Filter by July, 2011

Informal votes - if they don't scrub up, should we let them into the election ball

 At every federal election hundreds of thousands of citizens are lodging votes that don’t count towards the election of their representatives. These are votes that don’t meet the requirements to be considered ‘formal’—and their number is growing. At the 2010 election, 729 304 House of Representatives votes were declared informal—equivalent in number to the formal votes cast in 7.8 average electorates. This informality was 5.5 per cent of the vote—the highest level since the introduction of compulsory voting in 1924. The only other election with such unusually high levels of informality was at the 1984 election when the new Senate voting system was introduced, and many people ... Read more...

Trafficking in Persons Report 2011

 On 27 June, the US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, released the 11th Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report assessing the effort and achievements of 184 governments around the world in combating trafficking in persons.Each year since 2001, the US Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has produced a report outlining major trends and issues in combating trafficking and providing country by country analyses and ratings. The TIP reports have evolved over time, and have increased in breadth of coverage and depth of analysis. The US Government regards this report as its "principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking".Each TIP Report assesses countrie... Read more...

Legislation to means test the private health insurance rebate re-introduced—debate continues

As the Government signalled in the last budget, legislation to means test the private health insurance rebate has been re-introduced into Federal Parliament. This is the third time the Government has attempted to implement this 2009–10 budget initiative; previous attempts were blocked by the Senate as this earlier Flagpost outlines. As before, three Bills have been introduced: the Fairer Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 2011, the Fairer Private Health Insurance Incentives (Medicare Levy Surcharge) Bill 2011, the Fairer Private Health Insurance Incentives (Medicare Levy Surcharge—Fringe Benefits) Bill 2011. Details and analysis of the earlier bills can be found in these three bills di... Read more...

Australia New Zealand Therapeutics Agency - possible challenges ahead?

 One of the announcements coinciding with the Prime Minister of New Zealand’s visit to Australia was the establishment of the Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency. This will be a joint agency that regulates therapeutic goods, replacing the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia and Medsafe in New Zealand (NZ). Implementation will be progressive with ‘information sharing’ to commence from July 2011. It is expected the new agency will be fully operational within five years. It will be accountable to both governments.This proposal is not new. From 2003 to 2007 the Australian and NZ governments engaged in ongoing negotiations about the establishm... Read more...

What's the future for income management in the Northern Territory?

In her foreword to the Government’s recent discussion paper on the future of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, argued that lack of consultation had caused ‘ongoing anger, fear and distrust among indigenous people’ and that the next stage of the NTER would need to be based on ‘partnership with Aboriginal people’. To this end, the Government plans to consult with Aboriginal people over coming months about ‘what has worked well and where improvements can be made’.Interestingly, the paper does not include income management as one of its ‘eight areas for future action’. Indeed, the paper argues that ‘as income management applies ... Read more...

Raising awareness on palm oil

On 23 June 2011, the Coalition joined with the Greens and the independent Senator Nick Xenophon to ensure the Senate passed the Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling—Palm Oil) Bill 2011 (the private members’ Bill has yet to be introduced into the House of Representatives). There are two main issues identified with palm oil: the environmental effects of plantations (including loss of tropical rainforest), and the health effects of palm oil versus other vegetable oils. Palm oil is a product of the oil palm tree, which grows only in tropical climates. Highly versatile, palm oil is widely used in the manufacture of food products, cosmetics, detergents and bio-fuel. Increasing demand for t... Read more...

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