FlagPost

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

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The Minerals Tax Package

The Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) bills are being debated in the Senate this week. Acceptance of such a tax appears to be growing among commentators. However, the proposal by the Greens that a company tax cut be limited to small businesses has reminded us that the Minerals Resource Rent Tax bills are part of a package. The current bills are: Minerals Resource Rent Tax Bill 2011 Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2011 Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition-General) Bill 2011 Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition-Customs) Bill 2011 Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Imposition-Excise) Bill 2011 Petroleum Resource Rent Tax Assessment Amendment B... Read more...

Prime ministers and ALP leadership challenges update

Today’s leadership challenge to Prime Minister Gillard is the seventh in the last fifty years, and the sixth involving a party room ballot. On 7 November 1969 David Fairbairn and William McMahon both challenged Prime Minister Gorton. It was reported that Gorton’s majority was slim, 33 or 34 or 35 votes out of 65. The next challenge to Prime Minister Gorton came on 10 March 1971, with a confidence motion in the party room. This time the votes were tied at 33 all, and Gorton used his casting vote to vote against himself. During Malcolm Fraser’s prime ministership he was challenged unsuccessfully by Andrew Peacock on 8 April 1982; the votes were 54 for Fraser, 27 for Peacock. There were two cha... Read more...

WA Fire Escape

Recently, a fuel reduction burn escaped from a national park and destroyed more than 30 homes in the Margaret River region in south-west Western Australia. This serves as a reminder of the risks in using low intensity burns of forest and bushland to reduce the fuel load so that future wildfires may be controlled. The burn was started at a time of favourable weather but with forecasts of high temperatures and winds for a couple of days later. It was reported that the authorities made the decision to proceed with the burn because the area would pose a greater fire risk unless the fuel reduction burning program could be finished beforehand. They indicated that there was a backlog of forested a... Read more...

Australia's record at the WTO

If success is measured by a win/loss record, then Australia has done remarkably well in the WTO dispute settlement system despite losing its recent appeal against New Zealand apple imports. Since the WTO dispute settlement system was created in 1995 Australia has been actively involved in 17 disputes in the WTO as a complainant and a defendant. Australia has won five of the seven cases it has prosecuted and lost three of the ten cases brought against it.Here’s the balance sheet to date:  In four of the five wins (Korea–Beef, US–Lamb, EU–Sugar Subsidy and EU–Trademarks) Australia was the initiating complainant and won on the substantive issue. In the two remaining cases brought by Austral... Read more...

Turkish parliamentary election of 12 June 2011

On 12 June 2011 the Republic of Turkey, with a population of 78 million people, held its 17th general election in which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) secured a third consecutive term in government. Their victory was largely based on Turkey’s economic success under the stewardship of the AKP which came to power in 2002 and steered Turkey into becoming the world’s 16th largest economy. The new government faces some significant challenges, including the impact on Turkey of the sweeping political change that is continually unfolding in the adjacent Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.Turkish community in AustraliaParticipation amongst the 52 mil... Read more...

FlagPost now accepting comments

The Parliamentary Library has started accepting comments on FlagPost on a trial basis. As can be seen from those posts already contributed by Parliamentary Library research staff, FlagPost seeks to provide factual, descriptive and/or summary information on topics of current interest to members of the Australian Parliament. However, we also recognise that FlagPost has a large readership beyond the Australian Parliament that includes people with expertise and interest across a wide range of fields. The purpose of the comments trial will be to see what our readers might add to the understanding of issues covered on FlagPost. For those wishing to contribute, feedback and additional information c... Read more...

Royal Australian Navy to purchase UK ship

The announcement by the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Defence Materiel that Australia has been successful in its bid to purchase the UK Royal Navy vessel the RFA Largs Bay is a significant step on the way to restoring the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) amphibious support capability. The fact that Australia has secured the vessel for $102 million when the book value is said to be in the order of $130 million adds to value of the purchase.The decision by the government of the United Kingdom to sell the Largs Bay was a result of the UK’s recent defence review—Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: the Strategic Defence and Security Review. This was a broad-ranging review touching... Read more...

Meeting the challenges of cyber-security

Just weeks after the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, announced the establishment within the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) of a ‘specialist cyber investigations unit to investigate and provide advice on state-sponsored cyber attack against, or involving, Australian interests’, News Limited media reports have claimed that the parliamentary computers of the Prime Minister and several key Cabinet ministers were infiltrated recently in a sustained “hacking” attack.The reports claim that ‘several thousand emails’ may have been accessed and that in addition to the Prime Minister, the Defence and Foreign Ministers were among those targetted. The cyber-attack is alleged to... Read more...

ALP's 2010 National Review

On Friday 18 February part of a review commissioned by the ALP's National Executive was released. The public section of the report deals with the future of the ALP and the changes that the Review Committee recommends for the party to 'survive and prosper'.The report shows declines in party membership, the number of local branches and the number of affiliated unions. Some of the significant organisational changes recommended by former premiers Steve Bracks and Bob Carr, and Senator John Faulkner, involve:strategies aimed at rebuilding the local branch membershipencouraging lapsed members to rejoingranting members a direct vote for a component of delegates to the National Conferencegranting fu... Read more...

The new COAG health agreement: is it really health reform?

After marathon negotiations over the weekend, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) announced a revised health reform package. The new deal jettisons some of the more contentious and what had become unworkable elements of the previous National Health and Hospitals Agreement: some of the most problematic elements were the requirement that states dedicate a portion of their GST to health, and plans for the Commonwealth to takeover primary health care and fund capital investment in public hospitals through the ‘user cost of capital’ method.The new health reform deal undeniably focuses on reforming the financing arrangements for public hospitals. Some health commentators have expressed di... Read more...

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