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  • New restrictions on disability pensioners travelling overseas

    Posted 26/08/2014 by Michael Klapdor

    In the midst of heated debate over the Budget’s welfare reforms some significant measures have escaped the headlines, including new restrictions on Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients travelling overseas. The measures, proposed by the Social Services and Other Legislation (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014, will reduce the time disability pensioners can spend overseas from six-weeks at a time to four weeks in a 12-month period. A number of submissions to the Senate committee inquiry into the Bill, from individual DSP recipients and from welfare groups, took issue with the changes suggesting that DSP was being unfairly targeted and that the measures would increase red tape.

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    TAGS: disability, welfare policy, social security, pensions

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  • Concerns raised over Government disability payments scheme

    Posted 26/08/2014 by Luke Buckmaster
    The Senate is scheduled this week to debate legislation establishing a payment scheme for around 10,000 workers with intellectual disability whose wages were determined using a tool found by the Full Court of the Federal Court to be discriminatory. The use of tool, the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool (BSWAT), has long been contentious and the Government’s proposed BSWAT payment scheme is equally so. Background In 2012 the Full Court of the Federal Court decided (Nojin v Commonwea... Read more...

    TAGS: disability

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  • Social services budget bills propose major changes to welfare

    Posted 22/08/2014 by Luke Buckmaster
    The 2014-15 federal budget included proposals for major changes in the social services portfolio, including payments to the unemployed, aged, people with disability and families with children. With most of these measures being introduced through two large and complex pieces of social services legislation, there is likely to be some confusion about the changes being made and which changes are being introduced where. This FlagPost provides a brief outline of what is in each of the social services ... Read more...

    TAGS: social security, social services, welfare

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  • 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

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  • Targeting online predators: proposed changes to criminal law

    Posted 18/08/2014 by Genevieve Butler

    Fifty-year-old Gary Newman was sentenced to life in prison in 2010 for the brutal murder of 15-year-old Carly Ryan in 2007.

    However, Newman committed no crime in posing online as 18-year-old Brandon Kane in order to meet Carly.    

    Senator Nick Xenophon says that is a gap in the criminal law which he hopes to close with his Private Members Bill, the Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013.

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    TAGS: Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013, Criminal Law, sexual abuse, online grooming, sexual assault of minors

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  • The Forrest review and 'cashless welfare'

    Posted 15/08/2014 by Luke Buckmaster
    One of the more contentious elements in Andrew Forrest’s recent Indigenous Jobs and Training Review was the proposal for a for ‘cashless welfare’ system, provided through what he calls a ‘Healthy Welfare Card’. This FlagPost outlines key aspects of the proposal, highlighting where it differs from both the current income management system and Australia’s welfare arrangements in general. What is proposed? The Healthy Welfare Card would be based on the Basics C... Read more...

    TAGS: income management, welfare, indigenous Australians

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  • ACT Assembly to increase in size

    Posted 7/08/2014 by Brenton Holmes

    With bipartisan support, the ACT Assembly has passed two bills to increase representation of ACT citizens and enhance democracy in the Territory. The number of electorates will increase from three to five, with five members per electorate—a 5X5 model.

    Greens’ MLA Shane Rattenbury, said that the model ‘locks in the two old parties and makes it harder for smaller parties and independents to gain representation. I support a bigger Assembly - but one that encourages diversity and broader community representation, not one where democracy loses out’.

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    TAGS: elections, ACT Assembly

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  • Maintaining oversight of the Australian Intelligence Community

    Posted 4/08/2014 by Nigel Brew
    The Government’s announcement on 25 June 2014 that it would be introducing new national security legislation at the same time that it was actively moving to abolish the office of the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM) led to heightened concern and criticism, including from the Labor Opposition, that oversight of the Australian Intelligence Community was being eroded when it was arguably needed the most. On 16 July the Government reversed its decision to abolish the INSLM and the Opposition threw its support behind the new legislation. Read more...

    TAGS: national security

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  • Distributing GST revenue to the states: Where is the revenue raised and what is a ‘relativity’?

    Posted 30/07/2014 by Tarek Dale

    Discussions of the distribution of revenue from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to the Australian States and Territories often refer to the GST that a particular state ‘collects’, or GST raised in a particular state. These are actually references to ‘relativities’, a term which describes the portion of GST a state gets relative to an equal per-capita distribution. This flagpost outlines how the location of GST collection differs from the per-capita approach and ‘relativities’ that underlie the actual distribution of GST revenue.

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    TAGS: federal state relations

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  • 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.

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

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