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  • Milk prices: What’s really happening

    Posted 23/06/2016 by Rob Dossor
    In April and May 2016, Australia’s two largest dairy processors, Murray Goulburn (MG) and Fonterra retrospectively lowered the price they would pay their suppliers for milk. With effect from 1 July 2015 they would pay between $4.75 and $5.00 per kg of milk solids, down from $5.60 per kg. This has attracted much media attention, focusing on the plight of the affected dairy farmers. Commentators have offered suggestions to support the dairy farmers. Some, incorrectly assuming the c... Read more...

    TAGS: Rural and regional

  • Tiny plastics causing big problems in our oceans

    Posted 23/06/2016 by Emily Hanna

    There is growing concern over the problem of plastic pollution in the marine environment. Over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing 269,000 tons, are believed to be spread throughout the earth’s oceans. Plastics decay slowly and often travel far from their origin in ocean currents, leading to accumulation in the marine environment and even the remote oceans around Antarctica, which contain approximately 50,000 plastic particles per square kilometre. Larger plastic items tend to degrade into smaller plastics and can become ‘microplastics’ (generally classified as plastics smaller than 5mm in size). Primary microplastics, including microbeads, are manufactured deliberately.

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    TAGS: environment, marine pollution

  • Changes to the Foreign Investment Review Board tax conditions

    Posted 10/06/2016 by Jaan Murphy
    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 Australia... Read more...

    TAGS: regulation, taxation, Australian economy

  • On the pulse ‐ 2016 United Nations International Year of the Pulse

    Posted 30/05/2016 by Emma Knezevic

    Few might know, but the United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulse. What of it, you ask. And what is a pulse anyway?

     

    The (food‐related) term ‘pulse’ is used to describe the seeds of legumes. They include lentils, chickpeas, faba beans, broad beans, field peas and lupins. They are a traditional dietary staple in many parts of the world, and the main reason for the UN’s declaration is to highlight this food group’s potential ability to address global health, nutrition, food security and sustainability issues. Increases in production and consumption of pulses could provide a low cost source of nutrient‐ dense food for people in many parts of the world facing food shortages. There are significant potential environmental and health benefits associated with increasing consumption of pulses.

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    TAGS: food, nutrition, sustainability

  • A smaller ‘Indo-Pacific’: more detail on Australia’s 2015–16 aid cuts

    Posted 24/05/2016 by Cameron Hill
    In the wake of further reductions to Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) programs in the 2016–17 Budget, recent government responses to Questions on Notice (QoN) from Senate Additional Estimates hearings reveal more about where previous cuts have been applied. Read more...

    TAGS: ODA, Australian foreign policy, Asia

  • Future Fund: budget treatment

    Posted 20/05/2016 by Richard Webb

    Future Fund (FF) net earnings (gross earnings less associated costs) are currently excluded from the underlying cash balance measure of the budget outcome. This will change on 1 July 2020 when payments from the FF begin. Then, all FF expenses and earnings will be included in the underlying cash balance. The magnitude of the effect on the underlying cash balance will depend on the amounts paid from the FF and its earnings.

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

    Posted 19/05/2016 by Jaan Murphy
    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) ... Read more...

    TAGS: Fair Work Act, industrial relations, regulation, trade unions

  • Less Bangkok, more Geneva? Security cooperation, human rights and Australia–Thailand relations

    Posted 16/05/2016 by Cameron Hill
    In the same week that Australia co-hosted regional peacekeeping exercises with the Thai military, which seized power in a May 2014 coup, it also raised concerns at a United Nations (UN) review about the worsening human rights situation in Thailand. This comes at a time when Thailand’s ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is alleging that a Thai woman has committed royal defamation, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in jail under the country’s strict lèse majesté law, by failing to reprimand her son for a Facebook message he sent her. In December 2015, a Thai man was charged for allegedly insulting the King’s dog. Read more...

    TAGS: Foreign affairs, Defence, Australian foreign policy, Human rights

  • Aged Care Roadmap: a guide to the future of aged care?

    Posted 12/05/2016 by Alex Grove

    The Aged Care Roadmap (the Roadmap), released in April 2016 by aged care advisory body, the Aged Care Sector Committee (ACSC), has recommended significant aged care reforms over the next seven years. The Roadmap is intended to ‘generate discussion across the aged care sector and government regarding future reforms to aged care’. With the first four years of the Living Longer. Living Better aged care reforms now largely implemented in a bipartisan manner (with some notable exceptions such as workforce and dementia funding), there is growing interest in the next round of changes that may be ahead for aged care.

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    TAGS: aged care

  • The electoral fortunes of MPs who left major parties and contested the next election as Independents

    Posted 10/05/2016 by Rob Lundie
    In early April this year, sitting member Dr Dennis Jensen failed to win Liberal Party preselection for his Western Australian seat of Tangney. A month later, he announced that he would contest the seat in the 2016 election as an Independent. In support of his chances of winning the seat, Dr Jensen cited the examples of West Australians Paul Filing and Allan Rocher who both did so after losing preselection and standing as Independents at the 1996 federal election. Over the last 50 years there ha... Read more...

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