FlagPost — Parliamentary Library Blog

UN call for global ceasefires amidst COVID-19

On 23 March 2020 UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed for ‘an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world’ to focus on diplomatic solutions that would allow life-saving aid to reach the most vulnerable people in conflict zones and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Read more...

Why most pension and benefit rates will not be increased in September 2020

On 20 March and 20 September of each year, the rates of most social security payments are usually increased in order to maintain their real value over time—this process is known as indexation. Pensions, unlike other payments, can also be adjusted to maintain their rate relative to average earnings. On 20 September 2020, for the first time in more than 20 years, the rates of pensions and payments such as JobSeeker Payment will not increase. This is because some of the indices used to adjust these payments have declined. Read more...

The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment (Jabiru) Bill 2020

The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment (Jabiru) Bill 2020 (the Bill) was introduced in the House of Representatives on 13 May 2020. It contains one Schedule with 12 items that amend the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (the Act), and one item that amends the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The Bill is currently scheduled to be debated in the House of Representatives on Tuesday 25 August 2020 and in the Senate on Thursday 27 August 2020.    Read more...

The impact of COVID-19 on Australian higher education and overseas students—what do the numbers say?

When COVID-19 travel restrictions were announced for travellers from mainland China on 1 February 2020, then for all foreign nationals (excluding Australian permanent residents) from 20 March, student visa holders and the higher education sector began to feel the impacts. Universities Australia has estimated $16 billion in revenue will be lost between June 2020 and 2023, and widespread job losses have been reported across institutions.  Read more...

The life and legacy of Sir Samuel Griffith remembered

Samuel Griffith’s death 100 years ago on 9 August 1920 represented the passing of not only Australia’s first High Court Chief Justice, but also a leading protagonist of Australia’s federation. After initially drafting the proposal for a federal council at the 1883 intercolonial conference, Griffith led the drafting of the proposed Constitution at the 1891 Convention, where he was also vice-president and constitutional committee chair. As the eminent historian Geoffrey Bolton has noted, ‘Griffith performed the essential task of bringing Parkes’s splendid but cloudy generalisations down to earth and identifying the main issues which would confront a federal conven... Read more...

Will Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt be reduced because CPI has fallen?

On 29 July, the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 1.9 per cent in the June 2020 quarter, the largest fall in its 72-year history.  For people with an outstanding Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) or similar student loan debt, indexed using CPI, this raises questions about whether the debt will be reduced in line with the CPI reduction. While there is no immediate effect from the June 2020 quarter fall, the indexation arrangements for outstanding HELP debts, which are intended to maintain the real value of the debt, could result in reduced loan balances in June 2021, depending on CPI movements over the next three quarters. I... Read more...

Temporary migration figures: the quarter before COVID-19 hit

The Department of Home Affairs publishes quarterly snapshots of temporary entrants in Australia, showing numbers of visa holders by category at a point in time. The latest statistics are as at 31 March 2020, and with the most significant border closures not occurring until 20 March, these figures only show the early impacts of the pandemic: a much clearer picture will emerge from the second quarter figures to 30 June. Read more...

The June 1870 intercolonial conference and the path to Federation

The Prime Minister’s announcement last month regarding the establishment of a National Federation Reform Council (NFRC) to replace the Council of Australian Governments has once more highlighted efforts to better coordinate and enhance engagement between Australia’s jurisdictions. This agenda for reform and coordination has long endured throughout Australia’s political history. June 20 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the commencement of the 1870 intercolonial conference, held in Melbourne, which provides an early example of such attempts at policy coordination. Read more...

Education Legislation Amendment (2020 Measures No. 1) Bill 2020

On 11 June 2020 the Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, introduced the Education Legislation Amendment (2020 Measures No. 1) Bill 2020 (the Bill) to the House of Representatives.  The main purpose of the Bill is to give effect to a six‑month exemption from FEE‑HELP loan fees announced on 12 April 2020 as part of the Higher Education Relief Package (the relief package) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other elements of the relief package do not require legislation. A loan fee exemption for VET Student Loans (VSL) was also included, but has already been given effect by the VET Student Loans Amendment Rules (No. 1) 2020, made under the VET Student Loans Act 2016 (VSL Act)... Read more...

Services Australia Governance Amendment Bill 2020

The agency responsible for delivering most of the Commonwealth Government’s social and health related services has been through some changes over the past year. The Department of Human Services (DHS) was renamed Services Australia in May 2019. It was abolished and replaced when an Executive Agency, also named Services Australia, was established on 1 February 2020. More changes are proposed in the two schedules of the Services Australia Governance Amendment Bill 2020 (the Bill) introduced into the House of Representatives by the Minister for Government Services on 13 May 2020. Read more...

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

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