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

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Known unknowns about the same sex marriage survey

Following its failure to reintroduce the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016 to the Senate Notice Paper, the Government has directed the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to conduct a survey of all electors ‘about whether the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry’. In the absence of enabling legislation, and with no historical precedent of the ABS running a national survey of all electors, there remain many unanswered questions as to how the vote will proceed, both in terms of law and logistics. Read more...

Voluntary postal poll on same-sex marriage

On 8 August 2017 the Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, announced that the Government would be re-introducing its 2016 legislation for a compulsory plebiscite on same-sex marriage (the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016). The Minister also stated that, should the Bill again fail to pass the Parliament, the Government will conduct a ‘voluntary postal plebiscite’ on same-sex marriage for Australians on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll, with results by 15 November 2017. On 9 August 2017 the Government’s motion to bring the Bill before the Senate failed, and Minister Cormann subsequently indicated that the Government will proceed with the postal po... Read more...

The departures continue: constitutional disqualification from Parliament

Western Australian Green Scott Ludlam and Queensland Green Larissa Waters are now the third and fourth senators to have left the Senate since the last election due to ineligibility. Prior to the current term of Parliament, only five parliamentarians had ever lost their seats due to Constitutional eligibility reasons. Read more...

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...

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