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  • Where to for income management?

    Posted 25/06/2015 by Don Arthur

    Patrick McClure’s February 2015 report on welfare reform urged a cautious approach to the expansion of income management, arguing that it should be used ‘judiciously’ and recommending that any changes should be informed by evaluations.

    The evaluation research released so far suggests that income management is most effective when it is voluntary or is applied to participants after considering their individual circumstances. However experience shows that assessing clients individually is time consuming and costly and that relying on volunteers limits numbers. Both could prevent the scheme achieving economies of scale.

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    TAGS: income management,

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  • Highest levels of global forced displacement on record—World Refugee Day 20 June 2015

    Posted 22/06/2015 by Janet Phillips

    On World Refugee Day—celebrated on 20 June every year—the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports on global displacement trends using data collected over the previous calendar year. This time last year the UNHCR reported that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide had exceeded 50 million people for the first time since World War II. This year, in its publication Global Trends 2014, the UNHCR is reporting the highest levels of displacement on record—59.5 million people (19.5 million refugees, 38.2 million internally displaced people and 1.8 million asylum seekers).

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    TAGS: refugees, asylum seekers

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  • The vulnerability of Native Title?

    Posted 19/06/2015 by Kirsty Magarey

    Queensland v Congoo [2015] HCA 17, a recent High Court case, has implications for Native Title holders throughout the country.  It may also have implications for the High Court’s management of cases with an even number of judges.

    Recent changes in personnel within the High Court have led to a number of decisions being made with a bench of six, rather than the full seven, judges.  This has in turn led to some decisions being made with a 3:3 split.  In such cases, under section 23 of the Judiciary Act 1903, the decision being appealed from is left intact. The resulting judgments may be referred to as having a ‘statutory majority’, which offers less precedential value than a traditional, numerical majority. 

    While the existence of a statutory majority in the Congoo case makes the lessons we can learn from it more precarious, the judgments still offer illumination. Thus Congoo provides an understanding of Native Title as a more robust form of title that can survive particular forms of temporary occupation.

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    TAGS: High Court; Indigenous; Indigenous Australians; Native Title

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  • First time former opposing state/territory leaders in the same chamber

    Posted 17/06/2015 by Simon Speldewinde
    Senate chamber
    Gallagher’s appointment marks the first time since Federation (despite the numerous State and Territory politicians who have moved into federal politics over time) that a Premier or Chief Minister has faced their former adversary—the opposition leader during their time in office—in the same Chamber during the same Parliament. Read more...

    TAGS: Parliament, Senate, ACT

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  • The Department of Immigration: from building the nation to managing the border

    Posted 12/06/2015 by Harriet Spinks
    Department of Immigration and Border Protection

    On 1 July 2015 the Australian Border Force (ABF) will commence operations within the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, which will formally merge with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service on the same date. This will be the culmination of an integration process begun by the Abbott Government almost immediately upon taking office, when responsibility for customs and border protection was moved from the Attorney-General’s portfolio to the Immigration portfolio. The creation of the ABF, which was announced in the 2014–15 Budget, also marks a key milestone in the process of change which has seen the Department of Immigration shift its focus from nation building and migrant settlement, towards a greater emphasis on border security.

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    TAGS: immigration,

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  • Aboriginal advantage: an insider look at an Aboriginal community

    Posted 9/06/2015 by Fiona Caldwell
    Dr Lawrence Bamblett
    In his National Reconciliation Week lecture to the Parliamentary Library, Dr Lawrence Bamblett, Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, proposed an alternative way of understanding life in Aboriginal communities through the concept of Aboriginal advantage. He declared, ‘You can all do a lot to help us by changing the way that you talk about us’. Dr Bamblett’s academic, teaching and community development work explores relati... Read more...

    TAGS: Indigenous Australians, Indigenous education

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  • Norfolk Island: new legal and governance arrangements

    Posted 2/06/2015 by Cathy Madden

    Norfolk Island: new legal and governance arrangements

    On 14 May 2015 the Australian Parliament passed the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 and seven related Bills which, from 1 July 2016, will change the legal and governance framework for Norfolk Island (NI) and extends certain Australian health, welfare, taxation, quarantine and immigration services to the Island.

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    TAGS: Norfolk Island, External Territories

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  • Electing the party leader – recent events in Australia and the UK

    Posted 22/05/2015 by Deirdre McKeown

    Over the last few weeks, in Australia and the UK, political parties have been dealing with leadership changes. This FlagPost looks at the systems used by those Australian and UK political parties to install their leaders.

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    TAGS: political parties, leadership, United Kingdom

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  • United Kingdom 2015 Election: some Australian comparisons

    Posted 13/05/2015 by Rob Lundie

    At the 2013 federal election, Australia returned from a ‘hung’ parliament to the historically more usual situation whereby either Labor or the Coalition holds an absolute majority of seats in the House of Representatives. The United Kingdom general election on 7 May 2015 also saw a move from a ‘hung’ parliament, where the Conservatives were in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, to one where the Conservatives will be able to govern in their own right—the first outright majority for the Conservatives since 1992.

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    TAGS: elections, election results, Parliament, United Kingdom, UK Parliament

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  • Impact of emerging technologies on Australia's future submarine

    Posted 12/05/2015 by Stephen Fallon

    The debate about Australia’s future submarine has focused on who will build it and where it will be constructed. In contrast, the environment in which it will operate has barely been addressed. It is anticipated that the submarine will enter service at some point in the early-to-mid 2030s as the Collins class is phased out, and will be expected to operate for around three decades. However, given that recent analyses of technological trends suggest that undersea warfare (USW) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) may change dramatically during this timeframe, is Australia’s future submarine destined to become quickly obsolete? 

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  • Russia in the Region

    Posted 8/05/2015 by Geoff Wade

    Beyond the attention assigned to the arrival of Russian naval vessels in the Coral Sea coincident with the G20 meeting in Brisbane in November last year, there has been little public scrutiny of Russia’s recent activities in the Asia-Pacific, and particularly in Southeast Asia.

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  • Is Australia any closer to returning failed asylum seekers to Iran?

    Posted 30/04/2015 by Elibritt Karlsen
    Australian Customs Vessel ACV30 Botany Bay returns to Stokes Hill Wharf
    Ken Hodge [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
    On 18 April 2015, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, travelled to Iran to discuss the involuntary return of Iranian nationals who have unsuccessfully sought asylum in Australia. Though her visit was touted as being significant because she was the first Australian Minister to visit Iran in 12 years, it appears on the issue of returnees, her visit did no more than pave the way for further discussions on the issue—and at a lower level.  However, discussions between the two... Read more...

    TAGS: Refugees, asylum, immigration

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  • Increased official development assistance (ODA) for Manus Province

    Posted 30/04/2015 by Ravi Tomar

    Australia’s planned development assistance for Manus Province under the Partnership for Development (2012–15) was expected to be approximately $15 million. However, according to a recent update released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 20 March 2015 (Economic and Development Benefits to PNG of the Regional Resettlement Arrangement), Australia is now providing additional assistance of about $38 million, despite a shrinking overall aid budget.

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    TAGS: aid, Papua New Guinea

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  • Australia’s anti-money laundering report card: Could do better

    Posted 28/04/2015 by Dianne Heriot
    On 21 April, the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) released a Mutual Evaluation Report assessing the effectiveness of Australia’s anti-money-laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CTF) measures. Established in 1989, FATF is an inter-governmental body responsible for setting and monitoring compliance with international standards for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism and of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Australia, Belgium, Norway and Spai... Read more...

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  • Emissions reduction fund finally springs into (direct) action

    Posted 28/04/2015 by Alex St John

    The Clean Energy Regulator has announced the results of the first auction of carbon abatement contracts from the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), part of the Abbott Government’s Direct Action Plan climate change policy. The regulator announced that the Government has committed to buy emissions abatement totalling 47.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (Mt CO2-e), at an average price of $13.95 per tonne, over the next three to ten years. This undoubtedly represents a successful first auction for the ERF, but what does it mean for the future?

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    TAGS: emissions reduction fund; climate change

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