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

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WTO rules Chinese rare earth minerals export limits breach the GATT 1994

In March 2014 a Panel established by the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that export controls on rare earth mineral put in place by China contravened the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT).  Read more...

The Racial Discrimination Act: Insults, Timing and Debate

The varying nature of insults and their context, along with a question as to whose standards they should be judged against is discussed in the Parliamentary Library’s recently issued Research Paper ‘The Attorney-General’s suggested changes to the Racial Discrimination Act’. One of the changes proposed by the Attorney-General would change the standards by which insults are to be evaluated. The law as it stands takes into account the perspective of the racially distinct person being insulted when considering the impact of that insult, whereas the proposed changes would confine judges to considering the ‘ordinary, reasonable’ Australian with no reference to a... Read more...

Parliamentary Library Lecture—Aboriginals in the First Australian Imperial Force, a secret history

On 28 May, the Parliamentary Library hosted a public lecture by Gary Oakley, the Indigenous Liaison Officer at the Australian War Memorial. Mr Oakley’s ongoing research into Aboriginal service during the First World War painted an absorbing picture of the experiences of Aboriginals serving in the First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF) as well as dispelling a number of preconceptions.    Read more...

Amendments to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013

Since the report of the National Commission of Audit and the handing down of the government’s Budget 2014‒15, media coverage has highlighted measures that will reduce the number of government bodies and the number of public servants. Less well-known is that, from 1 July 2014, the financial and reporting framework applicable to government bodies will undergo its most comprehensive overhaul since 1998. The foundation of the new framework is the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act), which must come into effect on 1 July 2014, replacing the the FMA Act and the the CAC Act. However, implementation of the PGPA framework from 1 July will require the... Read more...

Youth unemployment rates in small geographic areas - 2013

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recently changed the dissemination of regional data from the monthly Labour Force Survey to reflect a new geographic standard. The Labour Force Survey is a key source of data on employment, unemployment, the labour force and associated rates and ratios.  Read more...

ALRC report released: Copyright and the Digital Economy

Thursday 13 February 2014 saw the release of the much anticipated Australian Law Reform Commission final report for its inquiry, Copyright and the Digital Economy. The report follows a complex and ambitious 18 month inquiry in which the ALRC was asked to consider whether current copyright exceptions are adequate and appropriate in the digital era. The inquiry attracted strong interest— receiving over 870 submissions— and considered a broad range of topics from caching and indexing; to cloud computing; online use for social, private or domestic purposes; transformative use such as mash-ups or sampling in music; and retransmission of free-to-air broadcasts. The inquiry also looked... Read more...

Snapshot of employment by industry, 2012 to 2013

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) release data on employed people by industry (in their main job, where a person holds more than one job) in the quarterly publication Labour Force, detailed, quarterly, cat. no. 6291.0.55.003. Data is available since November 1984, with the most recent data being November 2013. Read more...

The world’s youngest nation falters: keeping the peace in South Sudan

Two and a half years after gaining independence from Sudan, the newly formed nation of South Sudan has erupted into violence that could potentially lead to civil war. Tensions among the ethnic Nuer and Dinka groups have recently escalated and there have been reports of widespread violence and killing across the country. Ongoing political disputes are at the root of the current unrest. Media reports indicate the former Vice President, Riek Machar (an ethnic Nuer who was dismissed in July 2013), attempted a coup against President Salva Kiir (an ethnic Dinka) and has allegedly taken control of key parts of the country. Read more...

Extending income management in Cape York

Legislation introduced into Parliament last week proposes to extend operation of income management in Cape York for a further two years until the end of 2015. This will be the third time income management has been extended in Cape York since it began in 2008. The Government argues that income management is a key element of welfare reform efforts in Cape York, which it says have 'seen improved school attendance, care and protection of children and community safety'.Cape York income managementIncome management refers to a policy under which a percentage of the welfare payments of certain people is set aside to be spent only on ‘priority items’ such as food, housing, clothing, education and hea... Read more...

Aung San Suu Kyi and Australia’s new relationship with Myanmar

The Australian Government has confirmed that Aung San Suu Kyi will visit Australia from 27 November to 2 December. This will be Suu Kyi’s first visit to Australia and follows her visits to the US, the UK, Europe, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand over the last eighteen months.Traditionally, Western images of Suu Kyi have portrayed her as a lone heroine fighting tyrannical army generals. As Myanmar experts like Andrew Selth have argued, with her release from house arrest in late 2010 and the far-reaching reforms that are taking place in Myanmar, Suu Kyi now inhabits a much more complex set of roles in contemporary Myanmar politics.First, Suu Kyi is the leader of a political party, the National L... Read more...

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