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  • Turkey: from bad to worse

    Posted 26/07/2016 by Renee Westra

    The Turkish Government’s ongoing response to the 15 July coup will almost certainly exacerbate, rather than address, the significant problems it has been facing in recent years. Turkey’s Kurdish issue, the threat from Islamic State, Syrian refugees and its increasingly polarised society are key challenges for Turkey, as are its tumultuous foreign relationships. And these challenges will only be compounded by the inevitable divisions within the military following the failed coup and Erdoğan’s now-widespread efforts to purge the country of any opposition.


    TAGS: Turkey, Middle East, Australian foreign policy, Syria

  • How might a Trump presidency affect Australia?

    Posted 29/06/2016 by Stephen Fallon

    The US Republican Party is poised to nominate Donald Trump as its candidate for the November 2016 presidential election. Trump has no previous experience of governing, no record of military service and has evinced little interest in policy details. He has, however, suggested that Muslims should be prohibited from entering America, that Japan and South Korea should consider developing nuclear weapons, and praised authoritarian leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. These compliments have been reciprocated, illustrating that Trump is no ordinary candidate. Given its close strategic relationship with America, it is timely to assess what a Trump presidency might mean for Australia.


    TAGS: international relations, ANZUS, Australian foreign policy, US presidential election

  • A new way to set up a Commonwealth organisation

    Posted 29/06/2016 by Philip Hamilton
    Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, section 87, corporate Commonwealth entities
    Parliamentary Library

    On 1 July 2016, two new corporate Commonwealth entities (CCEs) will be established: the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) and Old Parliament House (OPH). While their functions will differ greatly, they will be the first CCEs established using a mechanism that became available in July 2014 under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act).

    The new mechanism enables CCEs to be established (and abolished) by means of disallowable legislative instruments made by the Minister for Finance, rather than by Acts as has generally been the case previously.


    TAGS: Australian Public Service, governance, public service reform

  • Changes to the Foreign Investment Review Board tax conditions

    Posted 10/06/2016 by Jaan Murphy
    In February 2014, Treasurer Joe Hockey stated that the tax affairs of foreign investors would be taken into account when foreign investment proposals were considered by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). In February 2016, the Government announced that conditions aimed at ensuring ‘multinational companies investing in Australia pay tax here on what they earn’ would be applied by the FIRB to foreign investment proposals. Following consultations between Treasury, the Australia... Read more...

    TAGS: regulation, taxation, Australian economy

  • A smaller ‘Indo-Pacific’: more detail on Australia’s 2015–16 aid cuts

    Posted 24/05/2016 by Cameron Hill
    In the wake of further reductions to Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) programs in the 2016–17 Budget, recent government responses to Questions on Notice (QoN) from Senate Additional Estimates hearings reveal more about where previous cuts have been applied. Read more...

    TAGS: ODA, Australian foreign policy, Asia

  • Less Bangkok, more Geneva? Security cooperation, human rights and Australia–Thailand relations

    Posted 16/05/2016 by Cameron Hill
    In the same week that Australia co-hosted regional peacekeeping exercises with the Thai military, which seized power in a May 2014 coup, it also raised concerns at a United Nations (UN) review about the worsening human rights situation in Thailand. This comes at a time when Thailand’s ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is alleging that a Thai woman has committed royal defamation, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in jail under the country’s strict lèse majesté law, by failing to reprimand her son for a Facebook message he sent her. In December 2015, a Thai man was charged for allegedly insulting the King’s dog. Read more...

    TAGS: Foreign affairs, Defence, Australian foreign policy, Human rights

  • The 25th Anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody

    Posted 15/04/2016 by James Haughton

    The 15th of April 2016 marks 25 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its final report, which set many directions in current Indigenous policy. The commission was established in 1987 by the Hawke government, and examined 99 Indigenous deaths in custody between 1 January 1980 and 31 May 1989. The key finding of the Royal Commission was that the deaths were due to the combination of police and prisons failing their duty of care, and the high numbers of Indigenous people being arrested and incarcerated. Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoners did not have different death rates. 


    TAGS: Indigenous, Indigenous Australians, human rights, law enforcement, royal commission, crime, prisons, police, deaths in custody, domestic violence

  • 2016—a big year for Laos

    Posted 9/03/2016 by Cameron Hill

    This year will be an important year for the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR).  Laos is among Asia’s smallest and poorest nations, but is also one of the world’s fastest growing economies.  In January, the communist Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP), from which the country’s secretive ruling elite is drawn, completed its tenth party congress and chose Mr Bounnhang Vorachit, 78, as its new leader.  


    TAGS: Foreign affairs, Southeast Asia, ASEAN, Australian foreign policy

  • Reducing Red Tape in the public service 2: legislation

    Posted 21/12/2015 by Philip Hamilton

    The recent Belcher Red Tape review made 134 recommendations. This second FlagPost on the Red Tape review provides summary information about recommendations likely to require legislative amendments.


    TAGS: Australian Public Service, public service reform, accountability, regulation, Parliament, administrative law

  • Reducing Red Tape in the public service 1: committees and the Senate

    Posted 21/12/2015 by Philip Hamilton

    'This needs a sledgehammer,' I declared. 'We must cut through the red tape.' ... Bernard piped up again. 'You can't cut tape with a sledgehammer, it would just...' and then he made a sort of squashing gesture.

    Rather than Jim Hacker’s sledgehammer in Yes, Minister,  the recommendations of a recent review of Red Tape in the Commonwealth public service evoke the accuracy and precision of a scalpel. The vast majority of the review’s 134 recommendations can be implemented administratively within the public service. However, full implementation of about 10 per cent of the recommendations will require action by the Parliament. This FlagPost provides summary information about recommendations that will require consideration by a parliamentary committee or the Senate; a separate FlagPost discusses recommendations that will require legislative amendment.

    TAGS: Australian Public Service, public service reform, accountability, regulation, Senate,

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