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 June, 2011

A quick guide to plebiscites in Australia

When Opposition Leader Tony Abbott proposed a plebiscite to test Australians’ support for a carbon tax, the proposal was variously described in the media as ‘junk politics’, a ‘stunt’, a ‘serious misjudgement’ and ‘an expensive, bad idea’. But what exactly is a plebiscite?In Australia, a national plebiscite has quite a distinctive meaning. A plebiscite is a vote by citizens on a matter of national significance, but one which does not affect the Constitution. Moreover, plebiscites are normally advisory, and do not compel a government to act on the outcome. A plebiscite might be used to obtain electors’ views on, say, military conscription, or choosing a new Australian flag. Only the Australia... Read more...

If switching health insurance funds can save money, why don't more Australians do so?

A recent report by Choice, the publication of the Australian Consumers' Association, found that if some people switched health insurers they could make substantial savings to their health insurance costs. Reviewing some 17 000 health insurance products as part of its annual survey of health insurance, Choice found that families could save more than $1500 a year by switching to a better value fund. In some cases, the savings could be even higher. Under Australia's health insurance arrangements, consumers are guaranteed portability. Portability means consumers can change private health insurers at any time without incurring additional waiting times, provided the new product offers similar bene... Read more...

Turkish parliamentary election of 12 June 2011

On 12 June 2011 the Republic of Turkey, with a population of 78 million people, held its 17th general election in which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) secured a third consecutive term in government. Their victory was largely based on Turkey’s economic success under the stewardship of the AKP which came to power in 2002 and steered Turkey into becoming the world’s 16th largest economy. The new government faces some significant challenges, including the impact on Turkey of the sweeping political change that is continually unfolding in the adjacent Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.Turkish community in AustraliaParticipation amongst the 52 mil... Read more...

Australia's public diplomacy and social media

On 6–7 June 2011 the Forum on Public and Citizen Diplomacy was convened in Canberra to formulate recommendations for Australian public diplomacy practitioners, with the aim of identifying best practice and emerging trends in this field. Innovative ways of conducting public diplomacy, including through the use of social media, have been advanced by Australia's partners. But what exactly is public diplomacy? Experiences from the US, UK, and the EUUnited States of AmericaIn the US, public diplomacy constitutes an essential part of the US foreign policy establishment, and is seen as an element of ‘soft power’, a term which was made popular by Professor Joseph Nye. Soft power refers to a state’s ... Read more...

New naval aviation combat helicopters

The announcement on 16 June 2011 by the Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and the Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare, that Australia would acquire twenty four MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ naval combat helicopters at a cost of over $3 billion brings to a close a period of uncertainty in Australian naval aviation.For some time now the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has suffered from a serious gap in combat aviation, and in particular anti-submarine warfare. In his 2010 Navy Capability Review Andrew Davies from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) summarised this problem:Naval aviation remains an area where capability is well below state of the art. The failure of the Super Seasprite... Read more...

What do refugees and humanitarian entrants contribute to Australia?

A recent study, commissioned by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and conducted by Professor Graeme Hugo of the University of Adelaide, has examined the contributions made to Australia by first and second generation humanitarian entrants. The report of the study, Economic, social and civic contributions of first and second generation humanitarian entrants, found that while refugees and other humanitarian entrants face numerous barriers to settlement in Australia, they nonetheless contribute positively to society in a number of different ways.In the context of Australia’s population profile, humanitarian entrants deliver what is termed in the report as a ‘demographic dividend’ by... Read more...

The 'nanny state' and freedom of choice

In recent times, a number of Australian Government policy initiatives have been criticised as ‘nanny state’ or ‘paternalist’ policies. Describing policies in this way resonates with concerns held by many that there should be limits to the extent to which governments should protect people from the consequences of their choices. But are there circumstances in which some help from ‘nanny’ can be justified? This week the tobacco industry launched a nation-wide media campaign in an attempt to stop the Government introducing plain packaging for all tobacco products sold in Australia. The industry has based its campaign around the idea that the policy is a ‘nanny state’ measure. The campaign has be... Read more...

Australia's military involvement in Afghanistan - update

This FlagPost entry updates material previously posted for the Parliamentary debate on Afghanistan (see Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan – frequently asked questions, 15 October 2010). The following information has been compiled to assist Members and Senators prepare condolence motions for Australian Defence Force personnel recently killed in Afghanistan and to highlight some of the issues raised in the media.In the eight months since the previous FlagPost entry on Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan, Australia’s military personnel commitment levels, mission and anticipated draw down date of 2014 have not changed. As such, this update revises information about Australian military co... Read more...

Alcohol floor price

There are indications that the Government is considering introducing a nationwide floor price (or, minimum unit price) for alcohol. Such a mechanism would make it illegal for a retailer to sell alcohol below a certain price per standard drink. The move appears to be primarily in response to the problem of cheap cask wine and its contribution to alcohol-related harm in Indigenous town camps in the Alice Springs region.Minimum unit pricing has not yet been implemented anywhere in the world, despite the Scottish Government’s recent attempts to introduce such a scheme. In 2008, in response to evidence of significant and increasing alcohol-related harm in Scotland, the Scottish Government set abo... Read more...

R18+ games classification

In response to lobbying by gamers and the games industry and extensive public consultation, on 25 May 2011, the Minister for Justice, Brendan O’Connor, announced the release of new draft guidelines for the classification of computer games. If adopted, these guidelines will for the first time introduce an adults R18+ rating for computer games.Current classification arrangementsCurrently in Australia, computer games are classified according to requirements under the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games Act 1995 (the Classification Act) and an agreement between the federal and state and territory governments. Under the Classification Act, publications, films and computer games... Read more...

Top