FlagPost

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

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Filter by July, 2013

Regional Resettlement Arrangement (RSA) and Australian aid to Papua New Guinea

Debate over the recent RSA agreement between Australia and PNG has resulted in the potential implications for Australia’s bilateral aid program being largely misinterpreted.On 15 July 2013, during Prime Minister Rudd’s visit to PNG, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said:Today the Prime Minister and I agreed to moving forward many of the programs that we have agreed to so that we can start implementing many of those initiatives that we have initially signed as part of the ongoing programs that we have between the two countries.…And I want to thank the Australian Government for accepting our desire and our suggestion to them that they work together with our government in making sure that we work o... Read more...

Historic new whistleblower protection laws

In the final days of the 2013 winter sittings, the Commonwealth Parliament passed historic public interest disclosure legislation to provide the most comprehensive protection regime for public sector whistleblowers in Australia. This legislation, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 and its related consequential Act, which became law on Monday 15 July, will commence operation within the next six months. Its purpose is to provide a scheme for the investigation of alleged wrong doing in the Commonwealth public sector and provide protective mechanisms for current or former officials who make public interest disclosures under the regime. Robust public interest disclosure laws are seen as fos... Read more...

The National Food Plan: food policy or something else?

The Australian Government released the National Food Plan White Paper (the Paper) on 25 May 2013. At the time the then Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said ‘For the first time, Australia’s food businesses and consumers have a road map for the future…’ The Paper, however, is not about food for Australians; it has minimal focus on what Australians eat, or food processing in Australia. It is more an export plan, particularly for Australian producers.What’s in the National Food Plan White Paper?In 2010 the Government said the National Food Plan would better integrate food policy by looking at the food supply chain from paddock to plate.The Paper makes 16 recommendations for food... Read more...

Who is bound by the World Anti-Doping Code?

The previous FlagPost in this series examined countries that have criminalised doping in sport. This FlagPost examines who is bound by the World Anti-Doping Code (Code), National Anti-Doping Scheme (NAD) and various anti-doping policies in Australia. Is it just athletes and coaches, or are other people, such as sports scientists, also bound?The legal basis for the enforcement of the Code in AustraliaThe Code operates as an agreement that is binding on its signatories, which includes various Olympic-movement and non-Olympic movement affiliated international sporting federations as well as Government-funded organisations such as ASADA.In Australia, the Code is adopted and implemented under the... Read more...

Complementary protection: open and accountable or 'opening the floodgates'

Media reports have suggested that the decision by the Full Federal Court in the case of SZGIZ v Minister for Immigration and Citizenship [2013] FCAFC 71 has ‘exposed an embarrassing loophole’ in current migration law that could ‘leave the door open to thousands of asylum seekers who have already been rejected as refugees’. While the decision is significant in that it allows for a further protection visa claim to be made by an individual who has previously had a claim rejected, the characterisation of the decision as potentially ‘opening the floodgates’ is dubious. At issue is not whether there are loopholes allowing for questionable claims for protection to be made, but the processes Austral... Read more...

UAVs: a vital part of Australia's future?

The increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in recent years has greatly heightened their public profile but also generated controversy because of their ability to attack military targets remotely and conduct covert surveillance. Nevertheless, a recent seminar, Drone Power: protecting Australia with drones, suggested that these controversial aircraft are set to play a key role in Australia’s civilian and military future. Despite a somewhat rough inception, UAVs are assuming an increasingly prominent role within the global defence arsenal and in other areas such as law enforcement, agriculture and environmental analysis. Indeed, the 2013 Defence White Paper calls for further integrati... Read more...

Bill to reserve seats for women passed by Samoan Parliament

The Legislative Assembly of the Samoan Parliament has voted unanimously in support of a bill to amend the Constitution to reserve five seats or 10 per cent of the 49 parliamentary seats for women electoral candidates. The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, La’auli Leuatea Fosi, has called it ‘a new dawn for women’. The Constitution Amendment Act 2013 was passed by the Parliament on 24 June 2013 despite strong opposition by the Tautua Samoa party in the months leading up to the vote. Tautua Samoa had argued that the Government should seek the community’s views through a referendum and noted that, in some villages, women were not allowed to hold the title of matai (chief) which is a prerequi... Read more...

Segregated, stateless and at sea: Myanmar, the Rohingyas and Australia

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr, will travel to Myanmar this week where he has stated he will raise the recent sectarian violence in Rakhine state, including the plight of the Muslim Rohingya minority, with the President and the Foreign Minister. He has previously flagged that he may seek to personally visit Rakhine to assess the situation as part of this trip. Following two major outbreaks of violence in June and October 2012 which killed 192 people, the situation in Rakhine has been described as one that has descended into ‘a Burmese form of apartheid’ in which ‘Rohingyas are corralled into squalid, semi-permanent internal-refugee camps’. More recent episodes o... Read more...

For sale: Refurbished National Research Priorities

Back in 2002, the Howard Government announced four National Research Priorities (NRPs) to focus investment on research in key areas that could deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits to Australia. The Australian Government has just unveiled 15 new Strategic Research Priorities; the result of a long-awaited and thoughtful refurbishment. The original National Research Priorities were: An Environmentally Sustainable Australia Promoting and Maintaining Good Health Frontier Technologies for Building and Transforming Australian Industries Safeguarding Australia Each of the NRPs was expanded into a number of priority goals that covered research in a range of disciplines.  Th... Read more...

New psychoactive substances: Key challenges and responses

As outlined in an earlier FlagPost, the availability and use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) have increased globally over the past decade. This has created new public health and law enforcement challenges that existing frameworks have failed to address, prompting a search for workable alternatives.False sense of safety associated with use NPS are often marketed as ‘legal highs’ and professionally packaged, which can give the impression that they are safer to use than illicit drugs with similar effects. However, very little is known about their health impacts, partly due to the dynamic nature of the market and because the content and concentration of different batches of the same branded... Read more...