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

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FlagPost — Parliamentary Library Blog

Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2017

The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Amendment Bill 2017 (the Bill), introduced in the Senate on 6 December 2017, amends the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (the Act). The Act sets out a scheme for the claiming, granting, control and management of Aboriginal land in the NT. It was closed to new claims in 1997. The Bill adds parcels of land within the Kakadu National Park, the township of Urapanga, and (in proposed amendments to the Bill) Anthony Lagoon station to the listing in Schedule 1 of the Act, enabling them to be granted as Aboriginal land, and makes other amendments to do with Kakadu's status as a National Park.  Bills which recogni... Read more...

New Bill to accelerate tax cuts for small and medium sized businesses

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Lower Taxes for Small and Medium Businesses) Bill 2018 (the new Bill) was introduced into the House of Representatives on 16 October 2018. The new Bill seeks to implement the Government’s announcement of 11 October 2018 that it would bring forward by five years the implementation of tax cuts for small and medium sized incorporated businesses with annual turnover of less than $50 million per annum. The changes would mean that small and medium businesses will face a corporate tax rate of 25 per cent from 1 July 2021, rather than 1 July 2026.  Read more...

Proposed amendments to the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017

The Senate is expected to debate the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 (the Bill) in the sitting week beginning 15 October 2018. The Bill has a somewhat complex history, with the original Bill released in July 2017. Following considerable public debate, and a JSCEM advisory report, the Government announced proposed amendments to the Bill. On 20 September 2018 the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) announced an inquiry into the proposed amendments. Read more...

Strong and responsible: can encryption be both?

When introducing the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 (the Bill), Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, stated ‘New communications technology, including encryption, is eroding the capacity of Australia's law enforcement and security agencies to investigate serious criminal conduct and protect Australians’... With the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) now reviewing the Bill, it is worth examining how end-to-end encryption works and some of the technical means by which access might be obtained to encrypted communications.   Read more...

Discount rates for Commonwealth infrastructure projects

In the Building Up and Moving Out report tabled in Parliament in September 2018, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities recommended the adoption of a 4% discount rate for the appraisal of Commonwealth infrastructure projects. This FlagPost explains the use of discount rates and provides context for the Committee’s recommendation. Read more...

Parliament responds to the strawberry contamination crisis

On 19 September 2018, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Attorney-General Christian Porter announced that amendments to the contamination of goods offences in the Criminal Code Act 1995  (Cth) would be prioritised in the Parliament. This announcement was in response to a number of incidents across Australia where strawberries and other fresh food products are alleged to have been contaminated with sewing needles. While there are existing offences that would likely address this conduct, the Government proposes to change the fault element to capture conduct that is reckless as to the consequences of the contamination of goods. Doing this, as well as increasing the penalties for the offence... Read more...

Treasury Laws Amendment (Supporting Australian Farmers) Bill 2018
Australian Bureau of Meteorology, CC BY 3.0 AU, resized/converted jpg

Treasury Laws Amendment (Supporting Australian Farmers) Bill 2018

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Supporting Australian Farmers) Bill 2018 (the Bill) implements the Government’s announcement to allow primary producers to immediately deduct the cost of fodder storage assets. The measure is intended to assist farmers to future drought-proof their businesses by making it more affordable to invest in fodder storage. Read more...

Casual re-employment: comings and goings due to Senate casual vacancies

Upon being re-appointed to the Senate on 10 September 2018 to fill the casual vacancy created by Andrew Bartlett’s resignation, Queensland (Qld) Greens Senator Larissa Waters becomes the first senator to return to the Senate after having been disqualified under section 44 of the Australian Constitution for holding dual citizenship. Senator Waters’ return is also notable because she is filling a Senate position originally made vacant by her own disqualification, subsequently filled by Andrew Bartlett, and made vacant again by Bartlett’s retirement on 27 August 2018. Read more...

Sir George Houstoun Reid (1845-1918): Premier, Prime Minister, High Commissioner, and Member of the UK House of Commons

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Australia’s fourth Prime Minister, George Reid, who served in the role for 10 months between August 1904 and July 1905. Reid holds a unique position among Australian political leaders, having been a representative in colonial, Commonwealth and British legislatures. He also served as Australia’s first High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1910 to 1916, when he was followed by the former Australian Labor Prime Minister Andrew Fisher. Reid was first elected to the New South Wales Parliament in 1880 at 35 years of age, as one of four representatives for the multi-member division of East Sydney. His 3,413 received votes were 643... Read more...

Two parliamentary milestones for women—
75 years of women in the Commonwealth Parliament and Australia's 100th female senator

21 August 2018 marks the 75th anniversary of the election of the first women to the Commonwealth Parliament. Enid Lyons of the United Australia Party and Dorothy Tangney of the Australian Labor Party were both elected on that day in 1943; Lyons to the House of Representatives and Tangney to the Senate. In addition, Dr Mehreen Faruqi (Australian Greens, NSW), who was sworn in as a senator on 20 August 2018, is Australia’s 100th female senator. Read more...

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