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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 September, 2010

Government losing a vote on the floor of the House

The House of Representatives Practice, states, on p. 318:“It has been claimed that the loss of control of the business of the House is a matter over which Governments should resign ... During 1962 and 1963, when the Menzies Government had a floor majority of one, it suffered a number of defeats and, although it did not resign, its precarious majority was a factor which led to the early dissolution of the House.“ The votes lost by the Government in 1962 were:• A closure motion on 21 August 1962 (Votes and Proceedings, p. 194)• A closure motion on 3 October 1962 (Votes and Proceedings, p. 217)• Opposition’s dissent from Chairman’s ruling on 27 November 1962 (Votes and Proceedings, p. 307-8)• ... Read more...

Where is the US on climate legislation?

Climate politics is difficult in the US. There is currently a stalemate in Congress, and little prospect of moving forward. Under the Copenhagen Accord, the US has put forward a commitment…In the range of 17%, in conformity with anticipated U.S. energy and climate legislation...The pathway set forth in pending legislation would entail a 30% reduction in 2025 and a 42% reduction in 2030, in line with the goal to reduce emissions 83% by 2050. [US submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 28 January 2010]There is currently no Federal legislation to support any such commitment.In the US all climate change action at this stage is State-based, mainly through the Regi... Read more...

Key Issues for the 43rd Parliament

The federal election of 2010 produced the first hung parliament since 1940. The Gillard Labor Government retained power by the smallest possible majority with the support of three independents and the Australian Greens. To secure a governing coalition, the Australian Labor Party committed to a series of wide-ranging parliamentary reforms with the Australian Greens and the Coalition including new procedures for Question Time in the House of Representatives, enhancing the authority of the Speaker, strengthening the role of committees, increasing the prominence of private members’ business and establishing a Parliamentary Budget Office and Parliamentary Integrity Commissioner.Key challenges bef... Read more...

Members of Parliament salary

On 24 August 2010 the Remuneration Tribunal released a Statement on its 2010 Review of Remuneration for Holders of Public Office. Holders of Public Office include, among others, Senators and Members of the Federal Parliament. The Tribunal announced that it had ‘determined an adjustment of 4.1% to the remuneration of public offices in its jurisdiction with effect from 1 August 2010’.Table A1 in Determination 2005/19: Principal Executive Office - Classification Structure and Terms and Conditions sets out Principal Executive Office classification structure and remuneration ranges with effect from 1 August 2010. Parliamentary base salary is linked to Reference Salary A. As a result of the 2008 p... Read more...

The future of public housing in Australia

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has just released a significant report on public housing in Australia. The report provides an extensive profile of public housing delivered under the last Commonwealth State Housing Agreement and the first six months of the National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA), which commenced on 1 January 2009. This report closely follows the release of an Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) publication that critically analyses the future of public housing in Australia.While they differ substantially in their approaches to the subject matter, both the AIHW and AHURI reports highlight the need to maintain and expand existing pu... Read more...

The role of preventative health in improving the health of Australians

Preventative health, with its longer term population-based strategies to promote wellness and prevent disease, is often overlooked by both policy makers and a public more focused on personalised primary care and hospital services. This is reflected in the level of expenditure on preventative health activities in Australia—just 2 per cent of total health expenditure. Yet, approximately 32 per cent of Australia’s total burden of disease can be attributed to modifiable risk factors that include smoking, alcohol abuse, physical inactivity, high blood pressure and blood cholesterol, low consumption of fruits and vegetables and overweight and obesity. It is now widely recognised that in order to s... Read more...

Managing asylum flows

Irregular arrivals—what is the solution?Over the last decade, the immigration debate in Australia has been largely overshadowed by the issue of asylum seekers arriving by boat (irregular arrivals). The issue took centre stage in the 2001 federal election when former Prime Minister John Howard asserted ‘we’ll decide who comes to this country and the circumstances under which they’ll come’. A widespread perception in the community that Australia is being swamped by undocumented asylum seekers continues to strongly influence government policy (see our publications Asylum seekers and refugees: what are the facts? and Boat arrivals in Australia since 1976 for more on this). Successive governments... Read more...

Sydney's Medically Supervised Injecting Centre

After around ten years of operating on a trial basis, the New South Wales Government has indicated that it intends to make Sydney’s Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) a permanent facility. Despite the MSIC’s success in saving lives and reducing the incidence of infectious disease, the NSW Government has until now chosen not to grant it a more permanent status. This has been despite ongoing calls from medical experts and the Centre’s operator, Uniting Care, to lift the trial period and make the centre permanent. Australia’s sole Medically Supervised Injecting Centre was set up on a trial basis in 2001 in Sydney’s Kings Cross, and has operated on this basis to date. The MSIC is suppo... Read more...

National disability insurance and the new parliament

Australia’s hung parliament has raised questions about the future of large-scale economic reforms such as emissions trading, the mining tax and national broadband. One significant potential reform in the social policy area over which there may also be uncertainty is national disability insurance.In recent years, there have been increasing calls from within the disability sector in Australia for the introduction of a new, national, long-term mechanism for funding support for people with disability—known as national disability insurance. Those arguing for a new approach have suggested a number of significant problems with the current system, including the continuing failure of funded services ... Read more...

Dental care—holes to be filled

Calls for urgent action on dental care have been a feature of public debate in recent years and were raised yet again in the context of the recent Federal election. The issue remains high on the agenda, as evidenced by the recent agreement between the Greens and Labor which included a commitment to improving investments in dental care. These calls for action are supported by reports of:declining oral health status—one quarter of adults have untreated decay, with higher rates amongst the financially disadvantaged, rural and indigenous Australiansfinancial barriers—one third of Australians report delaying or avoiding dental treatment due to costservice gaps, particularly in rural and regional ... Read more...

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