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Filter by December, 2011

Conscience votes on same-sex marriage legislation

In the last months of 2011 there was much media interest in the possibility of the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal Party allowing a conscience vote on the issue of same-sex marriage. On 3 December 2011, delegates to the ALP national conference voted in favour of the amendment to the party platform moved by Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, allowing members a conscience vote on same-sex marriage (208 votes to 184). Members of the Left faction had argued strongly against treating same-sex marriage as a conscience issue. Delegates also agreed to change the definition of marriage (carried unanimously on the voices) by: ... amend[ing] the Marriage Act to ensure equal access to marriage under ... Read more...

The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care

The legislative arrangements for the introduction of the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care (NQF), which is to be phased in from 2012 to 2020, are almost complete. The Education and Care Services National Regulations, under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010, were made by the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs on 9 December 2011. Western Australia is the only jurisdiction left to pass the National Law Act. The NQF was agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) through the National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care. It will cr... Read more...

Draft Basin Plan and Environmental water

The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) released the long-awaited Draft Basin Plan on 28 November 2011. The plan will be available for public comment until 16 April 2012. The MDBA also released a Socio-economic analysis of the plan, and a plain English summary, Delivering a healthy working basin, that is intended to put the ideas into a broader context. Criticism began almost as soon as the document went out.But first, what is the purpose of the plan, and what does it propose? The draft Basin Plan outlines the amount by which Australia needs to reduce its consumption of water from the Murray-Darling Basin. Water consumption needs to be reduced in order to preserve the river system into ... Read more...

International Migrants Day

In December 2000, the United Nations (UN) adopted a resolution noting the increasing number of migrants in the world and proclaiming 18 December to be International Migrants Day. Since then the UN has invited government and non-government organisations alike to celebrate International Migrants Day each year and to continue to work towards ensuring the protection of all migrants.Global migration flows have increased dramatically in recent decades, significantly transforming societies and economies around the world. In OECD countries alone, migrant populations have tripled since the 1960s. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) notes that more people are on the move now than any ot... Read more...

A bigger cabinet and more women in it

 The new ministry to be sworn in today, with 22 cabinet members, is the largest cabinet since the second and third Whitlam Ministries (1972–75). When the Second Whitlam Ministry was sworn in, all 27 members of the ministry sat as members of the cabinet. During this period, and also between 1901 and 1956, there was no ‘inner cabinet’. The inner cabinet system was formally adopted by the Menzies Government on 11 January 1956 and has characterised all Governments since, with the exception of the Whitlam Government.The other notable feature of the new ministry is its record number of five female cabinet ministers.The first woman to serve as a cabinet member was Enid Lyons (who was also the fir... Read more...

New autonomous sanctions against Iran

On 6 December 2011 the Australian Government announced its intention to impose additional sanctions against Iran, ‘targeting additional entities and individuals for their involvement in Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs’.This follows the introduction on 21 November by the governments of the United States (US), Canada and the United Kingdom (UK) of additional autonomous sanctions against Iran in response to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors’ report about the advancement of Iran’s nuclear research and development program.   On 1 December the European Union (EU) foreign ministers decided to impose additional EU financial and energy sanctions against Ir... Read more...

PNG parliament votes to allow reserved seats for women

.js table tbody .even th, .js table tbody .even td { background: none repeat scroll 0 0 #ffffff } #tableheader { border-color:#4F81BC; border-spacing: 0; border-style: solid; border-width: .1pt; background-color:#4F81BC !important; color:#FFFFFF; } #table1 { border-collapse: collapse; border-bottom-width:thin; border-style: solid; border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-top-width:0px; border-color: #4F81BC; } #table1 td, #table1 th { border-width: .1pt; border-style: solid; border-spacing: 0; border-collapse:separate; border-color: #4F81BC; } .headershading { background-color:#4F81BC !important; }  In a historic vote, the Parliament of Papua N... Read more...

WA Fire Escape

Recently, a fuel reduction burn escaped from a national park and destroyed more than 30 homes in the Margaret River region in south-west Western Australia. This serves as a reminder of the risks in using low intensity burns of forest and bushland to reduce the fuel load so that future wildfires may be controlled. The burn was started at a time of favourable weather but with forecasts of high temperatures and winds for a couple of days later. It was reported that the authorities made the decision to proceed with the burn because the area would pose a greater fire risk unless the fuel reduction burning program could be finished beforehand. They indicated that there was a backlog of forested a... Read more...

Disability employment in Australia and the OECD

Accounting firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has released a report outlining a series of principles that it believes should guide the implementation of the national disability insurance scheme proposed by the Productivity Commission. In the report, PwC cites statistics which indicate that Australia ranks 21st out of 29 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in employment rates for people with a disability. It also highlights the fact that Australia is ranked 27th out of 27 OECD countries when it comes to relative poverty risk for people with a disability.The first of these figures begs the question: Why does Australia perform so poorly relative to other OECD... Read more...

Are maths and science enrolments increasing?

In the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook the Government announced savings of $403.6 million over three years through a measure to increase the HECS amount for mathematics and science students from 2013. The increase will reverse the 2009 reduction in HECS which aimed at increasing enrolments in the science disciplines.This post discusses the trends in enrolments following the 2008-2009 Budget measure.In the 2008-2009 Budget the Rudd Government honoured an election commitment to reduce the HECS HELP fees for mathematics and science disciplines. The measure was implemented with passage of the Higher Education Support Amendment (2008 Budget Measures) Bill 2008.From 1 January 2009 contributio... Read more...

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