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

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Filter by May, 2011

Child health checks and welfare conditionality: a check-up

The Government recently added child health checks to its welfare reform agenda by announcing that it would require parents of four year olds to provide evidence that their child has had a basic health assessment in order to receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A Supplement. However, the Rudd-Gillard Government's experience to date with child health checks has been the subject of criticism by some medical experts and health sector commentators, raising questions about the likely effectiveness of the policy.Healthy Kids CheckChild health assessments were first introduced by the Rudd Government in July 2008 through the creation of Healthy Kids Check item numbers on Medicare. According to a Depar... Read more...

Pilot Programs for management of Asian honeybees and myrtle rust

In a post–Budget announcement on 20 May 2011, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig, said that pilot programs would be designed for the management of Asian honeybees and myrtle rust. This follows the conclusion that the eradication of both species is no longer feasible. The funding of these new programs will be $2 million for the management of Asian honeybees and $1.5 million for the management of myrtle rust. It has not been announced over what timeframe the money will be made available.This funding is separate from the Animal and Plant Pest Eradication Programs detailed in the Budget. It was noted in the Library’s Budget Review 2011-12 on Pests th... Read more...

The CFI laid bare

During the 2010 election, the Government announced that, if re-elected, it would introduce a new program, the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), to pay landholders for helping to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. On 24 March 2011, legislation for the CFI and two related bills was introduced into the House of Representatives. The debate is expected to take place this week. On the whole, the legislation has been well accepted by stakeholders, but there remain a number of contentious and complex issues with the design of the scheme. As the Parliamentary Library is in the final stages of developing a Bills Digest, this post provides a basic outline of the scheme and its main issues... Read more...

Suicide in Australia

Suicide is a preventable death that has very complex issues underlying it. According to the World Health Organization, each year approximately one million individuals commit suicide worldwide—one death every 40 seconds. Many more attempt suicide (around 10–20 million) each year. Suicide is ranked as one of the three leading causes of death among people aged 15–44.In Australia, 2132 deaths were as a result of suicide in 2009—six deaths per day—higher than transport accident deaths (1479). Even though suicide deaths are relatively small (out of a total of 140 760 registered deaths), it is a leading cause of death, ranked 14th in 2009 (the same as in 2000) but, more significantly, ranked 10th a... 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...

The Health Budget - a summary of pre-budget speculation and advocacy

On Budget eve, the Government has already made several announcements about the contents of the 2011-12 health Budget. There have been some announcements regarding capital expenditures. These include $220 million to Tamworth Hospital, redevelopments to Mt Gambier and Port Lincoln Hospitals, regional cancer centres for Albury/Wodonga and Geelong, $57 million for regional Western Australia and a Youth Health Hub for Colac.It has also said that a comprehensive dental plan will not be funded this year, although a 'down-payment' will be made. It should be noted that all of the health infrastructure projects that have so far been announced are the result of successful applications to the regional p... Read more...

Means testing the private health insurance rebate—one more attempt in a changed parliamentary environment?

In the 2009–10 Budget the Rudd government announced it intended to means-test the private health insurance rebate which it said would deliver savings of $1.9 billion over 4 years. The rebate reimburses 30 per cent of the cost of the premium for people who purchase private hospital cover (higher rebates apply for people aged over 65).The budget proposed the introduction of three income threshold tiers, so that the amount of the rebate would be reduced as income rose. Those on incomes below $75,000 a year (or $150,000 for families) would remain unaffected and continue to be eligible for the full rebate. Those in the first income tier, $75,000 to $90,000 a year for singles ($150,000 to $180,000... Read more...

Gambling on the pokies - recommendations for government policy

The Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform has just released a report into the design and implementation of a mandatory pre-commitment system for electronic gaming (poker) machines.The introduction of mandatory pre-commitment technology for poker machines was one of Independent MP, Andrew Wilkie’s key demands in return for support of the minority Gillard government after the last federal election.Under the agreement, Labor agreed to begin implementing pre-commitment technology by 2012, with a full pre-commitment scheme—that is, one that is uniform across all states and territories and machines—commencing in 2014.The Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform was charged with ... Read more...

Paying for health care: how can we sustain it?

At budget time, the federal health minister has one of the toughest jobs. We got a glimpse into this a few weeks ago when the Government announced that it had decided to defer listing some new drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme even though they work and have been deemed by experts to be cost-effective. The announcement sparked outcry from consumer groups and health care organisations alike.The Minister found herself in this unenviable position because the amount of money available to spend on health care is finite. This is not just a dilemma that arises at budget time however. Governments around the world are becoming increasingly concerned about how they will fund health care into... Read more...

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