FlagPost — Parliamentary Library Blog

Intellectual property agreements and COVID-19– proposals to ensure access to treatments

As developing countries struggle to access COVID-19 vaccines and contend with catastrophic second and third waves of infection, the World Trade Organization (WTO) remains at an impasse in approving a waiver over intellectual property rights for COVID‑19 vaccines. While countries such as South Africa and India argue the waiver would have a profound impact on their ability to produce vaccines domestically, other countries such as Australia have questioned whether such a waiver would be effective in delivering greater numbers of vaccines. With substantial differences in the positions of the parties, it seems that despite discussions on the waiver continuing in Geneva, agreement may prove elusiv... Read more...

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

On 15 November 2020, ministers from 15 countries, including Australia, signed an agreement initiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a regional trading arrangement that has been described as ‘the world’s largest free trade agreement’. The other signatories comprise the ten ASEAN states—Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam—as well as China, Japan, Korea and New Zealand.  Read more...

What’s new in statistics . . .

This month: serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members, migration movements and philanthropic and charitable donations. Read more...

National Health Amendment (COVID-19) Bill 2021

The National Health Amendment (COVID-19) Bill 2021 (the Bill) was introduced in the House of Representatives on 26 August 2021. The Bill will allow the Minister for Health to enter into agreements and authorise payments for the provision of COVID-19 vaccines (including boosters), treatments for COVID-19 and related consumables. This Flagpost will discuss the Bill, followed by some of the key funding arrangements to date for securing COVID-19 vaccines for domestic use, and COVID-19 treatments.   Read more...

Paid Parental Leave Amendment (COVID-19 Work Test) Bill 2021

The Paid Parental Leave Amendment (COVID-19 Work Test) Bill 2021 (the Bill) proposes amendments to the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 (the PPL Act) toallow time in receipt of the COVID-19 Disaster Payment to count as work for the purpose of the Paid Parental Leave scheme. The Paid Parental Leave scheme includes both Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay.   Read more...

Foreign Intelligence Legislation Amendment Bill 2021

The purpose of the Foreign Intelligence Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 (the Bill) is to amend the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA Act) and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (ASIO Act) to broaden the capacity of intelligence agencies to collect intelligence from domestic sources about foreign threats to Australia. The Bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on 25 August 2021 and passed the same day. It has been listed for debate in the Senate on 26 August 2021. This FlagPost is published in lieu of a Bills Digest. Read more...

Vaccination requirements for government payments: a brief history

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to public debate around vaccine incentives and mandates, including a proposal from Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese for a $300 payment for those vaccinated against the disease. Linking vaccinations to government payments is not a new policy idea in Australia—immunisation requirements for family assistance payments have been in place for decades. Rather than offering an incentive payment for families to immunise children, these requirements apply a financial penalty for those whose children are not immunised. This FlagPost sets out the current immunisation requirements for family payments and provides a brief history of these requirements. Read more...

Australia and Magnitsky legislation

This Flagpost was updated on 25 August 2021 with additional information on EU sanctions. On 3 December 2019, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, asked the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Human Rights Sub-committee to inquire into the use of targeted sanctions to address human rights abuses. A year later, on 7 December 2020, the Committee tabled its report entitled Criminality, corruption and impunity: should Australia join the Global Magnitsky movement? The first recommendation of the report was that ‘the Australian Government enact stand alone targeted sanctions legislation to address human rights violations and corruption, similar to the Uni... Read more...

From Vietnam to Afghanistan: humanitarian visas for staff assisting Australian forces

With the news that Australia has recently withdrawn the last of its troops from Afghanistan, attention has turned to the fate of Afghans who have worked with foreign forces. There is growing concern that these people are at risk of persecution from the Taliban, as it seeks to reassert control across Afghanistan. The Australian Government is granting humanitarian visas to Afghans who are at risk due to their work assisting Australian forces, but is facing increasing pressure, including from the Opposition and former soldiers, to move more quickly as the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates. This is not the first time Australia has offered sanctuary to local staff who have assisted Australian... Read more...

What’s new in statistics . . . August

This month: 2021 Census of Population and Housing, vehicles in Australia, VET and younger people in residential aged care.   Read more...

FlagPost

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

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