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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Australia upgrades sanctions on North Korea

On 2 June 2017, while the United States continued to pressure China to act in restraining North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK), Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that she had designated five North Korean individuals for ‘targeted financial sanctions and travel bans because of their association with North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction or missiles programs’. Read more...

The 1967 Referendum

Saturday 27th of May marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum in which Australians voted overwhelmingly to amend the Constitution to allow the Commonwealth to make laws for Aboriginal people and include them in the census. The referendum put the following question to the Australian people: Do you approve the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled 'An Act to alter the Constitution so as to omit certain words relating to the people of the Aboriginal race in any state so that Aboriginals are to be counted in reckoning the population'? The proposed law (Constitution Alteration (Aboriginals) 1967) sought to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to make laws with r... Read more...

Bob Day found to be incapable of being chosen as a senator

On 5 April 2017 the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, handed down its decision in Re Day [No 2] [2017], HCA 14 regarding former South Australian Family First Senator Bob Day (Mr Day resigned from the Senate on 1 November 2016). The Court found that Mr Day was incapable of being chosen or sitting as a senator by reason of section 44(v) of the Australian Constitution, and ordered that the vacancy be filled by a recount.   Read more...

The ADF Gap Year: progress so far

On 22 March 2017, the Minister for Defence Personnel, Dan Tehan, announced that the 2018 ADF Gap Year program was open for applications, with positions available across the three services of Navy, Army and Air Force. The ADF Gap Year program was revived by the Abbott Government in April 2014, with the first intake commencing at the start of 2015. This article provides an update to the May 2014 Parliamentary Library publication, The Evolution of the Australian Defence Force Gap Year Program, by assessing the outcomes of the program after its first two years of operation.     Read more...

National Apology Day 2017

Today (13th of February) is National Apology Day, the anniversary of then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, delivering the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples, especially the Stolen Generations, on the 13th of February 2008. The Apology is now considered a defining moment in Australian history. This is a separate occasion from National Sorry Day, the anniversary of Bringing them Home: the Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families being tabled in parliament on the 26th of May 1997. This FlagPost covers government responses to Recommendation 5a of Bringing them Home, which recommended both apologies a... Read more...

Defence procurement from Indigenous enterprises

In late October 2016 the Australian Government issued a media release highlighting the ‘spectacular success’ of its Commonwealth Indigenous Procurement Policy (CIPP), established just over 12 months prior. The Department of Defence has played a key role in this policy achievement, through its high level of engagement with the program and its status as the government department with the highest level of procurements. Read more...

‘Stewardship’: buzzword, inkblot, or a new way to deliver human services?

The concept of ‘stewardship’ features in the Productivity Commission’s recent preliminary findings report on human services. Is stewardship just a buzzword, or is it a new way for governments to oversee client choice in the market-based delivery of human services? Or is stewardship like a Rorschach inkblot test—a poorly-defined collection of features onto which we project our own interpretations and assume that other stakeholders see what we see? This FlagPost discusses stewardship as it emerges in Australia, with reference to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and other areas of service delivery. Read more...

The gender composition of the 45th parliament

Following the 2016 election the total number of women in Parliament has risen slightly from 69 (31 per cent) to 73 (32 per cent). The number of women in the House of Representatives has risen to 43 (29 per cent), up from 40 (27 per cent) at the end of the 44th Parliament. The number of women in the Senate has increased by one since the end of the 44th Parliament to 30 senators (39 per cent). As is the case in many parliaments around the world, women remain significantly under-represented in the Australian parliament. The Australian figures are similar to those of comparable countries such as Canada, where women make up 29 percent of the parliament, and New Zealand, where women make up 31 per... Read more...

Turkey: from bad to worse

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.  Read more...

How might a Trump presidency affect Australia?

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. Read more...

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