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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 February, 2012

An overview of universal dental schemes

Ongoing reports of poor dental health outcomes and growing concerns that financial barriers are impeding access to affordable dental care continue to fuel calls for reform in the area of dental health. As part of its agreement with the Greens, the Government promised major dental reform but deferred significant action. It funded a number of dental internships last budget and established a national dental advisory council, to provide advice on priorities for dental reform for the upcoming budget. Although this body has presented an interim report to Government, the Minister has indicated she will await the final report before announcing a particular course of action. Meanwhile, the Minister a... Read more...

‘Rolling out the red carpet’ for asylum seekers

Recent media reports that ‘asylum seekers are receiving plasma TVs, microwave ovens, DVD players’ and other ‘free handouts’ whilst in community detention are inaccurate and only serve to mislead and misinform the public on what is a very complex issue. Due to the recent expansion of Australia’s community detention arrangements, several community houses around the country have been furnished in order to prepare for occupancy. However, as the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, pointed out in a recent media release, none of these basic household goods are allocated to individuals detained under community detention arrangements. In fact, the items provided are only there for ... Read more...

Draft legislation on pokies reform released

  The Government on Friday released draft legislation on proposed reforms to address problem gambling, particularly related to electronic gaming machines (EGMs, or pokies). The release comes at the same time Clubs ACT have reportedly given in principle agreement to a trial of mandatory pre-commitment technology on EGMs in clubs in the ACT, pending further negotiations with the Government. The draft legislation does not address this pokies trial; rather it proposes technical modifications to EGMs to enable pre-commitment technology, a time frame for these changes, limits to cash in pokie venues and the introduction of new levies. Implementation of a uniform mandatory pre-commitment system a... Read more...

Disclosing the political dollars: US and Australia

On 1 February 2012, the Australian Electoral Commission released the 2010-11 annual financial disclosure returns from political parties, associated entities, donors and third parties who incur political expenditure. The combined receipts totalled almost $231 million. Not all of this came from donations. The annual returns from donors totalled around $25 million—but only donations above the threshold of $11 500 have to be declared.Clearly, modern party politics involves substantial sums of money. And as the recent Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) report into the funding of political parties and election campaigns stated, transparency and accountability ‘must remain centra... Read more...

The 70th anniversary of the Second World War events of 1942— ‘Australia’s perilous year’: February and March

'For there can be no doubt that 1942 was for Australia—as a nation and as a people—the most important single year of all those two hundred [since White settlement]. It was the turning point in the making of modern Australia. In the fire of that tremendous crisis were forged all the elements which have shaped our national life and destiny, to this day....Above all, 1942 was the year in which Australians first achieved a genuine sense of national identity and national unity.'This is how Prime Minister Bob Hawke described the historical significance of 1942 for Australia in the Forward to a special 1988 edition of the Defence Force Journal entitled ‘Australia’s perilous year’.Throughout 201... Read more...

The Australian Greens 2008-2011

The Parliamentary Library has recently published a research paper which examines the electoral fortunes and parliamentary activities of the Australian Greens from 2008 to the end of the first year of the 43rd Commonwealth Parliament in 2011. The paper updates and expands on an earlier paper, The rise of the Australian Greens, published by the Library in 2008. It presents a brief introduction to the structure, ideological underpinnings and policies of the Australian Greens, and includes a brief history of the development of Green politics internationally and in Australia.In the 2010 federal election, the Australian Greens emerged with the balance of power in the Senate and shared balance of p... Read more...

Renaming of the Main Committee

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon. Peter Slipper, announced today that after discussions with the Leader of the House, the Manager of Opposition Business and Independent Members, he proposes the Main Committee chamber is to be renamed as the Federation Chamber of the House of Representatives. A proposal is expected to come before the House in the near future regarding the renaming of the Main Committee.According to House of Representatives Practice:The Main Committee meets in the largest of the House of Representatives committee rooms on the second floor of Parliament House. This room has been dedicated to its role and is fitted out in a small-scale chamber setting. Like t... Read more...

Independent Review of the Intelligence Community—interoperability still an issue?

The findings of the recently released public version of the 2011 Independent Review of the Intelligence Community Report are largely positive. The report cites significantly greater access to information from overseas, improved capability, and increased performance among the variety of developments in the operations of Australia’s intelligence agencies in the ten years since 2001, and concludes that the significant investment in the agencies over that period has paid off. However, while the public version of the classified report is necessarily framed in broad terms, it is possible to read between the lines to identify some of the issues that are likely to have been expanded upon in the clas... Read more...

Trading aviation emissions

For the first time, Qantas and other airlines are being held accountable for greenhouse gas emissions from their international flights—at least for those flights using an airport within the European Union (EU). The move by the EU to price and restrict greenhouse gas emissions from European flights has been a contentious one. This FlagPost explains the basic mechanics of the EU’s decision and highlights some of the issues being raised. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change anticipates that by 2050 international and domestic aviation emissions will be around five percent of what global annual ‘man-made’ emissions were in 2000. International aviation was exc... Read more...

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