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

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Burma's economy—the long road ahead

Following the Parliamentary by-elections in April, much of the commentary has now shifted focus from domestic political reforms and international responses to Burma’s economy and the challenge of achieving sustainable and inclusive growth. A brief discussion of these issues is important in the wake of the Australian Government’s decision to ‘normalise’ the bilateral economic relationship and last week’s visit to Burma by the Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr. During this visit, Senator Carr announced that Australia would suspend all remaining financial and travel restrictions against the Burmese Government. He also canvassed the potential for increased trade an... Read more...

110th anniversary of the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902

Tuesday 12 June 2012 marks the 110th anniversary of the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902, the law that granted most Australian women the right to vote, and therefore to stand, in Commonwealth elections. The Act stated that ‘all persons not under twenty-one years of age whether male or female married or unmarried’ would be entitled to vote in Commonwealth elections. It excluded Indigenous men and women, unless they were eligible to vote under state laws in accordance with Section 41 of the Australian Constitution. Across Australia, women voted for the first time in the second Commonwealth election held on 16 December 1903. Women in South Australia (who were granted voting rights in 1895) and W... Read more...

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Indigenous federal voting rights

It is 100 years since the right and responsibility to enrol to vote became enshrined in Australian law and 50 years since all Indigenous Australians became entitled to vote in federal elections. (Some, but not all, adult Indigenous Australians, were able to vote prior to 1962.) Celebrations are in order.  In March 1962 the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 was amended to enable Indigenous people to enrol to vote in federal elections, but it was not compulsory for them to enrol. It was made an offence for anyone to use undue influence or pressure to induce them to enrol. Once they enrolled, however, voting was compulsory. The story of Indigenous enfranchisement is a long and complex one. There ... Read more...

The Australian Greens 2008-2011

The Parliamentary Library has recently published a research paper which examines the electoral fortunes and parliamentary activities of the Australian Greens from 2008 to the end of the first year of the 43rd Commonwealth Parliament in 2011. The paper updates and expands on an earlier paper, The rise of the Australian Greens, published by the Library in 2008. It presents a brief introduction to the structure, ideological underpinnings and policies of the Australian Greens, and includes a brief history of the development of Green politics internationally and in Australia.In the 2010 federal election, the Australian Greens emerged with the balance of power in the Senate and shared balance of p... Read more...

Independent Review of the Intelligence Community—interoperability still an issue?

The findings of the recently released public version of the 2011 Independent Review of the Intelligence Community Report are largely positive. The report cites significantly greater access to information from overseas, improved capability, and increased performance among the variety of developments in the operations of Australia’s intelligence agencies in the ten years since 2001, and concludes that the significant investment in the agencies over that period has paid off. However, while the public version of the classified report is necessarily framed in broad terms, it is possible to read between the lines to identify some of the issues that are likely to have been expanded upon in the clas... Read more...

Aboriginal Tent Embassy: 40th Anniversary 2012

 Australia Day 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on the lawns of Old Parliament House, Canberra.On 26 January 1972 four young Aboriginal men: Michael Anderson, Billy Craigie, Bertie Williams and Tony Coorey set up a protest under a beach umbrella on the lawns of Parliament House. In a sad reflection on Indigenous life expectancy Michael Anderson is the only living member of the four founders. Michael Anderson believes the anniversary and Sovereignty Corroboree will be 'a great day of Aboriginal unity’.Anderson stresses the significance of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy is that 'it can be regarded as the longest running political demonstration in the world ... I add... 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...

Australia's military involvement in Afghanistan - update

This FlagPost entry updates material previously posted for the Parliamentary debate on Afghanistan (see Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan – frequently asked questions, 15 October 2010). The following information has been compiled to assist Members and Senators prepare condolence motions for Australian Defence Force personnel recently killed in Afghanistan and to highlight some of the issues raised in the media.In the eight months since the previous FlagPost entry on Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan, Australia’s military personnel commitment levels, mission and anticipated draw down date of 2014 have not changed. As such, this update revises information about Australian military co... Read more...

Constitutional recognition of Indigenous people

During the course of the election campaign both major parties made announcements about constitutional recognition of Indigenous people. The Coalition promised to hold a referendum at the 2013 election on the wording of a preamble in the Constitution to recognise Indigenous Australians, and the ALP promised to set up an expert panel to build support for the constitutional recognition of Indigenous people.   The agreement reached between the Greens and the Government following the election outlined that they would work together and with other parliamentarians to ‘hold referenda during the 43rd Parliament or at the next election on Indigenous constitutional recognition and recognition of local ... Read more...

Parliamentary Library Vital Issues Seminar—Australia’s role and commitment in Afghanistan

This seminar, held on 20 October 2010, featured distinguished speakers Major General Jim Molan AO DSC and Mr Geoffrey Barker who provided contrasting perspectives on Australia’s continued involvement in Afghanistan. The seminar was chaired by Senator Russell Trood.Major General Jim Molan (Retd) MAJGEN Molan presented a speech entitled ‘Flying in the face of history, graveyard of empires’. MAJGEN Molan commented that Afghanistan is arguably the most invaded and occupied nation on the planet and that contrary to popular belief not all of these invasions have failed! He noted, however, that the difference between previous conflicts and now is that the objective of the current war is not to occu... Read more...

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