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Family homeless for Christmas as Planning Portal denies the issue of the Occupation Certificate

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An occupational Certificate for the Planning Portal.
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Family homeless for Christmas as Planning Portal denies the issue of the Occupation Certificate

 

Association of Australian Certifiers

Industry calls for urgent reform of Planning Portal

The state’s Planning Portal is not for purpose and is putting a handbrake on the delivery of new homes and apartments in the middle of a statewide housing crisis, according to industry professionals.

The Association of Australian Certifiers (AAC), which represents the interests of professionals actively participating in the certification of building and subdivision works in New South Wales has requested ongoing and urgent discussions with the NSW Government and the relevant Departments in an effort to resolve the many issues with the Portal which is being felt right across the industry.

“From the beginning, industry groups have supported the government in its delivery of the Portal, but we are now hamstrung because the technology is not fit for purpose,” said Jill Brookfield, CEO of the Association of Australian Certifiers.“

What we are looking for is:

  • Meaningful Training for Certifiers and their Administration staff on the Portal
  • Reinstate the Certifier helpline and resource IT people with in-depth knowledge of the system from the council/certifier side
  • Allow each step to have a Certifier ‘Not applicable to this application’ button for each page of the determination and upload parts of the Portal
  • Meaningful dialogue and testing before each new change to the portal occurs, make it mandatory to enable real time testing for a wide range of certifiers and Councils before releasing a change to the Portal – stop the surprise changes.

An occupational Certificate for the Planning Portal.

“Every update brings a new set of problems, and it’s one step forward, three steps back.

“As one Certifier told me this morning, they will have to start telling clients they’ll be unable to move into their new place for Christmas because the Occupation Certificate just won’t be ready.

“The housing crisis is well known, and has rightly been the focus of the Government, but the actual tools required for approval have not kept up with demand and is one of the main reasons for such a housing shortage.

“The Portal is counter intuitive in how information must be submitted and does not recognise the complex nature of what is required – it’s a well-known secret among those in certification and planning that the government is being let down by its technology.

“The technology is failing the NSW building sector and has become a direct barrier for Certifiers who are endeavouring to issue Occupation Certificates to deliver new homes and keep the economy moving.

“It’s not just Certifiers who are battling with the Portal. The AAC is aware homeowners struggle with the platform as do other industry practitioners who meet similar barriers to use the Portal effectively.

“It is upsetting when I see the Premier and his Cabinet colleagues trying to solve the housing crisis because everyone on the inside knows they are being badly let down, but sadly nothing is changing.

“There is no magic bullet when it comes to the housing issues that NSW is currently facing, but things that can be controlled should be immediately rectified to clear the backlog of approvals.

“Until an urgent fix is made, sadly, the residents of NSW will continue to suffer,” Ms Brookfield said.

 

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Australian Energy Commission Signals Major Overhaul of Complex Electricity Pricing Amid Consumer Concerns

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Australian Energy Commission Signals Major Overhaul of Complex Electricity Pricing Amid Consumer Concerns

 

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has announced plans to overhaul electricity pricing rules in response to growing concerns about complex and often punitive tariffs affecting many households.

Key Points:

  • Revamp Announcement: Anna Collyer, Chair of the AEMC, will address these issues in her keynote speech at the Australian Energy Week conference in Melbourne, highlighting the need for new consumer protections amid the rollout of smart meters and changing tariff structures.
  • Consumer Protections: The AEMC will introduce measures to protect consumers from unexpected tariff changes. This includes requiring greater notification and detailed information from retailers about how changes will impact users.

Background:

The AEMC, which sets the rules for retailers in the national electricity market covering about 10 million customers along the eastern seaboard, is addressing concerns about the rapid and radical changes to electricity pricing. Traditionally, households paid a flat rate for electricity, but the introduction of smart meters has enabled more complex tariffs such as time-of-use rates and demand charges. These changes, however, have left many consumers facing higher bills without understanding why.

Collyer’s Perspective:

Ms. Collyer emphasised the critical role of smart meters in transitioning Australia to renewable energy. She noted that these devices allow consumers to better manage their energy use, particularly in homes with rooftop solar systems. However, she acknowledged that not all consumers are willing or able to adjust their energy consumption habits significantly.

“We need to account for all types of consumers, not just those who thrive on more complexity,” Ms. Collyer will say. She also highlighted the importance of smart meters in the broader context of reducing peak demand and infrastructure costs.

Proposed Changes:

  • Greater Transparency and Notification: New rules will ensure that consumers are adequately informed about tariff changes, including more detailed explanations and the elimination of up-front costs for smart meter installations.
  • Review of Tariff Appropriateness: The AEMC will launch a review to assess whether current power charges are fair and effective in reducing peak demand and overall costs.
  • Innovative Approaches: Collyer urged energy companies to innovate with the advent of smart technology, such as electric vehicles and internet-enabled appliances, which can adjust their energy use based on real-time pricing.

Industry Impact:

Collyer’s speech will also include a challenge to power companies to be more like “Uber, not the taxi; Apple, not Kodak,” encouraging them to embrace innovation rather than sticking to outdated practices.

Conclusion:

The AEMC’s proposed overhaul of electricity pricing rules aims to balance the transition to a greener grid with the need for consumer protections and transparency. By addressing the complexities and unexpected costs associated with new tariff structures, the commission hopes to ensure that all consumers benefit from the move towards smarter energy management.

 

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Apple Reaches Record High with New AI Features: ‘AI for the Rest of Us’

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Apple Reaches Record High with New AI Features: ‘AI for the Rest of Us’

 

Apple Inc. shares soared to a record high after unveiling its much-anticipated artificial intelligence (AI) platform, Apple Intelligence, during the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday. The new technology, designed to offer a personalised and subtle AI experience, aims to enhance user engagement by summarising text, creating original images, and retrieving relevant data.

Key Highlights from the Presentation:

  • Apple Intelligence: The centrepiece of the event, this new AI platform will integrate seamlessly with Apple’s ecosystem, providing users with advanced features such as text summarisation, original image creation, and intelligent data retrieval. A revamped version of Siri will also be included, promising more precise control within apps and better overall functionality.
  • Stock Performance: Apple’s stock surged 7.3% to $207.15, achieving its first record high of the year despite a lukewarm premarket reaction.
  • AI Market Push: Apple is positioning itself to catch up with tech giants like Google and Microsoft in the competitive AI market, leveraging its streamlined interface and dedicated customer base.

Partnership with OpenAI:

Apple formally announced a partnership with OpenAI, allowing users to access ChatGPT via Siri at no extra cost. This collaboration aims to enhance Siri’s capabilities, with additional features available for OpenAI’s paid subscribers. The AI platform will start rolling out later this year, with some features, including multi-language support, expected next year.

New Operating System Features:

  • iOS 18 and iPadOS Enhancements: The latest updates will introduce an upgraded home screen, a new Control Centre, satellite text messaging support, and enriched communication features in the Messages app. Other notable additions include a Passwords app for secure logins and a redesigned Photos app with AI-enhanced editing.
  • MacOS Sequoia: This update will bring the same Apple Intelligence features to Macs, along with new capabilities like interacting with iPhone notifications and organizing application windows as tiles.
  • VisionOS 2: The Vision Pro headset’s new software will include 3D spatial photos, advanced hand gestures, and the ability to AirPlay content from other Apple devices.

Additional Announcements:

  • International Launch of Vision Pro: Preorders for the Vision Pro will begin in China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore on June 13, with sales starting June 28. The rollout will extend to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the UK shortly after.
  • AirPods and Apple Watch Updates: New software for AirPods will enhance call clarity by reducing background noise, while the Apple Watch will feature improved health tracking capabilities.

Apple CEO Tim Cook emphasised the transformative potential of AI for the company, stating, “AI will be the next big step for Apple.” Despite recent revenue declines, Apple aims to bolster user loyalty and encourage more frequent upgrades with these new AI-driven features.

 

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How Australian Women Entrepreneurs are Defying the Odds to Build Successful Businesses

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How Australian Women Entrepreneurs are Defying the Odds to Build Successful Businesses

 

One-third of Australian businesses are led by women, and this number is steadily increasing. Women entrepreneurs in Australia are not only more educated than their male counterparts but are also pioneering innovations in social impact and environmental sustainability. However, significant barriers persist, including gaps in opportunities, networks, resources, and investment.

Key Findings from the Women’s Agenda Report

A new report from Women’s Agenda, in partnership with Commonwealth Bank and CommBank Women in Focus, sheds light on the challenges and opportunities for women entrepreneurs in Australia. The report, which surveyed over 1,000 women business owners and startup founders in April 2024, highlights the following:

  1. Optimism and Determination: Despite the challenges, 75% of respondents are focused on expansion, and over half plan to hire new talent within the next year.
  2. Social Impact: A significant 56% of women-led businesses are dedicated to making a positive impact in areas such as care, health, social justice, and combating family violence.
  3. Economic Challenges: Inflation and the cost of living are major hurdles, with 74% citing these as primary challenges to growth. Additionally, over a third of respondents feel that current government policies negatively impact their businesses.
  4. Talent Shortages: More than one in five women entrepreneurs are struggling with finding and retaining talent.
  5. Gender-Based Barriers: Bias from prospective investors and unpaid care obligations are additional burdens for women founders.

Expert Insights and Strategies

Julie Mathers, CEO of Snuggle Hunny, sees current economic challenges as opportunities for entrepreneurs to become more focused on their businesses. She believes that surviving the current “storm” will make businesses stronger and more resilient.

Dr. Elaine Stead, a venture capitalist with Main Sequence, emphasizes the importance of networks. She advises women entrepreneurs to leverage their networks for support and survival during tough economic times. She underscores that the first priority for small business owners should be to survive the immediate challenges before focusing on growth.

Opportunities and Support Networks

The report highlights that access to networks is the top driver of success for female founders. Over 80% of respondents identified their biggest support as a network that includes other women entrepreneurs, stakeholders invested in their success, and supportive personal connections. This finding underscores the importance of relationship-building in business.

Conclusion

Despite facing numerous challenges, Australian women entrepreneurs are demonstrating resilience and optimism. Their commitment to innovation and social impact, combined with their determination to overcome barriers, is driving their businesses forward. The findings from the Women’s Agenda report reveal that with the right support, networks, and resources, women-led businesses can thrive even in challenging economic climates.

 

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