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Filter by November, 2011

Trafficking in Persons: a round up of recent Australian events.

As we prepare to mark the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery on 2 December, it is timely to reflect on what has been a busy two weeks for all of those involved in Australia’s anti-trafficking efforts.As reported an earlier FlagPost, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, has been in Australia for a two week fact finding mission (17–30 November), which included meetings with Government and non-government agencies, public lectures in Sydney and Melbourne (see also here), and a Parliamentary Library Lecture in Canberra. On 23 November, the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, with the Ministers for Immigration and Citizenshi... Read more...

Progress towards transition in Afghanistan

The Parliamentary Library has released a new publication—Australia's involvement in Afghanistan: revised facts and figures—which updates previously published material concerning Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan, (see FlagPost entries Australia’s military involvement in Afghanistan—update, 10 June 2011; Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan – frequently asked questions, 15 October 2010; Background Note Australia’s military involvement in Afghanistan since 2001: a chronology, 16 July 2010; and the Afghanistan section of the Anzac Day Kit).The publication’s release coincided with Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Statement to Parliament on Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan. The stateme... Read more...

UN Special Rapporteur Visits Australia

Dr Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, is in Australia for a two week fact finding mission (17-30 November). Special Rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (formerly the Commission on Human Rights) to investigate, monitor, and advise on human rights violations  –  world wide or in specific countries. In carrying out their mandate, the Special Rapporteurs undertake: country visits to study the situation on the ground and develop recommendations to better prevent or combat trafficking and protect the human rights of its victims; and take action on complaints about hum... Read more...

Electronic gaming machines: lessons from Norway

In recent months both sides in the contentious debate around mandatory pre-commitment (MPC)—where players would have to pre-set the amount they were prepared to lose on electronic gaming machines (EGMs)—have cited 'evidence' from Norway to support their respective arguments. As this Parliamentary Library Background Note explains, supporters of MPC have pointed to Norway to argue in favour of MPC. Meanwhile, those opposed to MPC, including those in the clubs industry, argue that the evidence from Norway shows that MPC won't work. How can the same evidence be used to support opposite sides of the argument?Norway banned EGMs in July 2007 in response to ongoing concerns over the harms from probl... Read more...

White Ribbon Day

The 25th of November is White Ribbon Day. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the White Ribbon Campaign, which aims to prevent violence against women and to create positive role models for men and boys. White Ribbon Campaign co-founder, Michael Kaufman explains that: Wearing the ribbon is a public pledge never to commit, condone, nor remain silent about violence against women, and it is a call on governments and all institutions controlled by men to seriously address the issue.This approach is based on the premise that men can play a positive role in helping to stop violence against women, and builds on the fact that most men are not violent. While men have a long history of involvement ... Read more...

Money Laundering in Australia

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) recently published Money Laundering in Australia 2011, a consolidated picture of money laundering activity in Australia, key vulnerabilities and emerging threats. The report is drawn from Australia's first (classified) National Threat Assessment on money laundering, produced as part of the Commonwealth Government's Organised Crime Response Plan. Every year, crimes such as drug importation, fraud, people trafficking, migrant smuggling, corruption and theft generate large amounts of money, usually in cash. Money laundering is the processing of these proceeds of crime to conceal their illegal origin  -- turning "dirty" cas... Read more...

Determining the ages of people smugglers

IntroductionIt is the responsibility of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to arrest and charge crew members alleged to have committed a people smuggling offence under the Migration Act 1958. These cases are then referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) for prosecution. As at 30 June 2011, there were 304 people smuggling prosecutions involving organisers, captain and crew before the courts (CDPP, 2010–11 Annual Report, p. 84). Between 1 January 2009 and 18 October 2011, 170 crew members and 4 organisers had been convicted of people smuggling offences (Senate Estimates, Attorney General’s portfolio, 18 October 2011, p. 68).Any crew member determined by the AFP to b... Read more...

Reducing elective surgery waiting times - is more money the answer?

Performance of public hospitals is rarely out of the news. Attention is often focussed on elective surgery waiting times or episodes of poor care. Recently there have been reports of ward closures in Victoria and the Tasmanian government has announced cuts to elective surgery in an attempt to balance the budget. Likewise, funding arrangements for hospitals are guaranteed to generate community debate, with more, not less, funding often proposed as the answer. The most recent COAG Reform Council Progress Report presents a sobering, if not contradictory, view of public hospitals in Australia. This report is a high level examination of implementation of the Government’s reform agenda across a ra... Read more...

What can be done about the growing cost of health care in Australia?

 The sustainability of Australia’s health system is becoming a key concern for Australian governments, along with those in many other advanced economies. But, with growing demand for high quality health care, an ageing population and rapid advances in medical technology, what can be done to keep a lid on health expenditure? This recently published Parliamentary Library Research Paper outlines the key mechanisms the Australian government has to control health care spending, and it proposes some potential options for reform. In a recent speech on the sustainability of the health system, the Finance Minister, Penny Wong, highlighted the problem policymakers now face: health care expenditure is ... Read more...

Queen's visit revives republican debate

The recent trip to Australia by Queen Elizabeth II marked her 16th visit since 1954, when she was the first reigning British monarch to make the journey. The Queen is the Head of State of the United Kingdom and holds the symbolic position as Head of the Commonwealth. She is currently Head of State in 16 of the 54 Commonwealth member countries including Australia. Thirty-three Commonwealth countries (including the Fiji Islands which was suspended from the Commonwealth in 2009) have a republican form of government. Each of the remaining five member countries has its own monarch as head of state. The Queen is also the head of each of Australia’s six states, and she is represented in Australia b... Read more...