FlagPost — Parliamentary Library Blog

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...

50th anniversary of the establishment of the modern Senate committee system

Fifty years ago, on 11 June 1970, the Senate agreed to establish seven legislative and general purpose standing committees, and five estimates committees. While the Senate had made use of committees since Federation, this was a significant step in the development of its modern committee system. This system, which has continued to develop since 1970, has greatly enhanced the Senate’s ability to inquire into topical issues, gather evidence from the public, and scrutinise proposed legislation. Read more...

COVID-19 and private health insurance

The COVID-19 pandemic presents both opportunities and challenges to private health insurers, with short-term and long-term impacts and questions being raised about its role and relevance during this time. A recent report from the Australia Institute argues that restrictions on non-urgent elective surgery, applying from early April 2020, will likely result in ‘windfall’ profits for health insurers over the next six months. Read more...

Seeking asylum in the time of coronavirus: COVID-19 pandemic effects on refugees and people seeking asylum

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting almost every country across the globe, and creating a multitude of challenges for the entire world community. Refugees and people seeking asylum face particular vulnerabilities. Specific concerns include: maintaining safety measures in overcrowded camps and detention centres; lack of access to countries of asylum or resettlement due to border closures; and lack of income support for those who have lost their jobs. Read more...

Defence Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2020

The Defence Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2020 seeks to do two things. Firstly it amends the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme Act 2008 to extend the period from two to five years in which a member who has left the Australian Defence Force (ADF) can access the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme. In addition, it amends the Australian Defence Force Superannuation Act 2015 (ADF Superannuation Act) so that former ADF members can continue to make contributions to their ADF superannuation accounts once the ADF Super Trust Deed has been amended to so allow.  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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