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  • ‘Diplomatic terrorism’: Palestinian statehood, the United Nations, and Australia’s voting record

    Posted 5/12/2014 by Marty Harris

    The issue of Palestinian statehood is once again before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). In September 2011, the Palestinian Authority submitted an application for full UN membership. Needing UNSC approval for such a bid, the application was eventually withdrawn or not fully pursued, under the public threat of a US veto. Now, with a new application possible, a look back at Australia’s voting record on this issue provides some hints as to how Australia might vote if an application for Palestinian United Nations membership is made before 31 December.

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    TAGS: Middle East,Australian foreign policy

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  • Voting online? Don’t count on it

    Posted 25/11/2014 by Philip Hamilton

    In the 2013 Federal Election, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) lost 1,370 ballot papers. Subsequent inquiries examined the selection of polling locations, the transport and storage of completed ballot papers, and the recruitment and training of temporary staff in short timeframes.

    The logistics are challenging, but are they necessary? We already do our banking and shopping online – why not voting?

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    TAGS: Australian Electoral Commission, election results, elections, voting, disability

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  • Still room for improvement at the Australian Electoral Commission

    Posted 24/11/2014 by Philip Hamilton

    The Federal Election of 7 September 2013 was notable in a number of respects, not least because the loss by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) of 1,370 ballot papers resulted in a new election for WA Senators being held on 5 April 2014.

    In the wake of the loss of ballot papers, the Auditor-General, Ian McPhee, committed to conducting three performance audits of the AEC, the first of which was tabled in May 2014. The second follow-up audit was tabled on 5 November 2014, with a finding that the AEC had not adequately addressed the recommendations of an audit in 2009–10.

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    TAGS: Australian Electoral Commission, election results, elections, voting

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  • Federal Court upholds the legality of the “joint” AFL-ASADA investigation into Essendon

    Posted 13/11/2014 by Jaan Murphy

    The ‘joint investigation’ by ASADA and the AFL into the potential use of prohibited substances was legal, the Federal Court decided. The 123 page judgment was handed down in September 2014, but has been appealed.

    Read more...

    TAGS: Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency, World Anti-Doping Agency, Sport, ASADA, Federal Court, WADA, ADRV

    Comments (0)
  • ABS Labour Force revisions: a botch job or short term pain for long term gain?

    Posted 20/10/2014 by Aaron Greenup

    Prior to releasing the September Labour Force Survey (LFS) results this month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) announced they were taking the unusual step of dropping the seasonally adjusted Labour Force estimates for July, August and September. Many users of the monthly survey results have since expressed concern about the quality and reliability of the estimates. Some of the commentary has suggested the recent issue with the estimates was due in part to budget cutbacks to the statistics agency. However, the recent volatility in the seasonally adjusted estimates is more likely to be associated with the changes the ABS has made to the LFS program rather than any budget pressures they are currently facing.

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    TAGS: Employment, Australian Bureau of Statistics, statistics

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  • Security arrangements in Afghanistan from 2015 and beyond

    Posted 8/10/2014 by Nicole Brangwin
    While the foreign military presence in Afghanistan continues to decline, the number of civilian casualties is on the rise. By the end of 2014, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will take full responsibility for security across the country when the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission comes to an end. A much reduced foreign military presence will remain in Afghanistan post-2014 and despite warnings anticipating increased threat levels from 2015–2017, the existing force of 352,000 ANSF personnel are expected to be reduced to 228,500 by the end of 2017—as agreed at the 2012 Chicago Summit. Read more...

    TAGS: Afghanistan, Australian Defence Force, NATO, United States

    Comments (0)
  • Access to and retention of internet 'metadata'

    Posted 18/08/2014 by Jaan Murphy

    On 5 August 2014, the Government announced its intention to update Australia’s telecommunication interception laws. This is part of broader efforts to enhance powers available to security agencies ‘to combat home-grown terrorism and Australians who participate in terrorist activities overseas’. This includes developing a mandatory ‘metadata’ retention system.

    Whilst having a period of mandatory metadata retention would be new, the collection of metadata by telecommunications companies and government access to it is not new and is governed by the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA).  Whilst the need for such a scheme was linked to combating terrorism, it is worth noting that Australian and European experience suggests that the most common law enforcement use of metadata will be in non-terrorism criminal cases.

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    TAGS: ASIO, Law Enforcement, Australian Federal Police, Australian Secret Intelligence Service, intelligence community

    Comments (0)
  • The Islamic Caliphate and Australia

    Posted 25/07/2014 by Wendy Bruere

    In June 2014, the Islamic State (IS) declared an Islamic Caliphate spanning the area from Syria’s Aleppo governorate in the west, to Iraq’s province of Diyala in the east. The area under IS control now covers up to one third of Iraq, including the city of Mosul, which previously had a strong Christian community, but who have now mostly been forced to flee.

    Read more...

    TAGS: Middle East, terrorism, terrorist groups, United Nations, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

    Comments (0)
  • Australia’s WTO plain cigarette packaging case: an update

    Posted 8/07/2014 by Jaan Murphy

    Australia is a respondent in five World Trade Organization (WTO) disputes regarding the introduction of the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 (TPPA). The disputes were commenced by Ukraine, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Indonesia (the Applicants).

    Read more...

    TAGS: World Trade Organization, Australia, public health, smoking, plain packaging, tobacco, cigarettes

    Comments (0)
  • The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013—consequential amendments

    Posted 25/06/2014 by Philip Hamilton

    On 1 July 2014, the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act) will implement a new financial management framework for the Commonwealth and Commonwealth entities. However, implementation of the PGPA framework requires the enactment of five Bills in June. The first of these was passed on 19 June 2014. The remaining four consequential and transitional Bills were introduced on 24 June and passed by the House of Representatives on 25 June.

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    TAGS: accountability, Australian Public Service, governance, public service reform, federal budget

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