers were purchased in Australia in 2005, including units that were assembled locally from imported parts.4

The rapid growth in e-waste is driven by factors including consumer demand to have the latest equipment, the need to upgrade systems to accommodate new software, the rate of technological change, the short lifespan and technical obsolescence of the equipment and increasing affordability.There are limited options for the public to recycle domestic e-waste. Most e-waste is disposed of to landfill, while the cost for recycling of e-waste is carried primarily by those consumers who take the initiative to recycle their computers through a recycling centre. The potential long-term costs arising from landfilled e-waste, including health and environmental costs from the possible leaching of contaminants from e-waste into the environment, are likely to be carried by the community.A number of computer recyclers operate in Australia, some offer pick-up services and the majority charge a fee for recycling. Some local councils hold collection days for end-of-life computer equipment and either stock pile the waste or send it to recyclers. There are a number of voluntary initiatives for recycling e-waste, including recycling mobile phones through Mobile Muster (, Cartridges for Planet Ark ( and the computer industry and Victorian Government partnership to run the Byteback computer recycling scheme ( the Australian Capital Territory is the only state or territory to have regulation governing the domestic management of e-waste, placing a levy on the disposal of televisions and computers at landfill sites. South Australia is in the process of consulting on legislation to ban computer monitors and televisions from landfills, with a ban on all other electrical or electronic equipment within three years. The New South Wales Government has also identified computers, televisions, mobile phones and “other electricals” as “wastes of concern” and is investigating product stewardship arrangements.The Environment Protection and Heritage Council is examining options to deal with end-of-life televisions and computers. Among the options are proposals from both the television and computer industries for product stewardship schemes. The industry-proposed product stewardship schemes would place a charge on eligible new product that would then be used to pay for recycling at the end of its life (an advance recycling fee).

Consultation question

  1. What, if any, changes are needed to provide a national approach to the way e-waste is managed?

1 Hyder Consulting, Waste recycling in Australia, November 2008, p.68

2 Mobile Muster 2007–08 Annual Report, p.6

3 Hyder Consulting, Waste recycling in Australia, November 2008 p.53 and 54

4 Hyder Consulting, Waste recycling in Australia, November 2008, p.49

From: "A National Waste Policy: Managing Waste to 2020", Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts released the consultation paper, 7 April 2009

Authentication Protocol from Australian Government

Smart grids don't need high speed broadband

In an Address to National Press Club yesterday, Senator Conroy, Minister for Broadband claimed that broadband is a green technology and could drive major reductions in carbon emissions. This is something I teach my Green ICT students at the ACS and ANU, but not for the reasons the Minister gave.

The minister argued that broadband could improve monitoring and management of power distribution, connecting consumers with power generators to make distribution more efficient and reliable. While such "Smart grids" can make power use more efficient with monitoring and automatic adjustment of processes which use power, they do not require broadband. Only a very limited amount of data is needed to do this, what is needed is not broadband but reliable, widespread data access. It is likely that many of the smart grid applicaitons will use low speed wireless and powerline data networks due to their low cpst and reliability.

The misconception which the Minister has is a common one. This is the assumption that to have data access it must be broadband. Most smart grid applications only require a few bits per second at the consumer end of the connection, not megabits per second. This is because it does not take much data to communicate the price of electricity and so when it is a good time to switch and appliance off.

There is potential for reduced power consumption and costs in households as well as business. Major appliances in the home, particularly those currently controlled by "dumb" thermostats can be controlled by smart meters to adjust to energy costs minute by minute, which in turn reflects the sot of production , including the CO2e effects (greenness) of that energy.

There is the possibility of significant carbon emission reductions. However, the data networks used for these smart grids will need to be reliable, as an unreliable power grid would cripple the Australian economy as well as place the lives of millions of people at risk. So far the Government's National Broadband Network proposal has only touched on reliability and this needs to be made a priority of the proposal. The new network needs to be at least as reliable as the telephone network it is replacing and to be able to run for extended periods without the electricity grid.

With a reliable data network, there are opportunities to improve energy efficiency, with remote power management, de-centralised business, transport management, renewable energy, and web conferencing. But these "build it and they will come" approach is unlikely to work. These applications will not just happen because a broadband network is provided, they need to be planned for.

Take climate change.

Australia has set ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions by 2020 and this will require an economy-wide response.

Some have said why invest in broadband when we need investment in green technologies.

The fact is, broadband is green technology.

In fact, it is an enabler of efficiencies that could drive major reductions in carbon emissions.

In the energy sector, providers plan to use broadband to improve the way they monitor and manage power distribution.

Using broadband to connect power consumers with power generators allows them to harness ways to make distribution more efficient and reliable.

Smart grids connected by broadband raise the potential to not only monitor energy use but to allow remote adjustment of lights or temperature.

For households this means opportunities for reduced power consumption and costs.

Remote control of connected appliances, thermostats and electric meters will help energy companies balance the peaks and troughs of daily usage.

This in turn allows them to sell the recovered power on the market, reducing the need for new power generators.

For the country it means the very real possibility of significant carbon emission reductions.

In Australia and elsewhere, providers are already testing smart grid networks.

Estimates in the US have put the cost savings for consumers between 5 and 25 per cent.

One couple, early adopters of a pilot smart grid in Miami, claim they are saving $100 a month simply by keeping an eye on their digital energy meter.

The information allows them to understand household consumption trends and to adjust their habits accordingly.

The Fibre-to-the-Home Council commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to research the potential sustainability benefits of broadband.

Based on a count of 20 million FTTH users in Europe with 10 per cent of the population teleworking three days per week by 2015, it estimates greenhouse-gas emission savings per user of 330kg, equivalent to a car travelling 2,000 kilometres.

Research also shows that improving telecommunications use could result in significant savings for Australia.

In fact, Climate Risk has estimated that local energy and travel savings alone could be worth up to $6.6 billion annually.

It noted a number of major opportunities for communications to improve energy efficiency, including:

  • Remote appliance power management,
  • De-centralised business districts,
  • Real-time freight management,
  • Increased renewable energy, and
  • High Definition video conferencing.

These are exactly the kind of applications that will be enabled via the National Broadband Network.

From: "Address to National Press Club", Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy , 28 April 2009, Document ID: 110849, Last modified: 28 April 2009, 3:57pm

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tesltra spin doctors off message

Telstra have hired the PR company Network Communications (Australia) Pty Ltd to help sell its message about the environment. I was contacted by the company and invited to download a joint Tesltra-WWF white paper paper on "Using ICT to drive your sustainability strategy". But I found that I had to register with my details before being allowed to look at the paper. This is an annoying process and means that the paper is not generally available. I wrote back to Network Communications explaining this and they said they would put my comments in their final report to Telstra. But in the interim the paper is still not generally available. It does not seem a lot of use to include a comment which says "Tom wanted to comment but could not because we didn't bother to tell you in time". This is unfortunate as it does not accord with the more consultative approach which Tesltra's green guru, Dr TurloughGuerin and others in the organisation have been successfully implementing. Their good work is being undermined by Network Communications lack of responsiveness and Tesltra might be better off without this PR company.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chastwood to Epping Rail Line in Sydney

Macquarie University StationGreetings from the Chastwood to Epping Rail Line in Sydney. This line opened a few months ago, eighty years after planning began. The Chatswood station seems surprisingly unprepared for this, with just a paper sign stuck up to show which platform to use for the service. The Sydney 131500 Transport Information Service has the service listed. The train stops at Macquaire university, which is much easier a trip than last time when I went to talk about energy saving nearby by bus. I was able to post this from the underground train using Optus/Virgin's 3G wireless data service switching between HSDPA and UTMS. The train ride was a very smooth and quiet ride with new carriages.

ps: Of interest at Macquarie University is the co-generation plant next to the library, the Macquarie University E-Learning Centre Of Excellence (MELCOE) and the falafels.

Iridium Satellite Services for Department of Defence

The Australian Department of Defence has issued a Request for Tender for Iridium Satellite Services (ATM ID CIOG 608/08, 27-Apr-2009). The ADF uses Iridium for test messages, voice and data communications. A detailed tender document is available to registered companies.
The Satellite Operations Section of the Directorate of Communications and Network Operations coordinates the provision of satellite communication services to the Australian Defence Force. The primary intent is to provide a low cost alternate communications means for service personnel within Australia, its littoral regions and across the globe. To achieve this, the ADF has been utilising the Iridium satellite constellation. The Iridium satellite constellation is a system of active communication satellites with spares in orbit and on the ground. It allows worldwide voice and data communications using handheld satellite phones. The Iridium network is unique in that it covers the whole earth, including poles, oceans and airways.

The Australian Defence Force currently utilises the Iridium fleet for paging, voice and data communications.

This Request for Tender aims to replace the current arrangement for the provision of Iridium Satellite Services to the Australian Defence Force. ...

From: Request for Tender for Iridium Satellite Services (ATM ID CIOG 608/08, Australian Department of Defence, 27 April 2009

Dealing with Swine Flu pandemic using smart phones and podcasting

Australian government agencies are advising of Swine Flu Precautions. In 2006 I presented "E-government for emergencies: dealing with a bird flu pandemic using the wireless web and podcasting" at CeBIT Australia (extended technical presentation, ANU, 26 March 2007). This discussed how wireless web technology and podcasting could be used for dealing with a possible influenza pandemic. This included providing advice to the public and to officials on what to do, using the technology to manage health resources. Students in the ANU course "Networked Information Systems" COMP2410 learnt how to design web pages for this and many of them now work in and for government agencies.

One problem at the time was, and remains, that there is no unified web based service in Australia. Each state health authority issues its own information in its own format. While this made sense when the information was issued in the form of brochures the public might pick up at their local library it makes little sense online, where the state governments are just as accessible as each other.

The Internet can also be used to keep services operating, including government, with fewer staff and where gathering of people is not possible.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

National Broadband Network Consultants

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCE) have issued a Request for Expression of Interest for "Provision of Lead Advisory Services relating to the Implementation Study for the National Broadband Network" (ATM ID DCON/09/23, 24-Apr-2009). There is a 40 page requirements document available to registered companies. The actual Statement of Requirement is a concise three pages.

Part 5 - Statement of Requirement

34. Services

34.1 The Services

The Department is seeking to appoint a high calibre recognised expert as Lead Adviser to provide high quality and timely advice throughout the National Broadband Network implementation study and to manage the production of an integrated implementation study report, that ensures that all issues are appropriately covered. It is expected that the implementation study will examine and provide advice on a wide range of commercial, financial, project management and governance and telecommunications issues relevant to the National Broadband Network.

The Lead Adviser will need to be comfortable working within a multi-disciplinary team comprised of a range of different entities, both private and public sectors and with a range of perspectives and expertise.

The Lead Adviser will be required to work closely with the National Broadband Network Implementation Division within the Department and have core members of the team readily available to the Department in Canberra, other specialist advisers to the implementation study, other Government departments, and a range of key stakeholders, as well as reporting to broader project governance bodies within Government. The Lead Adviser would work in conjunction with the Legal Adviser that will be appointed separately by the Department.

The Lead Adviser will be expected to have demonstrated expertise and wide range of experience in relation to investment in, financing of, project management of, and commercial and other aspects of large scale complex infrastructure projects, preferably with a multi billion dollar value, and preferably experience with telecommunications projects and preferably in Australian context.

The Lead Adviser will need to be comfortable working within a multi-disciplinary team comprised of a range of different entities, both private and public sectors and with a range of perspectives and expertise.

In this context, the Government considers possible Respondents may include, financial, commercial, project management, civil engineering and strategic consulting firms.

Given the complexity, high-profile, duration and tight timeframes involved in the work, the Department considers it is best undertaken by a team of appropriately qualified and experienced personnel. The Department considers it important for teams to have effective system of quality assurance, including peer review.

      34.2 Specifically, the National Broadband Network implementation study Lead Adviser will be:

  1. Contracted to, within a specified timeframe, provide lead advisory services to the Department on all relevant issues arising throughout the National Broadband Network implementation study;

  2. Provide a fully integrated report of the implementation study in February 2010, with one or more interim reports to be available on specific aspects from August 2009;

  3. Contracted to provide sign-offs in a form acceptable to the Department;

  4. Required to work with other advisers to the Department.

      34.3. The implementation study will be multi-disciplinary and will need to include analysis and recommendations encompassing:

  1. Advice as required in support of proposed legislation relating to the operation and governance of the network company, the regulatory regime, and ownership restrictions for retail telecommunications providers and other investors as required;

  2. Advice on the overall funding requirements for the network rollout (quantum and profile) beyond the $4.7 billion initial funding injection;

  3. Development of strategies to maximise the scope for private sector investment in the network company, subject to appropriate ownership restrictions and appropriate terms and conditions for participation;

  4. Advice on the optimal capital structure for the network company over time;

  5. Development of detailed commercial/financial and engineering analysis of the network roll-out and the implications for the network company;

  6. Advice on how best to structure NBN Company arrangement from the outset so that the Government’s long term objective of privatisation can be accommodated;

  7. Development of plans for the integration of the Tasmanian operation and backhaul network into the overall national broadband network;

  8. Network design consistent with the Government’s objectives;

  9. Development of strategies to provide procurement opportunities for local businesses;

  10. Develop a detailed implementation plan for the roll-out of the National Broadband Network;

  11. Development of recommendations as to the appropriateness of any foreign ownership restrictions for the network company;

  12. Development of a risk management strategy for the national broadband roll-out; and

  13. Stakeholder consultation.

      34.4 The list outlined is clause 36.3 is not exhaustive but indicative of the breadth of issues that will need to be considered in the National Broadband Network Implementation Study report.

      34.5 The Lead Advisers will also be required to perform a range of general tasks, including but not limited to:

  1. Day-to-Day involvement in the drafting of the National Broadband Network Implementation Study report, in consultation with other specialist advisers appointed to the implementation study and the Department;

  2. Conduct of the EOI processes for potential specialist advisers (see below) and other related service providers, as appropriate, consistent with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines;

  3. Participate in meetings and working groups;

  4. Liaison with regulatory bodies and other advisers to the Australian Government;

  5. Providing reports and advices, as required;

  6. Preparing and making presentations to and interacting with industry, senior government officials and advisers, and other stakeholders, as required.

      Subcontractor Management

      34.6 The Lead Adviser will be required to engage further specialist advisers (as sub contractors to theLead Adviser), such as technical, regulatory economics or other, in consultation with the Department to complement the Lead Adviser’s own skills and experience to ensure all issues are appropriately covered in the final implementation study report.

      34.7 The Department will be responsible for the appointment of a Legal Adviser to the implementation study.

      34.8 The Lead Adviser will be required to undertake specific tasks in relation to subcontractors including arranging the request for proposals or tenders, assessing proposals and obtaining the Department’s approval and conducting all processes in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines.

      Consideration of the National Broadband Network Implementation Study Report by Government

      34.9 The Lead Adviser appointment will also include the provision of services to support Government consideration of the completed implementation study report.

      34.10 The Lead Adviser will be required to assist the Department and the Government in considering the findings and recommendations from the implementation study report, respond to any queries on the Implementation Study report and assist decision makers on the approach to the National Broadband Network roll-out.

      34.11 Service Levels

      The Department will require services to be provided within timeframes specified by the Department or as otherwise agreed between the Department and the successful tenderer.

From: "Provision of Lead Advisory Services relating to the Implementation Study for the National Broadband Network" (ATM ID DCON/09/23, 24-Apr-2009)

Cambridgeshire Guided Busway

The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway (UK), when completed in late 2009, will be the longest guided bus system in the world. It will use similar technology to the Adelaide O-Bahn Busway, which is currently the world's longest. The guided busways combines the features of a bus and tram. A concrete track is being laid, mostly along the right of way of the disused Cambridge and Huntingdon railway. Small wheels on new buses will allow them to be guided on the track, but also run on ordinary roads between sections of track. This has advantages over a tram, which can only run on track, not ordinary roads. The use of the guideway allows for two tracks (one in each direction) to be laid in a smaller space than a roaidway. However, the system has disadvantages: busses have internal combustion engines (not electrically powered as with most trams) and so create local pollution and then have a lower carrying capacity than multi unit trams.

I have attempted to map the route of the bussway. Note that the route is only approximate and the timings are incorrect (these are based on Google maps estimate of walking speed). Also I attempted to use Googles "my maps" feature, but could not work out how to import the directions.:

View Larger Map

Saturday, April 25, 2009

COMP7310: Green ICT Strategies

The Australian National University, College of Engineering and Computer Science are now advertising my "Green ICT Strategies" course (COMP7310:). While the ANU now has a sophisticated system for delivering flexible web based e-learning courses, the marketing and administrative system for informing potential students and enrolling them is still catching up with the Internet age.

The university has:
  1. Official course description from the online handbook.
  2. Course flyer.
  3. General information page.
  4. Enrolment information page.
  5. Online independent registration form
It is not clear to me what the role of all these different web pages are. But at least independent students (that is ones just doing this one course) can register online via the web. This is appropriate for a course which can be done online from anywhere (with an Internet connection).

Students wanting to do the course as part of a Master of Information Technology Studies can apply using an online form. However, those adding it to studies at another university, have to navigate a list of different PDF forms, print out the appropriate form, fill it out on paper and mail it back.

The university system (not just ANU) has a whole lot of categories which do not seem very relevant for a blended, flexible, web based course. There is a distinction between on and off campus courses, a difference for Australian and overseas enrolments and between those people doing a postgraduate course at the ANU, at another university or not doing it as part of any course. No doubt all this is relevant to the institutional administration; it may effect how much money the university gets or a particular part of the university gets, but does not seem relevant to the student or the actual course.

It would seem to make more sense to have the enrolment process from the point of view of the student and for their convenience: the student would say "I want to do this" and the university system would work out how to do that, what it costs and who gets paid what.

It doesn't matter where in the world the students are, at which institution they are enrolled (or none): the actual course will be the same. If they happen to be near the campus and feel the need, they can come to an optional seminar, or not. If they are not near the campus, or do not feel the need for a particular part of the course, they need not attend in person. This is what of think of as a "flexible" course, not one where the student has to decide months in advance if they will be in a particular place every week at a specific day at a specific time.

It might be simplest if universities (and other educators) thought of their courses as being distance education plus. That is the administrative processes for the course can be provided online and as much of the course as makes sense. Then deal with the complexities of the bits which need to be synchronised in time, but not place (by web conference for examples), then the parts which need to be at a place but not a particular time (such as having to visit some sort of specially equipped lab) and the parts of the course which must be in the same place at the same time. Current university processes assume that "same place, same time" is usual and the other modes are the exception, but this could be reversed, making it much easier for the student. This could also simplify the university administration and lower costs.

Obviously this approach would have implications for the way universities are run and charge for their services. If you don't know how many students are going to turn up on any particular day, then how will you know how many staff to allocate or how big a room to book? In practice it is likely that a predictable pattern would emerge (I know fewer students will turn up on Mondays and Fridays). Some institutions might run face-to-face classes like budget airline flights: with bookings and incentives for standbys. Some teachers fear that if classes are not compulsory, then no students will ever turn up, but I doubt it and in any case it is not a worry as long as the learning happens.

What to see in Cambridge

The University of Cambridge (England) has invited graduates of the Australian National Unviersity to visit Cambridge in July to help celebrate the 800th Anniversary of the university. There is a week's program of talks and events organised at Madingley Hall, home of the Institute of Continuing Education, which has a garden by 'Capability' Brown), but I thought I would suggest a few of my own, based on a couple of visits to the Unviersity and its environs.

The first tip is to take with you, borrow or hire a bicycle (the basement of Kings College has some bicycles which look like they were forgotten a hundred years ago). I took my own folding bicycle on one visit and found it a very practical way to get around the city centre. There are bicycle paths by the river and some of the one way streets have a bicycle lane in the reverse direction.

There is an excellent double-decker tour which covers the inner city and also gets out to the countryside around Cambridge. The locals frown on this sort of tourism, so best to quietly go off and do it by yourself. One place the tour stops is the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial at Madingley.

A walk along the banks of the River Cam at dusk is a must. Time it right and you can see the choir crossing the bridge to King's College Chapel for evensong at dusk (also worth attending). A punt on the river is entertaining, but the river gets crowded with tourists, so if possible get an invitation to use a college punt from their own private lawns instead of the tourist punts.

The Cambridge University Press Bookshop is worth an half hour browse. There are numerous research organisations and companies clustered around the university facilitates. Do some research before you go and get an invitation to visit. Microsoft's research institute was interesting, but you need and invitation.

Lunch or dinner at "high table" is entertaining (skip breakfast it is not very good in the average college). The high table is where the college elite and guests sit, a few cm above everyone else. Just be careful to sit where you are told and be ready to explain what you do and be able to drop some names. Trinity College puts on a good lunch and King's College was good for dinner.

The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway has not yet opened (so Adelaide's O-Bahn Busway is still the world's longest) but you can take a ride on the test buses.

By the way if you aren't an ANU alumni, but have some academic connections, you may be able to talk your way into the colleges. Just look for someone you know, who knows someone at Cambridge. I found that with a Linked in search there were 111 people I was connected with, who were Cambridge graduates, 12 of whom live within 40 km of the university and 3 who work or research at it. Also keep in mind that the university is just a loose consortium of colleges, who are always looking for guest speakers from faraway places. Even if one will not let you in the door, another may well. Once I had one introduction, I found that opened other doors.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Learning Federation

Had a visit recently from a company which created interactive multimedia for education. They showed me a demonstration of a vocational course and one for schools. They said they had done numerous school modules for the "Le@rning Federation". This is a non-profit consortium of state and federal Australian and New Zeeland governments. So I went to look for content suitable for university ICT courses. There were 47 items under the "Information technology" category, but these seemed to mostly consist of how to set the ring tone on your mobile phone and old black and white photos. There seemed to be very little educational content. Perhaps the Learning Federation has good content at other educational levels or for other disciplines but there seems to be little of value for unviersity ICT edcuation.

Australia 2020 Summit - Australia's future security and prosperity in a rapidly changing region and world

Here are "Australia's future security and prosperity in a rapidly changing region and world" items accepted by the Australian Government in its "Responding to the Australia 2020 Summit" on 22 April 2009:

Australia faces an increasingly complex and interconnected international environment. Globalisation has greatly benefited Australia and our economy has experienced sustained prosperity notwithstanding recent challenges such as the global financial crisis. However, globalisation has also resulted in exposure to a broader range of challenges. The Government is committed to addressing these challenges, including those posed by a global economy suffering the impacts of the financial crisis, climate change, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the potential spread of pandemic disease, people smuggling and narcotics trafficking. These are complex matters with far-reaching implications and the Government is committed to taking a collaborative approach in developing global solutions to these issues.

By 2020, the population of the Asia Pacific region will comprise around 60 per cent of the world's total. Ensuring stability and prosperity in our region is important for both humanitarian reasons and for Australia's security, in terms of protecting our borders and preserving our economic prosperity. The management of Australia's relationships with the United States, Japan, China, Indonesia, India and Europe are critical to ensure the security of the nation.

This new landscape will require new techniques and partnerships. To exercise international influence and tackle emerging challenges will require a new form of "middle power" diplomacy.

The Security Stream at the 2020 Summit developed a range of ideas to address Australia's role in the international landscape. The key themes raised included a concerted campaign to improve our familiarity with Asia, new partnerships and strategies within the Pacific region, greater international engagement and the importance of non-military security issues. Trade and energy security were also discussed. Ideas relating to Australia in a global context were also raised by the Productivity, Communities and Health Streams.

The Security Stream developed a broad range of ambitions, themes and ideas that have influenced and guided the Government's policy in this area, such as:

  • National Security Statement - The Prime Minister presented Australia's inaugural National Security Statement to Parliament on 4 December 2008. This Statement outlined the Government's national security policy. It described the scope of national security, Australia's national security interests, principles and priorities, and outlined the Government's vision for a reformed national security structure.

  • Deployable Civilian Capacity - The Government has agreed to develop a policy framework to enable rapid deployment of civilian experts to assist in international disaster relief, stabilisation and post conflict reconstruction efforts. An inter-agency task force is being led by AusAID to undertake this work. Once established, a national deployable civilian capacity will allow more rapid and early delivery of stabilisation and recovery assistance to countries that experience conflict or natural disaster. The program will be sufficiently adaptable to allow Australia to tailor its response to a particular event or emergency and will improve Australia's integration into multilateral reconstruction and stabilisation operations.

  • Maritime Security Enforcement - On 4 December 2008 the Prime Minister announced that the Government would augment the Australian Customs Service (ACS) to give it the capability to comprehensively work to deter people smuggling throughout the operating pipeline from source countries to our shores. As part of the changes the ACS has been re-named the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. The Government has reviewed aspects of Australia's maritime security enforcement effort and continues to consider opportunities for enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of our strategic approach to maritime security.

  • The Prime Minister's Australia Asia Endeavour Awards - The Government is making a substantial new investment of $14.9 million to facilitate the best and brightest students from Asia and the Pacific in having closer ties to Australia and for Australians to have closer ties in these countries. The Government will support academic scholarships for university students from Australia and Asia, including the expansion of capacity building and leadership scholarships for Asia Pacific students to study in Australia. These initiatives aim to build deep and enduring linkages with our Asia Pacific neighbours. This will have long term benefits for trade, security and development goals, as well as enriching all our cultures.

  • National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program - Incorporating a better understanding of Asia into Australian society is critical to enhancing Australia's engagement with the Asia Pacific region. To increase our Asian language capabilities, the Government is investing $62.4 million in the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP). The NALSSP commenced on 1 January 2009 and provides opportunities for school students to become familiar with the languages and cultures of Australia's Asian neighbours - China, Indonesia, Japan and Korea.

  • Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre for Excellence - The Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence was opened by the Prime Minister on 27 November 2008. The centre will improve the effectiveness of Australian civilian and military collaboration to prevent, mitigate and respond to the impact of natural disasters and conflicts in the Asia Pacific region. The centre will support Australian Government agencies to strengthen civil-military collaboration through research, and the development of training and doctrine.

  • Pacific Partnerships for Development - The Government has committed to negotiating Pacific Partnerships for Development with our Pacific partners to make more rapid progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The Prime Minister signed the first two partnerships with Papua New Guinea and Samoa at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting in Niue in August 2008. Further partnerships were signed with Solomon Islands and Kiribati in January 2009.

The following tables provide the Government's response to the ideas raised by the Security Stream at the 2020 Summit.

Key ideas being taken forward by the Government


2020 proposed ideas

Government response

International Security - Creative Middle Power Diplomacy

  • Adopt a new approach using 'smart power' to address food, water and energy security issues in collaboration with our neighbours.

Agree. As noted in the Prime Minister's National Security Statement of 4 December 2008, it is important that our national security be advanced through creative middle power diplomacy. This is an active foreign policy that is capable of identifying opportunities to promote our security; to prevent, reduce or delay the emergence of national security challenges; and to position Australia to take advantage of international developments.

International Security - Collective Security

  • Strengthen collective security.

Agree. The Government is working to strengthen international security though close engagement with its allies and other partners, including through the United Nations. In March 2008, the Prime Minister announced Australia's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the period 2013-14, which will enable Australia to take a more active role in addressing global security challenges.

International Security - UN Peace-building Commission

  • Support the UN Peace-Building Commission.

Agree. To date Australia has contributed $2 million to the Commission's Peace Building Fund, with an additional $1 million being contributed in early 2009.

International Security - Preventive Diplomacy

  • Use preventative diplomacy.

Agree. Australia actively engages in 'regional preventative diplomacy' as evidenced by its assistance to East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

Australia also supports the United Nations Secretary-General's proposals to strengthen the UN Department of Political Affairs, focusing on conflict prevention and mediation activities undertaken by African regional organisations.

International Security - Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament

  • Properly resourced nuclear disarmament diplomacy built on regional cooperation on nuclear expertise and non-proliferation, including the appointment of an Ambassador for Disarmament.

Agree. An International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND) has been created as a joint initiative of the Australian and Japanese Governments. The Commission aims to reinvigorate international efforts on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in the context of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and beyond.

Australia's Permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva is the Ambassador for Disarmament.

In addition, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation has strong regional nuclear cooperation links through a number of forums.

International Security - Peace-Building

  • Create deeper institutional engagement with a view to state and peace-building.

Agree. Australia works with partner governments, local institutions, non-government organisations, other donors and multilateral institutions to strengthen peace and state building programs in partner countries. At a global level, Australia undertakes these activities through UN agencies and academic and research institutions.

The newly established Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence will enhance Australia's institutional capacity to engage and coordinate with regional institutions to respond to causes of instability and build peace and security.

Regional Security - Deployable Civilian Capacity

  • Establish a deployable public service that will be able to more rapidly and effectively deliver development assistance.

Agree. The Government has agreed to develop a policy framework to enable rapid deployment of civilian experts to assist in international disaster relief, stabilisation and post conflict reconstruction efforts. An inter-agency task force is being led by AusAID to Undertake this work. Once established, a national deployable civilian capacity will allow more rapid and early delivery of stabilisation and recovery assistance to countries that experience conflict or natural disaster. The program reflects many of the ideas discussed at 2020, and also at the Youth Summit, and will be sufficiently adaptable to allow Australia to tailor our response to a particular event or emergency. It will also improve Australia's integration into multilateral reconstruction and stabilisation operations.

Regional Security - Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence

  • Establish an Australia-Japan regional peacekeeping centre and establish civil-defence partnerships.

Agree in-principle. The Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence (APCM COE) was opened by the Prime Minister on 27 November 2008. The centre will enhance the effectiveness of Australian civilian and military collaboration to prevent, mitigate and respond to the impact of natural disasters and conflicts in the Asia Pacific region. The Government intends the APCM COE to be the Australian centre for the international exchange of doctrine on peacekeeping practice.

The Government will seek formal links between the APCM COE and the relevant Japanese institutions involved in peacekeeping.

National Security - Government Response to the Smith Review, National Security Committee

  • New research and analytical capabilities are required on non-traditional security threats.

Agree. The Government announced its National Security Statement and response to the Homeland and Border Security Review on 4 December 2008. The National Security Statement reinforced the importance of the Government's role in research and capability development activities that reach beyond counter-terrorism into other areas of national security.

Research and development capabilities across the spectrum of national security challenges will be addressed through the development of the National Security Science and Innovation Strategy.

The International Strategy Unit within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which was established in October 2008, is regularly tasked to examine non-traditional security issues and their implications for policy.

National Security - Information and Intelligence Data Sharing

  • The National Security Committee of Cabinet should exercise leadership to push for meaningful, real information and intelligence data sharing between policing and intelligence agencies.

Agree. The National Security Statement outlined the establishment of a National Intelligence Coordination Committee (NICC). This committee will ensure that Australia's national intelligence effort is fully and effectively integrated with all relevant agencies and activities.

The National Security Advisor, supported by the National Security Chief Information Officer and in consultation with other relevant agencies, will address the legislative, technical and cultural barriers to the sharing of national security information.

This idea was also raised as an issue in the 2004 Flood Inquiry into Australian Intelligence Agencies. The Government is currently making a number of improvements as a result of the outcomes of the Street Review of interoperability between the AFP and its national security partners.

Pacific Development - Pacific Partnership for Development

A number of ideas were raised regarding development and social exchange initiatives with the Pacific, including:

  • A partnership for development initiative to achieve priority Millennium Development Goals through sustainable business, academic, community and government linkages

  • Encouraging greater exchange of professionals and public servants and the exchange of information on approaches to tackle climate change and food security

  • The use of modern IT technologies to foster closer ties and address mutual challenges

  • Integrate policies and agencies' efforts to fast-track clean energy development and deployment, informed by a coherent plan.

Agree. The Pacific Partnerships for Development initiative launched by the Prime Minister in March 2008 commits Australia and our Pacific partners to make more rapid progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The first two partnerships with Papua New Guinea and Samoa were signed at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in August 2008. In January 2009, partnerships were signed with Solomon Islands and Kiribati. Partnerships for Development are being progressively established with other Pacific Island countries.

The Pacific Islands Forum will be held in Cairns in the first week of August 2009, continuing partnership-building in the Pacific region.

Additionally in the 2008-09 Budget, the Government allocated $107 million over four years to increase Australia's support for Pacific public sector training and capacity building.

Business and community links will be significantly advanced through the development of a Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme and consultations on a regional economic integration agreement (PACER plus). In addition, the Government actively supports the Business for Millennium Development (B4MD), which partners with Australian business to reduce poverty in the Asia Pacific region.

Through AusAID, the Government is participating in the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility, which aims to develop and maintain critical economic infrastructure and make progress against the Millennium Development Goals in the Pacific. The Government is also providing assistance for Pacific countries in developing climate change expertise.

The Government is considering further initiatives to support training opportunities for Pacific public servants and increased links with Pacific officials and programs.

Pacific Development - Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme

Also raised by:



  • Establish a workforce and skills program that enables foreign workers to come to remote, rural and regional Australia for up to two years, to work under an Australian industry instrument.

  • Develop links with Australia's overseas aid programs to offer aid recipients work opportunities in Australia as an opportunity to develop skills, earn wages to support their family and community and promote cross-cultural understanding. The scheme would also offer Australian employers the capacity to fill jobs.

  • A rights-based labour mobility initiative for South West Pacific, including East Timor.

Agree. The Government announced the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme on 17 August 2008. This three year scheme will examine the viability of a seasonal worker program, with a focus on the horticulture industry. The Government is conducting the pilot to examine whether a seasonal worker program could contribute to regional economic development objectives and also assist Australian employers.

International Trade - Reducing Barriers to Trade

  • Build stronger linkages, breaking down the practical barriers that limit trade, and work towards creating a seamless single market across the Pacific islands, New Zealand and Australia.

Agree. Australia already has a longstanding and comprehensive closer economic agreement with New Zealand.

At the Pacific Islands Forum in August 2008, Pacific leaders agreed to a new regional economic integration agreement (PACER Plus) to be developed in 2009 and cover Pacific Island countries.

The Government is also committed to promoting APEC's agenda on regional economic integration and continuing on the path towards a Free Trade Agreement of the Asia Pacific. The announcement at the APEC Ministerial Meeting in November that Australia will join the Trans Pacific Partnership initiative is an important stepping stone on this path.

Energy, Water & Food Security

  • Improve the analytical ability of agencies using evidence-based management systems to develop and monitor sustainability and other indicators related to energy, water and food security.

Agree. Agencies already make extensive use of available evidence-based systems. Enhanced systems are currently being established in the water and energy portfolios.

Food Security

  • Innovation in Australia and AusAID should help Australia's neighbours meet the challenges of food production in a world dealing with climate change.

Agree. Since May 2008, the Australian Government has committed over $100 million to food security programs in developing countries, for emergency food aid, and for agricultural and rural development.

The Government has also committed to invest $150 million over three years to meet high priority climate adaptation needs in vulnerable countries in our region, including a range of issues related to food security.

A comprehensive action plan for food security, which includes increased development assistance in agriculture and rural development and continued advocacy for international trade policy reform, is currently under development.

The Government has made an immediate contribution of $50 million to the World Bank Global Food Crisis Trust Fund and is supplementing this with support for urgent food requirements through the World Food Programme.

International Rule of Law - General

  • Reaffirm our commitment to working in international institutions and to the international rule of law.

Agree. The Government is strongly committed to working with international institutions to shape coordinated responses to global challenges. The Government is also strongly committed to upholding and promoting the rule of law at an international level, including through the progressive development of international law and active participation in key international fora.

Removing Discrimination

Also raised by:



  • Unleash Australian talent by removing direct and indirect discrimination, which means improving structural support, strengthening laws and creating public accountabilities beyond gender - that is, age, race and disability.

  • Review domestic legislation for human rights impacts and compliance.

Agree in-principle. On 10 December 2008, the Commonwealth Attorney-General announced a national consultation process on human rights and responsibilities in Australia. The consultation will be conducted in 2009 by a committee comprised of Father Frank Brennan SJ AO (Chair), Ms Tammy Williams, Ms Mary Kostakidis and Mr Mick Palmer AO APM.

The Government has recently taken some key steps to address issues of discrimination. For example, in July 2008, the Government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and, in December 2008, tabled a National Interest Analysis proposing that Australia accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties reported its views on 12 March 2009 and recommended that Australia accede to the Optional Protocol.

In December 2008, the Government tabled draft Disability Standards to improve access to premises for persons with disabilities, and introduced legislation to implement recommendations of the Productivity Commission from 2004 to improve the operation of the Disability Discrimination Act. The states and territories also have existing programs to address issues of discrimination.

Also in December 2008, the Government acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

International Rule of Law - Gender Equality

  • Ensure Australia's commitment to gender equality is reflected in domestic and foreign policy.

On 4 December 2008, Australia acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Government is exploring ways to improve gender equality across a range of policy areas.

International Rule of Law - Multilateral Treaty obligations

  • Develop multilateral treaty obligations in the areas of trade, human rights, labour and environment.

Agree in-principle. The Government has existing multilateral treaty commitments in each of these areas and is committed to developing further obligations where relevant and appropriate. Recent examples include:

  • In December 2008, the Government acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

  • In July 2008, the Government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and in December 2008 tabled a National Interest Analysis proposing that Australia accede to the Optional Protocol

  • The Government is considering what steps would be required (in consultation with the states and territories) for Australia to become a party to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment

  • The Government is pursuing vigorously an ambitious and timely conclusion to the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations

  • The Government ratified the International Tropical Timber Agreement in September 2008.

National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP)

Also raised by:



Incorporate Asia literacy into Australian society to increase the knowledge of Asian and regional languages and societies to enhance Australia's global engagement and intelligence. This could be done by:

  • Boosting the teaching of Asian languages in primary and secondary schools

  • Mainstreaming language education

  • Recruiting foreign language teachers from local communities and overseas

  • Reinvigorating professional teacher training, including for native speakers and our ethnic communities

  • Developing a comprehensive national Asia literacy strategy at all levels of the education system by 2020. This should be backed by funding at least equivalent to the former National Asian Languages and Studies Strategy for Australian Schools

  • Ensuring by 2020 that Australia will no longer be the worst-ranked OECD country for second-language skills and that it is positioned to benefit from the economic reality of an increasingly Asia-centric world

  • Ensuring by 2020 every child in Australia can speak a language other than English and will learn about the contribution of other cultures to Australia

  • Ensuring that Australians directly experience Asia.

Agree in-principle. The Government has committed $62.4 million to implement the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP) over 2008-09 to 2010-11, in recognition of the importance of Asian languages and studies in equipping young Australians with the skills to compete in the globalised economy of the future.

The NALSSP commenced on 1 January 2009 and provides opportunities for school student to become familiar with the languages and cultures of four of Australia's Asian neighbours, namely China, Indonesia, Japan and Korea.

Through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) processes, all governments have committed to the NALSSP and an aspirational target that, by 2020, at least 12 per cent of all students exit Year 12 with a fluency in one of the target Asian languages. NALSSP focuses on increasing both student demand and teacher supply.

In addition, the Government's recent Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan includes $1 billion to build up to 500 science laboratories or language learning centres in secondary schools. The second phase of the National Curriculum will also include language education.

Asia Literacy - the Prime Minister's Australia Asia Endeavour Awards

Also raised by:


  • Link young Australians to Asian communities through support for school twinning, exchange programs, mentoring, in-country and community-based learning programs.

  • Remove barriers to Australians studying in Asia.

  • Develop a comprehensive national Asia literacy strategy to re-skill Australia to capitalise on opportunities in Asia.

  • Provide university fee exemptions and other financial incentives to rebuild Asian studies in our universities.

Agree. The 2020 Summit, the Youth Summit and the Schools Summit all recognised the importance of Asia-literacy and the Government has made a commitment to delivering a new scholarship scheme: the Prime Minister's Australia Asia Endeavour Awards. This scheme will provide scholarships for the best and brightest university students from Australia and Asia. The scheme aims to build deep and enduring links with Australia's neighbours. This will have long term benefits for trade, security and development goals, as well as enriching all our cultures.

National Security - Maritime Security Enforcement

  • Assess Australia's maritime area to inform long term management and planning in this area.

Agree in-principle. In the inaugural National Security Statement on 4 December 2008, the Prime Minister announced that the Government would augment the Australian Customs Service (ACS) to give it the capability to comprehensively work to deter people smuggling throughout the operating pipeline from source countries to our shores. As part of the changes the ACS has been re-named the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. The Government has reviewed aspects of Australia's maritime security enforcement effort and continues to consider opportunities for enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of our strategic approach to maritime security.

National Security - Local, Domestic and Community Security

Enhance local, domestic and community security as a foundation for national and global security. This can be done by:

  • Creating a resilient and harmonious domestic community, and

  • Rebalancing community security to support soft power and domestic security capacity.

Agree in-principle. The December 2008 National Security Statement outlined the Government's approach to achieving national security outcomes through enhanced community engagement, including through sustaining support for our forces deployed overseas, undermining the influence of violent ideologies and preserving the social cohesion of Australia's diverse society.