FlagPost

Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice

Filter by

Date

Syndication

Tag cloud

Filter by December, 2013

The world’s youngest nation falters: keeping the peace in South Sudan

Two and a half years after gaining independence from Sudan, the newly formed nation of South Sudan has erupted into violence that could potentially lead to civil war. Tensions among the ethnic Nuer and Dinka groups have recently escalated and there have been reports of widespread violence and killing across the country. Ongoing political disputes are at the root of the current unrest. Media reports indicate the former Vice President, Riek Machar (an ethnic Nuer who was dismissed in July 2013), attempted a coup against President Salva Kiir (an ethnic Dinka) and has allegedly taken control of key parts of the country. Read more...

High Court to decide if mutual trust and confidence is implied in employment contracts

The High Court has granted the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (the Bank) special leave to appeal the Full Federal Court’s decision in Commonwealth Bank of Australia v Barker[2013] FCAFC 83. The case will be significant as it will be the first time the High Court has considered if an implied term of mutual trust and confidence exists in employment contracts.   What is the mutual duty of trust and confidence? The Full Federal Court was the first Australian superior appellate court to consider the issue, and found that the mutual duty of trust and confidence exists as an implied term in employment contracts. It defined the implied term as providing that an:   … e... Read more...

Australia's current debt position - December 2013 update

Here we present a snapshot of Australia’s current debt position and how it has changed since the previously published articles on Australia’s debt position. This update provides the latest available data on Australia’s level of debt for both the public and private sectors in gross and net terms, and compares it with previously published data. For definitions of gross and net debt the reader is referred to the Library’s earlier Flagpost titled Australia’s current debt position from April 2011.Chart 1 presents Australia’s current foreign debt for the September quarter of 2013 in gross and net terms for the public and private sectors. From Chart 1 it is clear that the private sector is still th... Read more...

Lost in translation: resettling locally engaged Afghan staff

Recent media reports indicate that the Taliban have killed an Afghan man who had worked as an interpreter for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in Afghanistan. With the bulk of ADF personnel being withdrawn from Uruzgan, this provides a reminder of the dangers to Afghan nationals who have worked for Australian government agencies as locally engaged staff and again raises the question of what the Government is doing to assist.What Australia should and could do for such people has been discussed for some time. As the withdrawal of Australian and other International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) personnel drew near local interpreters spoke out about Taliban threats and some ADF officers exp... Read more...

Ballistic missile defence and Australia

During the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in Washington DC on 20 November, ballistic missile defence (BMD) was again raised as a specific area of potential further cooperation, having also been discussed at the preceding three meetings. The concept of BMD is not new, with initial research and development by the US Army beginning as early as 1945. Since then, Australia has increasingly become well-positioned to actively support the US-led BMD program, in concert with other regional allies such as Japan and South Korea. This article summarises what BMD is, and the prospects for Australia’s future contribution to the program.What is ballistic missile defence?According to the US... Read more...

Federal Circuit Court refuses to hear ‘union slush fund’ dispute

Union reserve funds are not illegal, but that has not stopped them from becoming controversial in the context of recently uncovered instances of serious misuse these funds. Sheehan v Australian Municipal Administrative, Clerical and Services Union & Ors [2013] FCCA 2137 is a Federal Circuit Court decision that sheds light on union members’ standing to bring actions for alleged misconduct by officials. It is cases such as this one which have attracted media attention and seen most union reserve funds pejoratively labelled ‘slush funds’.Union auxiliary monetary accountsMost, if not all unions have reserve funds, also known as auxiliary monetary accounts. These funds have been traditionally... Read more...

Oil and water: natural resources and Timor-Leste’s development challenges

Ongoing international arbitration proceedings arising from allegations of Australian espionage during the 2004 negotiations over the Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS) Treaty with Timor-Leste have highlighted the latter’s dependence on petroleum revenues to finance its future development. Less well-known are the concerns that have been raised about the long-term sustainability of these revenues and what this means for Timor-Leste’s broader development and stability challenges. At the Australian National University’s inaugural ‘Timor-Leste Update’ in November 2013, the non-government organisation La’o Hamutuk (... Read more...

Uncertain future: Australian aid to Afghanistan

Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Afghanistan has increased substantially over the past few years from $82.1 million in 2009–10 to a peak of $198.4 million in 2011–12. Afghanistan was the fourth largest recipient of Australian ODA in 2012–13 (after Indonesia, PNG and the Solomons) with an expected expenditure of about $182.8 million. This includes ODA-eligible expenditure by other government departments, including Immigration and Citizenship ($6.9 million), Defence ($9.2 million) and Attorney-General’s–Australian Federal Police ($17.7 million).Approximately 20 per cent of AusAID’s expenditure was in Uruzgan and included the following programs:Children of Uruzgan Program (... Read more...

Experience of violence in Australia

On the 11th of December 2013, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the results of its 2012 Personal Safety Survey (PSS). This much anticipated survey on the safety of Australians aged 18 years and over is the second release of the PSS, with the first being released in 2005. The PSS collects information about the nature and extent of violence experienced by men and women since the age of 15 and includes their experiences of violence in the 12 months prior to the survey. Information has been collected on: domestic violence by a current or previous partner; lifetime experiences of stalking; physical and sexual abuse and the general feeling of safety.The ABS defines violence in this cont... Read more...

High Court decides the ACT’s same-sex marriage law is invalid

Today, 12 December 2013, the High Court decided unanimously that the ACT’s Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 cannot operate concurrently with the federal Marriage Act 1961. The Court held that the federal Parliament has power under the Australian Constitution to legislate with respect to same sex marriage, and that under the Constitution and federal law as it now stands, whether same sex marriage should be provided for by law is a matter for the federal Parliament.BackgroundThe right to marry is the one significant remaining difference between the legal treatment of same-sex and heterosexual relations in Australia. While there has been a shift in community and political opinion, the issu... Read more...