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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, 2013

More problems with the Collins Class submarines

On 26 September 2013, an article in The Australian newspaper revealed aspects of a ‘confidential’ Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) report which identifies ‘68 critical problems’ with the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins Class submarines which might prevent them from continuing to operate until the development of a replacement class of vessels. The Department of Defence responded to The Australian stating that the ‘purpose of the report was to identify potential issues and risks that would need to be addressed to extend the life of the class’ and that this was part of a normal process undertaken in the event that the service life of the class was to be extended.If this report is correct, it... Read more...

Reviews of allegations of abuse in the Defence Force

In March 2011, an incident occurred at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in which it was alleged that an 18 year old female cadet was filmed without her consent while having sex with a male colleague, with the footage then sent using Skype to six other cadets watching in a nearby room. The ‘Skype incident’ at ADFA was the catalyst which generated a number of inquiries and various cultural reviews dealing with the management of ADFA.  Kirkham ReviewThe first review was conducted by Andrew Kirkham QC, a former senior air force officer and military law expert, who was requested by the then Vice Chief of the Defence Force to conduct an Inquiry into the management of the Skype incident ... Read more...

The Single Supervisory Mechanism - can the European Central Bank break the vicious cycle?

Banks and sovereign nations in Europe face a ‘vicious cycle’, where higher borrowing costs and fears a government may default can make it more difficult or expensive for banks to borrow, and vice versa. On 12th September (2013) the European Parliament approved new powers for the European Central Bank (ECB) to act as a central regulator for European banks, in conjunction with national regulators. Is this a meaningful step towards a European banking union? Can it break the ‘vicious cycle’? And what does it mean for Australia? The ‘vicious cycle’ refers to a situation where bank and government debt can influence each other, making it harder or more expensive for each to borrow money. In Spain,... Read more...

Al-Shabaab: links to background and analysis

 It has been widely reported that the Somali militant group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack on a Nairobi shopping mall on 21 September 2013 which cost at least 62 lives. This FlagPost provides information on the listing of al-Shabaab as a terrorist organisation in Australia and other countries, and links to publicly available information on the organisation.Terrorist listingsAl-Shabaab has been listed as a terrorist organisation by the Australian Government since 22 August 2009, with the listing last renewed on 18 August 2012. The statement of reasons outlines details about al-Shabaab, including its objectives and activities, the basis for listing it as a terrorist organ... Read more...

Protecting seafarers in Australian waters: the implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention

The Maritime Labour Convention (Convention) was adopted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2006. It is the result of tripartite negotiations between governments, employers and workers and consolidates and updates over 68 existing ILO conventions. The Convention came into force in Australia on 20 August 2013.How is the Convention enacted in Australia? The Convention was implemented in Australia by Schedule 13 of Marine Order 11 (Marine Order), a legislative instrument made under the Navigation Act 2012. What protections does the Convention provide to seafarers?The Convention provides seafarers a set of comprehensive employment protections, which recognises their unique working ... Read more...

Addressing harms from pokies: insights from new reports

Some recent reports are reminders that addressing problem gambling harms associated with electronic gaming machines or pokies remains challenging, but progress is possible. The first report evaluates the decision to ban Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) from pokies venues in Victoria. The second quantifies the harms of pokies gambling in Victoria, prior to the removal of ATMs, while the third summarises lessons learnt from pre-commitment trials in South Australia.The first report is an evaluation of the Victorian Government decision to remove ATMs from pokie venues. From July 2012, venues in Victoria were required to remove their ATM dispensers—EFTPOS facilities remained unchanged. The ratio... Read more...

Looking back: nominal and real GDP growth

In the lead-up to the 2013 Budget an issue that attracted much attention was the weakness of Australia’s nominal economy and the impact this would have on government revenue. For three consecutive quarters (June, September and December 2012), annual growth in nominal gross domestic product (GDP) was less than real GDP growth, the first time this had happened in at least the last 50 years. This short note uses the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics national accounts data to take another look at Australia’s nominal and real GDP growth story (figure 1).   Nominal GDP growth is a measure of economic activity before allowing for inflation. Usually you would... Read more...

Dental checkup

A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) presents a snapshot of the oral health and dental behaviour of Australian adults in 2010. The National Dental Interview Survey was conducted on a random sample of over 10,000 Australian adults during the period July 2010 to February 2011. The survey found that a majority of adults reported they had good dental health, with two thirds having visited a dentist in the previous 12 months. But a significant proportion of those surveyed reported difficulties in accessing affordable dental care. Over 31% reported they avoided or delayed a dental visit due to cost. Those on lower incomes were more likely to report avoiding or de... Read more...

Measuring success in skilled migration policy: the subclass 457 visa program

With the unemployment rate edging higher over the past year, and against a backdrop of high OECD unemployment, jobs will continue to be a focus over the next term of Government. A new report by Monash University’s Centre for Population and Urban Research reveals that recently arrived migrants are dominating the growth in the number of employed persons in Australia. It also points to local young workers being adversely affected by the competition for employment, with a global pool of ‘job hungry temporary migrants looking for the same work’. According to the OECD, the young and the low-skilled will continue to be hardest hit across OECD nations through 2014. Whilst t... Read more...

Removing World Heritage by request?

Last week the Coalition announced that, if elected, it would seek to have the recently approved extension of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area removed. Can a World Heritage Area be delisted by request? Extending the Tasmanian WildernessThe recent extension to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) was approved by the World Heritage Committee in June this year. It adds 172,276 hectares to the northern and eastern boundaries of the Area, increasing the TWWHA by 12 per cent (see map). This is the fourth extension to the Area since it was listed in 1982. The new areas contribute to the Outstanding Universal Values identified in the TWWHA, such as exceptional natural beau... Read more...

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