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  • Pension indexation: a brief history

    Posted 16/04/2014 by Michael Klapdor
    In the lead-up to the Coalition Government’s first Budget, speculation has focused on possible changes to the age pension, including adjusting the way pension rates are indexed. Indexation is a complex and important component of the Australian social security system but one that is often misunderstood. The following provides an explanation and brief history of indexation. How pension rates are adjusted Currently, pensions (including the Age Pension, Service Pension, Disability Support Pe... Read more...

    TAGS: pensions,welfare policy,welfare reform,social security

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  • Syria: losing ground in the fight to eradicate polio

    Posted 15/04/2014 by Wendy Bruere
    Polio resurfaced in Syria late last year, and has now been found in Iraq as well, leading to concerns that this could reverse gains in international efforts to eradicate the virus. A side effect of the conflict in Syria, now running for over three years, is that for many children vaccinations have lapsed.  According to the BBC, ‘Vaccination rates in Syria fell from 91 per cent of children before the war to an estimated 68 per cent in 2012. But those are national figures. In rebel-he... Read more...

    TAGS: United Nations, children's health, aid, Middle East, refugees

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  • Offshore processing: lessons from the ‘Pacific Solution’

    Posted 15/04/2014 by Elibritt Karlsen
    On 9 May 2014, the High Court of Australia is scheduled to begin considering the legality of the former Government’s decision to classify Papua New Guinea (PNG) as a regional processing country. Amongst other things, the plaintiff argues that the former Labor Government failed to take into account advice from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which stated there were no laws and procedures in place in PNG for the determination of refugee status or immigration officers with the e... Read more...

    TAGS: asylum refugees immigration

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  • Money in electoral politics: no small risk for democracy and fairness

    Posted 4/04/2014 by Brenton Holmes

    In 2010 the US Supreme Court ruled—in its controversial Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission decision—that there could be no restrictions on the amount of money that corporations and unions could spend on Federal political campaigns. As a result, nearly $1.3 billion flooded into candidates' official campaign accounts and nearly $6 billion was spent on campaigning overall. The the vast majority of the expenditure came from big special interest donors. The 2012 US election cycle was by far the most expensive in history.

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    TAGS: political finance, donations

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  • The IPCC's fifth report: the time for adaptation is now

    Posted 1/04/2014 by Alex St John

    On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the second part of its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) - Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Unlike the first instalment of AR5, which reviewed the physical science basis of climate change, this report reviews research that outlines how climate change might affect ecosystems and societies. In Australia, most public and political discussion of climate change policy has centred on mitigation strategies – that is, how best to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions – rather than on the impacts that climate change could have, or how best to adapt to those impacts. AR5 makes it clear that climate change impacts are already being felt in Australia, and will become more severe in the future.  So what might AR5 hold for Australian policymakers?

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    TAGS: climate change

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  • Sale of Medibank Private: key arguments

    Posted 1/04/2014 by Amanda Biggs
    The Minister for Finance has announced that the Government will sell the government-owned private health insurer Medibank Private Limited (MPL) sometime in the 2014–15 year, via an initial public offering (IPO). The long-expected decision follows the recommendations of a scoping study commissioned by government, but not publicly released. Most estimates put the value of MPL at between $2.5–$4 billion or higher. The Medibank Sale Act 2006 allows the sale to proceed without further le... Read more...

    TAGS: private health insurance

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  • Impact of drought in the Middle East

    Posted 28/03/2014 by Wendy Bruere
    According to a Reuters report from 7 March, United Nations (UN) agencies and water and agricultural authorities are preparing to declare a drought in the Middle East. Aside from the immediate impact of drought on crops, water scarcity is already a problem in parts of the Middle East, and some of the most affected countries are already struggling to absorb hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. Read more...

    TAGS: Middle East, foreign aid, United Nations

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  • Asylum levels and trends in industrialised countries 2013

    Posted 28/03/2014 by Harriet Spinks

    On 21 March 2014 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released Asylum levels and trends in industrialised countries 2013. The report provides data on asylum claims lodged in 44 industrialized countries (38 European countries plus the USA, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia), and reveals a number of interesting trends.

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    TAGS: Asylum, Refugees

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  • Parliamentary Library Lecture: Innovation and job targets the keys to disability employment

    Posted 27/03/2014 by Luke Buckmaster
    Craig Wallace, President of People with Disability Australia, has told a Parliamentary Library Lecture that poverty for people with disabilities in Australia will not be overcome by changes to the system of income support. Instead, he argued, Australia should commit to a national challenge to create jobs for people with disabilities over the next decade. Mr Wallace argued that ‘Australia has a troubling record on jobs on disability’: We rank 21st out of 29 OECD countries in emplo... Read more...

    TAGS: disability, disability employment

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  • Dynamic efficiency - the key to lifting Australia's productivity performance?

    Posted 27/03/2014 by Robert Dolamore
    Australia orthographic projection map
    By Ssolbergj [ GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons
    The need for Australia to lift its productivity performance is well recognised (see for example the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) latest assessment of the Australian economy). With its terms of trade declining Australia can no longer rely on the willingness of the rest of the world to pay more for our exports to fund improved living standards. Part of the challenge is improving the efficiency of Australian firms and other organisations that produce the goods and services we consume as a community and export to the rest of the world. Read more...

    TAGS: Economics, efficiency, productivity

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