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

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Filter by August, 2012

Expert panel member provides insight into Asian Century White Paper

Emeritus Professor Peter Drysdale, a member of the advisory panel helping put together the Government’s much anticipated White Paper on ‘Australia in the Asian Century’, delivered a presentation on the White Paper at the Parliamentary Library on 16 August.  A full recording of Professor Drysdale’s lecture can be found here.Professor Drysdale reinforced the enormous speed and scale of change in Asia, the major role (even on conservative estimates) that Asia would continue to play in the global economy, and its fundamental importance in shaping Australia’s future growth trajectory in the decades to come.Among Professor Drysdale’s remarks was his view that, even before its release, the White Pa... Read more...

Trading aviation emissions – Part 3: Australia outlines its position

The Government yesterday announced solidarity with a number of other countries opposing the EU’s move to include international aviation in its emission trading scheme. The motion was originally put forward by Nationals Leader Warren Truss who has been active in raising awareness on the issue. The Government supported Mr Truss’ motion. Two previous FlagPosts (this one and this one) outline why the EU's decision has been controversial and what reactions there have been. This FlagPost summarises Australia’s position and provides an update on international actions.Australia stands…The motion introduced by Mr Truss called on the Government to:(a) use all political, diplomatic, and legal tools at ... Read more...

Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers and regional processing: legislation before the Senate

The Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers released its Report on Monday 13 August 2012. On 14 August 2012, in response to the panel’s recommendation to reintroduce processing on Nauru and Manus Island, the Government resumed debate on the Migration Legislation Amendment (Offshore Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2011, which had been introduced in the House of Representatives on 21 September 2011. The Bill is discussed here. The Government introduced amendments to the Bill on 14 August 2012. The Bill is now the Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing and Other Measures) Bill 2012. The Government amendments were:Various references to ‘offshore’ became references to ‘region... Read more...

Despite the GFC, income support reliance remains low

The Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee is currently holding two separate but related enquiries, one into the adequacy of the allowance payment system for jobseekers and others, and the other into legislation to remove the ‘grandfathering’ transitional arrangements for parenting payment recipients (among other changes). In this context, it is timely to look at the impact of previous changes to the welfare system and consider what proportion of the working age population is affected by issues being considered by the Committee. Despite the impact of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), which led to a slight increase over the period to 2010, the level ... Read more...

Australia and the Arab-Israeli conflict: from ‘choosing the least of a number of evils’ to ‘strong backers of a two-state solution’

Since the early days of Israel’s creation, the Australian Government’s position on the Arab-Israeli conflict has been of much public and political interest. The Parliamentary Library has just published two comprehensive Background Notes, Australia and the Middle East conflict: a history of key Government statements (1947–2007) and The Rudd and Gillard Governments and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: November 2007–May 2012, which outline the evolution of Australia’s position on the dispute and proposed solutions by exploring public statements made by each Australian Government over the past 65 years.On 10 May 1948, Prime Minister Ben Chifley, commenting on Australia’s support for the UN pl... Read more...

Breaking the deadlock? The Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers

On 28 June 2012 the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship announced that the Government would establish an expert advisory panel to consider options for “the best way forward for our nation in dealing with asylum seeker issues”. This followed months of political deadlock over how to best manage the issue of increasing numbers of asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat, following the High Court’s rejection of the Government’s planned transfer arrangement with Malaysia in August 2011. In February 2012 independent Member Rob Oakeshott introduced a Bill aimed at breaking the deadlock, which was supported by the Government. The Bill passed through the House of Repre... Read more...

Managing the performance of the health care system

Performance of the health care system was put on the national agenda in 2010 when the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd outlined his vision for the National Health and Hospital Network (NHHN). One of the features of the NHHN was improved reporting and performance standards. The precursor to this were the objectives, outcomes, progress measures and outputs that were agreed by the Council of Australian governments (COAG) in 2008 as part of the National Healthcare Agreement (NHA). Although aspects of the NHHN were re-negotiated, the commitment to improved transparency and accountability remained. The Performance and Accountability Framework agreed as part of the National Health Reform Agreement pr... Read more...

Socioeconomic dimensions of pokie machine losses

A recent Age article has highlighted the disproportionate financial losses incurred from pokie machine gambling in low income areas of Victoria, when compared to higher income areas. Using statistics from the Victorian regulator the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR), Craig Butt compared net weekly expenditure per adult (ie player losses) on pokies across local government areas (LGAs), with the average weekly income of those LGAs based on census data provided to the Age.In 2010–11 in Greater Dandenong, where average weekly income was reported to be $426, pokie losses were $1110 per adult. In wealthier Boroondara where average income was $836 per week average loss... Read more...

Melbourne by-election results for the Greens

A by-election was conducted for the Victorian state electorate of Melbourne on Saturday 21 July 2012. Vote-counting and rechecking has now been completed, with the ALP emerging as the winning party with 51.51 per cent of votes after distribution of preferences.  The Melbourne District takes in the CBD, Docklands, East Melbourne, Carlton, North Melbourne, Flemington, Kensington and parts of Ascot Vale. According to the 2011 Census data, the population of the Melbourne electorate is generally younger, better educated and more affluent than other Victorian electorates, with a significant proportion of workers employed in the knowledge and communications industries. The Victorian Electoral Commi... Read more...

Australia’s current debt position – update July 2012

In recent times a lot has been spoken about Australia’s debt level. This was no more evident than in the lead up to the last Federal election where it seemed to dominate debate. This article updates the data published in an earlier FlagPost titled Australia’s current debt position. I therefore intend in this article to report the latest available data on Australia’s level of debt for both the public and private sectors in gross and net terms. For more information on gross and net debt the reader is referred to the earlier FlagPost. Chart 1 below presents Australia’s current foreign debt for the first quarter of 2012 in gross and net terms for the public and private... Read more...

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