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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 June, 2017

Schools funding legislation passed by Parliament—an update on the amendments

(This FlagPost updates information in the Parliamentary Library’s Bills Digest for the Australian Education Amendment Bill 2017.) Following the Government’s negotiations with the Crossbench, the Australian Education Amendment Bill 2017 (the Bill), with significant amendments, has now been passed by Parliament. Most of the amendments to the Bill follow recommendations made by a number of the non-government parties and by major interest groups in submissions to the Senate committee inquiry on the Bill. Labor and the Australian Greens did not support the Bill. However, the amendments reflect recommendations made by the Greens in their dissenting report on the inquiry into the Bill.... Read more...

Can we trust Census data?

 The 2016 Census didn’t run as smoothly as the statisticians would have liked. In response to privacy concerns, hardware failure and denial of service attacks on Census night, as well as ongoing criticism by media and the public, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) established an Independent Assurance Panel. The Panel’s task was to review and assure the quality of statistical outputs from the 2016 Census. Coinciding with the first major release of 2016 Census data, the Panel’s report  was released today.   Read more...

Gains and losses on the electorate roundabout

The latest population data released today (27 June 2017) by the ABS suggests that, for the next election, the number of divisions in South Australia will reduce by one (from 11 to 10) and the number of divisions in both Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory will increase by one. There will be no change in the number of divisions for any other state or territory. Read more...

National Firearms Amnesty 2017

On 16 June 2017 the Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan, announced that the first national firearms amnesty since the one that followed the Port Arthur massacre in April 1996, would commence on 1 July 2017 for a period of three months. In acknowledging that there have been state-based amnesties since 1996, the minister declared that ‘it is again time that we give every Australian the chance to dispose of firearms without fear of being prosecuted’. Read more...

The Federation Census, 1901

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has set Tuesday 27 June 2017 as the date for the first official release of 2016 Census data, with further releases to take place in October, December, and continuing into 2018. Ahead of this date, it is timely to recall the newly federated Australia’s first census in 1901.  Read more...

BasicsCard and Cashless Debit Card: What’s the difference?

The Australian Government has two separate cards designed to restrict how income support recipients can spend their payments—the BasicsCard and the cashless debit card. While both schemes rely on cards provided by payments company,  Indue, they work in different ways. The biggest differences are: Who can accept the card. The BasicsCard can only be used at merchants that the Department of Human Services has approved. The cashless debit card can be used at any merchant the Department has not blocked (provided it is able to accept Visa Debit). Merchant responsibilities. All merchants who accept BasicsCard must sign an agreement not to process transactions for ... Read more...

The Major Bank Levy explained

On 19 June 2017, the Parliament passed the Major Bank Levy Bill 2017 and the Treasury Laws Amendment (Major Bank Levy) Bill 2017 to introduce a new ‘major bank levy’ on banks with over $100 billion in total liabilities. Currently, based on this threshold, it will apply to the five largest banks: Commonwealth Bank, ANZ Bank, Westpac, National Australia Bank and Macquarie Bank. The proposal was announced by the Government in the 2017-18 Budget and is expected to raise around $1.5 to $1.6 billion per annum every year, net of increased deductions for other taxes. The levy will apply from 1 July 2017. The levy rate is set at 0.015 per cent, paid each quarter on the balance of a bank&r... Read more...

‘The computer says no’: automatic product blocking for the Cashless Debit Card

The Department of Social Services is looking for software that can automatically stop income support recipients from using the Cashless Debit Card to buy restricted goods such as alcohol. While the Government’s cashless welfare system can automatically stop income support recipients using the cashless debit card at businesses like bottle shops and the TAB, it can’t automatically stop them from buying restricted goods at a shop that accepts the card. Instead, staff need to manually sight the card and refuse the sale. The Department plans to change this. From income management to the cashless debit card The Government created the cashless debit card in response to the recommendatio... Read more...

Australia upgrades sanctions on North Korea

On 2 June 2017, while the United States continued to pressure China to act in restraining North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK), Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that she had designated five North Korean individuals for ‘targeted financial sanctions and travel bans because of their association with North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction or missiles programs’. Read more...

The 2017 UK general election and possible Conservatives/DUP arrangements

On Thursday 8 June 2017 the United Kingdom went to the polls for the third time in as many years. Read more...

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