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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Parliamentary Library Blog

Turkey: from bad to worse

The Turkish Government’s ongoing response to the 15 July coup will almost certainly exacerbate, rather than address, the significant problems it has been facing in recent years. Turkey’s Kurdish issue, the threat from Islamic State, Syrian refugees and its increasingly polarised society are key challenges for Turkey, as are its tumultuous foreign relationships. And these challenges will only be compounded by the inevitable divisions within the military following the failed coup and E... Read more...

Theresa May becomes the United Kingdom's second female prime minister

On 13 July 2016 Conservative Theresa May became the UK’s 76th prime minister. Ms May is the second female prime minister of the UK, the first being Margaret Thatcher, who governed from 1979 to 1990. Elevation to prime minister Ms May’s elevation comes after the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron. Mr Cameron flagged his intention to step down as Prime Minister in the wake of the UK’s vote, in a referendum on 23 June 2016, to withdraw from the European Union (EU). During... Read more...

Coal Seam Gas: the Commonwealth's regulatory role

A recent episode of the ABC’s Q&A series in Tamworth discussed state and Commonwealth responsibility for coal seam gas and coal mining project regulation and raised the question: how is the Commonwealth involved in the regulation of coal seam gas (CSG)? Read more...

Seafood Country of Origin Labelling: prospects of future reform?

Country of origin labelling (CoOL) of food (including seafood) is an issue that has attracted concern and controversy over many years. The Government’s new country of origin labelling requirements take effect on 1 July 2016, but do not address concerns about the exemption of seafood sold for immediate consumption by restaurants, cafes and other food vendors from mandatory CoOL requirements.   A number of reviews into food labelling have examined that issue. The Blewett Review in 2011... Read more...

How might a Trump presidency affect Australia?

The US Republican Party is poised to nominate Donald Trump as its candidate for the November 2016 presidential election. Trump has no previous experience of governing, no record of military service and has evinced little interest in policy details. He has, however, suggested that Muslims should be prohibited from entering America, that Japan and South Korea should consider developing nuclear weapons, and praised authoritarian leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. These compliments have... Read more...

Parliamentary Library

A new way to set up a Commonwealth organisation

On 1 July 2016, two new corporate Commonwealth entities (CCEs) will be established: the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) and Old Parliament House (OPH). While their functions will differ greatly, they will be the first CCEs established using a mechanism that became available in July 2014 under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). The new mechanism enables CCEs to be established (and abolished) by means of disallowable legislative instruments made by ... Read more...

Milk prices: What’s really happening

In April and May 2016, Australia’s two largest dairy processors, Murray Goulburn (MG) and Fonterra retrospectively lowered the price they would pay their suppliers for milk. With effect from 1 July 2015 they would pay between $4.75 and $5.00 per kg of milk solids, down from $5.60 per kg. This has attracted much media attention, focusing on the plight of the affected dairy farmers. Commentators have offered suggestions to support the dairy farmers. Some, incorrectly assuming the c... Read more...

Tiny plastics causing big problems in our oceans

There is growing concern over the problem of plastic pollution in the marine environment. Over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing 269,000 tons, are believed to be spread throughout the earth’s oceans. Plastics decay slowly and often travel far from their origin in ocean currents, leading to accumulation in the marine environment and even the remote oceans around Antarctica, which contain approximately 50,000 plastic particles per square kilometre. Larger plastic items tend to degrad... Read more...

Changes to the Foreign Investment Review Board tax conditions

In February 2014, Treasurer Joe Hockey stated that the tax affairs of foreign investors would be taken into account when foreign investment proposals were considered by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). In February 2016, the Government announced that conditions aimed at ensuring ‘multinational companies investing in Australia pay tax here on what they earn’ would be applied by the FIRB to foreign investment proposals. Following consultations between Treasury, the Australia... Read more...

On the pulse ‐ 2016 United Nations International Year of the Pulse

Few might know, but the United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulse. What of it, you ask. And what is a pulse anyway?   The (food‐related) term ‘pulse’ is used to describe the seeds of legumes. They include lentils, chickpeas, faba beans, broad beans, field peas and lupins. They are a traditional dietary staple in many parts of the world, and the main reason for the UN’s declaration is to highlight this food group’s potential ability to addre... Read more...