Abstracts of Current Issues Briefs published 2000-01


Current Issues Briefs 2001-02
Outsourcing—For and Against [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 18 2000–01
Rose Verspaandonk, Politics and Public Administration Group
26 June 2001

Over the last decade there has been a substantial shift in the Commonwealth Government's approach to service provision. Whether a service is provided by government or to government, there is an increasing likelihood that a non-government organisation will play a role. This Paper provides an introduction to the major arguments that are used to support and criticise outsourcing. It covers issues such as efficiency, quality, accountability, industry development, corruption and more. (31 pages)

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Official Economic Forecasts—How Good are They? [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 17 2000–01
David Richardson, Economics, Commerce and Industrial Relations Group
26 June 2001

Official economic forecasts have come in for some criticism recently. This Paper examines the forecasting record in the Budget Papers since 1978. Economic growth tends to be underestimated on average. In addition the average forecast error is only slightly better than a forecaster would achieve using simple rules of thumb. The record for unemployment and inflation forecasts is also examined.(11 pages)

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Cholesterol Levels: Regaining Control [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 16 2000–01
Dr Rod Panter, Science, Technology, Environment and Resources Group
5 June 2001

The 2001–2002 Budget includes a provision for saving $103.9 million over the next four years on cholesterol-lowering drugs. This paper discusses options for government actions of a preventive nature in order to control blood cholesterol levels in the community while lessening dependence on drugs. Suggestions include updating dietary advice, establishing an official government body to advise on dietary matters, and extending nutrition labelling to food service outlets. (10 pages)

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Queensland Election 2001 [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 15 2000–01
Scott Bennett, Politics and Public Administration Group and Gerard Newman, Statistics Group
3 April 2001

The 2001 Western Australian and Queensland elections helped turn a time of apparent electoral calm into one of electoral volatility. In the West, Labor gained its largest haul of seats since the election of 1911, snatching office in a fashion that few commentators had believed likely. One week later, Queensland voters increased Labor's Legislative Assembly numbers to a level that equalled the party's best-ever result in that State. Even though Labor was thus handed two handsome victories, these elections continued the decline in support for major parties in Australia. These two elections, together with the by-election for the Commonwealth electorate of Ryan, have left parties and observers wondering what this might presage for the coming Commonwealth election. This CIB analyses Queensland, and comments upon Ryan. (30 pages)

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Western Australian Election 2001: Statistical Analysis [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 14 2000–01
Gerard Newman, Statistics Group
3 April 2001

This paper provides a statistical analysis of the recent Western Australian election. It is a companion paper to the recently published descriptive account of the election (Current Issues Brief No. 10 2000–01). (29 pages)

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Socioeconomic Indexes for Electoral Divisions (2000 Electoral Boundaries) [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 13 2000–01
Gerard Newman and Andrew Kopras, Statistics Group
3 April 2001

This paper ranks each Commonwealth Electoral Division on the basis of four summary indexes derived from the 1996 Census of Population and Housing. The paper updates a previous paper (Current Issues Brief No. 4 1998–99) for boundary changes resulting from the 1999–2000 redistributions in NSW, SA, WA, Tas and the NT. (19 pages)

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House of Representatives By-elections 1949–2001 [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 12 2000–01
Gerard Newman, Statistics Group
3 April 2001

The Australian Labor Party won the Ryan by-election with a two party preferred swing of 9.7 per cent. This compares with the average swing against the government of the day of 4.0 per cent in all by-elections since 1949. This paper provides details of all House of Representatives by-elections held since 1949. (27 pages)

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Medication for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): an Analysis by Federal Electorate [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 11 2000–01
Paul Mackey, Social Policy Group and Andrew Kopras, Statistics Group
3 April 2001

This paper presents and analyses data on the number of prescriptions dispensed under the Commonwealth-funded Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for dexamphetamine sulfate, a drug used to treat ADHD. Considerable differences are evident both between jurisdictions and between electorates. Analysis in the paper of a range of socioeconomic variables reveals that none, either singly or in combination, can consistently explain why such differences exist. The paper concludes that Australia has some way to go before achieving best practice in the prescribing of medication to treat ADHD. (23 pages)

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Western Australian Election 2001 [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 10 2000–01
Glenn Worthington, Politics and Public Administration Group
6 March 2001

One of the most notable features of the Western Australian election was the strong performance of minor party and independent candidates. This Current Issues Brief gives an account of the impact of minor parties and independents on the electoral landscape as well as major party policy. It examines whether the WA election has implications for the upcoming Federal election. (20 pages)

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US Presidential Election 2000 [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 9 2000–01
Scott Bennett, Politics and Public Administration Group
27 February 2001

The 2000 US Presidential election was one of the closest and most exciting on record, featuring exhaustive cross-country campaigning by the major party candidates, spoiling activity by a significant third party, a nail-biting count that brought into question the basic electoral arrangements, and the battles and confusion over the count in the fourth largest state of Florida. This Current Issues Brief gives a brief overview of these remarkable events, touching on the candidates, the campaigns, the controversy in Florida and the final result. It concludes that, although the political system survived the excitement with little difficulty, it is highly likely that many changes to the electoral arrangements will have been made by Presidential election 2004. (44 pages)

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The Detention of Boat People [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 8 2000–01
Adrienne Millbank, Social Policy Group
27 February 2001

Australia's policy of mandatory detention for 'unauthorised arrivals', and its administration, have become the focus of media scrutiny and parliamentary debate. This CIB describes the development of detention policy and practice in Australia, and compares detention policies and practices in the US, Canada, Sweden and the UK. It describes key differences in the immigration situations and cultures of these countries which might need to be kept in mind in any consideration of overseas models. (18 pages)

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The United States 2000 Elections: Implications for the Asia-Pacific [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 7 2000–01
Dr Frank Frost and Bruce Donald, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Group
5 December 2000

The 2000 US elections on 7 November have resulted in a contested result for the Presidency and a Congress finely balanced between both major parties. The paper provides a concise overview of key political and economic issues and implications for the Asia-Pacific region and for Australia. (17 pages)

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Middle East Crisis: Losing Control? [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 6 2000–01
Michael Ong, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Group
5 December 2000

This paper provides the background to the conflict. This is in part historical, in part religious and in part a product of inter-play of domestic politics. It also notes several changes in the landscape of conflict and questions whether the leaders may be losing control or may be able to overcome their own extremist supporters to achieve the elusive peace settlement. (18 pages)

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Dual Citizenship in Australia [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 5 2000–01
Adrienne Millbank, Social Policy Group
28 November 2000

The Government is currently considering a recommendation of the Australian Citizenship Council to repeal section 17 of the Australian Citizenship Act (1948), thereby in effect officially endorsing dual citizenship in Australia. (Section 17 requires Australian citizens travelling abroad who take out the citizenship of another country to relinquish their Australian citizenship.)

This paper sets out the arguments in favour of dual citizenship in Australia at the beginning of the new millennium, and looks at how arguments for and against dual citizenship in Australia have changed in their weight and focus over time. (14 Pages)

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Living Standards [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 4 2000–01
Tony Kryger, Statistics Group
3 October 2000

This Current Issues Brief looks at a range of economic and social indicators designed to assess changes in Australia's standard of living over the past twenty years. With individual indicators showing contrary movements the overall assessment depends on the relative importance attached to each indicator. (8 pages)

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1999-2000 Redistribution of Federal Electoral Boundaries [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 3 2000–01
Gerard Newman and Andrew Kopras, Statistics Group
5 September 2000

Redistributions of Commonwealth electoral boundaries in New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have now been completed. This Current Issues Brief provides an outline of the redistribution process and analyses the electoral consequences of the redistributions. The prospects of future redistributions are also discussed. (23 pages)

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The Government's Defence Policy Discussion Paper: Issues and Directions [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 2 2000–01
Derek Woolner, Gary Klintworth and Gary Brown, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Group
15 August 2000

The future of Australian defence policy is being considered in a public consultation process which will continue until early September. This paper discusses the relevance of Australia's strategic situation being far better than is generally conceded, outlines the constraints on significant changes of policy, estimates the extent of increases in the Budget that might be necessary and indicates the developments that have the power to really change the Australian Defence Force. (50 pages)

Aspects of this paper build on the findings of an earlier paper, Pressures on Defence Policy: The Defence Budget Crisis, Research Paper No. 20 1999–2000.

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Is West Papua Another Timor? [PDF format]
Current Issues Brief No. 1 2000–01
Dr June Verrier, Head, Information and Research Services
27 July 2000

This paper explains how West Papua differs from East Timor as an issue for both Indonesian and Australian policy makers. It explores a little known part of Australian involvement with the history of West New Guinea and suggests that the legacy includes both responsibilities—and risks—as its seeks to rebuild its relationship with Indonesia. (20 pages)

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