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Filter by July, 2011

Australia-Malaysia asylum seeker transfer agreement

  On 25 July 2011 the Governments of Australia and Malaysia signed an agreement concerning the transfer and resettlement of asylum seekers and refugees between the two countries.The agreement was first announced on 7 May 2011 when Prime Minister Julia Gillard released a Joint Statement with the Prime Minister of Malaysia stating that the two countries would enter into a bilateral arrangement concerning the transfer of asylum seekers and refugees. The signing of the final agreement follows months of negotiations between the two countries, also involving the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), both of... Read more...

Carbon pricing mechanism—personal income tax reform

As part of its Clean Energy Future package, the Government has announced a series of personal income taxation reforms. This will involve increases to the marginal taxation rates in 2012-13 and 2015-16, as well as changes to the tax free threshold and low income tax offset. The Parliamentary Library has prepared a brief on the proposed changes, which is available on its climate change website. The brief presents the details of the proposed tax reform, compares it to the personal income tax reform proposed by the Australia's Future Tax System review, and presents the changes to the marginal income taxation rates and thresholds since 1983-84. Read more...

Re-counting the homeless

  Counting the Homeless reports provide the most comprehensive picture of homelessness in Australia today. However, recently the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released a discussion paper that calls into question the methodology underpinning Counting the Homeless figures. In the paper, the ABS proposes a new methodology for estimating the number of homeless Australians which, if it were implemented, would result in a statistically significant reduction in the estimate of homeless Australians.For example, applying the ABS’s proposed methodology to 2006 census data reduces the number of homeless people by around 40 per cent, from 104 676 to 63 472 people. Using the methodology on 20... Read more...

How healthy is the Australian Federation?

 It’s a resilient if somewhat lethargic beast, but a recent check of Australian federalism’s pulse suggests that improvements to its fitness are in order.The report of the Senate Select Committee on Reform of the Australian Federation concludes that Australia has been served well by its system of government—no coups or civil war, and a history of stable and prosperous democracy. But the Committee also says that to sustain dynamic collaboration and cooperation between governments at various levels, and to prevent outmoded governance arrangements from stemming the flow of benefits potentially available to the nation, urgent reforms are needed. The changes needed do not all require constitutio... Read more...

Pre-selecting candidates using US-style ‘primaries’

At its recent State Conference the NSW Branch of the ALP decided to trial US-style primaries for preselections. Primaries are candidate preselection processes that tend to involve more people than just, say, party delegates, officials or financial members of parties. The NSW trial process—in five electorates—would give members of the community a 50 per cent say in the selection of the candidates. Similar initiatives had been recommended at national level by the authors of the ALP Review (Steve Bracks, John Faulkner, Bob Carr) following the 2010 federal election. They proposed—in non-Labor held seats or seats where Labor candidates are retiring—preselections which would involve 20 per cent co... Read more...

School chaplains

In August, the High Court will hear Queensland parent Ron Williams’ constitutional challenge to the validity of the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP). The Commonwealth Ombudsman is also investigating the NSCP as a result of a recommendation made by the Northern Territory Ombudsman in her report on the NSCP’s operation in the Northern Territory (NT). The NSCP is a voluntary program (for schools and teachers), providing up to $20 000 per annum to government and non-government schools to establish school chaplaincy services or augment existing services. The NSCP website explains the purpose and ambit of the program:This voluntary program assists schools and their communities to support ... Read more...

Carbon Pricing Mechanism—editorials and opinion pieces

For easy access to commentary on the Carbon Pricing Mechanism, the Parliamentary Library has prepared a page of press editorials and opinion pieces following the Government’s announcement of its Clean Energy Plan on Sunday 10 July 2011. The page covers the week following the announcement, that is, from Monday 12 July 2011 to Friday 15 July 2011, and contains newspapers representing all the states and territories. The press editorial and opinion pieces page and other information on the Carbon Pricing Mechanism are available on the Parliamentary Library's climate change website. The press editorials and opinion pieces page is only available to Senators and Members and their staff. The Parliame... Read more...

Carbon Pricing Mechanism—Assistance to welfare recipients

The Government has announced a package of measures aimed at providing assistance to households to compensate for the cost of living impact of the carbon price. Assistance will be delivered through permanent increases to welfare payments and tax cuts. The Parliamentary Library has published a short brief outlining the assistance provided to welfare recipients. The brief notes that, according to the Government’s modelling, welfare recipients will be overcompensated for the expected cost of living impact of the carbon price. Indeed, it appears that welfare recipients will also effectively be compensated more than once when normal processes of payment indexation are taken into account. The brief... Read more...

Carbon Pricing Mechanism—Which 500 companies pay the tax?

The Government has been clear that only Australia’s 500 biggest ‘carbon polluters’ will be directly affected by the proposed Carbon Pricing Mechanism (CPM). This is down from the 1000 that would have been liable under the previous Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, mainly due to the exclusion of fuels from the CPM. There has been some speculation as to which companies would be included in the Government’s list of 500, and which ones are Australia’s ‘top 50 carbon polluters’. The Parliamentary Library has published a short brief with some information on determining which corporations are likely to be included, and an explanation on why a definite list of 500 companies is not publicly availabl... Read more...

Carbon Pricing Mechanism

 On Sunday 10 July 2011, the Australian Government released the Clean Energy Plan, a package of measures that includes a Carbon Pricing Mechanism. The policy is the outcome of several months of consideration by the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee (MPCCC), which was established after the 2010 election to determine key elements and complementary measures needed for an Australian carbon price. The scheme, to start in 2012, borrows some definitions and decisions of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme but outlines a new emissions trading scheme starting with a three-year fixed price term. The policy's development was based on information provided by the Garnaut Climate Change Review Upda... Read more...