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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 April, 2015

Ken Hodge [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Is Australia any closer to returning failed asylum seekers to Iran?

On 18 April 2015, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, travelled to Iran to discuss the involuntary return of Iranian nationals who have unsuccessfully sought asylum in Australia. Though her visit was touted as being significant because she was the first Australian Minister to visit Iran in 12 years, it appears on the issue of returnees, her visit did no more than pave the way for further discussions on the issue—and at a lower level.  However, discussions between the two nations have been occurring for some time at a senior level, including a visit to Iran by Australia’s Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues under the previous Government. While Minister Bisho... Read more...

Increased official development assistance (ODA) for Manus Province

Australia’s planned development assistance for Manus Province under the Partnership for Development (2012–15) was expected to be approximately $15 million. However, according to a recent update released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 20 March 2015 (Economic and Development Benefits to PNG of the Regional Resettlement Arrangement), Australia is now providing additional assistance of about $38 million, despite a shrinking overall aid budget. Read more...

Australia’s anti-money laundering report card: Could do better

On 21 April, the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) released a Mutual Evaluation Report assessing the effectiveness of Australia’s anti-money-laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CTF) measures. Established in 1989, FATF is an inter-governmental body responsible for setting and monitoring compliance with international standards for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism and of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Australia, Belgium, Norway and Spain are the first countries to undergo evaluation since the FATF adopted revised standards in 2012 and a new assessment methodology in 2013. Results have been mixed. Norway’s report finds ‘s... Read more...

Emissions reduction fund finally springs into (direct) action

The Clean Energy Regulator has announced the results of the first auction of carbon abatement contracts from the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), part of the Abbott Government’s Direct Action Plan climate change policy. The regulator announced that the Government has committed to buy emissions abatement totalling 47.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (Mt CO2-e), at an average price of $13.95 per tonne, over the next three to ten years. This undoubtedly represents a successful first auction for the ERF, but what does it mean for the future? Read more...

Mainstream and non-mainstream child care funding

The Government has recently outlined what are likely to be some key features of its new child care package in addresses by the Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison, to The Sydney Institute and Early Childhood Australia Forum. If implemented, these measures would partially respond to the recent Productivity Commission report on future options for Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Australia. The Government is gradually revealing its response to that inquiry in the lead up to Budget 2015–16. Read more...

What is a census-able way to run a census?

This is part of a series of FlagPosts exploring what the Census is, why it’s important, how other countries run censuses and what the alternatives—either officially proposed or informally discussed—may be (Part 1: Potential changes to the Australian Census: could it kill the goose that lays the statistical golden egg?). Read more...

The millionaires who pay no tax

In 2011–12 some people with incomes of over $1 million had taxable incomes less than $6,000, meaning they paid no tax. How did they reduce their incomes so much for tax purposes, and how are their affairs different from others with equally high incomes, but who paid tax on most of their earnings? And does this raise issues relevant to the Government’s aim to create ‘a better tax system that delivers taxes that are lower, simpler, fairer’? Read more...

The Australian Government’s current debt position – April 2015 update

This Flagpost article presents a snapshot of the Australian Government’s current debt position. Gross debt: The International Monetary Fund’s Government Finance Statistics Manual (2014) defines gross debt as ‘all liabilities that are debt instruments’ with a debt instrument defined as ‘a financial claim that requires payment(s) of interest and/or principal by the debtor to the creditor at a date, or dates, in the future.’ Gross debt is not a concept used in the context of the Australian Government Budget Papers. However, it can be calculated using certain balance sheet liabilities. The major component of gross debt on the Australian Government’s ... Read more...

The 2013 Federal Election report from JSCEM

More than 18 months after the loss of almost 1400 Western Australian Senate ballot papers, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) has released the report from its inquiry into the 2013 federal election. It recommends, among other things, winding back direct enrolment and requiring voters to present identification to cast a vote. Read more...

It's my party

In the last few months two sitting senators have announced that they are registering their own political parties (the Jacqui Lambie Network and John Madigan’s Manufacturing and Farming Party). Far from being an act of narcissism, doing this is implicitly encouraged by Australia’s electoral legislation. Read more...

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