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Filter by February, 2014

Public Service Amendment (Employment for all of us) Bill 2014

On 26 February 2014, Greens member Adam Bandt introduced a private members’ bill to deal with ‘the high unemployment and underemployment rates amongst people from two very important groups in our society … people from non-English speaking backgrounds, and … Australians with a disability’. This fulfilled a 2013 election commitment by the Australian Greens that ‘workplaces should reflect the diversity of Australian society and that everyone should have equal access to meaningful paid employment’. The Public Service Amendment (Employment for all of us) Bill 2014 ‘requires the Australian Public Service (APS) to double the number of employees fr... Read more...

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

Coalition and Labor asylum policies - how do they compare?

In response to a rise in the number of asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australia, both Coalition and Labor governments have been under increasing pressure for many years to develop policies that are seen to address border security concerns and combat people smuggling. While there are some policy differences, both Labor and the Coalition are in general agreement on many of the key measures in place to deal with these issues, including mandatory detention for unauthorised boat arrivals introduced in the 1990s by the Keating (Labor) Government; and offshore processing arrangements in the Pacific first introduced by the Howard (Coalition) Government in 2001. Read more...

Governor-General's salary

Since 1974 the Parliament has approved the salary for each incoming Governor-General, as the level is set through amendment of the Governor-General Act 1974. Section 3 of the Constitution provides that ‘the salary of a Governor-General shall not be altered during his continuance in office’. The salary level has conventionally been commensurate with that of the Chief Justice of the High Court. The salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal; from 1 July 2013 the base salary is $526,070. The Governor-General’s salary is set to moderately exceed the estimated average salary of the Chief Justice over a notional three-year period. I... Read more...

ACT bans battery cages and sow stalls

On 25 February 2014 the Animal Welfare (Factory Farming) Amendment Bill 2013 was passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly. The Bill is noteworthy as it is the first time that certain intensive farming practices – specifically the use of battery cages in egg production and the use of sow stalls and gestational crates for pigs — will be banned in any Australian jurisdiction. (Although the Tasmanian Government had, in May 2012, announced its intention to phase out battery cages and ‘fast track’ a planned ban on sow stalls, no legislation has been introduced to implement the proposed changes.) The Bill, which will also ban beak trimming of chickens (sometimes referred to as... Read more...

How much does Medicare cost?

The Treasurer, Mr Hockey said on Channel Seven’s Sunrise program on 21 February 2014, that the cost of Medicare was going to soon rise from $65 billion a year to $75 billion a year. However, the official transcript later clarified this to include other federal health expenditure. Seeing Medicare in the context of these wider figures, it is evident the actual cost of Medicare is considerably lower. According to Budget Paper no. 1 (2013–14) spending on Medicare for the current financial year is estimated to be $19.0 billion and is forecast to grow to $23.6 billion in 2016–17. Medicare is the fourth most expensive program after payments to the states, support for ... Read more...

Is Adelaide Airport's Curfew carefree?

Residents in South Australia’s capital do not like to be disturbed by the early arrival of jet airliners, at least judging by the introduction of a recent private member’s bill by one of their Senators. On 12 February 2014, Australian Greens Senator Penny Wright introduced the Adelaide Airport Curfew Amendment (Protecting Residents’ Amenity) Bill 2014 to prevent international flights landing between 5 and 6 a.m. This is in response to an announcement by the federal Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development in late 2013 that he had given approval to a schedule of four early morning Cathay Pacific flight arrivals from Hong Kong, starting in April 2014. The flights... Read more...

ALRC report released: Copyright and the Digital Economy

Thursday 13 February 2014 saw the release of the much anticipated Australian Law Reform Commission final report for its inquiry, Copyright and the Digital Economy. The report follows a complex and ambitious 18 month inquiry in which the ALRC was asked to consider whether current copyright exceptions are adequate and appropriate in the digital era. The inquiry attracted strong interest— receiving over 870 submissions— and considered a broad range of topics from caching and indexing; to cloud computing; online use for social, private or domestic purposes; transformative use such as mash-ups or sampling in music; and retransmission of free-to-air broadcasts. The inquiry also looked... Read more...

Evidence around GP co-payments and over servicing

One argument forwarded in support of the recent proposal to impose a co-payment for GP visits is that it has the potential to reduce ‘over servicing’, and therefore overall health costs. Over servicing occurs where an unnecessary medical intervention is provided. Imposing a consumer co-payment on the cost of visiting a doctor will encourage patients to avoid unnecessary visits, thus reducing over servicing and saving the health system money, argue advocates of co-payments. But what is the evidence that over servicing is a problem or that it is being driven by unnecessary consumer demand? Before proceeding, a distinction should be made between the extent of over servicing and th... Read more...

By User:JimOwensPMP (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Women in Australian parliaments

A Parliamentary Library publication, Women parliamentarians in Australia 1921 ΜΆ 2013 written by Janet Wilson and David Black, has been updated to include women elected to federal, state and territory parliaments to 31 December 2013. Part 1 consists of tables listing all women elected to Commonwealth, State and Territory parliaments since 1921. The lists are presented in chronological order of election and include the age at which the women took their seats, their party affiliation, electoral district represented, dates of service, and the way in which their period of service ended (whether they were defeated, retired, resigned, disqualified or died). Part 1 also includes a table showing wo... Read more...

Snapshot of employment by industry, 2012 to 2013

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) release data on employed people by industry (in their main job, where a person holds more than one job) in the quarterly publication Labour Force, detailed, quarterly, cat. no. 6291.0.55.003. Data is available since November 1984, with the most recent data being November 2013. Read more...