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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

Updated Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt statistics—2018–19

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has released new data on the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP, formerly HECS) debts. This FlagPost summarises the ATO HELP data. Previous versions were published for the 2017–18 financial year release, and the 2016–17 financial year release.   All figures are at 30 June for the relevant financial year. Figures have not been adjusted for inflation.  Total amount of outstanding HELP debt This release updates the total amount of outstanding HELP debt to nearly $67.0 billion in 2018–19, up from $62.0 billion in 2017–18. Figure 1: Total amount of outstanding HELP debt 2009–10 to 2018–19 financial years ($... Read more...

Defence Service Homes Amendment Bill 2018

The Defence Service Homes Amendment Bill 2019 was introduced into the Senate on 19 September 2019 and seeks to amend the Defence Service Homes Act 1918 to expand eligibility for coverage under the Defence Service Homes Insurance Scheme. Read more...

Causes of death, 2018

Recently the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the 2018 Causes of Death (cat no. 3303.0) report which provided detailed information on the number and nature of deaths in Australia in 2018. According to the ABS report: In 2018, there were 158,493 registered deaths in Australia and the number one cause was Ischaemic heart disease with 17,533 deaths (11 per cent of all deaths). Even though the leading cause, the age-standardised death rate from Ischaemic heart disease has decreased by 22.4 per cent since 2009, consistent with declines in heart disease mortality observed now for more than 50 years. Read more...

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has announced that the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences will be awarded to three researchers for their work in reducing global poverty: Abhijit Banerjee (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT), Esther Duflo (MIT), and Michael Kremer (Harvard). Notably, Dr Duflo is the youngest-ever economics laureate and only the second woman. This FlagPost provides background to the contributions of the laureates and some Australian context. Read more...

Commemorating Alfred Deakin

On the afternoon of 7 October 1919, Prime Minister Billy Hughes announced in the Federal Parliament the death of Alfred Deakin that morning, describing him as ‘a man whose name has entwined itself about our history. He was one of the makers of Australia’. After a stint as a barrister and a longer period as a journalist with the Melbourne Age, Deakin served for over thirty years in both the Victorian and Federal Parliaments, including three terms as Prime Minister across the first decade after Federation. (Notably, his first speech in the Victorian Parliament in 1879 was also the setting of his principled resignation due to concerns expressed over the election). After Hughes&rsquo... Read more...

Foreign interference—neither new nor limited to China

Expanding on his oft-stated warning that espionage and foreign interference is increasing, the outgoing Director-General of ASIO cautioned in a speech on 4 September that it was ‘by far and away the most serious issue going forward’, with the potential to be an ‘existential threat to the state’. Federal government MPs Andrew Hastie and Dan Tehan were among those who expressed their concern at a report last month that authorities in China warned the family of a student who participated in anti-China protests in Australia about the potential consequences of the student’s actions. But while foreign interference may be on the rise, reports of intimidatory tactics ar... Read more...

Tensions rise in the Persian Gulf

Early on 14 September 2019 two of Saudi Arabia’s most significant oil facilities, the Abqaiq plant and the Khurais oilfield, came under coordinated attack, causing the largest-ever disruption to global oil supply and raising concerns about a further escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf. As assessment of the global fallout continues, this is what we know so far.   Read more...

Combatting Child Sexual Exploitation Legislation Amendment Bill 2019

The Combatting Child Sexual Exploitation Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 (the Bill) was introduced into the House of Representatives on 24 July 2019. The Bill is substantively similar to an earlier Bill (with the same name) which lapsed with the dissolution of the 45th Parliament. The Bill will mainly amend the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Criminal Code). Schedules 1–6 introduce a series of new offences into the Criminal Code. Schedule 7 will make amendments to the Crimes Act 1914, the Customs Act 1901 and the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 to reconstitute the terms ‘child abuse material’ and ‘child pornography material’ into a single definitio... Read more...

Equal gender representation in the Senate

With the swearing-in of Sarah Henderson on 12 September 2019 to the Senate to fill the casual vacancy created by the resignation of Mitch Fifield (Lib., Vic.), the Senate now comprises 38 women and 38 men. This is the first time in the Senate’s history that it has had equal gender representation. Read more...

100th anniversary of the Parliament's Bible

On 12 September 1919, Governor-General Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson presented to the Commonwealth Parliament a Bible and lectern on behalf of the Victorian branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society. The 100th anniversary of this occasion falls on 12 September 2019.  Read more...

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