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

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A quick guide to plebiscites in Australia

When Opposition Leader Tony Abbott proposed a plebiscite to test Australians’ support for a carbon tax, the proposal was variously described in the media as ‘junk politics’, a ‘stunt’, a ‘serious misjudgement’ and ‘an expensive, bad idea’. But what exactly is a plebiscite?In Australia, a national plebiscite has quite a distinctive meaning. A plebiscite is a vote by citizens on a matter of national significance, but one which does not affect the Constitution. Moreover, plebiscites are normally advisory, and do not compel a government to act on the outcome. A plebiscite might be used to obtain electors’ views on, say, military conscription, or choosing a new Australian flag. Only the Australia... Read more...

Time in Government since Federation

On Monday 28 March 2011 Barry O’Farrell was sworn in as Premier of New South Wales thus ending the Labor Party’s 16-year period in office. The Liberal/National Coalition’s win in NSW brings to three the current number of non-Labor governments in Australia’s nine federal, state and territory jurisdictions (Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales). This is the first time since Federation that these three states have been under Coalition control while Labor is in power in the other six jurisdictions. It is quite the norm for there to be a mix of Labor and non-Labor jurisdictions. There have been only six periods when all federal and state governments were of the same political persuasio... Read more...

Early election

The House of Representatives that is emerging from the 2010 election, and the fact that the next government will be a minority government, raises the spectre of the electorate going to the polls well before the next federal election would otherwise be expected. If an election takes place prior to mid-2013 it will only be for the House of Representatives and the territory senators; the rest of the Senate will not be in play unless there is a double dissolution.It has been reported that both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have committed to not having an election before August 2013. The fact remains, however, that a Prime Minister can request an election at any time (electi... Read more...

Federal election announced

On Saturday, 17 July 2010, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that a federal election would be held on Saturday, 21 August 2010. The 42nd Parliament was prorogued and the House of Representatives dissolved at 5.00pm on Monday, 19 July 2010. Key dates for the 2010 federal election are:- Announcement: Saturday, 17 July 2010- Issue of writ: Monday, 19 July 2010- Deadline to enrol to vote: 8pm Monday, 19 July 2010- Deadline to update your electoral roll details (Close of rolls): 8pm Thursday, 22 July 2010- Close of nominations: 12 noon Thursday, 29 July 2010- Declaration of nominations: 12 noon Friday, 30 July 2010- Election day: Saturday, 21 August 2010- Return of writ (latest date): We... Read more...

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