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Filter by March, 2011

Meeting the challenges of cyber-security

Just weeks after the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, announced the establishment within the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) of a ‘specialist cyber investigations unit to investigate and provide advice on state-sponsored cyber attack against, or involving, Australian interests’, News Limited media reports have claimed that the parliamentary computers of the Prime Minister and several key Cabinet ministers were infiltrated recently in a sustained “hacking” attack.The reports claim that ‘several thousand emails’ may have been accessed and that in addition to the Prime Minister, the Defence and Foreign Ministers were among those targetted. The cyber-attack is alleged to... Read more...

Distribution of GST to the states

#tableheader { border-color:#000000; border-spacing: 0; border-style: solid; border-top-width:thin; border-bottom-width:thin; border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; } #table1 { border-collapse: collapse; border-bottom-width:thin; border-style: solid; border-left-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-top-width:0px; } #table1 td, #table1 th { padding: 3px 7px 3px 7px; } .js table tbody .even th, .js table tbody .even td { background: none repeat scroll 0 0 #ffffff } On Wednesday 30 March 2011, the Government announced a review of how the goods and services tax (GST) revenue is distributed to the states. This post looks at how GST revenue is currently distributed... Read more...

The Egyptian constitutional referendum of March 2011: a new beginning?

The ousting of the Egyptian Government in February 2011 was followed by a referendum on constitutional changes, held on 19 March. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the interim ruling body following the departure of President Hosni Mubarak on 11 February, suspended the 1971 constitution and dissolved parliament on 13 February. A drafting committee of jurists was appointed to write proposed constitutional amendments, the idea being that once a referendum on the changes was held, parliamentary, followed by presidential elections, could be held. The referendum was held on 19 March 2011, with 77 per cent voting in favour of the constitutional amendments. Voter turnout was about 41 per cent... Read more...

Members of Parliament salary and entitlements

On 24 March the Special Minister of State, Hon Gary Gray, introduced the Remuneration and other legislation amendment bill 2011. This bill provides, among other matters, for the Remuneration Tribunal to determine MP’s base salary, currently $136 640, and ends the Parliament’s ability to disallow the remuneration determinations, that is senators’ and members’ pay increases. The Bill also requires the Tribunal, an independent statutory authority, to publish its reasons for the determination. Since 1990 the Remuneration Tribunal has only had an advisory power with regard to the annual allowance (or base salary). After the relevant determinations are tabled, Parliament may resolve to disapprove ... Read more...

Responding to boat arrivals

A widespread perception in the community that Australia is being swamped by asylum seekers arriving by boat continues to strongly influence government policy and to be an emotive and divisive political issue. As a result, for many years the Labor Government and before it the Coalition Government have been pressured to adopt and maintain effective measures to address border security concerns, combat people smuggling and 'stop the boats'. Both sides of politics are in agreement on some of the measures in place to deal with these issues (such as mandatory detention for unauthorised boat arrivals), but there are policy differences, some influenced by arguments as to whether 'push factors' or 'pu... Read more...

Libya and the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973

The wave of protests sweeping across the Middle East in recent months has seen demands for democratic reforms and regime change in several countries, including Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain. However, Libya quickly became the focus of international attention as government forces began firing upon their own civilians with heavy weaponry, and bombing population centres from the ground and air. An overview of how the unrest evolved into a humanitarian crisis is covered in more detail in a previous post. As the world’s attention turned to condemnation, calls for UN intervention grew stronger and more insistent. Following the failure of the Libyan Government to heed the warnings issued on 26 F... Read more...

When Garnaut met Henry: the carbon price and welfare reform

Professor Ross Garnaut’s recent update paper no. 6 to the Garnaut Climate Change Review, released on 17 March 2011, found that ‘protecting the most vulnerable is critical to the success of the carbon price’. Professor Garnaut found that while reforms to income taxation would, for most taxpayers, assist in mitigating the effects of a rise in the price of consumer goods resulting from the introduction of a carbon price, those on little or no income could face hardship unless reforms are also made to the social security system. Garnaut sees the introduction of carbon price as an opportunity for reform, holding that significant benefits to productivity, participation and income could be secured... Read more...

The 2011 tax forum and the 1985 tax summit

On Sunday 20 March 2011, the Treasurer announced in an Economic Note that a Tax Forum would be held on 4–5 October 2011 at Parliament House. This announcement has sparked interest in the potential scope of the tax forum, and the similarities that can be drawn to the Tax Summit held by the Hawke Government in 1985.The commitment to convene a tax forum was included in letters to Mr Tony Windsor MP and Mr Rob Oakeshott MP as part of the agreement to form a minority government after the 2010 election:A minority Labor Government will facilitate the discussion of future tax reform as follows:a) Convene a public forum of experts on taxation and its economic and social effects to discuss the Henry R... Read more...

Regional unemployment rates - February 2011

On Thursday 17 March the ABS released the latest regional labour force statistics. These statistics reveal that the unemployment rate around Australia ranged from 1.3 per cent in the South Eastern Statistical Region of New South Wales to 13.0 per cent in the Far North Statistical Region of Queensland.Five Statistical Regions with the lowest rates were:South Eastern Statistical Region (New South Wales) 1.3 per cent Eastern Suburbs Statistical Region (Sydney) 2.6 per cent East Metropolitan Statistical Region (Perth) 2.6 per cent West Moreton Statistical Region (Queensland) 2.8 per cent Inner Sydney Statistical Region (Sydney) 3.4 per cent. Five Statistical Regions with the highest rates were:F... Read more...

The Libyan conflict in the context of Middle East revolutions

Over the past three months a wave of popular dissent triggered by long-standing grievances over poor living standards and insufficient domestic reforms has swept across the Middle East and North Africa. Thousands of citizens in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other regional countries demanded a change of political leadership, and immediate social, political and economic reforms. Unrest in the Middle EastTwo Middle Eastern countries, Egypt and Tunisia, have experienced a regime change over the past two months.In Tunisia, protests began in mid-December 2010 following an incident when a young Tunisian man self-immolated in front of a government building, protesting against the political and economic ... Read more...

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