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

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Foreign political donations

Recently the subject of political donations from foreign interests has received considerable attention. The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (CEA) regulates donations to political parties and candidates. It does not distinguish between donors from Australia or overseas, or (effectively) between donors who are Australian citizens, non-citizens or organisations (there are certain provisions relating to donations and corporate insolvency, for example, which do not apply to individuals). The CEA requires parties and candidates to know the name and address of a donor if the donation is more than the disclosure threshold (currently $13,200), and for donors and parties to submit an annual return at... Read more...

Theresa May becomes the United Kingdom's second female prime minister

On 13 July 2016 Conservative Theresa May became the UK’s 76th prime minister. Ms May is the second female prime minister of the UK, the first being Margaret Thatcher, who governed from 1979 to 1990. Elevation to prime minister Ms May’s elevation comes after the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron. Mr Cameron flagged his intention to step down as Prime Minister in the wake of the UK’s vote, in a referendum on 23 June 2016, to withdraw from the European Union (EU). During the referendum campaign Ms May advocated for the UK to stay inside the EU, but has subsequently committed to guide the country through its exit (a process referred to as the ‘Brexit’). In... Read more...

Electing the party leader – recent events in Australia and the UK

Over the last few weeks, in Australia and the UK, political parties have been dealing with leadership changes. This FlagPost looks at the systems used by those Australian and UK political parties to install their leaders. Read more...

It's my party

In the last few months two sitting senators have announced that they are registering their own political parties (the Jacqui Lambie Network and John Madigan’s Manufacturing and Farming Party). Far from being an act of narcissism, doing this is implicitly encouraged by Australia’s electoral legislation. Read more...

Big changes to Queensland’s electoral laws

On 22 May 2014 the Electoral Reform Amendment Bill 2013 was passed in the Queensland Legislative Assembly, amending the Electoral Act 1992 (Qld). Changes effected by the legislation include: a deep cut to taxpayer funding to political parties for campaign and related purposes increasing the percentage of votes parties or independents must attract to receive public funding  from four per cent to six per cent raising the threshold at which donations must be declared from $1,000 to $12,400 which is more in line with Federal electoral law removing the limit on what can be spent on election campaigning in each electorate the publication on the Electoral Commi... Read more...

Electing the party leader

On 8 July 2013, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced proposed changes to the way in which the Australian Labor Party elects its leader. The changes included votes by the party membership and votes by the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party (FPLP), weighted at 50% each, and processes for when and how a leader can be challenged and the amount of Caucus support needed to mount a challenge to the leader. The special meeting of Caucus on 22 July 2013 endorsed the proposals but agreed that a petition challenging the leader should require 60% Caucus support rather than the 75% proposed by Rudd. It was also agreed that, in the period between the federal election and the ALP election of its leade... Read more...

Women in Australian Parliaments

  A new Background Note, Representation of Women in Australian Parliaments, published by the Parliamentary Library to coincide with International Women's Day, reveals that there are currently more women parliamentarians in the Senate than at any other time since Federation. However, despite occupying several high-profile roles, women are still significantly under-represented in Australian parliaments, comprising less than one-third of all parliamentarians and occupying less than one-quarter of all ministry positions. In addition, whilst the number of women in the Senate reached its highest point after the 2010 Commonwealth election, the number of women in the House of Representatives dec... Read more...

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