Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Planning Minister Steven Miles set to exercise powers and order Redland to draft new strategy for more housing

Local councils are the big obstacles to development

Deputy Premier Steven Miles is poised to fire off a terse ministerial directive officially forcing a southside council to overhaul its lagging housing strategy.

The top-level order, expected as early as today or tomorrow, will force Redland City Council to overhaul its housing policy and explore land supply options in southern Thornlands.

The housing crisis issue will be raised on Friday at a roundtable meeting, ahead of next month’s Queensland Housing Summit.

In an unsigned draft of the ministerial directive, seen by Quest Newspapers, Mr Miles threatens to use his powers and get his department to undertake any necessary work with the council to foot the bill.

“The strategy must ensure the council plans for residential growth that is sufficiently diverse and that supports affordable housing outcomes,” the draft directive said.

“It must also assess the current housing stock and future supply ... using property-level base data, as at mid-2021.”

News of the impending ministerial directive followed Redland City Council’s failure to meet an August 30 deadline to send Mr Miles an updated strategy outlining future land supply areas and detailing plans for housing diversity.

That triggered a bitter row last week over the council’s “outdated” policy, which Mr Miles said was partly to blame for the state’s unprecedented housing crisis.

It also raised the question about the council’s town plan, which may not be compliant as the state approved it on condition an updated housing plan would be drawn up using the latest population figures.

An Infrastructure Department spokesman said the state had told Redland “on a number of occasions” that its 2011 housing strategy was inadequate and based on outdated population data from 2006.

“It does not take into account significant population and housing challenges of the past decade.” the spokesman said.

“The current strategy identified the city would need 66,200 dwellings by 2031, however, as of 2021, there is already a total of 65,200 dwellings in the Redlands area.”

Redland council said it was one of the few councils in southeast Queensland meeting its dwelling targets and a state land supply report found it had sufficient residential land.

It said there had been 9970 building approvals for all housing types across the city between 2011 and 2022, which was in line with all state government orders.

Last year, Redland’s population was estimated to be 161,730, and was growing at an annual rate of about 0.65 per cent, slower than Brisbane’s growth of 0.73 per cent. Redland also had a residential vacancy rate of approximately 0.4 per cent.

That compared with Logan’s population of 350,740 and growth rate of 1.84 per cent, largely due to more housing being built.

The Planning Department spokesman said the state would continue to press Redland council on the need for a strategy to address land supply released and housing diversity.

Under state government guidelines, Redland must approve 17,200 new dwellings by 2041, including 12,500 on land already under development and 4700 homes on land yet to be released.


Queensland schools facing ‘critically’ low teacher shortages

A scathing national report has revealed not enough is being done to address mounting concerns into teacher shortages with parts of Queensland facing critically low levels.

The Productivity Commission, in its interim report reviewing the National School Reform Agreement, said overworked teachers were leaving the industry in droves.

It comes after Education Minister Grace Grace revealed in May there were more than 1000 teacher vacancies throughout the state.

The commission’s report said regional, rural and remote areas continued to suffer from longstanding shortages.

Commissioner Natalie Siegel-Brown said teachers were over burdened with “low value” tasks and were spending less time teaching than compared to international counterparts.

“Ideas we are testing to improve teaching quality include giving teachers more time to teach,” Ms Siegel-Brown said.

“Reducing teacher workload would also increase the time they have to prepare for lessons and undertake professional development.”

More than 3000 teachers were surveyed in the report, which highlighted heavy workloads, high stress levels and a lack of a work life balance as the key reasons they were considering leaving the industry.

Ms Grace revealed during a question on notice in May that Queensland had 1050 teacher vacancies, up by nearly 300 from 2021.

It included 220 in Central Queensland, 240 in North Queensland and 167 in metropolitan areas.

“Teacher vacancies are a normal part of the workforce cycle and can occur for various reasons,” Ms Grace said at the time.

“Vacancies open and close continually throughout the year and local workplace planning ensures that many of these vacancies are identified in advance and filled to minimise disruptions to classes.”

Ms Grace said the teacher vacancy rate made up of two per cent of the 54,000 teaching workforce.

According to the Queensland Teachers Union, 12 schools in mining towns throughout Central Queensland were faced with “critically” low shortages.

Dysart State High School had six teacher vacancies out of 14 staff and Moranbah State High School had 12 vacancies, the union’s July journal revealed.

Union president Cresta Richardson said staffing levels and unsustainable workloads continued to dominate issues raised by its members.

“The QTU continues to develop meaningful strategies and policies to help address the teacher shortage while attracting new and retaining existing teachers to our valued profession,” Ms Richardson said.

Private schools throughout the CQ region are also desperately for teachers.

St Brendan’s College at Yeppoon has five full-time teaching positions available in mathematics, science, agricultural science, religion and legal studies, according to an advertisement on Seek.

Gladstone's Chanel College and Mackay’s Holy Spirit College are both advertising multiple positions each.

In bid to attract more teachers to the industry, the Department of Education offers teachers financial support in study, paid internships and a permanent teaching position post-degree at a Queensland classroom, as part of its turn to teaching program.

It also offers incentives including lump sum payments, return flights, self-contained accommodation and guaranteed return to school as part of the EB10 agreement.


Palaszczuk Govt’s watered down laws a green light to unfettered bikie violence

Once again, Queensland is in the grip of unfettered bikie violence and unfortunately police are losing the fight to stop the killings.

Watered down laws under the Palaszczuk Government have given gang members the green light to maim and kill, and it is clear bikies have no fear of law enforcement as they go about their daily lives of trafficking drugs and standing over people.

Not one bikie has been convicted in the past few years under Queensland’s so-called “tougher’’ consorting laws aimed at cracking down on gangs.

Like youth justice, the Palaszczuk Government talks a big game on keeping bikies under control, but it squibs it at the 11th hour.

Former premier Campbell Newman did plenty wrong during his three year tenure from 2012-2015, but cracking down hard on bikies was not one of them.

The Newman Government acted swiftly and decisively after the so-called Broadbeach bikie blitz in 2014, when innocent restaurant patrons were dragged into a frenzied bikie shooting.

It dismantled the bikie laws to ensure they could not consort – banning colours in public and introducing tougher prison sentences – but the bikie gangs are now back bigger and uglier than ever.

Yesterday’s brazen daylight killing in Carindale, where a man linked to the Comancheros was stabbed to death by five men, shows that authorities have a long way to go to stopping bikie-related violence.

Police last month charged more bikie-associated people of the cold-blooded assassination of former Finks member Shane Bowden, gunned down in his car in 2020.

He was shot 21 times in his driveway. In NSW, we see similar stories of wanton murder involving bikie retribution.

The Carindale incident shows bikies remain motivated and hungry to exact retribution towards rival gang members.

The problem is that innocent people can sometimes get caught up in the crossfire. That’s when it affects us all.

It’s time for the Palaszczuk Government to take a leaf out of Newman’s playbook and start getting fair dinkum about bikie violence. It must end.

The law right now is a toothless tiger.


Boost in lithium battery manufacturing in Australia

The universal shift toward a clean energy economy has lithium classed as a critical metal and Australia is fast becoming a manufacturing hub for lithium-ion batteries.

Australia is the largest producer of lithium metal, producing approximately 50% of the world’s lithium as hard rock lithium concentrate. In 2021, Western Australian mines produced about half the world’s lithium, at an estimate of 55,000 metric tons.

The last 12 months have seen increased lithium battery manufacturing facilities begin production in Australia. In 2021, Energy Renaissance based in the Hunter Region in NSW, became Australia’s pilot lithium-ion battery production facility.

In 2017, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) produced Australia’s first lithium battery at its purpose-built battery testing facility, The National Battery Testing Centre (NBTC).

Humiscope director John Morgan stated that lithium-ion batteries are highly energy efficient and are being used to power hybrid and electric cars. Humiscope, an Australian-owned company, is experienced in designing and building ultra-dry lithium battery manufacturing and testing rooms.

Over the last year, Humiscope has been contacted by three separate manufacturers from three different states in Australia, each requiring a different size manufacturing facility. In late 2021, NBTC contacted Humiscope to discuss having a second dehumidifier installed as they expand their testing facility.

Morgan explained that due to Australia’s significant weather variations with fluctuating humidity from region to region and at different times throughout the year, environmental control during battery production is essential.

“When designing lithium battery production facilities, it is important to understand that lithium-ion is a highly reactive and flammable alkali mineral, and the batteries consist of several hygroscopic chemical components. These chemical components attract moisture,” Morgan said.

“Due to the chemical sensitivity to moisture, specially designed ultra-low dew point, ultra-low humidity, ultra-dry rooms are required to both test and manufacture lithium batteries.”

Lithium-ion batteries are the most popular battery used today. They are lighter than alkaline batteries and offer high operation voltage and high-power storage, therefore widely used as a power source for portable devices such as mobile phones, laptops, and digital cameras.

There has been an exponential worldwide increase in lithium production since 2017, with analysts from GlobalData stating that lithium demand will more than double by 2024.




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