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Filter by January, 2012

The gift that stops giving? Government launches new inquiry into gift cards

While not always considered the most exciting presents to unwrap, these small, easy-to-purchase items were rated among the top Christmas presents preferred by Australians last year. Yet for some recipients gift cards have proved less useful than the traditional pair of socks, leading to a review as to whether the best things really do come in small packages. The Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAAC) has recently released its paper “Gift Cards in the Australian Market”. It comes as a response to concerns raised by Paul Lucas MP who, along with consumer groups such as Choice, has called for a nationwide scheme to regulate the use of gift cards. The paper looks at the laws that... Read more...

Mandatory pre-commitment: no dice yet

The government announced last Saturday that due to a lack of Parliamentary support it would not proceed with legislation to require mandatory pre-commitment (MPC) on electronic gaming machines (EGMs). Instead it announced a trial of MPC in the ACT to test its effectiveness before committing to proceed down this path nationally, and introduce a raft of other measures to tackle problem gambling. In response Independent MP Mr Wilkie, whose ongoing support for the government required the introduction and successful passage of legislation implementing MPC by May 2012, announced he had withdrawn his support for the government. The announcement by the government to not proceed with MPC nationally w... Read more...

Aboriginal Tent Embassy: 40th Anniversary 2012

 Australia Day 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on the lawns of Old Parliament House, Canberra.On 26 January 1972 four young Aboriginal men: Michael Anderson, Billy Craigie, Bertie Williams and Tony Coorey set up a protest under a beach umbrella on the lawns of Parliament House. In a sad reflection on Indigenous life expectancy Michael Anderson is the only living member of the four founders. Michael Anderson believes the anniversary and Sovereignty Corroboree will be 'a great day of Aboriginal unity’.Anderson stresses the significance of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy is that 'it can be regarded as the longest running political demonstration in the world ... I add... Read more...

Citizenship's crucible: too cool for comfort

Who is responsible for developing the civic capacities and political knowledge of our young people? Most people would probably consider it the responsibility of schools to impart relevant citizenship skills and dispositions. Certainly the development of active and informed citizens is a core element of the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. The Declaration was adopted in 2008 by all state, territory and Commonwealth education ministers meeting as the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs. The Declaration provides the framework within which education authorities and schools construct their policies, programs and curricu... Read more...

Social inclusion - what is it good for?

In recent weeks, social inclusion has become a topic of some debate. This follows reports that, subsequent to his appointment to the social inclusion portfolio in last year’s front-bench reshuffle, Mark Butler was unable to define what social inclusion means. In response to an article on social inclusion by Butler published late last year, Senator Mitch Fifield and former Keating Government Minister Gary Johns both criticised the term as being devoid of substance. Fifield went on to propose that the Social Inclusion Board should be abolished, with the $3 million annual cost of the Board being allocated towards the $6.5 billion annual cost of a disability insurance scheme. The above comments ... Read more...

A Titanic Task: Reviewing Maritime Safety

In this 100th remembrance year of the infamous sinking of the passenger ocean liner RMS Titanic comes a review of Australia’s century-old maritime safety legislation, the Navigation Act 1912. Also proposed now is the creation of a new national, sea safety regulator, an important agency considering the recent local ship losses which remind us of the continuing importance of safe operations at sea. The loss of the cruise ship Costa Concordia off the Italian coast, while carrying Australian passengers who were fortunately saved, serves to highlight these issues.Review of the Navigation Act 1912The Navigation Act 1912 is Australia’s primary legislation that regulates ship and seafarer safety, sh... Read more...

Local government: the road to Constitutional recognition

As part of the agreements to form government in September 2010, the ALP committed to advancing constitutional recognition of local government, including holding a referendum during the 43rd Parliament or at the next election.An independent Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government was appointed in April 2011 by the federal government. Headed by NSW Chief Justice the Hon. James Spigelman AC QC, the panel circulated a discussion paper and conducted community consultation releasing their final report on 22 December 2011. This post will discuss findings and conclusions from the panel's final report.The panel considered four types of recognition; symbolic recognition, democra... Read more...

Refugee resettlement to Australia: what are the facts?

  Of the 145 States Parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention, only about 25 participate in the United Nations resettlement program and accept quotas of refugees on an annual basis. Australia has been involved in the UN resettlement program since 1977. The annual number of places Australia has allocated for the resettlement of refugees from overseas has varied significantly over the years, ranging from 20 000 in the early 1980s to just over 1 000 some ten years later.However, Australia has consistently ranked as one of the top three resettlement countries in the world and for the last five years the Government has allocated around 6000 places for refugees (out of a total 13 750 places availab... Read more...

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