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Filter by November, 2014

Offsetting business costs associated with the increase in fuel excise—Schedules 4 and 5 of the Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2014 Measures No. 6) Bill 2014

Fuel excise increased on 10 November 2014 as a result of the Government’s tariff proposals (the Excise Tariff Proposal (No. 1) 2014 and Customs Tariff Proposal (No. 1) 2014) that were introduced in the House of Representatives on 30 October 2014. The tariff proposals increased the fuel excise by specific amounts (0.457 cents per litre for liquid fuels on top of the existing 38.143 cents per litre) and also provide for biannual indexation to the consumer price index for excise from 1 February 2015. The tariff proposals are consistent with the announcement in the 2014–15 Budget of the re-introduction of biannual indexation to fuel excise. To have permanent effect a... Read more...

Permanent residency for Safe Haven Enterprise Visa holders?

On 25 September 2014, the Government announced that it would be creating a new temporary protection visa, to be known as a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) which would be available to refugees that had arrived by boat prior to the commencement of the regional processing regime announced by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in July 2013. Though the visa criteria are yet to be finalised, the SHEV is expected to be valid for five years and is specifically designed to encourage refugees to move to regional Australia. SHEV holders who are able to work in regional Australia without requiring access to income support for three and a half years will be able to apply for other onshore migration visas... Read more...

Australia's refugee population: A statistical snapshot of 2013-14

Statistics recently published by the Immigration Department reveal that during the 2013—14 financial year, some 6,500 visas were granted to refugees abroad who had applied to be resettled to Australia. The majority of these people originally fled persecution from countries such as Afghanistan (2530), Myanmar (1145), and Iraq (830). The Department also granted 300 refugee category visas to Syrian nationals. Though the Department’s statistics do not indicate where these people were resettled from, we do know that as at the end of May 2014, some 600 refugees were resettled from Indonesia and more than 700 from Malaysia. According to the Minister, the majority of Afghan refugees acc... Read more...

Voting online? Don’t count on it

In the 2013 Federal Election, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) lost 1,370 ballot papers. Subsequent inquiries examined the selection of polling locations, the transport and storage of completed ballot papers, and the recruitment and training of temporary staff in short timeframes. The logistics are challenging, but are they necessary? We already do our banking and shopping online – why not voting? Read more...

Still room for improvement at the Australian Electoral Commission

The Federal Election of 7 September 2013 was notable in a number of respects, not least because the loss by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) of 1,370 ballot papers resulted in a new election for WA Senators being held on 5 April 2014. In the wake of the loss of ballot papers, the Auditor-General, Ian McPhee, committed to conducting three performance audits of the AEC, the first of which was tabled in May 2014. The second follow-up audit was tabled on 5 November 2014, with a finding that the AEC had not adequately addressed the recommendations of an audit in 2009–10.  Read more...

Confucius Institutes and Chinese soft power in Australia

In September 2014, Education Minister Christopher Pyne delivered a talk entitled China and Australia— Our Valued Education Relationship  at Peking University’s Australian Studies Centre. The speech touched on many issues, and was largely uncontentious. However, one particular paragraph is noteworthy for its comments in an area becoming very controversial globally. Read more...

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (White Ribbon Day)—25 November 2014

  In December 1999, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly designated 25 November as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in order to encourage international governments to raise public awareness of the levels of violence experienced by the world’s women. In Australia, this day is marked as White Ribbon Day by the White Ribbon campaign—a national, male-led anti-violence campaign involving various awareness raising events and programs conducted in schools, workplaces and the community. Read more...

Prime Minister Modi visits Fiji

After his much publicised and successful bilateral visit to Australia, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Fiji on 19 November 2014. Apart from addressing the Fijian Parliament he also attended and addressed a specially convened meeting of the leaders of all fourteen Pacific Island countries and made a series of commitments of assistance, both financial and technical. This was the first prime ministerial visit from India since Indira Gandhi visited Suva in 1981, some 33 years ago. Read more...

The 'mind-body problem' and proposed DSP reforms

The interim report of the Review of Australia’s Welfare System led by Patrick McClure was released on 29 June 2014. The report contains proposals for significant reforms to the Disability Support Pension (DSP). The reforms would see the DSP reserved for people with a permanent impairment and no capacity to work. Those people with a partial capacity to work would be placed on a lower tiered working age payment and provided with support to improve their employment capacity. The proposals represent an attempt to deal with the perverse incentive for income support claimants to apply for DSP, which has a higher rate of payment and reduced activity testing, rather than allowance payments l... Read more...

Chinese President to Visit Tasmania

Chinese President Xi Jinping will be making a short visit to Tasmania following his participation in the G20 meeting in Brisbane and his address to a joint sitting of the Australian Parliament on 17 November. The choice of destination is unusual and certainly not one which dignitaries visiting Australia often consider. So why Tasmania? Read more...