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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 December, 2012

Australian gun laws

The recent mass shooting in Connecticut in the United States has led to commentators to again consider Australia’s approach to firearms controls following, in particular, the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre which involved the use of several assault rifles, and also the 2002 Monash shootings perpetrated with a semi-automatic pistol.National agreements by Australian governments after each incident formed the basis of current regulatory controls.Responsibility for the regulation of firearms in Australia The form of the two national agreements reflects the allocation of regulatory authority for firearms under the Australian Constitution. State and territory governments are responsible for regulating ... Read more...

Buyer beware? An update on the rules that relate to the use of gift cards and what methods consumers can take to protect themselves this Christmas

In December 2011, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer released the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAAC) issues paper on Gift cards in the Australian market. The paper looks at the laws that currently apply to the gift card industry and whether these laws sufficiently protect both gift card users and purchasers. This FlagPost will update a previous post that discussed some of the issues pertaining to the use of gift cards and will examine other problems consumers may face during the festive season. Submissions in response to the issues paper closed on the 2 March 2012, and on 6 July 2012, the CCAAC presented the Assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury, with its final re... Read more...

Australia’s current debt position – update December 2012

In recent times a lot has been spoken about Australia’s debt level. It has been a major political issue since the lead up to the last federal election and at times has dominated the political arena. This article updates data published in earlier FlagPosts which reported on Australia’s current debt position at the time they were published. I therefore intend in this article to report the latest available data on Australia’s level of debt for both the public and private sectors in gross and net terms. For definitions of gross and net debt the reader is referred to the first FlagPost on Australia’s current debt position. Chart 1 below presents Australia’s curren... Read more...

Australia’s performance in international student achievement tests – another perspective

There has been considerable public discussion about Australia’s relatively poor performance in recently released international student achievement tests, with one newspaper describing the results as ‘Australia’s disaster in education’. These results have also called into question the Government’s aim to be in the top five countries on reading, mathematics and science by 2025. But just how bad are these results?The results released on Tuesday 11 December by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) are the 2011 outcomes from the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement’s Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress ... Read more...

Introducing the Doha Climate Gateway

On 8 December 2012—a day later than scheduled—the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded. With it, ended the Bali Roadmap (see previous FlagPost) and began the new era of climate change negotiations: that of the grandly-named Doha Climate Gateway. This FlagPost describes what the Gateway opens onto, and outlines some other items that were discussed (although possibly not resolved) at Doha. Remembering the scienceOn 10 December 2012, the academic journal Nature Climate Change published research confirming that early predictions of possible temperature increases have proved accurate. The new research reinforces 200... Read more...

What happened to Kyoto at Doha

The latest international climate change negotiations that took place over the last fortnight in Doha, Qatar, marked the end of the Bali Roadmap. This 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change finally signed off on the climate change action plan that had been in place since negotiations in 2007. Coming into Doha there were two main negotiating streams: one that discussed the Kyoto Protocol and how to extend it beyond its expiry on 31 December 2012, and another that looked beyond the Kyoto Protocol to a broader, more inclusive agreement. This FlagPost will outline developments on the first stream. A second FlagPost addresses the other s... Read more...

New rules for media-related activity in Parliament House and its precincts

On 28 November 2012 the Presiding Officers issued new rules for media-related activity in Parliament House and its precincts. The rules will come into effect with the commencement of the 2013 parliamentary sittings on 5 February 2013 replacing the previous rules and guidelines on filming and photography (issued December 2008). The rules will apply to all occupants of Parliament House and visitors to the building and its precincts.The rules are issued under the Parliamentary Precincts Act 1988 (Cth) and operate alongside resolutions of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings. The rules state that media-related activity... Read more...

Delisting the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MeK)

Two months ago, on 28 September 2012, the US Secretary of State formally removedthe Iranian group, the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MeK), from the US Government’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) and delisted it as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, in recognition of the group’s renunciation of violence. This is a significant milestone for the MeK which was first designated as an FTO by the US Government in 1997 and whose repeated attempts since then to be delisted have failed a number of times. The delisting follows similar rulings in the UK in 2008 and the EU in 2009. While Australia has never proscribed the MeK as a terrorist organisation, in December 2001 the Australian Governm... Read more...

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