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

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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...

Proposed travel restrictions for registered child sex offenders

Senator Derryn Hinch came to the Senate following the 2016 election, with a dedication to act on what he termed “human vermin”: Australia’s child sex offenders. In his first speech, Senator Hinch said that he wanted ‘to do something tangible to end Australia’s paedophiles’ involvement in the repugnant sex trade in Asia’. The Law, Crime and Community Safety Council (consisting of justice, policing and emergency management Ministers across all jurisdictions, including New Zealand)  agreed in October 2016 to form a Working Group to consider gaps in the existing legislation and in May 2017 agreed to continue to work together on proposals to implemen... Read more...

Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority

In the wake of the recent parliamentary entitlements controversy that culminated in the resignation of Health Minister Sussan Ley, on 13 January 2017 Prime Minister Turnbull announced the establishment of an independent parliamentary expenses authority to administer and oversee the work expenses of parliamentarians, including ministers. He indicated that the model used by the United Kingdom (UK) would provide the direction for the new independent authority. This post provides a brief overview of the UK model—the statutory Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). Read more...

Reducing Red Tape in the public service 2: legislation

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. Read more...

Could people stripped of their Australian citizenship be immediately removed from Australia?

The desired outcome of the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 is ‘to ensure the safety and security of Australia and its people and to ensure the community of Australian citizens is limited to those who continue to retain an allegiance to Australia’. But is automatic loss of citizenship necessarily the end of the line for those in Australia who are deemed to have repudiated their allegiance to Australia and will they thus be put on the next plane out? One might be surprised to learn that technically, there is nothing in the Migration Act 1958 preventing their removal from Australia, not even if they are entitled to challenge the loss of their cit... Read more...

Resignations of Speakers

The resignation of the Hon Bronwyn Bishop MP as Speaker of the House of Representatives on 2 August 2015 is the ninth resignation of a Speaker since 1901, and the third such resignation since 2011. There have been 31 Speakers since Federation. The election of a new Speaker by the House of Representatives when Parliament resumes on 10 August 2015 will take the total to 32. Section 35 of the Australian Constitution provides that the House of Representatives must choose a member to be Speaker ‘before proceeding to the despatch of any other business’. Under section 3 of the Parliamentary Presiding Officers Act 1965 (Cth), a Speaker who resigns the office is deemed to continue as... Read more...

Cancellation of Australian citizenship built on shaky foundations?

Whether dual nationals or citizens who engage in terrorist activity should be stripped of their Australian citizenship is unlikely to be the focus of extensive discussion when Parliament resumes after its winter recess. That is because both sides of politics appear to broadly agree that they should. Rather, it is the breadth and mechanics of the three new cessation provisions (automatically triggered when a person either engages in prescribed conduct, serves or fights for a terrorist organisation, or is convicted of certain offences) contained in the Government’s Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 that is likely to generate considerable debate, and if ... Read more...

First time former opposing state/territory leaders in the same 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...

United Kingdom 2015 Election: some Australian comparisons

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. Read more...

Image in collection of National Library of Australia : sourceWikimedia Commons

International Women's Day 2015

With the theme ‘Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!’, International Women’s Day 2015 was celebrated internationally on 8 March with thousands of events to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. This Flagpost documents the current state of play of female participation in Australian state and federal politics, and how Australia compares internationally. According to Australian Parliamentary Library data (as of February 2015) Australian parliaments (Commonwealth and State) are 30.9 per cent female, compared to 29.4 per cent in February 2014. The highest proportion of women is in the Victorian Parliament, which is composed of 37.5... Read more...

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