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  • Use of social media by MPs in the Chamber

    Posted 24/09/2014 by Brenton Holmes
    Inside Parliament House, Canberra

    On 12 March 2013, the then Manager of Opposition Business (Christopher Pyne MP) asked Speaker Anna Burke to make a ruling on a tweet by Member for Bendigo, Steve Gibbons during question time, asking for the Member to withdraw. Mr Gibbons had tweeted:

    @SteveGibbonsMP ‘Looks like @tonyabbottmhr has contracted out his nasty side to interjectors in the public gallery. A new low even for the Libs!’.

    Mr Gibbons had tweeted this after two people had been ejected from the public gallery in succession, for interjecting during Question Time.

    The following day Speaker Anna Burke responded, stating that it was outside her role and responsibilities to monitor private communications or the use of social media ‘when it is thought that they have come from the chamber’.

     

     

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    TAGS: social media, Members of Parliament

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  • Scotland votes to remain with the United Kingdom

    Posted 22/09/2014 by Brenton Holmes

    The question on the ballot paper was a simple one: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ ...  The answer from Scottish voters was ‘No’: 55 per cent against independence, 45 per cent in favour.

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    TAGS: Scottish referendum

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  • More funding for early childhood education: an update

    Posted 16/09/2014 by Marilyn Harrington
    The Government has announced that it will provide $406 million for the continuation of support for universal access to early childhood (preschool) education in the year before full-time schooling in 2015. This is the same level of funding that was provided for 2014 in the 2013–14 Budget. There is also a new condition placed on the funding; namely, that state and territory governments use the universal access funding to also fund preschool services provided in long day care centres (LDCs). ... Read more...

    TAGS: early childhood education

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  • Malaysia: beyond the sound bites

    Posted 16/09/2014 by Geoff Wade

    Bilateral discussions during the Prime Minister’s recent flying visit to Malaysia apparently centred on the two Malaysian Airlines flights—MH370 and MH17—and the ‘deeper relationship’ the two tragedies have forged between Australia and Malaysia. Mr Abbott thanked his host, Prime Minister Najib Razak, by saying ‘I could not have asked for a wiser or a stronger friend and counsellor in these tough and difficult times’.

    The flexibility which diplomatic cant allows—indeed requires—makes Mr Abbott’s comments understandable in the current global circumstances. However, this sound-bite endorsement of Malaysia’s leadership obscures much about the very volatile domestic environment, political exigencies and social dislocation that exist within Malaysia today.

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  • Say that again: Iraq and the terrorist threat

    Posted 4/09/2014 by Nigel Brew
    On 1 September 2014, the Prime Minister delivered in parliament a Statement on Iraq in which he condemned the ongoing violence and outlined the next phase of the Government’s humanitarian intervention. However, in declaring that would-be terrorists ‘don’t hate us for what we do; but for who we are and for how we live’, Mr Abbott has revived a key element of the Howard Government refrain from over 10 years ago that Australia’s involvement in the US-led ‘War on Terror’ and the conflict in Iraq did not make Australia more of a terrorist target. Read more...

    TAGS: Middle East; national security; terrorism

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  • Unknown costs a challenge for the class of 2014

    Posted 1/09/2014 by Carol Ey

    As universities around the country hold Open Days, and closing dates for applications for 2015 entry loom, spare a thought for this year’s crop of Year 12 students. Not only do they have the usual challenges of deciding what course they want to do, and considering what Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) they might get, they also have no idea how much a university course might cost them.

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    TAGS: higher education, Higher Education Loan Program, HECS

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  • Review of the Renewable Energy Target released

    Posted 29/08/2014 by Alex St John
    Model Wind Turbine Farm, Copenhagen, Denmark
    tsaiproject / flickr
    The expert panel, set up to review the Renewable Energy Target (RET), has released its final report. The Government commissioned the review in February 2014, in the wake of the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, arguing that the RET was placing ‘upward pressure on power prices’. The report provides several options to Government for making changes to the Renewable Energy Target scheme, which include abolishing parts of the scheme and grandfathering others. So what are the proposals, and what is their impact? Read more...

    TAGS:

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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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