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

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Filter by August, 2012

Mifepristone (RU 486) registered for use in Australia

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the regulator of medicines and therapeutic devices in Australia, has announced that from 29 August 2012 the abortifacient mifepristone (RU 486) will be listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). Misoprostol, a drug that can be used in conjunction with mifepristone but already available in Australia, has also been approved for use in medical abortion. Medical abortion is a method of pregnancy termination that involves the administration of a drug or drugs to induce an abortion, and is distinct from surgical abortion.The approval of mifepristone follows the successful application by Marie Stopes International Australia (Marie Stop... Read more...

UK People Trafficking Assessment Published

The UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) has published its first public intelligence assessment of people trafficking in the UK, A Baseline Assessment on the Nature and Scale of Human Trafficking in 2011. This is the first time that government authorities have attempted to describe the nature and scale of people trafficking in the UK.  Part of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the UKHTC is the central point for anti-trafficking expertise and coordination within the UK.  It administers the UK's National Referral Mechanism (NRM) which is both the framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and the main mechanism for data collection (the data is regularly published on its website). ... Read more...

New dental package announced—but it’s not Denticare

Today the Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, announced a new dental package worth $4 billion over six years. The government will provide Medicare funded dental services to children and an expanded public dental service for low income adults and those in rural and regional areas, as well as an additional investment in dental infrastructure and workforce. From January 2014, children aged 2 to 17 will be entitled to up to $1000 for ‘basic’ dental work over a 2 year period from a dentist of their choice on presentation of their Medicare card. Services funded will reportedly include a dental check-up, scale and clean, fissure sealants, and basic restorative work including fillings, but not more co... Read more...

Who is on Newstart?

Given the current Senate Committee inquiry into the adequacy of the allowance payment system for jobseekers and others it is perhaps worth considering what sort of people are reliant on these payments? Recent data released by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs enables us to explore the characteristics of those receiving these allowances as at June 2011.What allowances are people receiving?The major payment for jobseekers is Newstart Allowance (NSA). Other payments with more than 10 000 recipients which are currently linked to the NSA rates are Partner Allowance (PA), Widow Allowance (WA) and Parenting Payment (Partnered)(PPP). PA is no longer open ... Read more...

Opposition Leaders suspended from the House of Representatives

On 20 August 2012 Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, was ejected from the House of Representatives. Since Federation no Prime Minister has been suspended or ejected from the House, but Mr Abbott became the fourth Leader of the Opposition to be ordered from the chamber. Three other Opposition leaders have been ordered from the House but their suspensions did not proceed.The circumstances of Opposition Leaders suspended or ejected from the House are summarised below. Relevant Hansard proceedings are linked to each bolded name.Tony Abbott (Liberal, NSW)On 20 August 2012 he was ordered to leave the chamber for one hour by the Deputy Speaker, Anna Burke, for disorderly behaviour. He had faile... Read more...

Community cabinets in Australia

A new Background Note examines the background, context, approach and activities of community cabinets in Australia. Community cabinets are part of a broader sweep of community engagement initiatives that have been introduced by Australian governments since the 1990s, principally as a means of addressing declining community trust in governments and opening up the policymaking process to greater scrutiny. Community cabinet meetings were introduced by Queensland’s Beattie Government after the 1998 state election. The approach was adopted by the Rudd Labor Government following the 2007 Commonwealth election, fulfilling an election promise that Commonwealth ministers and senior officials would tr... Read more...

More funding for all schools—an update on Gonski

The Government’s previous commitment that no school would lose a dollar in funding per student has been extended. The Prime Minister and the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, have announced that all schools will receive increased funding under the Government’s new plans for school funding. Peter Garrett has also confirmed that funding will be increased in real terms. This newly announced commitment follows the release on the News Limited website of a list of 3254 schools (about one-third of all schools) that would lose funding. State governments and non-government education authorities used data provided by the Australian Government for their modelling to calculate funding for in... Read more...

Time for a change? Access to support and visas for trafficking victims

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Bill 2012 (Trafficking Bill) will update Australia’s offence regime to criminalise a broader range of exploitative conduct, including by introducing new offences of forced labour, forced marriage and harbouring a victim.  While these are welcome changes, there is a strong call from stakeholders to improve other aspects of Australia’s anti-people trafficking framework, including the support available to victims and their access to visas. Articles 6 and 7 of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women (Trafficking Prot... Read more...

Parliamentary remuneration

Recent legislative changes have given the Remuneration Tribunal the power to determine MPs’ base salary and removed the Parliament’s power to disallow these determinations. Further information on parliamentary salaries and entitlements is available in the Parliamentary Library publications, The basic salary of senators and members Parliamentary remuneration and entitlements and Superannuation benefits for senators and members elected before 2004. In December 2011 the Remuneration Tribunal issued its initial report on the work value assessment of parliamentary remuneration and a statement outlining its recommendations and next steps. One of the main recommendations was that par... Read more...

Children in immigration detention

  As part of the Government’s response to the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, it would appear that children will again be held in processing centres on Nauru. This policy has been subject to sustained criticisms by refugee advocates, human rights groups and government backbenchers. The debate in the Parliament last week reflected this, with many voicing opposition and deep disquiet to the return of such an approach. While not much is known about the arrangements and conditions specifically for children on Nauru in the past, this Flag Post provides a brief history of the effects on children in detention in the Australian context and a summary of some of the key research papers about the... Read more...

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