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

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(Almost) everything you need to know about double dissolution elections

 Following the Senate’s rejection of the Building and Construction Industry bills on 18 April 2016, the Prime Minister announced on 19 April that he intended to advise the Governor-General to dissolve both houses of Parliament under powers provided by section 57 of the Australian Constitution, thus precipitating the first double dissolution election in 29 years (the last double dissolution election was in July 1987). The Prime Minister said that he expects the election to be held on 2 July 2016. Read more...

So you’ve been prorogued – Common questions answered

On 21 March 2016 the Prime Minister wrote to the Governor-General to ask the Governor-General to prorogue Parliament on Friday 15 April and summon Parliament to sit again on Monday 18 April 2016. This Flagpost examines what proroguing means for the operation of the Parliament and the possible implications for the Senate’s consideration of certain Bills. Read more...

High Court rules on ACMA powers

The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) has the power to determine whether a licensee has committed a criminal offence when deciding whether to bring enforcement action, according to a High Court ruling. Read more...

Legislation and the financial initiative: what happened to the Opposition amendments to the Carbon Tax Repeal Bills?

The Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 and other related Bills passed the House of Representatives on 21 November 2013 with no amendments. While this is not an unusual occurrence, what is notable is that Opposition amendments to the package of bills were not debated during the consideration-in-detail stage.The Speaker, the Hon. Bronwyn Bishop, made a ruling prior to the commencement of the consideration-in-detail stage of the Bills, that the amendments could contravene standing orders 179(a) and 179(b):179. Taxation proposals initiated by Minister(a) Only a Minister may initiate a proposal to impose, increase, or decrease a tax or duty, or change the scope of any charge. ... Read more...

Another step towards referendum on Constitutional recognition of local government

On 24 January 2013 the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government recommended in its preliminary report that a referendum on the financial recognition of local government be held in conjunction with the 2013 federal election. The Committee was established in late 2012 to build on the work done by the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government, specifically to inquire into ‘financial recognition of local government', the majority finding of the Expert Panel, to assess the likelihood of success for such recognition through a referendum, the consequences of recognition for local, state and territory governments, as well as whether and when a ref... Read more...

110th anniversary of the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902

Tuesday 12 June 2012 marks the 110th anniversary of the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902, the law that granted most Australian women the right to vote, and therefore to stand, in Commonwealth elections. The Act stated that ‘all persons not under twenty-one years of age whether male or female married or unmarried’ would be entitled to vote in Commonwealth elections. It excluded Indigenous men and women, unless they were eligible to vote under state laws in accordance with Section 41 of the Australian Constitution. Across Australia, women voted for the first time in the second Commonwealth election held on 16 December 1903. Women in South Australia (who were granted voting rights in 1895) and W... Read more...

Local government: the road to Constitutional recognition

As part of the agreements to form government in September 2010, the ALP committed to advancing constitutional recognition of local government, including holding a referendum during the 43rd Parliament or at the next election.An independent Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Local Government was appointed in April 2011 by the federal government. Headed by NSW Chief Justice the Hon. James Spigelman AC QC, the panel circulated a discussion paper and conducted community consultation releasing their final report on 22 December 2011. This post will discuss findings and conclusions from the panel's final report.The panel considered four types of recognition; symbolic recognition, democra... Read more...

Queen's visit revives republican debate

The recent trip to Australia by Queen Elizabeth II marked her 16th visit since 1954, when she was the first reigning British monarch to make the journey. The Queen is the Head of State of the United Kingdom and holds the symbolic position as Head of the Commonwealth. She is currently Head of State in 16 of the 54 Commonwealth member countries including Australia. Thirty-three Commonwealth countries (including the Fiji Islands which was suspended from the Commonwealth in 2009) have a republican form of government. Each of the remaining five member countries has its own monarch as head of state. The Queen is also the head of each of Australia’s six states, and she is represented in Australia b... Read more...

Local government and the Commonwealth

A recent Parliamentary Library paper on Local government and the Commonwealth: an evolving relationship follows the historical development of this relationship and explores some contemporary issues such as constitutional recognition. Local governments in Australia have been established since the nineteenth century. Each state and the Northern Territory has a system of local government established under their respective legislation. The growth in local government activity since 1945 has encouraged local authorities to seek increasing subsidies from the Commonwealth government. Because local government is not mentioned in the Australian Constitution the Commonwealth government has generally be... Read more...

Constitutional recognition of Indigenous people

During the course of the election campaign both major parties made announcements about constitutional recognition of Indigenous people. The Coalition promised to hold a referendum at the 2013 election on the wording of a preamble in the Constitution to recognise Indigenous Australians, and the ALP promised to set up an expert panel to build support for the constitutional recognition of Indigenous people.   The agreement reached between the Greens and the Government following the election outlined that they would work together and with other parliamentarians to ‘hold referenda during the 43rd Parliament or at the next election on Indigenous constitutional recognition and recognition of local ... Read more...

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