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Filter by March, 2012

Australia's big wet: La Niña explained

The Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO, and the World Meteorological Organisation have each released a review of Australian and world climate in 2011. According to these three sources, 2011 in Australia was generally cooler than recent years...but warm for a La Niña year. It was also a wet year for Australia...but then, that’s normal for a La Niña year. So what is La Niña? How do we understand climate change and variability in the context of a La Niña event?La Niña in simple termsGlobally and regionally, high or low pressure systems, cold or hot fronts and strong winds coincide and interact to influence weather and climate. One domino in this chain reaction of events is the Southern Oscillatio... Read more...

Indonesia is ready for a rich, contemporary relationship...

Indonesia has taken the spotlight over the last few months as people smugglers, terrorism, drug traffickers, live cattle exports and our neighbour’s complicated ‘komodo economy’ have held the media’s attention. A need to look at Indonesia, not through it to China, was signalled by the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister, Marty Natalegawa, when he met the new Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr: 'It's to the disadvantage of countries to put all their eggs into one basket'. Simultaneously, the recent Hill report on the state of Indonesian language studies in Australia, and last year’s Lowy Institute survey of community attitudes, indicate there is a need to look inwards, at how we think about... Read more...

The 70th anniversary of the Second World War events of 1942— ‘Australia’s perilous year’: April to December

On 19 February 2012, the 70th anniversary of the first bombing of Darwin, Prime Minister Julia Gillard described 1942 as ‘the darkest year in Australia’s history’. Throughout 2012, 70th anniversary commemorations will be held for some of the most crucial events in Australian military history. Following on from a previous post noting some of the important 70th anniversaries occurring in February and March, this post highlights important anniversaries from April to December 2012. Details of special 70th anniversary commemorative events are included where they are known, but all the incidents discussed below are commemorated in some way every year.     April–May The sinking of HMAS Vampire (9 ... Read more...

Republican presidential nomination process

The next United States Presidential election will be held on 6 November 2012. This year focus is on the Republican Party presidential nomination process as President Obama has announced his intention to seek the Democratic Party presidential nomination. The presidential candidate for the Republican Party will have to accumulate at least 1144 delegate votes out of the 2286 on offer at the various primaries and caucuses from January to June this year to win the nomination at the Republican National Convention (27–30 August 2012). The latest primary, held in Illinois, was declared on 21 March 2012, with former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney taking the primary with 46.7 per cent of the v... Read more...

Ombudsman’s report on covert operations

A report by the Commonwealth Ombudsman on the records of controlled operations held by Commonwealth law enforcement agencies, tabled on 13 March 2012, reveals the Ombudsman has continuing concerns that the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) is bypassing a review mechanism intended to provide appropriate external scrutiny of longer operations.Controlled operations are covert law enforcement operations in which one or more persons are authorised to engage in otherwise unlawful conduct in order to obtain evidence of a serious criminal offence. They enable infiltration of criminal organisations by protecting participants from criminal and civil liability for engaging in certain conduct as a legit... Read more...

Income management and the Racial Discrimination Act

 In March 2011, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, is reported to have said that it is likely that some time in the future a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) will be lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in relation to income management of welfare payments on the grounds that it discriminates against Indigenous people. If any such complaint were upheld, this would be a significant test of one of the main pillars of the Australian Government’s welfare reform agenda.This raises the question of how the AHRC—the statutory body with responsibility for resolving complaints of discrimination or breaches of huma... Read more...

Can Oakeshott’s Bill end the asylum impasse?

On 13 February 2012 Independent MP, Rob Oakeshott introduced his Migration Legislation Amendment (The Bali Process) Bill 2012 into the House of Representatives. As he explained, the purpose of the Bill ‘is to try to get agreement between the Labor Party and the Liberal Party on the issue of offshore and onshore assessment of asylum seekers and to end their impasse’. Though both the major political parties are committed to processing asylum seekers intercepted en route to Australia in other countries, it appears they are unable to reach agreement on which countries should do so. A look at the development of their policies in this area will help ascertain whether the impasse is l... Read more...

Harmony Day - a celebration of cultural diversity

On Wednesday 21 March, people across Australia will come together to celebrate Harmony Day. Harmony Day is dedicated to celebrating Australia’s cultural diversity, and is timed to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Harmony Day has been celebrated in Australia since 1999. Since then, more than 25 000 Harmony Day events have been held by a wide range of community, sporting and cultural organisation. Harmony Day events are supported by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, which provides free promotional material. Events include sporting activities, food festivals, dance or music performances, or simply bringing people to... Read more...

Report of the Ministerial Inquiry into labour exploitation on Foreign Charter Vessels in New Zealand

The New Zealand Government has "resolved to take a stronger line on the operation of foreign charter vessels (FCVs) in New Zealand waters" in response to the Report of a Ministerial Inquiry.  As an earlier flagpost explained, the Inquiry had been convened in response to serious concerns about abuse and exploitation of crew of commercial fishing fleets operating in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone. Commercial fishing in New Zealand is managed by a quota system, with all fishing quota owned by New Zealand companies.  Foreign Charter Vessels are foreign owned and flagged fishing vessels leased by a New Zealand company to fish in New Zealand's EEZ.  Twenty-seven such vessels (and around 200... Read more...

The Minerals Tax Package

The Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) bills are being debated in the Senate this week. Acceptance of such a tax appears to be growing among commentators. However, the proposal by the Greens that a company tax cut be limited to small businesses has reminded us that the Minerals Resource Rent Tax bills are part of a package. The current bills are: Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011 Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2011 Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition-General) Bill 2011 Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition-Customs) Bill 2011 Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition-Excise) Bill 2011 Petroleum Resource Rent Tax Assessment Amendment B... Read more...

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