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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 December, 2013

'That's it, you're out': disorderly conduct in the House of Representatives

On Wednesday 11 December 2013, 10 Labor MPs were ordered to withdraw from the House of Representatives for one hour ('sin binned') by the Speaker, the Hon Bronwyn Bishop. Seven of these were during Question Time, two during a motion to suspend standing orders which occurred at the end of this period and one during a ministerial statement later in the evening. Each 'sin binning' occurred during questions and debate about the automotive industry.As many as this may seem, it is not the most number of ejections in a single day nor during Question Time. The greatest number of members ‘sin binned’ on a single day (11) occurred on 2 November 2005. Speaker David Hawker ordered out eight Labor member... Read more...

Australia's first G20 sherpa meeting

Australia is the G20 host in 2014 (a process that started earlier this month on 1 December). Its first meeting as host will be held on Thursday and Friday this week (12-13 December). Senior officials (sherpas) from G20 nations will meet in Sydney, beginning a process that will culminate in the leaders’ summit next November.The Group of Twenty (G20) is ‘the premier forum for international economic cooperation and decision making’, with representatives from 19 member countries and the European Union. The G20 calendar has multiple events, and many non-government organisations (amongst them international institutions and regulatory bodies, businesses, and civil society groups) will be providing ... Read more...

The latest proposal for a national integrity commission

On 13 November 2013, the Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Christine Milne, introduced the National Integrity Commission Bill 2013 (NIC Bill). The Australian Greens have long advocated for a national integrity commission to investigate claims of misconduct and corruption across the Federal Parliament and Commonwealth agencies. The NIC Bill is very similar to a Bill introduced by Senator Bob Brown in June 2010 and reintroduced when Parliament reconvened after the August 2010 election, and to the National Integrity Commissioner Bill 2012 introduced by Adam Bandt. Those Bills lapsed without having been debated when the 43rd Parliament was prorogued. This FlagPost provides a brief overvie... Read more...

Liquefied natural gas in Queensland - where will the gas come from?

The production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Australia has become an important export industry. Sales from three existing LNG projects (the North West Shelf, Darwin LNG and Pluto LNG) earned $14.3 billion in export revenue in 2012-13, according to the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE). Increased global demand for gas is driving investment in Australia to open new LNG projects, exploiting gas resources offshore from Western Australia and the Northern Territory. In addition, onshore coal seam gas (CSG) resources will be used to develop at least three (and possibly up to seven) new LNG projects at Gladstone, in Queensland – but where will all the gas come from? Ne... Read more...

Retirement intentions and labour force participation by older workers

On 9 December 2013, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the results of its 2012–13 survey on retirement and retirement intentions. The data collected by the survey provides information on retirement trends, the factors which influence decisions to retire, and the income arrangements that retirees and potential retirees have made to provide for their retirement. Another indicator of retirement behaviour is the participation by older workers in the labour force.Labour force participation amongst older workers has increased significantly over the past 15 years, particularly among females (Figure 1). The decision to retire is an important factor in understanding whether such an in... Read more...

Parliament House 25th anniversary chronology

The Parliamentary Library has recently updated its chronology of Australia’s Parliament House, first published in March 2013 to celebrate the building’s 25th anniversary as the home of the Commonwealth Parliament. The chronology presents defining events and turning points in the evolution of the building and its landscape setting, as well as a selection of milestones in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament right up to the present.Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra is the meeting place of the Parliament of Australia and is one of the most visited and visible buildings in Australia. Since its opening on 9 May 1988, Parliament House has welcomed more than 25 million Australian and i... Read more...

It's International Anti-Corruption Day: How does Australia measure up?

Ahead of International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December, Transparency International released its latest annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The CPI allocates countries a score from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) based on the perceived extent of public sector corruption as measured by a number of data sources (13 in 2013)—principally surveys of corruption and business experts. Australia’s score dropped from 85 in 2012 to 81 in 2013, and its ranking from seventh to ninth out of 177 countries.A number of high-profile matters may have contributed to Australia’s public sector being perceived as more corrupt than previously, including:the alleged involvement of two Reserve Bank of ... Read more...

Inquiry into the use of weapons by the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS)

On 29 November 2013, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) provided to the Minister for Foreign Affairs the final report of her recent inquiry into the provision of weapons and the training in and use of weapons and self-defence techniques in ASIS. While the IGIS reported that overall ASIS ‘has managed the training in and use of weapons and self-defence techniques well’, she did identify two breaches of the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (ISA) involving firearms training, and a number of other breaches of the ASIS Guidelines for the use of weapons and self-defence techniques.Amendments made in 2004 to the ISA, which sets out the role and functions of ASIS, enable particul... Read more...

Which Minister?: Answering questions during Question Time

During Question Time on 5 December 2013, the member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, asked the Treasurer, the Hon. Joe Hockey, a question. Halfway through his response to the question, Mr Hockey invited the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Warren Truss to finish the answer. The Speaker ruled that this was in order and by doing so upheld precedence.While transferring the responsibility for the answer of a question seems highly unusual, House of Representatives Practice (6th ed., p.550) states that it is entirely in order for a Minister to transfer a question to another Minister and that it ‘is not in order to question the reason for doing so’.The Practice takes us back to 22 August 1979 to find preced... Read more...

Chronology of climate change in Australia

The Parliamentary Library has published a timeline of climate policy in Australia. The chronology begins in the 1970s, around the time that the Australian Academy of Sciences published a report asserting that human activities are likely to contribute to warming. The document charts the journey of Australian climate policy from then until today.The chronology reminds us that in the 1980s Australia considered an emissions reduction target of 20% on 1988 levels by 2005. This target was indeed adopted but only as a 'no regrets' strategy, under the proviso that the reduction would not be at the expense of the economy. A decade later, emissions had continued to rise but the government warned that ... Read more...

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