FlagPost

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

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‘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 an inkblot—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...

Changes to the Foreign Investment Review Board tax conditions

In February 2014, Treasurer Joe Hockey stated that the tax affairs of foreign investors would be taken into account when foreign investment proposals were considered by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). In February 2016, the Government announced that conditions aimed at ensuring ‘multinational companies investing in Australia pay tax here on what they earn’ would be applied by the FIRB to foreign investment proposals. Following consultations between Treasury, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and industry, in May 2016 the Government revised the tax conditions that will apply to certain foreign investment proposals. The revised conditions addressed concerns raised by... Read more...

Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission refuses access to union membership records

On 11 May 2016, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) overturned the FWC General Manager's (GM) decision to authorise two FWC employees to inspect the membership records of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) for the purposes of aiding an investigation by the Office of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate (FWBII). The Full Bench held that the GM’s decision was an invalid exercise of the power conferred by the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (FWRO Act). Background Section 348 of the FWRO Act allows the GM to issue a certificate that states whether a person is a member of a specified organisation, and sets out the legal effect of ... 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...

Reducing Red Tape in the public service 1: committees and the Senate

'This needs a sledgehammer,' I declared. 'We must cut through the red tape.' ... Bernard piped up again. 'You can't cut tape with a sledgehammer, it would just...' and then he made a sort of squashing gesture. Rather than Jim Hacker’s sledgehammer in Yes, Minister,  the recommendations of a recent review of Red Tape in the Commonwealth public service evoke the accuracy and precision of a scalpel. The vast majority of the review’s 134 recommendations can be implemented administratively within the public service. However, full implementation of about 10 per cent of the recommendations will require action by the Parliament. This FlagPost provides summary information about recom... Read more...

Tertiary education providers—more regulation for some and less regulation for others

In the last sitting week of Parliament for the year, the Government changed regulatory requirements for tertiary education providers with the passage of the Education Services for Overseas Students (Streamlining Regulation) Bill 2015, and the Higher Education Support Amendment (VET FEE-HELP Reform) Bill 2015. It is timely to take stock of Australia’s fragmented approach to the regulation of the tertiary education sector. Read more...

The National Food Plan: food policy or something else?

The Australian Government released the National Food Plan White Paper (the Paper) on 25 May 2013. At the time the then Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said ‘For the first time, Australia’s food businesses and consumers have a road map for the future…’ The Paper, however, is not about food for Australians; it has minimal focus on what Australians eat, or food processing in Australia. It is more an export plan, particularly for Australian producers.What’s in the National Food Plan White Paper?In 2010 the Government said the National Food Plan would better integrate food policy by looking at the food supply chain from paddock to plate.The Paper makes 16 recommendations for food... Read more...

Government’s approach to policy development criticised in formal review

On 11 October 2012, the Government released the Independent Review of the Australian Government’s Regulatory Impact Analysis Process and its preliminary response. The Review provides a broad overview of the Government’s current policy development processes.The Review was conducted by Mr David Borthwick AO PSM and Mr Robert Milliner, and took aim at many facets of the Government’s policy development processes, including the public service, ministers, and adherence to Cabinet processes. It made 14 recommendations.The regulation impact analysis process mostly takes the form of the preparation of Regulatory Impact Statements (RISs) for inclusion with Cabinet Submissions in order to inform Cabi... Read more...

Australia New Zealand Therapeutics Agency - possible challenges ahead?

 One of the announcements coinciding with the Prime Minister of New Zealand’s visit to Australia was the establishment of the Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency. This will be a joint agency that regulates therapeutic goods, replacing the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia and Medsafe in New Zealand (NZ). Implementation will be progressive with ‘information sharing’ to commence from July 2011. It is expected the new agency will be fully operational within five years. It will be accountable to both governments.This proposal is not new. From 2003 to 2007 the Australian and NZ governments engaged in ongoing negotiations about the establishm... Read more...

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