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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, 2013

Paying for the NDIS: what about a levy?

There is increasing speculation that the Gillard Government is considering introducing a levy to help pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The question of how the NDIS would be financed was one of the key issues examined by the Productivity Commission (PC) in its inquiry which lead the Government to introduce the scheme.This post outlines the importance of the financing issue and what the Productivity Commission recommended as a model for funding the NDIS. It highlights some of the key questions relating to the design of a levy for the NDIS.Currently, most disability care and support in Australia is funded and provided by the states and territories. The Commonwealth's fin... Read more...

Where in the world is doping a crime? (doping in sports pt. 6)

In the previous FlagPost in this series we examined actions related to doping in sport that can also be prosecuted as crimes in Australia. Do other countries criminalise doping in sport, or is Australia unique in having criminal offences that apply to conduct associated with Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs)? The situation overseasIn Australia some actions related to doping in sports (e.g. trafficking, possession, use or administration of steroids) are also crimes under various Commonwealth, state or territory statutes. However, none of those laws are sports-specific but rather reflect a mixture of criminal, therapeutic goods or customs legislation that happen to cover conduct related to... Read more...

Is doping in sport a crime? (doping in sports pt. 5)

The previous FlagPost in this series explored the dual use of evidence in both sports tribunals and criminal proceedings.Whilst it is commonly understood that doping is prohibited in sport, is it also a criminal offence? This FlagPost examines the circumstances in which an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) is also a crime in Australia and the sanctions imposed by the criminal justice system for those offences.  The Criminal Justice SystemUnlike a number of other countries, Australia does not have any sports-specific legislation creating criminal offences specifically relating to doping in sport. However, the Commonwealth, states and territories have all enacted legislation which criminalises... Read more...

Higher education savings - students pick up the bill

The government’s Statement on Higher Education announces savings measures in three areas. Reaction from, and on behalf of, the higher education sector has been negative. The peak body representing universities, Universities Australia, has condemned the cuts.Yet it is not the universities that will bear the brunt of the savings but their students.Of the expected $2.33 billion in savings:$230 million is coming from removal of HECS discounts and repayment bonuses$900 million is coming from the two-year, 2 per cent efficiency dividend being applied to university funding, and$1,200 million is coming from conversion of the Student Start-up Scholarship from a benefit to a loan.Only one of these mea... Read more...

And then there were none: HECS discounts

On 13 April 2013 the Australian government released a Statement on Higher Education. One of the three savings measures announced is ‘removal of the 10 per cent discount on paying university fees upfront and the 5 per cent bonus received for voluntary repayment of HELP debts’.  This move is the end of the line for two incentives that have been whittled away over the past ten years. Abolishing them is expected to save $230 million.Higher Education Loan Program (HELP)The Higher Education Contribution scheme (HECS) was first introduced in 1989. Its purpose was to provide income contingent loans to Commonwealth supported students.In 2005 there was a major overhaul of the scheme. Additional loans ... Read more...

Boat arrivals on the mainland: what difference does it make?

On 9 April 2013, Customs and Border Protection advised the Minister for Home Affairs that a suspected irregular entry vessel (SIEV) had arrived in Geraldton harbour in Western Australia. The boat is thought to have been carrying 66 people (officially known as irregular maritime arrivals or IMAs) from Sri Lanka. According to Parliamentary Library research compiled from departmental and ministerial press releases, these were the first IMAs on Australia’s mainland since November 2008. According to the Minister for Immigration, there were 19 undetected mainland arrivals during the Howard Government—mostly prior to 2002. Between 2002 after the introduction of the ‘Pacific Solution’ and 2008 when ... Read more...

‘Grandfather’ arrangements for PPS – entitlement or inequity?

Since it was announced in the 2012-13 Budget that ‘grandfathering’ arrangements for single parents receiving Parenting Payment Single (PPS) would cease on 1 January 2013, there has been considerable concern expressed at the plight of these recipients who would see their weekly income support payments reduced by over $130 per fortnight for those on the maximum rate, and in some cases not be entitled to any income support and associated benefits if they had high enough earnings. However there appears to have been little recognition that these changes also mean that those who have been in receipt of PPS continuously since June 2006 are now being treated equally to the majority of single parents... Read more...

Of Airports and High Speed Trains

The discussion of a High Speed Train (HST) along the east coast of Australia has rumbled on for decades. But now it's running into the Sydney airport issue. The government has recently released a study into the feasibility of a HST system and is completing another report about a location for a second Sydney Airport (SSA). The Australian Greens argued in late 2012 that a new report, commissioned by Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt, outlined a strong economic case for High Speed Rail (HSR) and removed the need to build a second airport for Sydney. The study also concluded that $48 billion in benefits would accrue from a HSR network along the East Coast from Melbourne, to Canberra, Sydney and B... Read more...

The dual use of evidence in both sporting tribunals and criminal proceedings (doping in sports pt. 4)

The previous FlagPost in this series explored what happens once a possible Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) is detected, and the role of sporting tribunals in determining and sanctioning athletes or support personnel who are found to have committed an ADRV. As part of that process, ASADA (and also potentially Customs and the AFP) collect a variety of evidence. So when can evidence collected as part of an anti-doping investigation be used in criminal and civil proceedings and vice-versa?This FlagPost examines the long-standing tradition of the ‘dual use’ of evidence in both civil and criminal proceedings in Australia and the situation with regard to sporting tribunals and criminal proceeding... Read more...

Proving doping: the ADRV enforcement process and the role of sporting tribunals (doping in sports pt. 3)

The previous FlagPost in this series explored what constitutes doping under the World Anti-Doping Code (the WADC) and the standard of proof required to prove Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs).   This FlagPost examines what happens once a possible ADRV is detected, either through evidence collected as part of an investigation or as a result of an adverse analytical finding (the detection of the presence of a substance or the use of a method on the Prohibited List in a sample provided by an athlete). So how is an ADRV proved and prosecuted? For all Australian sports that have adopted the WADC, ADRVs are primarily prosecuted in a sporting tribunal, which is ad... Read more...